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BLOG: Why you’re not going to be an ISA millionaire

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

It’s officially ISA season and there’s good news for savers – it’s never been easier to be an ‘ISA millionaire’. Apparently.

At this time of year press releases sent to financial journalists are full of top tips on how to join the millionaire club, while newspapers are full of success stories.

All are based on a pretty simple concept: you need loads of cash to begin with.

How are you going to have loads of cash? Your best bet is to make sure you have rich parents. Or zero expenses. Preferably both.

Here’s what investment platform AJ Bell has to say about becoming an ISA millionaire:

“The good news is that it’s never been easier to become an ISA millionaire. Today’s millionaires have built up their ISA wealth despite being limited to a maximum £7,000 annual contribution for the first nine years ISAs were in existence.

“That means they have had to achieve an average 14% annual growth on maximum ISA contributions to break through the £1m barrier. Now investors can put £20,000 into an ISA each year, over the same period of 21 years, they would need a much more attainable 7% growth to hit the £1m ISA jackpot, assuming the allowance doesn’t change. That means the ISA millionaires of the future will be more plentiful, and younger.”

See? It’s simple. You just need to stash away that spare £20,000 that you have. Every single year. And don’t spend any of it.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2020 the average UK salary was £38,600. This equates to a take-home pay of £29,786.

So, assuming you could live on £9,786 a year, I suppose technically you could save £20,000 a year. But given that most people spend more than that on their mortgage or rent, never mind bills and food, it would be ambitious at best.

But, don’t worry, there are some newspapers happy to explain how it’s all done. I won’t name names (obviously you can Google it) but one newspaper published a piece titled ‘There’s no limit on what I’ll save’: meet the next generation of Isa millionaires.

To save you reading it, I’ll cut to the chase. The 27-year-old featured in the piece already has £110,000 in a stocks and shares Isa and £40,000 in a Lifetime Isa.

He is confident he will be able to hit the seven-figure mark at some point.

How did he save so much at such a young age? His parents opened an Isa on his behalf when he was 18 and then he received an inheritance from his grandparents. But there’s no mention of this young, keen investor saving any of his own cash.

It’s a pretty simple way to have £150,000 saved up within six years of graduating when you think about it: Have rich parents. Or loaded grandparents. Even better, have both.

Every year during ‘ISA season’ we see the same advice banded around – but it’s rarely relevant to the majority of savers earning the average salary without rich parents.

Of course, saving in an ISA is a no-brainer. The returns are tax-free and investing in the stock market over the long-term will generally reap rewards. Regular saving or ‘pound cost averaging’ can smooth out the ups and downs of the market.

But only a small percentage of people will become millionaires this way – so don’t be downhearted when it’s not you.