"This is America. If you're not making money, you're an idiot." -Mr. French, The Departed
Mr. French hit it on the head. Living in the most prosperous nation in the history of history, a person can feel...well, like a stupid dumb shit if he or she isn't rolling in cash. But you and I know that most folks aren't rolling in cash.
So the question isn't "How did those wealthy assholes make a million bucks?" but instead, "How does the average asshole (me) make a million bucks?"
Marshall Brain says on marshallbrain.com: "There are a couple easy ways: Win the lottery, inherit the money, marry wealth, or get injured and sue."
If any of those options are available to you, then get on it. Suck up to the wealthy but bitchy aunt. Buy that lotto ticket, and never, ever miss an opportunity to walk across someone else's icy sidewalk.
But what are the not-quite-that-easy options?
Well, you could do it the old fashioned way. Put away a decent chunk of change in an aggressive investment, yielding a 9% to 10% annual return. Soooo you'll be a millionaire by the time you're old as shit.
Or, you could take a more aggressive route.
If you're tech-savy read the stories from this link for inspiration, then stop playing WOW and venture out into the sunlight.
But if you're tech-savy you don't really count as the average asshole. Another option is to join in really early on a pyramid scheme like Amway. Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, is quoted as saying he'd rebuild his wealth through pyramid schemes if he lost it all tomorrow (fans of pyramid schemes refer to it as "Network Marketing"). Joining a pyramid scheme is tricky. If you don't join early you're probably not going to cash out in the way that you want.
But where do average assholes without insanely lucky timing make their loot? Well upwards of 70% of American millionaires made their cash through real estate. This could be very good news or very bad news. The real estate market is cyclical as hell (we've all witnessed that lately)
Prevailing wisdom (and common sense) tells us to buy low and sell high. So why did all those smucks buy high during this last cycle? As the real estate market heated up, people couldn't snatch up housing quick enough. Well, the good news is we're currently low and getting lower.
A great way to buy even lower is foreclosures. Every city has foreclosure auctions right now. For a really quick (and cheap) read take a look at The Easy Foreclosure Guide at http://www.foreclosurelove.com/. Its an overview of the foreclosure process and very specific.
If you're not interested in foreclosures but maybe still into the idea of real estate you should invest in a real estate system like Carlton Sheets' or Jason Hartman's. Yes, these guys are a little gimmicky (and pricey) and some of their stuff is difficult to apply (such as the "no money down" idea), but hey, learning is learning.
If real estate just isn't your thing, then consider inventing the next big thing. Perhaps a pet rock for the 21st Century. Or maybe Awesome-o, the pleasure model.