PhotoYou've heard it said, “it takes money to make money.” Ever wondered how rich people got that first $100,000?

It was the hardest money they ever earned, according to a report by That's because money grows faster when the returns are “compounded,” or reinvested. Put $10 in a savings account and $1,000 in a savings account and see which one grows faster over time.

Having large amounts of cash on hand also allows you to make more lucrative investments that provide generous returns. So getting on the road to wealth means earning that first $100,000. The report says there really are no shortcuts, but it offers a road map.

Time is on your side

First, start young. There is nothing like time to help you build wealth. You need a job that covers your basic living expenses and still provides money for saving. And savings should be considered a “basic living expense.”

Next, put your savings on autopilot. If you have to make a decision each month about whether, or how much to save, there will be months you simply won't save anything.

Use direct deposit to move a set amount of money from your checking account to your savings or investment account every month. If you find that some months you can save even more, you can add it manually. But saving without thinking about it is the surest way to set aside funds each month.

Take advantage of retirement savings accounts, especially ones in which an employer matches employee contributions. If you are setting up an individual retirement account, consider a Roth IRA over a Traditional IRA. Your contributions won't be tax deductible but you won't have to pay taxes on withdrawals, and your contributions over the years will grow tax-free.

Prioritize debt

Take a look at your debt and prioritize ways of paying it down. These days many households carry multiple credit card balances, which cut into the ability to save. Pay off higher interest balances first.

Be frugal. It sounds easy but it's a lot like going on a diet. You have to get used to getting by on less. However, after cutting out unnecessary spending you may find you can adjust to it just fine.

Finally, look for ways to generate additional income. If you have a job that covers the bills and provides a little for savings, a part-time business, perhaps based on a hobby or special skill you have, might generate money that could go directly into savings, putting you on the road to building real wealth a little faster.

If you have questions or want a more detailed plan, you should seek out a qualified and impartial financial advisor.

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