How hard do you have to work to become a millionaire?

Quora is apparently a successful website. I’m not sure why. The most popular questions are almost always moronic. Like “What does it feel like to be spiritual?” And “Do Harvard graduates feel that they are better than Princeton graduates?”

The questions related to wealth building are no exception.

One example that sticks in my mind (I’m paraphrasing): How hard do you have to work to become a millionaire?

Three equally stupid answers might be:

  • Not hard at all if you are really lucky. Lucky enough to win a lottery where the odds against you are something like 14 million to one.
  • Pretty darn easy if your parents leave you $2 million.
  • A piece of cake if you buy into the “4-Hour Workweek” idea that self-improvement “master” Tim Ferriss is selling.

A more realistic answer would be much more complex.

Consider this:

According to one study, there were 10.8 million millionaires nationwide at the end of 2016. A record number.

Another study made a similar estimate: just under 4% of Americans – about 11.5 million.

What does that mean?

From a purely statistical point of view, you’d have to work harder than 96% of the population.

How hard does the average American work?

Among adults employed full-time, it’s 47 hours. Nearly six 8-hour days.

This is more than the French, who worked more hours than we did until 1980. Today, the French work an average of 30 hours a week. That’s even more than the “hardworking Germans,” who have dropped to an average of only 28 hours a week.

That said, U.S. workers are hardly the “hardest workers in the world.” (A claim that is made frequently.) In Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong, the average individual works 48 to 50 hours a week!

But hold on. These are averages for average workers. What about millionaires?

According to Barron’s, the average self-made millionaire in America works 59 hours per week. Many work 70 to 80 hours.

As a colleague of mine, Brian Tracy, points out, working 40 hours a week these days will give you a “survival” income. But it will never make you a millionaire.

So forget about Tim Ferriss’s “promise” of a 4-hour workweek. You can look forward to that someday – when you have built a multimillion-dollar, high-profit business that runs itself. Until then, pretend you live in Hong Kong or Singapore or South Korea and work your butt off!

Other interesting facts:

  • Researchers found that 9.1 million Americans (about 3%) had a net worth of $1 million to $5 million.
  • 3 million (3%) had a net worth of $5 million to $25 million.
  • Only 156,000 households (0.005%) had a net worth of more than $25 million.
  • Meanwhile, the number of middle-income Americans fell from 55% in 2000 to 52% in 2014.
  • Increasing numbers of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. A third of those polled said they could not come up with $2,000 if faced with an emergency like an urgent home repair or medical crisis.