Five boring ways to make a million
A random route to riches
Despite creating many millionaires, both the National Lottery and EuroMillions are poor ways to get rich, because they pluck winners randomly from among millions of punters. What's more, only half of our ticket money is returned in prizes. Brits collectively lose £2.8 billion a year by playing these games of chance.
Five paths to prosperity
However, there are several tried and tested ways of building wealth without trusting to dumb luck. By studying rich lists from the UK and US, I've picked out five recognised roads to riches:
For example, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, sixth Duke of Westminster, was fourth on the Sunday Times Rich List 2011. His Grace's family fortune of £7 billion consists mostly of ancestral estates and prime London property inherited from his father, the fifth Duke.
Likewise, Charles Gerald John Cadogan, eighth Earl Cadogan, is another aristocratic landowner. His fortune of more than £2 billion includes huge swathes of land, including large chunks of Kensington and Chelsea.
Given that 50% of all UK land is owned by just 0.8% of our population, very few of us will inherit estates valuable enough to catapult us into the rich lists, sadly!
2. Start a business
Of all the ways to build significant wealth, starting or owning a business seems to offer the best odds of success. Of the 1,000 richest people listed in the latest Sunday Times Rich List, more than half made their money by starting or joining a family business.
Indeed, among the ranks of the super-wealthy, there are a number of self-made businessmen and women. These include billionaires Sir Philip and Lady Tina Green, estimated to be worth £4.2 billion. Sir Philip started work at 15 and his family now owns a string of high-street chains, including BHS, Arcadia and Topshop.
Another self-made British businessman is Sir Richard Branson. The 61-year-old has leveraged his Virgin brand into a sprawling business empire encompassing trains, airlines and mobile phones. Sir Richard -- one of the UK's most popular and recognisable entrepreneurs -- is said to be worth over £3 billion.
Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay are billionaire brothers who built up their fortunes via property, hotels and newspapers. Today, the reclusive twins, best known for their ownership of the Telegraph Media Group, are said to be worth more than £2 billion.
Throughout modern British history, one of the simplest ways to get rich was to borrow a lot of money and use it to buy prime domestic residences and commercial properties. This was especially the case during the boom years of the Nineties and Noughties, a period which created many thousands of property millionaires.
Among the ranks of the super-rich, there are many figures that made most or all of their fortunes from bricks and mortar. These include brothers David and Simon Reuben, worth £6.2 billion thanks to their portfolio of offices, racecourses and airports.
Likewise, Hong Kong-born, London-based Joseph Lau made his £4 billion fortune in his homeland's incredible property boom. And property mogul John Whittaker made himself £2.1 billion, thanks to a 40-year career as a property investor in the north west of England.
However, given the substantial fall in commercial and domestic property values since 2007 (mostly outside of London), banks have become much more cautious about lending to would-be property developers. Property isn't the sure-fire route to riches that it once was, but it will rise again one day.
Another well-trodden path to wealth is by investing in businesses, either by buying shares in public companies via stockbrokers, buying into or taking over private companies, or by financial trading.
Billionaire British investors include Joe Lewis, an East End-born tax exile who made a fortune from currency trading and now owns a string of businesses, including most of Tottenham Hotspur FC.
Another Brit to have done well in the world of investing is Alan Howard, founder of hedge fund Brevan Howard. Howard's success in the world of high finance has given him a fortune estimated at more than £1 billion -- plus residence in Geneva, Switzerland so as to avoid the UK's 50% tax rate.
However, you don't need to be a currency trader or hedge-fund manager to make a million from investing. By saving £600 pounds a month, at an annual return of 9%, you will have £1.03 million after 30 years. Thanks to inflation (rising prices), a million will buy considerably less three decades from now, but this will still be a pot worth having!
Every so often, newspapers dig up stories of reclusive, recently deceased pensioners who became millionaires simply by working hard and scratching and saving every penny throughout their long lives.
While this is a steady and safe path to building wealth, saving in cash means putting up with ultra-low rates of return. Right now, with top savings accounts paying 3% a year, it would take 30 years of saving £1,500 a month to produce a savings pot above £1 million.
In summary, if you want to go from nillionaire to millionaire, then don't expect to get rich by inheriting wealth or from saving in cash. To hit the big time, try property, investing or business, as evidence suggests that these are the three most reliable paths to prosperity!