How to Become a Millionaire Cop

Every cop I know who is debt-free & financially-healthy has taken this same path. More than a few are millionaires. Here are the concepts:

1. The Pension. You give up 10% of your base pay every year. Upon retirement, you get ~75% of your salary for the rest of your life.* (This is mandatory in most places. You automatically contribute.)

2. The 457(b) Program. Invest additionally up to $20,500/yr* pre-tax into a retirement account. Contribute as early as & as much as you can. You'll never miss it. Pick an aggressive strategy. When you retire, you won't even need your pension!

3. The Overtime. Work your ass off in your 20s. Exploit the overtime before you have a family. (Your peers will be calling in "sick" on the weekends. Take advantage of their work ethic.) The padded paychecks make the 457 contributions that much easier. But spend wisely.

4. The Budget. Don't buy the new pickup truck, or the boat, or the ATV. At least not right away. Save up for the house or the rental property instead. Let your mortgage be your only debt.

5. The Training. Develop a skillset inside policing that will make you marketable in retirement. Traffic crash reconstruction. Digital forensics. Tech support. Find something nobody else really wants to do -- & do it. Let your department prepare you for a second career.

There is virtually no excuse to not be financially literate these days. The resources are everywhere.

*these are IL Downstate Pension T1 estimates & current 2022 IRS contribution limits.


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a detective supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. He's focused on multi-jurisdictional crime patterns & intelligence, through organic working groups compromised of investigators & analysts from a variety of agencies. With a passion for training, he studies human performance, decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, & adaptability. In 2021, he went back to college (remotely!), in hopes to finally finish his undergrad degree from the University of Illinois - Gies College of Business. Follow Lou on LinkedIn, & also the LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model


  1. Gary Stryker1/25/23, 9:19 PM

    Hey Lou. Agree 100%. Have told this over and over to officers. You might add that your second career should include one that includes social security deductions. Every year you work under this your ss will go up...even with your govt pension exemptions. Hope all is well.

    1. Gary, great advice! SS has been off my mind for decades.


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