WHO WANTS to be a trillionaire? Bill does! The Forbes magazine list of the world's richest people last month showed three of the top four as being associated with Microsoft. It was also out of date. Forbes said Bill Gates was sitting on $90bn. Not so. He has more like $99bn, but what's a billion or nine between friends?

If you want to keep track of the riches of the Midas of Microsoft, check the Bill Gates Personal Wealth Clock, updated regularly with Bill's value, based on the Microsoft share price. Last time I looked his pile came to slightly more than $16 for every man, woman and child on the planet. The clock likely underestimates Gates's wealth because it does not include the cars, houses, helicopters, aircraft carriers, islands, and small European countries he also owns. Yet most of us would probably settle for being a millionaire. But how long do you think it will take you to make that magic million? Don't worry, Virgin Direct's website has an handy millionaireometer in a "Rules and Revelations" section. You input your level of salary, savings and property value. The calculation assumes every year you save 10 per cent of your salary, that salary will rise by 3 per cent and your home value 5 per cent.

The millionaireometer will work out when you would a millionaire, if you put your savings in a deposit account, if you saved tax-free and if you invested in the stockmarket.

Statistical analyses show share investments have risen by an average of 12 per cent a year since 1919. So the stockmarket is your best bet for long-term growth, and more stockbrokers are offering their services on the Internet. Latest to go live dealing is private client specialist Redmayne Bentley, with Redmayne Direct. Charges start at a minimum pounds 12.95 or 0.5 per cent of the value of the deal.

A thought on the planned Freeserve flotation by Dixons, limited to private investors who register over the Internet. It is a massive gamble. Do not invest money you are not prepared to lose.

The Lottery and Ernie offer odds of 14 million to one and 68 million to one respectively so they are not exactly a sure-fire route to wealth and comfort. For really silly odds on a pounds 1 bet to get you a million, go to a casino and put a pound chip on your favourite number on the roulette table. All you need to walk away with more than a million is for the number to come up four times in a row. But don't hold your breath.

Gates Personal Wealth Clock:

www.webho.com/ WealthClockIntl

Virgin Direct millionaireometer :www.virgin-direct.co.uk

Redmayne Direct: www.redm.co.uk

Robin can be reached at RobinAmlot@aol.com