What’s the Fastest Way to Make $1 Million? 8 Real-Life Strategies That Worked
If you invest $400 a month and make 7% annually, this investment return calculator says you'll have a little over $1 million in 40 years.
Let's say you're 30 years old and you give up movies, Starbucks and dinners out for four decades to save that $400 each month. At age 70, you'll have a million bucks and be ready to retire, right?
But wait! An inflation calculator shows that $1 million today has the spending power of about $229,207 in 1975 dollars. If we experience similar inflation in the next 40 years, your future million will also be worth just $229,207 in today's dollars.
Then, if you keep making 7% annually, it will provide an income of… $1,337 per month (measured in today's dollars). So you'll be a millionaire, but it won’t be quite like you imagine.
Of course you'll probably have some other income from social security or a pension, and $1,337 is a nice addition to other monthly income.
But what if you don't want to wait 40 years to make your first million? What if you don't want to wait even 10 years? Here’s how to make a million dollars quickly -- with a little luck.
1. Sell Something
Maybe you didn't want to hear this, but it could be time to learn how to sell. One of the surest ways to wealth is to see what people need and want and provide it. But you still have to convince them that it's your something they need. That's sales.
That's how Dani Johnson went from being homeless to a millionaire in less than two years. At first she rejected the idea of selling a weight loss program, as if it was beneath her. Then she realized she was homeless, drinking, using cocaine and worse, so why not sell something?
She didn't even have a phone, but with a $15 voice mail service and a handmade flyer put up in a post office, she started getting orders for the program. When she called the manufacturer to get her inventory, she had to borrow the address of a liquor store because she had no place to accept delivery.
From that start, she built her business and later sold it, becoming a multi-millionaire in the process.
Other examples of people who made $1 million fast by selling something include:
He was 14 years old when he started making and selling "SuperJam," and within a few years he had annual sales in the millions.
He sold greeting cards at age 9, then moved on to selling Beanie Babies, software and advertising, and by age 15 he was making more than $300,000 per month.
Within three years of opening her shop on Etsy she was making close to $1 million annually selling handmade clothing and accessories.
2. Invest in Real Estate
When Julie Broad and her husband decided to buy their first income property they had just $16,000 saved up. Seven years later, they were millionaires and she retired -- at age 31. Broad says one of the things she likes about real estate is the potential leverage:
"If you have $16,000 to invest (which is what I started with seven years ago), you can buy $16,000 worth of stocks and bonds. But, if you buy real estate, you can buy a property worth $160,000 (which is exactly what I did). If your stocks go up in value by 5%, you’ve made $800. But if your property goes up by 5% you’ve made $8,000!"
You make money with income property from rents, appreciation and equity gains from the tenant's rent paying down the mortgage. You also get to exercise creativity and control with real estate investments.
Broad points out that if your stocks drop in value, your options are limited buying more or selling more, but with real estate,
"...there are plenty of creative techniques to try... Some people rent out the garage separate from the house... you can add vending machines or laundry facilities... you can change the usage of the property to sell it to someone who can make better use of it... There are dozens of ways to turn a simple house into a money making machine with creativity."
Many real estate investors have similar stories to tell. For example, in his book, 2 Years to a Million in Real Estate, Matthew Martinez relates how he made his fortune in rental properties after quitting his 9-to-5 job.
Mortgaging the house and betting $29,000 on number 17 on the roulette table probably isn’t a good plan. But not all gambles have to be that crazy.
Consider poker. A recent article from the Mirror profiled seven people who made more than $1 million playing poker in 2014. There is risk, but on the other hand, there is also skill, and you can parlay your profits into bigger ones without risking much to start.
Another option is gambling on the popularity of new currencies. Using $1,000 he got as a gift, Erik Finman made $100,000 on Bitcoin at age 15. He then used the money to create an online tutoring startup he hopes will make millions.
And yes, buying a lottery ticket is a terrible bet, according to statisticians. But it is one of the fastest ways to make millions, and buying a ticket or two each year probably won't break you. Just don't add yourself to the long list of lottery winners who lost everything.
4. Make YouTube Videos
The Internet may be the most obvious platform for making a million dollars quickly. And of all the many possibilities, creating videos for YouTube is perhaps one of the most fun. Here are just a few profitable types of videos you could create:
You may not have heard of him, but comedian Ray William Johnson made $1 million per year with his funny videos.
You read it right; the "EvanTube" channels (there are three) make an estimated $1 million annually for their 9-year-old founder and his family.
Grumpy Cat may not have made $100 million, but her owner Tabatha Bundesen admits, "I was able to quit my job as a waitress within days of her first appearance on social media and the phone simply hasn’t stopped ringing since."
5. Publish Kindle Books
You can set up an account for free and start selling Kindle books on Amazon's ebook platform this week.
You've probably heard about authors who have hit it big on Kindle. John Locke, for example, sold a million Kindle ebooks in five months, and Mark Dawson earned $450,000 last year from his self-published ebooks.
But you don't even have to write your own book to make a million dollars on Kindle. You can publish other people's books. Bob Mayer and Jen Talty say they "built a seven-figure indie publishing house in just two years."
6. Teach People
Do you like to teach people? Well, you won't make a million doing it in a classroom. But perhaps you can go online:
7. Trade Stocks
It might take 40 years to make your first million in stocks if you go for that slow and steady 7% return. On the other hand, there’s investing and there’s trading. And then there are volatile penny stocks…
The SEC says "investors in penny stocks should be prepared for the possibility that they may lose their whole investment." And Tim Grittani agrees that trading in and out of these low-cost stocks like he does, often within minutes, is risky. But his $1,500 became a portfolio worth more than $1 million within three years -- at age 24.
8. Invent a New Way to Make Money
Not sure you're ready to commit to making a million with any of the ways above? Then why not invent your own way? For inspiration, here are some examples of people who did just that:
He created MillionDollarHomepage.com (the first of its kind) and sold one million pixels of advertising space for $1 per pixel to fund his college degree.
She started with $3,800, buying cheap cardboard from the U.S. to recycle into boxes in China, and is worth an estimated $4.6 billion.
They have shipped more than $1 million in Irish dirt to the United States, for nostalgic transplants to use on their Irish roses or caskets.
Many other weird businesses might inspire you to invent your own way to make a fast million. Of course, even if you give it a shot, you might also want to do the usual saving and investing. Forty years from now, you might thank your former self for putting aside $400 per month to provide that extra $1,337 per month in 2015 dollars.
Your Turn: Will you make your first $1 million the slow way, or aim for a faster route to riches?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).