How would you like to be a millionaire?
It’s the dream, right? Everyone wants to be a millionaire, but it feels so out of reach. What if it wasn’t? What if you could do it without changing your lifestyle much? It won’t happen immediately, but it can happen, even as a single mum.
I know what you’re thinking… “I’m living off Centrelink, there’s no way!” or “I earn $50,000 and work my butt off, how can I possibly be a millionaire?”
Firstly, you are raising kids on your own. You are already incredible, tough and resilient. It’s not an easy gig, but you can do this. To be a millionaire, it takes time. You do it through automatic savings, compound interest and starting it all as soon as possible. Now, the average reader here is a 35 years old mum, so I am going to base everything below on that age. However, you can play around with the figures yourself on the MoneySmart website here.
Remember with all of this, your kids are learning from your example. Teach them the benefits of savings, compound interest and making yourself a priority. Actions speak louder than words. They watch everything we do and absorb it all, so help them by helping yourself!
The basics used for the below article
The data varies so much depending on which study you look at and how it is interpreted. We are going with a 35 year old mother earning $50,000 a year. Where that income comes from can be work or Centrelink or hobbies. We are going to assume no savings, no superannuation, nothing. Although, statistics show, by this age, 83% of Australian women have $33,000 or more in superannuation. (Find out more about superannuation, how much you need etc here.)
What do I need to do to be a millionaire?
David Bach author of The Automatic Millionaire shows how easy it is to become a millionaire in his book by following a simple savings method. The sooner you start, because of compound interest, the easier it is and the more you will have.
Start saving. It’s that simple. Allocate an amount each ‘pay’, whether your pay is from working or from Centrelink. Put it into a high interest savings account and don’t touch it. Let it keep growing and eventually, you’ll be a millionaire. Here are some examples.
If you save 10% of your income, at an average of 5% (historically, in my lifetime they have been from 14.90% down to 2.35% so 5% is a conervative average), it will take you 48 years to become a millionaire based on this savings alone. So you’d be 83, and it isn’t realistic to assume you will be working and saving until then. However, it doesn’t include your superannuation or other variables and we can do it much sooner!
Here is the above example:
Now, going with the assumption of no superannuation and with the $50,000 a year income, your employer would be putting $4,750 a year into super for you. If you aren’t working, you can make this much from online surveys and choose to put it into your super. We listed the top Aussie ones here which make most readers between $2,000 and $5,000 a year. This would be $1,583 paid quarterly and since superannuation has a return of 7.2%, it would look like this at a retirement age of 65.
Going back to the original savings plan, at age 65 (in 30 years from now) you would have $347,623!
Combine this with your superannuation and you get $1,019,630!
You hit your millionaire status and can retire at 65 comfortably.
I want to be a millionaire before 65!
Who doesn’t? It is completely doable too. Spend less of your income, save more of it and find ways to increase your income at the same time. If you are living within your current income and get a pay rise or sell something or take on a side hustle, throw most of that money at savings.
For example, say you take on a couple of cleaning jobs, tutoring, being a virtual assistant, have someone rent a room through Airbnb or any other way we have suggested to make money here and you’re getting an extra $100 a week. (After tax and expenses, $100 free and clear). If you put that into the savings from the top, it suddenly changes to this
You just saved yourself 12 years and 5 months plus the power of compound interest means if you did choose to keep going until 65, you would have an extra $362,108! But you’d also hit millionaire status a few years earlier.
How to be a millionaire as a single mum faster
Compound interest is really working for you if you want to hold out, but there are many things you can do to hit that status sooner. If you have superannuation happening, you can choose to salary sacrific a little of your income to your super and access the government co-contribution. You can invest in shares, even if it is starting small (check out the post on Acorns vs high-interest savings account here, although long-term Acorns is not the best way to invest in shares), buy investment property, invest in business or anything else you are comfortable with. Diversifying your income streams, investment and savings will spread your risk and help you get where you want to be. I strongly recommend talking to a financial advisor to create a plan for your personal circumstances. Here are a few tips.
Make and save more money
The key here is to save or invest the extra money you earn. “Lifestyle creep” is a term used when we continue to spend more as we earn more. Instead of spending to meet your income, save and invest more. If you are working, look into pay increases through promotions, negotiating your salary or changing jobs. A pay increase also means more money is going towards super for you.
We have shared loads of ways to make more money here. Pick one or two and see what works for you. As the income comes in, put aside money for tax, work out your expenses involved in making the extra cash and stash the rest of it in savings, super or investing.
Focus on ways you can reduce your expenses too. We share 18 ways to save big in 2018 here. Choose a way to save and get used to it. As you save money on different bills or things you regularly spend on, transfer that money to savings. For example, if you save $10 on your groceries this week, put that in your savings. If your bills are $100 less this month, throw the $100 into your savings. Do not let those small amounts here and there get frittered away on other things.
For single mums, look at sharing a home through Share Abode, which we wrote about here. Imagine, splitting the cost of rent and being able to save that much extra week! You’d hit millionaire status much sooner.
The sooner you start, the better compound interest will work for you. Dave Ramsey shows here how a 19 year old can have over $2,288,996 by the time they are 65 simply by investing $2,000 a year from 19 to 26. Whereas someone starting to invest $2,000 a year from age 27 will have to continue investing $2,000 every year until 65 years old and they will only have $1,532,116. That is a huge difference!
Have a visual goal
I find visual goals help me get there quicker. By splitting my savings into long and short term goals e.g. ensuring I am saving and investing at least 10 to 20% of my income, while saving separately for small holidays and other things I want, I can stay focused easier.
Review and get the best rates
All of the above scenarios were based on a conservative 5%. Keep checking the interest rates and switch to higher options as they come up. If you found a 10% rate either through investing or if interest rates go up, it means with the base $96 a week you’d be a millionaire in 30 years from savings alone (then add your super for even more money).
Or if you do the $96 + extra $100, it will only take 23 years and 10 months.
Becoming a millionaire as a single mum is possible, it just takes a little planning and time.
But I have mountains of debt, I’ll never be a millionaire!
Debt can be crushing, but it doesn’t need to be forever. You can check out how Kiri cleared $3,000 in debt within a month or how this couple cleared $90,000 in 12 months (they were unemployed when they started) or check out numerous debt free stories through Dave Ramsey or the FinCon Community (Google either of them). Join Facebook groups targetted at Dave Ramsey or The Barefoot Investor and you’ll find loads of other people clearing their debt. Check out #DebtFreeCommunity on Instagram for more motivation. You can do it! I recommend reading The Barefoot Investor or The Total Money Makeover to help as well.
You do need to clear the debt
The reality is, you need to clear the debt to help your finances. Build a baby emergency fund first ($1,000 to $2,000) then get to work clearing your debt. Debt is where compound interest will work against you so you need to clear them asap.
Get real about your debts
Write them all down and add them up. You need to know what you’re dealing with if you are going to get rid of it. See how much each one is, what the interest rate is then check if you can get the interest rate reduced. Generally, people are advised against consolidating because human nature tends to be they consolidate and don’t close the old debt. Spending habits haven’t changed, so they rack up even more debt.
Instead, work out your debts, negotiate to get the best interest rate on each one then get to work.
Debt snowball or debt dominoes
Whatever you want to call it, this is the method which will help you clear debt faster. Continue paying the minimum amount on each debt. Pick one of your debts to throw all the extra money at. Most experts say to go with the smallest debt because clearing it will make you feel good (it’s a psychological thing), making you more motivated to clear other debt.
Once that first debt is clear, you take the minimum payment from it and any extra you were paying to put on the next debt. Now, with your next debt, it can end up being the same as making double payments, so you are reducing it even faster. Once that debt is paid off, you take all the money you were putting on the first and second debt to throw it at the third debt and so on until all your debts are cleared.
It takes time, but as you clear those smaller debts, you have so much more money to throw at debt. When you aren’t paying out huge amounts of your income to debt, you have a lot more money to invest or save.
Other debt tips
How I manage my finances
I’ve shared a lot of information above, but one thing I get asked a lot is how I manage my own finances. My income comes from multiple sources, something I have been intent on since I was a teenager. Back then I worked as a hairdresser, dental assistant and did babysitting or any other odd job that came up. My income changed during my marriage, then after my divorce and ending up homeless, I had to be smart and start over. To be clear, I have been building my income streams for 5 years now (although, I did start earlier, I had many issues prior to 2013 with homelessness, marriage etc). It is not a quick process and I have faced obstacles during this time including paralysis twice and multiple surgeries. A lot of what I do has been focused on passive options because of this.
My income sources
I derive income from a variety of sources including public speaking, freelance writing, sales of my eBooks, affiliate income, consultations, (you can find out more about all of them here). Selling things online, other websites I own, this website and sometimes some random things e.g. Airbnb or medical research. Basically if an opportunity arises, I am likely to take it. You can check out some of the ways I have made various amount such as an extra $3,200 in January 2018, $8,741 in June 2017 or $2,710 in April 2017. Those are just a few examples. I tend to share more about what I am doing and random income on Instagram.
How I divide my income
Having multiple streams of income means my income comes in at different times. I get a ‘wage’ as such from the work I do then it is split into various expenses with some also saved and some invested. I put 20% straight into savings, have a set amount which goes to buy shares, 10% I can spend on whatever I like and I live off the rest. This is for my base income. Any extra income I earn typically goes to savings or investments.
While this might all sounds great, I have had extremely high medical and legal expenses the past few years which has impacted my capacity to save. I am still saving and investing, but not as quickly as I would like. My focus has been on increasing my net worth, which I think is a good guide for where I am at financially, more than the amount I am saving. My plan is to retire at 40, though I am likely to continue doing what I do because I enjoy it.
I have a business which is split into sections and can be sold off in parts as well as superannuation, shares and savings. Superannuation isn’t high on my list of things to put extra money into, but I think it is still important. My focus for increasing my wealth is outside of super.
I have opted not to buy a house for the time being because I want my assets to be easily liquidated if I need them for court and because I have moved 27 times in my 32 years. I haven’t lived anywhere long enough for it to make sense for me to own a home. I did own in Sydney, then it was a rental for a while and it was a nightmare. While I do love property, I am unlikely to buy for quite some time. Also, the share market has significantly outperformed the property market, so for now, shares are my preferred option.
I also invest in myself through courses, education, books, podcasts etc. Continuously learning, seeking out mentors, recognising my strengths and weakness improves not only my financial life but every other area of my life too. Never stop learning!
My financial goals
We love to travel, so that tends to rank fairly high on our list of things we are saving for/doing. Living in Australia means there are so many great places to see and explore.
I mentioned the goal to retire by 40. This doesn’t mean I won’t do anything. It means I will be completely financially free, have investments paying enough for me to live off and still save while having the freedom to do what I want. When I am 40 my kids will be 17 and 19, so my lifestyle will be drastically different. To be that age, with adult kids and financially free will be ideal. I don’t have a lot of time (April 2025) but if I don’t set the goal, it won’t happen!
What about time?
As a single mum, you are juggling it all and it is hard. More than likely, some nights you get no sleep, you’re the one handling all the kids needs, the housework, working, trying to do side hustles and you collapse in a heap at the end of the day. I know, I have two kids, both are special needs, one of them has autism and it can be tough.
Put yourself first. Money isn’t everything. You need time out, you need a break and you need to do what’s right for your and your family. Do not put more pressure on yourself to do whatever you think others are expecting.
If you want some tips to save time, I have 18 tips for busy mums here. The biggest two time saving tips for me are to quit watching TV/Netflix/wasting time online (track how you spend your time for a week and you will be shocked at some of it) and get your kids on board. My eldest needs step by step instructions when learning anything new, but once she has it established as rule and knows the process, she is capable. Every chore in my home can be done by my kids. It doesn’t mean I make them do everything, but I can come home and say what chores need doing and we all get in and help. Teach your kids these life skills early.