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What jobs made people rich?

How Most Millionaires Got Rich

Ever wonder how self-made millionaires earned their fortune?

  • There are two types of millionaires: self-made millionaires and those born into wealth.
  • More than two-thirds of individuals with a net worth of $30 million or more are considered “self-made.”
  • No matter how millionaires get their money, they all share some core traits, including prioritizing savings and diversifying investments.
  • This article is forthose curious abouthow self-made millionaires got to where they are today and hoping to learn something from their success.

Most of today’s millionaires weren’t born into their wealth, research shows.

A 2019 study published by Wealth-X found that around 68% of those with a net worth of $30 million or more made it themselves.

Further, a second study by Fidelity Investments found that 88% of all millionaires are self-made, meaning they did not inherit their wealth.

The Fidelity study also revealed that self-made millionaires’ top sources of assets were investments/capital appreciation, compensation and employee stock options/profit sharing. This path is markedly different from those who inherited their wealth, who are more likely to cite entrepreneurship, real estate investment appreciation and the inheritance itself as asset sources.

For self-made millionaires, though, coming into wealth isn’t always a simple process – many of them worked hard to achieve the financial success they did, and then had the smarts and savvy and put their new wealth in the right places. What do some of these self-made millionaires have in common, and what lessons can you learn for your own investment strategy?

What traits do millionaires have in common?

The Fidelity study results showed that even though millionaires have different ways of making money, they often share these traits:

  • They set ambitious goals and act on them. Self-made millionaires put their ideas and dreams into action, whether that’s starting a business or achieving other professional or personal pursuits. This determination is a common driver among many who made their millions without an inheritance.
  • They have mentors. Many self-made millionaires are quick to admit that they cannot possibly know how to do everything. They reach out to others who know the ins and outs of different types of saving and investing, tapping into the best minds on each subject for perspective and insight. That certainly pays off.
  • They look for feedback. For a self-made millionaire, self-improvement never stops. Self-made millionaires look for critique and feedback in their ideas and business practices, ensuring that they can better identify blind spots and guarantee that their ventures will succeed.
  • They are not afraid of failure. Millionaires understand the benefits of learning lessons through failure. However, the risks they take are thoroughly calculated and each scenario played out. Once they commit to something, they give their all.
  • They understand the value of time. Time is money, and millionaires know this all too They quickly learn how to manage their time, and they know that there is no reason to trade time for money.

Key Takeaway

Surveys show that millionaires share many traits in common, including ambition, the value of time, not being afraid of failure, and knowing when to ask the experts for help.

What do millionaires do with their money?

When it comes to investment strategies, self-made millionaires were more likely to add equity investments, while those who were born wealthy typically had more real estate investments, according to the study. Diversifying those investments is key among many millionaires.

Millionaires put their money in a variety of places, including their primary residence, mutual funds, stocks and retirement accounts. Millionaires focus on putting their money where it is going to grow. They are careful not to invest large sums into items that will depreciate. A car for everyday driving, for example, will most likely lose value over time.

The key for most millionaires is to save money before spending it. No matter how much their annual salary may be, most millionaires put their money where it will grow, usually in stocks, bonds, and other types of stable investments.

Key Takeaway

Millionaires put their money into places where it will grow such as mutual funds, stocks and retirement accounts.

Examples of self-made millionaires

According to the same Wealth-X study discussed earlier in this article, as of 2018, a little over 265,000 individuals are considered ultra-wealthy, meaning they have a net worth of $30 million or more. Moreover, more than two-thirds are self-made. Here are three famous examples:

  • Barbara Corcoran : The real estate mogul turned Shark Tank investor started her eponymous brokerage business with a $1,000 loan. Under her supervision, shegrew the business into a multi-million-dollar empire that she sold for $66 million in 2001.
  • Janice Bryant Howroyd. The founder and CEO of ActOne Group started her staffing agency with $1,500 ($900 of which she borrowed from her mother), a fax machine, and a phone. She is now one of the richest self-made Black women millionaires in the U.S., with an estimated net worth of $285 million.
  • Warren Buffet . Perhaps one of the most famous and richest people in the world – and technically a billionaire and not a millionaire — Warren Buffett still merits a mention in this list because he is well known for being self-made. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO made his first millions by running a hedge fund and is known for his principled and sensible approach to investing.

What are the best ways to become a millionaire?

The Fidelity study showed that when considering their financial future, 30% of the millionaires surveyed said they were concerned with preserving their wealth, while 20% said they were focused on growing their fortune. This forms the basis of some basic strategies if you’re hoping to join the millionaire ranks.

“Today’s millionaires are multidimensional, and to really understand them, you need to look not only at their outlook but also at their path to wealth and their financial goals for the future,” said Sanjiv Mirchandani, president of National Financial, a Fidelity Investments company.

Millionaires suggest several paths to building your wealth. Here are a few that you can learn from yourself:

Invest in different places and avenues

Don’t put your eggs in one basket. Diversifying your investments helps manage risk by ensuring that all your money is not at risk if a particular investment goes south.

Have multiple streams of income

Many self-made millionaires have money coming in from several places, including their salaries, dividends from investments, income from rental properties, and investments they have made in other business enterprises, to name a few examples. If one income stream slows down, there’s another that can take its place. Much of this is called passive income, or money being earned without actively spending time and effort in the enterprise.

Save, save, save

One common theme you’ll hear from self-made millionaires is to hold on to your money. Put your money in investment accounts where it can sit and earn interest over time (even though interest rates are much lower than they used to be).

Do the rich just work harder? Some CEOs certainly think so

US Money Jack Ma Alibaba

Last week, Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba, became the richest man in China. Hours after he rang the bell to start trading Alibaba stock on the New York stock exchange, the company was valued at $231bn and Ma himself was worth more than $19bn.

Ma didn’t grow up privileged. What’s the secret to his success? It’s the one you hear from so many CEOs: hard work and dedication, according to his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative.

“We don’t have a rich father or a powerful uncle. We only have the customers that support us,” Ma told Chelsea Clinton earlier this week, noting that Alibaba is a proof that “80% of the people in China can be successful”.

Ma is not the only one to believe that the way out of poverty is through hard work. The self-made success, who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, is at the heart of the American dream.

“Liberals talk about circumstances; conservatives talk about character,” writes Paul Krugman in a recent column, adding that for conservatives and the rich, “it’s all about not trying hard enough”.

Questioning the narrative of the bulletproof work ethic is a bit like questioning mom and apple pie.

But it is true? Is a will to succeed and work ethic the primary ingredient that separates those who rise economically and those who don’t?

There are reasons to be skeptical. Hard work will only get you so far if circumstances aren’t amenable. The US economy is sputtering, barely motoring along. Unemployment is high, and job opportunities are rare. In a recent HuffingtonPost/ YouGov survey, 44% of them said that they believe that low-income Americans are poor due to lack of opportunities. About 47% said that poverty has to do with the fact that good jobs are not available. Just 28% said it’s because poor Americans lack a work ethic.

A recent hoax highlighted the resentment many feel against the perceived condescension of rich CEOs when jobs are unavailable and student debt is high.

Ma’s speech at the Clinton Global Initiative took place around the same time that a fake op-ed, allegedly written by Ma, began circulating on the internet.

“If you’re still poor at 35, you deserve it,” the piece declared.

“We can confirm that the article was not written by Jack,” an Alibaba spokesperson told the Guardian.

There are, however, a few millionaires who agree that most people should just be working harder and whining less. Herewith, a few instant classics.

‘Woe is me. Woe is us. Woe is this’

US Money 99% occupy wall street

That is what Bud Konheim, co-founder and CEO of fashion company Nicole Miller, said in February when he appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

“We’ve got a country [where] the poverty level is wealth in 99% of the rest of the world. So we are talking about ‘Woe is me. Woe is us. Woe is this,’” he said. “So here we are, incredibly wealthy. Nobody has to suffer. There it is, money is all over the place and the guy that’s making – ‘Oh my God, he’s making $35,000 a year.’ Why don’t you try that out in India or some countries we can’t even name? China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy.”

While Konheim might be right and globally $34,000 a year would put you into the top 1%, in the US that’s barely enough to get by because it’s more expensive in raw dollars to buy food and consumer products in the US.

‘I succeed because I am driven and I take the risks. Deal with it’

US Money Sam Zell

Clearly, poor people just need to be motivated. However, instead of providing them with opportunities, the government with the help of things like tax credits and unemployment insurance has contributed to the state of “learned helplessness” among America’s poor, Sam Zell, founder of Equity Group Investments. said when he appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box in 2012.

The reality is as follows: the whole focus has been on how the 1%-ers, the 10%-ers – whatever these top earners [are] – have moved ahead of everybody. I wonder if there’s any correlation between while they were moving ahead, the rest of the government was subsidizing more and more people and disincentivizing them. Why is it always assumed that somebody doesn’t succeed because he can’t, as opposed to he doesn’t want to, or isn’t incentivized to.

“I think that they are disincentivized by, in effect, if you don’t have to pay for your health care, that’s another thing you don’t have to worry about,” he added. “For every step contributing to the progress at the top, there’s an additional step on the bottom to increase the earned income [tax credit], to extend unemployment insurance for 28 years.”

His final words to host Andrew Ross Sorkin: “The world is not a zero-sum game. If I succeed, it doesn’t mean that you don’t. I succeed because I am driven and I take the risks. Deal with it.”

This wasn’t the last time that Zell made such statements, either.

‘The 1% work harder. The 1% are much bigger factors in society’


Earlier this year, after Tom Perkins compared the war on the rich to holocaust, Zell jumped to Perkins’ defense.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Perkins wrote:

I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American 1%, namely the “rich.”

“I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful 1%,” he added.

“I guess my feeling is that he’s right,” he said. “The 1% are being pummeled because it’s politically convenient to do so.”

The problem is that the world and this country should not talk about envy of the 1%. It should talk about emulating the 1%. The 1% work harder. The 1% are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.

Zell is not the only one to think that everyone envies the rich.

‘Spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising’

US Money Gina Rinehart

That’s according to Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart. Her advice? Stop socializing and get to work.

“There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she wrote in a 2012 column for Australian Resources and Investment magazine.

If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working. Become one of those people who work hard, invest and build, and at the same time create employment and opportunities for others.

We’re opening the comments section to debate. What do you think is the secret ingredient to climbing out of poverty? Hard work? Luck? Or a little bit of both?

10 Surprisingly High-Paying Jobs You’ve Never Dreamed of Doing

woman in hardhat

Are you searching for surprisingly good ways to make money that not many people know about to switch up from your day-to-day? Several money-making opportunities aren’t your typical job. After someone asked the internet what these careers looked like, these are the top-voted recommendations.

Table of Contents

1. Window Replacement Service

One person volunteered that they make great money as a window installer. It’s a physically demanding, “hot and dirty” job but lucrative. Furthermore, they confessed to working one to three days a week and “living very comfortably.”

2. Blue Collar Jobs

renewable energy jobs

Blue-collar jobs, including mason, carpenter, mechanic, technician, plumber, and electrician, are where good money is, according to many in the thread. One reminded people how much you cringe when you hear how much the plumber will cost. You could be the plumber making $100k without a college degree!

3. Golf Course and Driving Range Staff

Sometimes you can make good money on golf courses or driving ranges picking up and returning golf balls. One man explained that there is an aquatic driving range at the golf course he plays at, and they pay staff or volunteers $30 per barrel of golf balls picked up. He confessed to picking up three barrels (30-liter garbage container) in two and a half hours – cha-ching.

4. Selling Plasma

woman medical tester

Many users confirmed that selling plasma is an excellent way to make money if you meet the criteria. One elaborated there are often bonuses for your first month, referring friends, and other “wacky things like holidays or coming in dressed like a pirate.”

5. An Actuary

An actuary measures and manages risk and uncertainty and makes great money. The name of the corresponding field is Actuarial Science. One explained, “These risks can affect both sides of the balance sheet and require asset management, liability management, and valuation skills.”

6. Computer Coder

People suggested that learning how to code is the best way to earn money if you’re good at math. According to one, entry-level coding jobs get you well into the six-figure range. For example, their son makes $20k for two months at an internship with a tech company.

7. Youth Sports Official

According to one Redditor, a Youth Sports Official is an excellent side gig for many because they are primarily paid in cash. Several others agreed that youth officials get paid well for a couple of days a week.

8. Electron Microscopy

Electron microscopy was mentioned as being a lucrative field. Someone volunteered that they did Lamella prep in undergrad school with a starting annual salary of $78,000, plus benefits. It’s a two-year degree from community college, or in this Redditor’s instance, a “technical background from the military.”

9. Moving and Storage

truck driver

Moving and Storage led one man to $250,000 annually within two-to-three years. He spent $25k for a truck, tape, straps, blankets, and a dolly. However, he did explain it’s a demanding industry that requires long hours, and the work isn’t always “fun,” but the paycheck is beautiful.

10. Real Estate Photography

Finally, real estate photographers stated they make upward of $2000 daily after getting into the swing of it. There aren’t any formal qualifications or degree demands for this job. However, you need to do it well to make any money. One suggested they make $60 per hour for floor plans and $150 an hour for the photography portion.

What do you think? Did Reddit get this right, or do you have a better suggestion to add to this list? Please do so in the comments. We’d love to hear them. This article is inspired by the internet and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Wealthy Nickel.

More From Wealthy Nickel:

  • 47 Surprising Ways to Make an Extra $1000 a Month
  • Check Your Wallet for These $1 Bills – They May Be Worth Up to $150,000
  • 10 Dumbest Things People Have Seen Others Spend Money On
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