The number of millionaires in the U.S. is at an all-time high, with 10.23 million U.S. households boasting a net worth between $1 million and $5 million. As the number of millionaire households continues to increase for the 10th consecutive year, GOBankingRates found that many Americans expect to become wealthy. In fact, when 1,008 people were asked, “Do you think that you will become a millionaire during your lifetime?” back in 2017, a surprising 29% said “yes” and 71% said “no.”
In a new 2019 survey, GOBankingRates wanted to find out whether Americans who are confident they’ll become millionaires actually have a plan to achieve wealth. The survey asked 1,001 aspiring millionaires about their plans for getting rich, how long they think it’ll take, and what steps and sacrifices are necessary to reach their goal.
The results show that a majority of aspiring millionaires do have a plan:
- About 62% of respondents said they’ve outlined how to become a millionaire compared with nearly 38% who have not.
- At nearly 69%, millennial respondents ages 25 to 34 were the most likely to have a plan for how to get rich.
- Baby boomers ages 55 to 64, on the other hand, were the least likely to have a plan, with only 55% of respondents in this age group answering in the affirmative.
- Men were more likely than women to confirm plans for becoming a millionaire — about 64% versus nearly 61%.
Keep reading to discover what Americans say you need to do to achieve millionaire status in the U.S.
Learning How To Invest Is the First Step to Wealth
Thanks to the power of compound interest, investing can be a great way to grow your money. If you’re worried about losing money when investing, consider safer investments that still offer good returns.
Nearly 40% of respondents said the first step to becoming a millionaire is learning how to invest. Not only was this the top response overall, but it was also the most popular among all age groups and both men and women.
Survey Question: Which of the following must you do first to become a millionaire one day?
|Answer Choice||Response Rate|
|Learn how to invest||39.8%|
|Save more/spend less||17.8%|
|Pay off debt/pay back loans||17.6%|
|Get a college degree (e.g. bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D.)||8.4%|
|Land a higher-paying job||5.6%|
Other common responses were saving more and spending less, as well as paying off debt. Each of these choices garnered about 18% of the responses. Respondents were less likely to think that getting a college degree or landing a higher-paying job is the initial steppingstone to wealth.
However, young adults ages 18 to 24 were far more likely to believe that graduating with a college degree is the first step to becoming a millionaire. Approximately 25% of respondents in this age group chose this response. By a margin of nearly 6 percent, men were more likely than women to think that a college degree is an important first step.
Adults ages 65 and older were the most likely to believe that people should prioritize saving more and spending less to reach millionaire status, at nearly 22%. Women were also more likely than men to think that saving more and spending less are the first things you must do to become a millionaire, at about 20% and 15%, respectively.
Learn More: 10 Safe Investments With High Returns
20% of Americans Think Starting a Business Is the Right Move
GOBankingRates’ survey found that Americans don’t see just one clear path to becoming a millionaire. The most popular idea was starting a business, with 20% of respondents saying this is the best way to achieve millionaire status. Other popular ways were investing in the stock market and investing in real estate. However, nearly one-third of respondents said they didn’t know the best way to become a millionaire.
Younger adults ages 18 to 34 were more likely than older adults to think that starting a business is the No. 1 path to becoming a millionaire. Millennials were also more likely than older generations to believe that following a strict budget is the best way to achieve wealth.
Survey Question: What is the best way to become a millionaire?
|Respondents||Most Common Answer Choice||Second-Most Common Answer Choice|
|Ages 18-24||27.3% selected “start your own business”||21.3% selected “I don’t know”|
|Ages 25-34||28.3% selected “start your own business”||16.3% selected “I don’t know”|
|Ages 35-44||27.8% selected “I don’t know”||19.9% selected “start your own business”|
|Ages 45-54||30.9% selected “I don’t know”||19.9% selected “start your own business”|
|Ages 55-64||40.1% selected “I don’t know”||14.6% selected “start your own business”|
|Ages 65 and older||33.3% selected “I don’t know”||20.8% selected “invest in the stock market”|
|Male||30.1% selected “I don’t know”||19.8% selected “start your own business”|
|Female||29% selected “I don’t know”||20.2% selected “start your own business”|
Adults ages 65 and older, on the other hand, were the most likely to think that investing in the stock market is the clearest road to riches. However, the most common response among this age group — as well as respondents ages 35 to 64 — to the survey question was, “I don’t know.”
Over 58% Believe You Can Become a Millionaire Within 10 Years
Americans who expect to become rich seem optimistic about how quickly millionaire status can be achieved. The survey found that about 41% of respondents think it takes one to five years, and about 17% believe it takes six to 10 years. Only 5% of respondents said you need 20 to 25 years to become a millionaire.
Older adults were more likely to think that it doesn’t take much time to reach millionaire status. In fact, adults ages 65 and older had the highest percentage of respondents — nearly 56% — who said it takes only one to five years to become a millionaire. Baby boomers ages 55 to 64 had the second-highest percentage of respondents who think the same thing. However, they also had the highest percentage of respondents — approximately 17% — who said it takes more than 25 years to become a millionaire.
Additionally, the survey found that men were more likely than women to think it doesn’t take much time to achieve a net worth of $1 million. About 45% of men compared to 37% of women said you need only one to five years, and approximately 19% of women versus 15% of men said it takes six to 10 years to become a millionaire.
Survey Question: How long do you think it takes to become a millionaire?
|Respondents||Most Common Answer Choice||Second-Most Common Answer Choice|
|Ages 18-24||27.3% selected 11-15 years||20.8% selected 6-10 years|
|Ages 25-34||28.3% selected 1-5 years||21.7% selected 6-10 years|
|Ages 35-44||35.1% selected 1-5 years||23.2% selected 6-10 years|
|Ages 45-54||52.9% selected 1-5 years||15.2% selected 6-10 years|
|Ages 55-64||54.2% selected 1-5 years||17.2% selected 25+ years|
|Ages 65 and older||55.7% selected 1-5 years||12.5% selected 25+ years|
|Male||45.2% selected 1-5 years||15.3% selected 6-10 years|
|Female||37.1% selected 1-5 years||19.2% selected 6-10 years|
Respondents who believe that you need 10 years or less to become a millionaire might be a little too optimistic. According to Tom Corley, author of “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life,” it takes a long time to build wealth. Eighty percent of the millionaires in Corley’s five-year study of rich people and poor people didn’t become wealthy until age 50.
The Ultimate Financial Planning Guide: Do It Like the Pros in 8 Steps
Americans Would Sacrifice These Things To Get Rich
People seem willing to make sacrifices to become millionaires. The most common response was never eating out or drinking alcohol, with about 35% of respondents choosing this sacrifice. The second-most common sacrifice was working longer and retiring later, followed by driving an older car. Respondents were least likely to say that they would gain 100 pounds to become rich.
Survey Question: If you had to make some sacrifices to become a millionaire, which of the following would you do? Select all that apply.
|Answer Choice||Response Rate|
|Never eat out or drink alcohol||35.3%|
|Work longer/retire later||33.6%|
|Drive an older car||33.3%|
|Keep a job/career I don’t like||31.6%|
|Deal with higher levels of work-related stress||26.6%|
|Take on a second job||26.0%|
|Give up my vacation time at work||20.5%|
|Never attend a fun event (sports game, concert, etc.)||19.3%|
|Delay starting a family||18.3%|
|Give up all my hobbies||17.2%|
|Move back home with parents||16.1%|
|Become a social outcast or pariah||15.8%|
|Give up a consistent source of income||12.8%|
|Give up all my technology (internet, cellphone, TV, etc.)||12.0%|
|Close off all romantic relationships||11.1%|
|Gain 100 pounds||7.1%|
However, the sacrifices that Americans were willing to make varied greatly depending on age:
- The most common sacrifice that respondents ages 18 to 24 said they were willing to make was dealing with higher levels of work-related stress.
- The most popular sacrifice for respondents ages 25 to 34 and respondents ages 35 to 44 was never eating out or drinking alcohol.
- Keeping a job or career they didn’t like ranked as the most popular sacrifice among adults ages 45 to 54.
- Respondents ages 55 and older were the most likely to say that they would work longer and retire later to become millionaires.
Men said they were most willing to give up dining out and alcohol to accomplish a net worth of $1 million. Women, on the other hand, were the most likely to say they would work longer and retire later to become millionaires.
Reality Check: Survey Finds 42% of Americans Will Retire Broke — Here’s Why
Best Ways To Become a Millionaire
There are several paths to becoming a millionaire. You could build a successful business, pursue a high-paying career and rise through the ranks, or save diligently in a 401(k) and retire with $1 million. You could even aim to be a successful investor like Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in America.
To do any of these things, though, you need a plan. You might start by setting goals — and then aligning your spending with your goals — so you don’t waste money on things that won’t help you get ahead. You can put your money to work by stashing it in a high-yield savings account or investing in the stock market, real estate or your own business. You could also consider creating a plan with help from a financial planner, whom you can find through resources such as GuideVine or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
Click through to see jobs that can make you a millionaire before retirement.
More on Building Wealth
- It Takes Exactly This Long To Make $1 Million in America
- How Growing Up Poor Could Make You Rich
- Your 401(k) Could Make You a Millionaire — Here’s How One Man Did It
- Cutting These 10 Costs Can Make You Rich
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,001 Americans from across the country between April 22 and May 1, 2019, asking six questions: 1) Do you have a plan to become a millionaire? 2) How long do you think it takes to become a millionaire? 3) What is the best way to become a millionaire? 4) Which of the following must you do first to become a millionaire one day? Please select the best answer. 5) If you had to make some sacrifices to become a millionaire, which of the following would you do? Select all that apply. 6) If you had to make some sacrifices to become a millionaire, which of the following would you do? Select all that apply. Respondents were first screened with the following question: Do you think you’ll become a millionaire during your lifetime? Those answering “yes” were asked the six survey questions. GOBankingRates used Survata’s survey platform to conduct the poll.