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'How I saved $1 million'

Five 401(k) millionaires share their secrets to reaching their first million in retirement savings.

Live frugally

401k millionaires davis
A financial adviser, Davis socked away nearly half of her $80,000 income last year.
  • Name: Ilene Davis
  • Age: 63
  • City: Cocoa, Fl.
  • Saved: more than $2 million

Ilene Davis walked away from a divorce at the age of 37 with roughly $100,000 in financial assets. Less than 30 years later, she has built up more than $2 million in retirement savings while earning an average annual salary of less than $100,000.

A financial adviser, Davis says she's made it happen by following the same advice she gives many of her clients: to "pay herself first" through retirement contributions each month.

Last year, for example, Davis socked away $37,000 in retirement savings accounts, nearly half of her $80,000 income.

Related: When will I be a millionaire?

In addition to having an affordable $500 mortgage payment for much of her career, Davis says she cut other costs by buying nearly all of her clothes at thrift stores, driving used cars, cooking most of her meals and staying in affordable motels on vacations.

"It's not a matter of doing without. It's tradeoffs," she said. "It's looking at each dollar you spend and asking, 'Is this the best use of your money?'"

  @melhicken - Last updated November 11 2013 10:29 PM ET

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