Top 5 ways millionaires invest

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When I think about millionaires, I think about people in the movies — not people like me. So when Fidelity Investments sent me their profile of today’s millionaire, I thought the information would probably be the kind of thing I should forward to Bankrate’s Judy Martel, who writes about being rich.

But the survey turned out to be a lot more relevant than I thought it would be because millionaires appear to be just like the rest of us. According to Fidelity, the average U.S. millionaire is:

  • Sixty-one years old with $3.05 million in assets he or she can invest.
  • Eighty-six percent are self-made, and 26 percent struggled financially growing up. Only 14 percent were born wealthy.
  • Most millionaires are at or near retirement with 29 percent ages 67 and older and 42 percent between the ages of 57 and 66.
  • Some 61 percent are men, and 39 percent are women. More than 60 percent are married and never divorced. Divorce is a financial killer.

Here, for your retirement planning pleasure, are the top five ways this crowd has invested in during the last year.

  • Individual domestic stocks.
  • CDs / money market accounts /cash equivalents.
  • Equity exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.
  • Individual domestic bonds.
  • Domestic equity mutual funds.

If you fine-tune this data a little more, dividing these wealthy individuals between those who consider themselves mostly “wealth preservers” rather than “wealth generators,” the investment picture changes slightly. Wealth preservers, who tend to be slightly older — 63, on average — have a similar list of investments, except that No. 4 is annuities and No. 5 is real estate. Mutual funds and individual bonds slide off their top five list.

In the case of wealth generators, who are age 57 on average — the list is also similar, but No. 2 is international / emerging individual securities. Domestic mutual funds disappear off their top five.