Short of winning the lottery, investing is the fastest way for the average person to become a millionaire. It's not without risk, but for those who can stay focused on the long term, it's possible to earn substantial returns with minimal effort.

I'll show you how easy it can be by demonstrating how you can go from $0 to over $359,000 in just 20 years.

Stock market returns average 10% annually, but a year's actual returns are often far from this average. Some years, returns are over 20%, and other years see losses just as large. This kind of volatility can make some people leery of investing, but there are risks to not investing as well.

What if you spent $500 per month? If you simply spent $500 per month for 20 years, you might accumulate a few more personal possessions, but you wouldn't have any savings to speak of. That's a problem for those who plan to retire eventually.

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