I'm pretty sure that every person would love to wake up one day and realize that while they slept they had become a self-made millionaire. The following steps are not a get rich quick scheme, they're simply sage advice that has proven effective for many over time.
Automatic Savings - Determine how much money can be set aside out of each paycheck. Setup a separate high interest savings account, preferably one that is not linked to your regular checking account. That way it's a little more difficult to transfer money out. Using direct deposit through your employer is the easiest way to establish automatic savings. Simply set it up to have part of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account as well. It doesn't matter if it is $10 or $500, simply having this happen automatically will ensure money is saved every time you are paid.
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Now that you have money piling up in savings, what now? The answer to that question is to simply invest. For many, this can be a scary thought but the following steps should make it easy and automatic.
You need to build a secure platform before leaping into the stock market. To do that you should invest a portion of your savings in CD Ladders and Savings Bonds. Both of which can be setup easily with banks such as ING Direct, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America. Savings Bonds can also be purchased online from Treasury Direct.
A CD ladder can help you earn an even higher return on your savings. A ladder consists of multiple, sequential CDs all opened at the same time. Each "rung of your ladder" is for a different CD term and your ladder can contain as few or as many rungs as you like. For example, a ladder could consist of 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60-month CDs. For a less aggressive CD ladder you can choose shorter terms - for example, a 6, 12, 18, 24 and 30-month ladder which keeps your money more readily available.
Let's say you have $10,000 to invest and want to start a 5 rung, annual ladder (12, 24, 36, 48 and 60-month CDs). You could invest $2,000 in each term. As each CD matures, re-invest the principal and interest into the longest term on your CD Ladder (in this case a 60-month CD). With this scenario, you'll benefit by having at least $2,000 becoming available each year should you need access to your money, while at the same time having all your money in longer term CDs, which usually have a higher rate than shorter term deposits
Once you have a stable platform of cash, bonds, and CDs, you should setup an Automatic Investment Plan. Automatic investing allows you to buy stocks, mutual funds, and exchange traded funds (ETFs) on a regular schedule so you can take advantage of dollar-cost averaging as the stock prices fluctuate. Dollar-cost averaging is a system of buying securities at regular intervals with a fixed dollar amount. Using this system you would buy by the dollars' worth rather than by the number of shares. When each investment is of the same number of dollars, payments buy more shares when the price is low and fewer when it rises. Thus temporary downswings in price benefit investors if they continue periodic purchases in both good and bad times, and the price at which the shares are sold is more than their average cost.
When setting up your Automatic Investment Plan, choose investments that are stable and proven. Remember to set this up for the long run and in such a way as to require little to no management. ShareBuilder.com offers an easy to setup Automatic Investment Plan for very little cost.
You're done. Now that everything is setup, go to sleep. With any luck, years from now you'll wake up a millionaire. Patience is the millionaires secret.