Turn Your Paycheck into a Million Bucks: 5 Expert Tips

Dennis Barba wasn't always a millionaire. Raised in a middle-class family in Cleveland, Barba credits his rise to millionaire status to getting a job in investment banking at Bear, Stearns & Co. while in college, and later, to his real estate investments.

Today Barba, 40, maintains a diverse portfolio when it comes to his occupation. His primary job is founder and managing partner of both The Oxford Group of Raymond James & Associates and The Oxford Sports Management Group, private wealth management organizations in Cleveland.

Barba also teaches entrepreneurship to MBA students in the economics department of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and owns several companies-in real estate, software, and publishing.

Barba said he believes there are several paths people can take to become millionaires. Five of those include:
  1. Living a modest lifestyle with virtually no debt. These individuals, Barba said, are fixated on becoming a millionaire; they pinch pennies, squeeze every bit of performance out of where they put their money, drive old, run-down cars, and don't go out to eat. "It's the old lady who passed away with a million [dollars], she lived in an efficiency but never owned a car. I've seen one [case] every other year where someone passes away and they have an unbelievable amount of money," Barba said.
  2. Work for a publicly traded company and take advantage of stock options. "You can easily take advantage of 401(K) and profit-sharing, in addition," Barba said.
  3. Work for a large company where you acquire skills and knowledge about how the company does business, and then go independent in the same line of work-as a consultant. "I've seen people go from working at companies to starting consulting businesses and gaining lucrative contracts quickly," Barba said.
  4. Save seed money to start a small business. "On an income level, the cash flow may have been paycheck to paycheck [for the business owner(s)], but through selling the business they come into a windfall and it gives them financial independence, or puts them on their way to it," according to Barba.
  5. Buy real estate. Barba said you can start by purchasing one property and renting it out, and within seven to nine years you could have 10 units and $1-$2 million in equity.

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