It doesn't take any of those things listed, it take money. Well it does but from a practical stand point it takes smart financial management. And, that starts at age 30 not 50. I'm retiring next year with nearly 2m in investments, a paid off house, a new paid off car and my own plane for travel. I inherited nothing and only made $100k the past 3 years flying EMS. The plan is simple. Have no debt beyond your house mortgage. Cut up the credit cards. Buy down your mortgage even if its only $50 extra on the priciple per month. It works. I did it with average income. Read Dave Ramsey's "Everyday Millionaires." Pilot salaries fit right in with it. You can do it to. The famous qoute from Zig Zigler is appropriate. "Aim at nothing and you'll hit it every time."