Here Are Three Paths Ordinary People Can Take to Save Half a Million Dollars in 10 Years


Saving up half a million dollars in 10 years or less sounds like a daunting task. But there are plenty of people who do it each decade, and there are many different paths people take to achieve this goal. Here’s three examples of how ordinary people can save up $500k in 10 years or less. 

NOTE: All of these scenarios assume that savings are invested at a 7% rate annually.

The Steady Saver

The steady saver is someone who slowly but surely builds up their salary over time and maintains a nice little side hustle on the weekends or weeknights.

Someone who fits this profile might earn $40,000 as an entry level salary at a corporation and slowly work their way up to a $95,000 salary over the course of 10 years. They might also have a small side hustle that only earns $5,000 in year one, but slowly builds up to a respectable $20,000 per year by year 10.

There are plenty of people in the U.S. who fit this profile – they have a 9-5 job and then earn money on the side through tutoring, selling items on Ebay, or even working a part-time job. By consistently saving 50-60% of their earnings, they can hit $500,000 in just 10 years.

Check out their numbers:


The Post-College Home-Dweller

There are thousands of college students each year who end up moving back home with their parents for a few years after graduation to get their financial life in order. Here’s an example of someone who might do that. This person only earns $30,000 per year working at an entry level sales job. They live at home for 3 years, saving a whopping 90% of their earnings and building up a freedom fund to move out.

In year 6, they get married and their total earnings nearly doubles thanks to having two incomes in the family. They continue their side hustle and bring in a respectable $10-$15k each year. With a high savings rate in their beginning years and a 55-65% savings rate with their partner in the later years, they’re able to save up well over $500,000 in 10 years.

(NOTE: side hustle for year 2 should say $5k)


The No-Side-Hustle Higher-Earner

Another way to earn half a million in 10 years is simply by getting a degree in a high-paying field and moving up the corporate ladder. With a sufficiently high salary, one can reach $500k even without a side hustle. Here’s an example of a single person who graduates college, has a starting salary of $60k and works their way up to $130k over the course of 10 years, all the while saving at least 40% of their earnings.


Different Paths, Same Outcome

These are just a few examples of some common ways people can save half a million dollars in 10 years or less. The number one factor that enables most of the people in the above examples to save so much is their savings rate. With a 50% savings rate or higher, it’s possible to reach $500k even on an average salary. 

A side hustle can clearly be a great way to supplement income for people who don’t earn a high salary at their day jobs. Also, for college students who can’t find a job immediately following college, they can get their financial footing simply by living at home for a few years and saving most of their earnings. 

There are so many different ways to reach half a million in under 10 years, but in every situation all it takes is a little financial discipline and consistent savings to achieve this goal.

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4 Replies to “Here Are Three Paths Ordinary People Can Take to Save Half a Million Dollars in 10 Years”

  1. Interesting idea! It just goes to show that everyone’s journey is different. You really can’t copy someone else’s financial freedom journey verbatim because everyone’s situation is so different.

    1. Exactly. There’s more than one way to achieve the same goal. I also just wanted to illustrate that no matter what financial situation you’re in, there’s many different ways to get your finances in order – whether that means moving back in with parents or starting a side hustle or going back for a college degree, etc.

  2. This is completely doable, although it would definitely require someone to have the right money mindset. I think a lot of people don’t try because they don’t think it’s possible. It totally is! And your examples even have a little bit of lifestyle inflation built in.

    1. I think you nailed the issue on the head – most people don’t even attempt to save to save this much money in 10 years because they assume it’s completely unrealistic. But from the numbers here, it’s obvious that it’s completely manageable even without extreme frugality. It’s amazing what a high savings rate can do for you financially in only 10 years!

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