S&P 500: If you have $1 stocks, you can become a millionaire – Here’s how

No matter how much money you have now, you can be a millionaire. All that matters is your patience and the S&P 500 stocks you buy.


Even if you only have a dollar and never invest a penny more, you can be a millionaire in 30 years. It’s just that you would need to hit an S&P 500 home run – which pays at least 58.5% – every year.

It’s a tall order, yes. But it was possible this year. Six S&P 500 stocks, including Nvidia (NVDA), Metaplatforms (META), Royal Caribbean (RCL), Advanced micro-systems (AMD), You’re here (TSLA) and Carnival (CCL), all have earned more than enough this year to reach this threshold.

Obviously, doing this every year is not easy. The S&P 500 typically only returns around 10% per year on average over time. But there are other levers you can pull to reach a million in just three decades.

Making of the S&P 500 millionaires

While it’s possible to turn a single dollar into a million dollars, it’s not hard to imagine how much easier it could be if you got a little more aggressive.

Starting with more money or investing more money each year reduces the pressure on how many home run stocks you need to buy to reach 1 million.

Let’s say you start with $1, but only contribute $1,000 per year. In this case, you would only need to find stocks that earn 19.2% per year to be a millionaire in 30 years. That’s still double the typical S&P 500 return. But much more doable than a 58.5% annual return if you don’t keep investing. This year, 72 S&P 500 stocks have risen as much or more.

But this is where the magic happens. Increase that annual investment to $10,000 and you would only need a 7.3% annual return to be a millionaire in 30 years, even if you started with just $1. This is actually more than possible and could be achieved with a moderately aggressive portfolio.

How the rich get richer

Considering how you can turn a dollar into a million, you can only imagine what’s possible when you start with a bigger sum.

Just set aside $10,000 and never save a penny more and you’ll be sitting on a million dollars in 30 years if you can pick a stock that pays 16.6% a year. If that’s too hard, just add $10,000 a year to your investments and you’ll be a millionaire in 30 years if you only get a historically easy 6.9% annual return on your money.

Likewise, the million hurdles drop quickly when you start with larger sums. Start with $500,000 or $750,000 and you only need an annual return of 2.3% or 1.0%, respectively, to end up with a million.

Start with $750,000 and add another $10,000 per year? You can actually lose money in your wallet and end up with a million in 30 years.

Given that interest rates on savings accounts currently hover around 4%, you can see why so many rich people are happy to sit on cash.

Is a million dollars enough?

There is, however, another major caveat. Having a million dollars in 30 years is not the same as having it now. Inflation, which has been heating up for months, is eating away at the value of money.

In fact, having $1 million 30 years ago is like having $2.1 million today, thanks to cumulative inflation of nearly 110% during that time. This means that if you want to feel as chic as a millionaire 30 years from now, you’ll need to aim for over $2 million.

What kind of stock would turn $1 into this in 30 years without an annual contribution? The one that brings in 62% per year. For investors who own Nvidia, up nearly 160% this year, that seems more than doable. But can Nvidia keep that for 30 years? And if not, can investors find the S&P 500 stock that does it every year?

Now it’s a little more difficult.

How to become a millionaire

It’s easier than it looks

start with Annual subscription Annual return required to reach one million*
$1 $0 58.5%
$1 $10,000 7.3%
$10,000 $0 16.6%
$10,000 $10,000 6.9%
$100,000 $0 8.0%
$100,000 $10,000 4.6%
$250,000 $0 4.7%
$250,000 $10,000 2.7%
$500,000 $0 2.3%
$500,000 $10,000 0.9%
$750,000 $0 1.0%
$750,000 $10,000 -0.2%
Sources: IBD, S&P Global Market Intelligence, *- over 30 years compounded annually

Follow Matt Krantz on Twitter @mattkrantz


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