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Drip Investors Don't Need Regis

George L Smyth

I read recently that there are over nine million millionaires in the United States. It appears that this exclusive club is no longer relegated to such a small handful of people. The first thought might be to wonder why there are so many at this time. After all, only two people have gone all the way on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

The answer, of course, has to do with the current state of the stock market. It is no secret that we are now working under a new set of rules, and those who have accepted and embraced this change have been the beneficiaries.

I wondered if someday I might be able to join this not-as-exclusive-as-before club. As Drips are an important part of my investment strategy, I decided to see if the slow and steady process would get me there.

To this end, you can use a retirement and savings calculator to try to gauge the future value of your investments. You can enter the amount of a regular purchase, expected percentage increase, number of purchases per year, and number of years, and the calculator returns the future value of your investment. Expecting a percentage increase of 11% (the approximate market average since 1926), it is clear to see how important the aspect of time plays.

Years  Amount per Month   Future Value
 40         $120          $1,032,015.26
 30         $360          $1,009,627.11
 20         $1,160        $1,004,140.12

These numbers reinforce my approval for the presence of the college-aged on the discussion boards. With time on their side, becoming a member of the millionaires club is certainly attainable, as long as they maintain their Foolish attitude.

I expect to change careers in about 20 years (I can't imagine actually "retiring," but I can imagine changing to a profession where I can set my own hours and not depend upon financial remuneration), so this may not be the exclusive path for me.

But note the operative word "exclusive" in the above paragraph. Although Drips may not be the only path to take, they can be an integral part of a coordinated investment plan.

I am fortunate to have an employer who matches 7.5% of my salary in their retirement plan. Certainly, I contribute the maximum amount to receive this free money. In my pre-Foolish days, this was not the case. However, I am now taking advantage of these opportunities as they present themselves.

Additionally, I set aside a small amount of money each month, which allows me to make an occasional outright purchase. It isn't much -- an amount small enough to escape my notice -- but it allows me to take advantage of the occasional growing company that captures my notice. An eBay here, an Ariba there -- good choices can really kick-start one's portfolio.

So I may make it after all, because I am using this slow and steady approach as part of my investment plan. Preparing a winning strategy -- one that is right for you -- is the key to attaining one's goal.