Do what you love. Sure, a career in finance might come with a hefty annual salary, but you probably won't excel at something you don't enjoy. That's why Corey recommends going into the field that you find yourself reading about in your spare time. He asks, "Do you read fashion magazines? Get a job in fashion. Do you read gossip blogs? Get a job in celebrity-based enterprises. Do you read Car & Driver? ESPN.com? Yahoo Pets Forum?" Even if the field doesn't seem lucrative, there are ways to make it to the top—something that's more likely to happen if you love it.
[For more, read: "Juggling Your Money in the Recession."]
Decide how much money you really want. For many people, $1 million won't be enough. "For most Gen-X and Gen-Yers, retiring with a couple million when they are 65 won't be anywhere near enough to maintain even an average lifestyle, because that little pup called inflation is constantly nipping at your heels as you try to run towards building your own retirement nest-egg," says Cartwood. A more reasonable goal might be $3 million— an amount that Cartwood considers the minimum to be a "bare bones millionaire" these days. Consider your ideal lifestyle and what you would like to be able to fund. A mortgage of a certain size? Exotic vacations? College tuition for your children? Having a concrete goal in mind makes it easier to get there, says Cartwood.
Invest against the grain. Corey recommends making investment decisions based on the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing. Right now, for example, stocks are relatively cheap because so many people have sold off shares, which means anyone buying can get them at a discount to their values from a year ago. Corey's rule of thumb doesn't just apply to stocks. "Buy a foreclosed house, fill it up with roommates, and you can get a pretty good passive income," he suggests.
Live below your means. Even Eminem, a celebrity and millionaire, scales back his purchases out of concern for frugality. In February, London's Independent newspaper reported that as Eminem considered buying a $15,000 watch he liked, he started worrying that he should save his money instead. Eminem reportedly said, "I don't want to run out of money; I want my daughter to be able to go to college." And so far, at least, Eminem hasn't fallen victim to the financial challenges so many other stars, from Aretha Franklin to Annie Leibovitz, have faced.
[For more, read: "How to Go Broke Like a Rock Star."]
On the same note, Smith says that even though she's a millionaire, no one would know it—and that's the point. She recommends saving at least 10 to 25 percent of your income. She also suggests avoiding buying "status" items, such as fancy sports cars or mansions. After all, bling doesn't make a millionaire—and in fact, too much of it can prevent you from ever becoming one.