1. Make saving automaticSign up for automatic investing plans, which will funnel the savings directly from your paycheck into your investment account. That way the money starts compounding immediately. Plus, you'll never miss it.
Beginning at age 30, if you save $671 each month at an 8% return, you'll have $1 million by age 60. Begin at age 40, and you need to save $1,698 each month.
2. Make stocks work for youStocks give you the best shot at high returns, having returned more than 10% a year since 1926, twice the return of bonds. So stash a big chunk of your portfolio in equities - 70% is a reasonable amount if you are investing over a couple of decades, says Kevin Sale, a financial adviser in Bloomington, Minn.
If you don't consider yourself a stock picker, a broadly diversified index fund - tracking either the S&P 500 or Wilshire 5000 - is a perfectly reasonable option.
3. Boost your earning powerAs the numbers show, the fastest way to amass seven figures is to pull down a big salary. If you're young enough, a professional degree such as an M.B.A. or a J.D. will pay off. If more school isn't in the cards, make sure to get the most out of your current profession. Keep up with market so you can negotiate for as much pay as possible and if possible. And keep up with trade publications that will help you advance in your current field.
4. Don't stop savingRemember, just because you've stopped doesn't mean inflation will. As the years tick by, a million dollars will become worth less and less - and you'll need more and more to lead the lifestyle you were counting on. So when you hit the seven-figure mark, keep going.