How Do Most Millionaires Make Their Money?






You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. —Wayne Gretzky


By Mark Ferguson  September 14, 2015

Making one million dollars a year is not as impressive as it was in the past thanks to inflation. However, it is still a goal for many people and many people consider millionaires to be “rich”. To qualify as a millionaire you simply have to have one million dollars in net worth, which is not as rare as it used to be. There are many studies on wealth but from what I could research about 6 percent of United States households are considered millionaires. It is interesting to see to more and more people becoming millionaires thanks to inflation and also to a strong economy. The question I am curious about is how do people become millionaires? Is it through inheritance, investment, saving, business, real estate or a combination of many sources?

I am considered a millionaire and I made my money almost entirely through real estate as a real estate agent, by flipping houses and by owning rental properties. It is interesting to note that while selling houses as a real estate agent and flipping houses I make a lot of money, but owning rental properties has increased my net worth the most. It is great to make a lot of money, but you need to make sure you have something to show for it by saving and investing.


How do most people become millionaires?

I have been researching how most people became millionaires for a very long time. I cannot find a survey or survey results that gives a straight answer! I can find how most billionaires made their money and the statistics are listed below for the US and the world.

Top 10 Industries Producing U.S. Billionaires

  1. Investments: 100 billionaires
  2. Technology: 51 billionaires
  3. Media: 37
  4. Energy: 35
  5. Food and Beverage: 31
  6. Service: 31
  7. Fashion and Retail: 28
  8. Real Estate: 27
  9. Manufacturing: 18
  10. Sports: 15

Global Top 10 Industries Producing Forbes Billionaires

  1. Investments: 143
  2. Fashion & Retail: 123
  3. Real Estate: 102
  4. Diversified: 97
  5. Technology: 90
  6.  Manufacturing: 85
  7. Energy: 78
  8. Finance: 77
  9. Food & Beverage: 69
  10. Media: 64

While it is interesting to see how most people became billionaires, the average person does not have a very good chance of becoming a billionaire or may not even want to be a billionaire. I have found a couple of articles that claim 80 percent of millionaires made their money with real estate and some that say as many as 90 percent. However I can’t find sources for the studies or where this information came from. However, it does not surprise me that most people become millionaires because of real estate.

Why does real estate produce so many millionaires?

Many people will argue that stocks or mutual funds are a much better investment than real estate, because the average gain of the stock market is higher than the average gain of housing prices over the last 100 years. However, when you invest in real estate or even buy a house to live in, the wealth you are gaining is not as simple as the increase in value of the home.

Buying one rental property and holding it for 30 years may not make you a millionaire. Actually it most likely would make you a millionaire thanks to inflation, but being a millionaire in 30 years will not be the same as being a millionaire today. If you can buy multiple properties over time that are great deals you can become a millionaire rather quickly. You don’t even have to have a lot of money to start with.

What other ways can real estate make you a millionaire?

We just discussed how rental properties can make you a millionaire, but there are many other ways to make a lot of money with real estate. I wrote a couple of articles about how to make millions with real estate below.

Besides flipping and being a real estate agent there are more ways to use real estate to make a lot of money.

  • Development: Probably the way to make the most money the fastest in real estate is by developing land into residential or commercial projects. This technique also extremely risky and takes a lot of money and experience. I know a couple of real estate developers in my area who are worth close to or over 100 million and many of the billionaires who used real estate are developers.
  • Building homes: Building goes hand in hand with developing and is another way to make a lot of money, but can be very risky if the markets turn.
  • Owning raw land: Raw land can be developed, but it also can make you rich without development. Many farmers have become millionaires because they owned large plots of land close to developing areas. The closer the towns get to their land the more it is worth. Mineral rights can also be extremely valuable if oil, natural gas or other resources are found on your land.

What other factors contribute to becoming a millionaire?

If you want to be rich, you can’t go out and buy a few houses and assume they will make you rich. You have to educate yourself, made a plan and have the right attitude. This article has some very cool data on how rich think differently than the poor. Here are some highlights from a survey that defines rich people as those with an annual income of $160,000 or more and a liquid net worth of $3.2 million or more, and poor people as those with an annual income of $35,000 or less and a liquid net worth of $5,000 or less.

  • “Daily habits are critical to financial success in life.”
    Rich people who agree: 52%
    Poor people who agree: 3%2. “The American dream is no longer possible.”
    Rich people who agree: 2%
    Poor people who agree: 87%
  1. “Relationships are critical to financial success.”
    Rich people who agree: 88%
    Poor people who agree: 17%


  1. “I love meeting new people.”

Rich people who agree: 68%
Poor people who agree: 11%

  1. “Saving money is critical to financial success.”
    Rich people who agree: 88%
    Poor people who agree: 52%
  2. “I believe in fate.”
    Rich people who agree: 10%
    Poor people who agree: 90%
  3. “Creativity is critical to financial success.”
    Rich people who agree: 75%
    Poor people who agree: 11%
  4. “I like (or liked) what I do for a living.”
    Rich people who agree: 85%
    Poor people who agree: 2%

9.”Good health is critical to financial success.”
Rich people who agree: 85%
Poor people who agree: 13%

  1. “I’ve taken a risk in search of wealth.”
    Rich people who agree: 63%
    Poor people who agree: 6%

You don’t have to use real estate to become a millionaire, but you do have to have the right outlook and attitude. These results show some very consistent and clear data regarding why rich people make more money. They are willing to take chances, they are willing to get out of their comfort zone by meeting new people, they love what they do for a living, they save their moneyand they believe that their actions are what will make them successful.

Many people feel the wealthy had an unfair advantage growing up and that is why they became successful. Statistics show that 80 percent or more of the wealthy were self-made. Studies also show that people who are first generation Americans are more likely to become millionaires than those that have lived in the country for multiple generations. Theories suggest people who live here for multiple generations gain habits of spending too much money, which makes it hard to ever become rich no matter how much money you make. People who come from other countries also want to take full advantage of the opportunities the US provides compared to where they came from.

What steps can you take right now to become a millionaire?

You don’t have to use real estate to become rich, but I feel it is one of the easier ways to make a lot of money. This article goes into detail on how my rental properties increased my net worth by $600,000 in 3.5 years. I also recently wrote an article about how I have created or will have four business that are real estate related that make over $100,000 a year. Whether you choose real estate or another avenue to make your money doing these things will make the journey easier.

  • Do something that you like doing. If you hate your job and can’t wait until you can go home every day, it is very unlikely you will give the extra effort it takes to get ahead.
  • Save Money: Yes I bought a Lamborghini last year, but I saved money for many years before buying it. I also bought the car partially as an investment and it has increased on value this last year.
  • Make goals and plan your life:Most people drift through life hoping success will find them some how. It doesn’t work that way, you have to find success and make it happen. Start by writing out how you want your life to be in the future and then make goals and plans that will help you make it a reality.
  • Start your own businesses: 75 percent of millionaires are self-employed even though only 20 percent of the work force is self-employed.
  • Don’t be afraid to learn from those before you: Whatever you do, there has been someone else who has tried it before. Most likely there are people who have written about it or have created products to help those who want to get started. Don’t try to do everything on your own, because it will take longer and your chances of success will be less.
  • Associate with people who believe in you: If you are constantly around negative people who tell you that you can’t succeed you probably won’t succeed. Choose friends and associates wisely who are supportive and encouraging.


Becoming rich is not easy. Many people who inherit wealth or have money come easily to them lose it. If you want to get ahead of the game and live an awesome life you have to do what most people aren’t willing to do. Otherwise we would all be rich! Whether you choose real estate or another avenue to make your riches, make sure you choose the path and you do whatever falls in your lap because it is the easiest route. Most people will won’t follow through with their plans or intentions when things get tough, don’t be most people.



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I am a successful Commercial / Investment Real Estate Broker in Arizona now for 20 years.  I am also a commercial land specialist in Phoenix and a Landspecialist in Arizona. If you have any questions about Commercial / Investment Properties in Phoenix or Commercial /  Investment Properties in Arizona,  I will gladly sit down with you and share my expertise and my professional opinion with you. I am also in this to make money therefore it will be a win-win situation for all of us. 

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