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Top 5 Paths to a Million Dollars

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Even though it has lost a lot of buying power over the years, many people consider having a net worth of a million dollars a significant achievement. Today, I'd like to examine some of the common ways that people become millionaires.

5. Marry Rich - This was the route that brought Anna Nicole Smith much of her fame and fortune followed. Unfortunately, it probably won't make you happy, which is probably your goal.

4. Be Extraordinarily Talented - Many sports players, musicians, and other entertainers follow this path to success. Unfortunately, you generally have to be in the top .00001 of talent level or...

3. Be Extraordinarily Lucky - Sometimes the talent in #4 isn't enough. There are a lot of starving artists who are more talented than Biz Markie - yet Biz has likely made millions from a single song. Or perhaps you can go the lottery winning route. Unfortunately, for all the rabbits' feet and four-leaf clovers I have, I am still far away from being a millionaire.

2. Perform some Crazy Stunts - It seemed to work for Jackass star Johnny Knoxville and even SuperSize Me star Morgan Spurlock. Or perhaps you could trade one red paper clip for a million dollars. Unfortunately these all require quite a bit of luck, creativity, and a high tolerance to withstand pain and/or physical and verbal abuse.

1. Read and follow all five of the principles at GenX Finance. This requires a little discipline, but very little luck, very little pain, very little talent, and very little creativity. I think we have a winner.

There are more ways that aren't on this list - including The Digerati Life's tips on how to be a millionaire. For instance, starting a company is another very common way. However, I'm limited to just 5 for the Top 5 Group Writing Project.

Last updated on June 1, 2012.

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26 Responses to “Top 5 Paths to a Million Dollars”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the mention :D I tried to marry rich but that didn’t work out for me. Who knew you could marry a lawyer that earns less than some McDonalds managers.

  2. I’m gonna have to take part in that content too! check my blog shortly….

  3. Shadox says:

    You are forgetting one of the best ones: join a really hot start-up, get tons of stock options and wait for it to go public…

    I guess that could be filed under “be really lucky”, but here is Silicon Valley there just seem to be so many stories about people that got ridiculously rich by joining [insert name of start-up here].

  4. Ali says:

    Or how about make a page of 1 millions pixels for sale, oh wait even alex can’t repeat his success with pixelotto.

    I guess I just have to do the hard work

    Funny read have a look at my blog writing project as well.

  5. Good post! Humor with a link to some good info at the end. I like the title too. It follows one of the five techniques that I suggest in my post Top 5 Tantalizing Blog Title Techniques.

    Sorry for the self advert, hope you don’t mind. Good luck in the runnings! I did enjoy the read.

  6. dotnetnuke says:

    Marry Rich, is a nice idea :)

  7. johnydepp says:

    Hi. at first i have been thinking of doing something like http://www.sketchmyphoto.com. However, I m sad when i browse the net and saw a few similar services. The website is servicing for free. What else idea you all have? Maybe we can brainstorm a little.

  8. Wczasy says:

    I wan`t by Merry Rich :)

  9. […] Top 5 Paths to a Million Dollars by Lazy Man and Money […]

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  11. […] I had a million dollars – (If I had a million dollars) I’d buy you a house – (I would buy you a house) If I had a million dollars – (If I had a […]

  12. makkelijk geld verdienen says:

    yeah marry rich … the easy way out. too bad i already got married 10 years ago before I thought of that. i married poor and i am poor :) no just joking, i have a nice side income from online work too, but not as good as you are doing. i’m still working hard on that though. launching a new website almost every week now.

  13. Mark Nelson says:

    Marry rich would work well.

    Build a business with a passive income stream

  14. I was having a similar conversation with my OH the other day. We were talking about all the “rich” people I had looked after in my job as a Financial Adviser, and how they came to be that way. Interestingly most were rich through methods over than those which would immediately come to mind. Here are the top three ways:
    1) Received a life insurance payout on the death of a close relative.
    2) Bought there council house for pennies at the start of Thatcher’s “Right to Buy” scheme in the late 80s.
    3) Received a large redundancy settlement and used it to buy a house.

  15. can't say says:

    The coolest and funnest isn’t always the easiest.

    No expert, but the EASIEST (by easiest I mean the less physical labor) would HAVE to be start young, invest, and let interest get you to a million. My father in law started that way. HIS dad invested in the stock market for 11 years of age. Never, ever made a salary above 15,000 annual and died at 88 with over 2M.

    My father-in-law started in the market at 9. Never made over 40K and made a million by 60. Now HIS son is around 40 and is about the break a million. He cuts grass for a living. ANd works for the state.

    But, they ALL live like they are living paycheck to paycheck. No big deal house, no big deal car. Dress in Kmart clothes. Just don’t see the point. Some people just like to see the ink.

    Me, I’m a loser. Been self employed just about all my life, always struggled, always barely made ends meet. Last 5 years, things turned around. I figured out that doing all the physical labor myself would never get me there. EVERYTHING I own, all my stocks, savings, house, cars, EVERYTHING has come in the last 2 YEARS. And if I can stay lucky for another 5 years, I will have doubled my inlaws. But luck will HAVE to continue.

    To ME, if you’re OVER 20, the best way, combining ease, luck, reality, NON pipe dream (getting in with the next microsoft is a pipe dream, it MIGHT happen, but don’t bet on it) is working for yourself. Find something youre GOOD at, and INTERESTED in, no MATTER WHAT it is, and combine that with NEVER EVER QUIT attitude and it will come. You ALWAYS need LUCK, always. (and don’t ever, ever believe “you make your own luck”. You very well MAY once in a while, but you NEED to be lucky along with all those positive personal traits.
    But don’t think luck ALONE will get you there. (it MIGHT, but again, don’t count on it).

    But IF youre LAZY, get in the stock market EARLY. My inlaw was one of the most physically lazy human beings I have ever met. But he got ABSOLUTELY OFF when he would make money off of someone else’s sweat and talent. Now, if youre hardworking, talented AND love the market, well, then……..you’re gonna make a LOT of money in your life, most likely.

  16. Gabriel says:

    Top .00001 of talent level, that’s crazy. I never thought about that. What do you think the chances of becoming a millionaire as a gamer is?

  17. Johnny says:

    When I was in my teens I wanted to be a Pro Gamer! Yeah.. that didn’t take off. I tried, I learnt and tried something else.

    If it’s mowing lawns, writing legal agreements, serving bus tickets for $2 at the station – you can still invest.

    I wrote a post How to Get Rich Slowly and Retire on Passive Income. I’m sure you’ve made it here because you want to learn to get rich. The learning never stops. Good luck with your monies.


  18. moneybags says:

    I just wanted to take issue with your use of Biz Markie in example #3. To say he’s extaordinarily lucky (and not talented) is a bit insulting. In the dj/hip-hop industry, Biz Markie is well-known for his talents and hard work, and his appearances are still in continual demand to this day. In fact you could say he was un-lucky considering the lawsuits against him regarding sampling in the 80s. Most know him as a one-hit-wonder, so I know why you used him as an example, but he’d be a better example for #4 IMO ;)

  19. James says:


    Interesting posting. One thing you haven’t mentioned is inheriting money. One major way that Americas wealthy have achieved their money is by inheriting it.

    In fact, the higher degree of inheritance is one of the reasons that whites have higher wealth levels than blacks.

  20. Thomas Dotson says:

    I created a million dollar net worth and $30,000 per year in passive (or somewhat passive, LOL) income in 5 years with single family home real estate rental properties. My initial investment was $51000 that I had accumulated in savings over 20 years. I still have that in savings plus owning the properties. For the average person this may be the best path to wealth. Love your blog!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I like the idea of having your parents invest in the stock market for you when you’re young. How about if the government puts $500 into an index fund for every US citizen at birth, with no possibility of cashing out until age 65 (maybe some exceptions like disability) (and when you die, whatever is in the account goes into paying for new accounts for those who are born), and that’s the replacement for Social Security? Then everyone would be a millionaire at 65, with any luck. Radical, I know. It would pay off more than these one-time rebates they hand out.

  22. Does anyone else feel thawt purhaps those 5 steps should be taught in school??? We recieve NO financial education. It’s meant to be something you just KNOW like how to raise children or be in a successful relationship. We’re given more education on how to dress properly for jobs in school than on finance. I get sooo frustrated with people saying oh it’s easy for you your “well off, etc” and I keep saying no i’m not i earn what you do, i just didn’t piss my money away for a decade.

  23. Jeremy says:

    As someone who managed money for people with liquid net worths in excess of $4 million, I would have to disagree with your list.

    Here is what I saw amongst my clients (in order of most frequent to least):

    1. Executive at a medium to large company that went public or was bought out by a larger public company. During the 90s, this was mainly executives at regional banks being bought out by large national banks and making millions on their stock and tech companies.

    2. Founder of a small or medium sized business that was bought out by a larger company (usually public, sometimes a large privately held company).

    3. Very income combined with high savings rate (e.g. surgeons, i-bankers, pro athletes with long careers and good money habits, which is rare but does happen).

    4. Inheritance/marrying & divorcing well.

    5. Lotto/lawsuit winners.

  24. Johannah B says:

    Here are my tips….
    I could write for a week on this topic.
    1) Never spend all that you make. Always save something.
    2) Never have any debt – Save for what you want and then buy it. (debt puts you in bondage to the holder and puts your extra $$ in someone else’s pocket). If you have to do debt like a mortgage – pay it off ASAP (We paid our 15 year mortgage off in 3 years – it as a priority to do so for us.).

    3)Use up or wear out any resource before buying a replacement. (goes for car, phone, computer, TV, furniture, clothing!)

    4)Learn to be happy with what you do have, and take care of what you do have, so it lasts.

    5)Learn skills that help you save major dollars over time. Like being able to fix something yourself — doing your families hair cutting — doing your own nails, changing your own oil, mowing your own grass, painting, wall-papering, using coupons, cooking from scratch, etc. AND then use these skills for yourself, and to earn extra money that you then SAVE.

    6) Get a second job and SAVE every cent.

    As a kid, a million seemed like an impossible number but I put in on the goal list, along with marrying, owning a house, having a family, save a million. It’s not a big number anymore.

  25. […] in by selling parts of Lindsay's car on Ebay. It reminds me of the "do something crazy" step in my 5 Paths to a Million Dollars. A local radio station noted that an auction for concert tickets – with a meet and greet of the […]

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