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How much money it takes to be a millionaire at every age

Gen Z-ers have a much easier time making a million dollars than their older peers. Source: Getty

Do you fantasise every now and again about becoming a millionaire? It’s not as unrealistic as you may think… if you’re a millennial.

And Gen Z is laughing all the way to the – well – sharemarket, rather than paltry-paying bank.

If you’re a millennial, or Gen Y, the cost of becoming a millionaire is $275,904 cheaper than for a Gen X-er.

But for an 18-year-old Gen Z-er – a generation all under-24s fall into – it’s a staggering $416,496 less.

The figures are based on monthly investing, earning a 7 percent average annual return and re-investing those earnings until age 65. Of course, the value of shares can go up as well as down but 7 percent is a realistic-over-the-long-term result.

Should an 18-year-old achieve that result, they’d be a millionaire from just $228 a month. Or $7.50 a day.

A 33-year-old would need to find a higher $701 a month – $23 a day.

But a – quite literally! – poor 49-year-old (a ‘middle‘-aged Gen X-er) would require a painful $2839. That’s $93 a day.

What it would cost generation to amass a million. Source: Getty

If that all has Gen Zs and even Ys feeling smug, so they should.

And I can add to it. The total cost for an 18-year-old to amass a million is just $128,592. That’s right, if you start today, you’ll receive $871,408 courtesy of investment returns (assuming you hit that average 7 percent)… or free.

For our 33-year-old Millennial, the outlay is still only $269,184. So almost three-quarters of the magic million is ‘gifted’.

However, the financially challenged Gen X-er has to find more than half themselves: $545,088.

So if you’re young and feel daunted and maybe disillusioned about ever becoming financially secure, stop!

You possess an asset so life-changing it makes older generations green with envy… one that, chances are, they have unwittingly squandered.

Drum roll please… that asset is time. And if you harness it, you can be a millionaire far cheaper than any older generation.

Think about it Gen Z (and Gen Y too): that million dollars has cost you far less money, and only more ‘time’.

But say someone in a generation older than Z, who has less time, also doesn’t have as much money as it would now cost for them to become a millionaire. Say they only have the $228 a month that Gen Zs who start today need.

Millennials would end up with just $325,678 at age 65 and Gen X-ers with a sigh-inducing $80,317.

What Gen Z's $228 outlay would earn older generations. Source: Getty

Now the reason ‘time’ is such a potentially lucrative asset to us all is a little mathematical phenomenon called compounding.

When I explain this to high schoolers who are about to graduate, I call it the snowball of success; it’s the process of rolling up your returns and earning interest on the interest on the interest. The longer the better… and cheaper.

I tell them that compounding is so powerful that no less than Albert Einstein named it the 8th wonder of the world.

Tell all your friends. And to enjoy many happy returns from investing yourself, don’t delay even one more day.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is a financial educator and commentator, and the author of How to get mortgage-free like me, available from November 16 at

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