70% of Self-Made Millionaires Became Wealthy After Age 50


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How long does it take to become rich?

I get asked that question a lot from the media.

It took 124 of the 177 self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study, or 70%, about 28 years to accumulate their wealth. That’s a long time.

But the real answer to how long it takes depends on your chosen path to wealth. In my Study, I discovered that there were 4 paths to wealth and each path had a different time horizon for accumulating wealth

The Saver-Investor Path

This path takes the longest. On average, it took 32 years for the Saver-Investor self-made millionaires in my Study to accumulate their wealth. The reason this path takes so long is because the Saver-Investors did not make a lot of money. Most had a middle-class income, saved 20% or more of their income and then prudently invested those savings.

In the majority of cases, their savings were invested in the stock market. However, a good percentage built most of their wealth investing in real estate – primarily single-family rental properties.

The Big Company Climber Path

Big Company Climbers are individuals who hitch their wagon to one or two companies during their careers and spend their careers climbing the company ladder. It took the Big Company Climbers an average of 20 years to accumulate their wealth.

Once they became part of the company leadership they became beneficiaries and one of the rewards for reaching the C Suite was stock compensation in the form of Incentive Stock Options, Stock Grants, Stock Appreciation Rights or Non-Qualified Stock Options. For the Big Company Climbers, 90% of their wealth was the direct result of receiving stock compensation.

The Virtuoso Path

Virtuosos are individuals who are among the top in their field. Virtuosos could be Knowledge-Based Virtuosos or Skill-Based Virtuosos. On average, it took Virtuosos 21 years to accumulate their wealth.

The Dreamer-Entrepreneur Path

The Dreamer-Entrepreneur Path was the shortest path to accumulating wealth. On average, it took the Dreamer-Entrepreneurs 12 years to accumulate their wealth. And the Dreamer-Entrepreneur Path was by far the most lucrative path to wealth. The Dreamers accumulated approximately $7.4 million in wealth.

But the Dreamer-Entrepreneur path also happens to be the most difficult path to wealth. In the early years of being a Dreamer-Entrepreneur, the Dreamer is forced to sacrifice time with family and friends, working 50-60 hours a week, often weekends and holidays, for many years.

Not many are willing to do that.

Another difficulty faced by Dreamers is the unrelenting stress they must endure: cash flow problems that make it hard to pay vendors, struggling to make payroll when cash flow is low, having to go without pay when cashflow is low, unanticipated problems, downturns in the economy causing disruptions to the business, losing big customers/clients, keeping big customers/clients, solving intractable problems and many other stresses haunt every Dreamer-Entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur myself, it is not an easy life, particularly in the beginning stages. But in my view it is worth it.

Tom Corley Headshot
Tom Corley

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner, public speaker, and author of the books “Effort-Less Wealth: Smart Money Habits At Every Stage of Your Life” and “RichKids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life“.  Corley’s work has appeared on CNN, USA Today, The Huffington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, and many other media outlets and podcasts in the U.S. and 27 other countries. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider and CNBC.



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