1 in 3 Americans Choose Investments as Their Primary ‘Income’

CNN's Fear & Greed Index, which gauges the mood of the market, has found that fear is currently dominating market sentiment. As a result, 8 in 10 Americans report high levels of financial anxiety and almost two-fifths are now interested in diversifying their income streams.1,2  

Amid enduring geopolitical and economic uncertainty in America, attitudes toward the traditional “9-5” has changed, with the percentage of full-time workers who believe independent work is more secure than traditional work increasing significantly in the four year period between 2018-2021.3

With this in mind, trading experts at FOREX.com commissioned us to survey 2,300 American citizens to identify investment patterns and assess if Americans would prefer to invest rather than work full-time. 

Key findings:

  • Two-thirds of Americans surveyed would prefer to generate income through investments rather than traditional employment (66.8%)
  • Real estate is the most popular investment choice among Americans and continues to outrank cryptocurrency
  • In 32 states, cryptocurrency investments have surpassed the number of investors in traditional bonds
  • ArkansasRhode Island, and West Virginia were the only states where a preference for having a job outweighed investment

Q1: “What is your primary source of income?”

The survey revealed that as many as one in three Americans rely on investment as their primary income source (30%), but two-thirds (66%) continue to favor traditional employment298 women chose investing as their primary source of income, compared to 392 males. Interestingly, just over a quarter of individuals aged 61 and over identify investing as their primary income (27%), compared to one in three 18 to 25-year-olds (32%).

Q2: “If you had your preference, would you rather have your income by having a job or investing?”

Over two-thirds of respondents expressed a preference for deriving their income from investments (66.8%) rather than traditional employment (33.2%). Over two-thirds of individuals aged 61 years and older were found to favor income from investments, compared to six in ten 18 to 35-year-olds (32%). Arkansas, Rhode Island, and West Virginia were the only states where a preference for having a job outweighed the preference for investments, with investment being more popular in 47 states. Although respondents may find income from investing preferable as a sentiment, to transition from a full-time job may involve several challenges, as well as significant risk.  

Matt Weller, investment expert from FOREX.com comments on why investing is becoming more appealing to some over traditional employment:

“In today's ever-evolving economic landscape, a growing number of Americans are veering away from the traditional 9-5 in favor of investing. The allure of becoming 'financially free' has taken center stage, with younger generations in particular, reevaluating their career choices and prioritizing financial independence. For some, investing offers a strategic solution, enabling individuals to build wealth gradually and cultivate financial resilience.

Many employees witnessed the impact of economic downturns on previous generations and are motivated to chart a different course by exploring investment opportunities. The pandemic, in particular, has been a catalyst for change and reshaped how people perceive work and value their freedom. The uncertainties of lockdowns and job market fluctuations have highlighted the need for diversified income sources.”

Q3: “What types of investment are you currently involved in?”

Real estate is the most popular investment in America, favored by over three in ten Americans (36.9%) compared to just one in eight who opt for cryptocurrency investments (12.7%). Real estate ranked as the top choice or tied in 44 states, with gold investmentsdominating in the remaining six.

Bonds were found to be the least popular investment, with just over 7 in 100 Americans surveyed investing in them (7.5%). Notably, individuals aged 18-35 show the highest inclination to invest in real estate, with one in three investing in property (31%) compared to just over a quarter of 26 to 40-year-olds (27%).

Q4: “What percentage of your income comes from investing?”

Almost one in eight respondents reported that 75% or more of their income is derived from investments (11.6%). Notably, almost one in five 18–25-year-olds claimed that three quarters or more of their income originates from investments (18%), compared to 1 in 8 of those aged 61 years and over (12%).

Q5: “How long have you been investing for?

The FOREX.com commissioned survey reveals that the majority of respondents (59.4%) are relatively new to investing, having engaged in it for only 1 to 5 years. Just over one in fifty respondents have been investing for over a decade (2.5%), highlighting how investing has surged in popularity in the last 5 years.

Q6: “What are the advantages of investing?”

Almost two-thirds of all respondents (64.1%) agree that financial independence is the primary advantage of investing, followed by flexible working hours and independence (51.9%). Financial independence emerges as the predominant advantage in 40 states, while the remaining 10 states mostly prioritize flexible working hours and wealth accumulation over time. Tax benefits were consistently noted as the least beneficial aspect across 49 states.

Q7: “What are the disadvantages of investing?”

The study found that nine in ten (90.4%) individuals believe that the greatest disadvantage of investing is the higher risk associated with market fluctuations, followed by income instability (47.2%). Similarly, the most prevalent disadvantage across all 50 states are concerns about market fluctuations. Concerns about the lack of work benefits and perks are relatively low, with only 1 in 25 respondents (4.3%) raising this as an issue. 

Related: Advisors Vital in Fight Against Inflation


  1. FOREX.com sought to identify investment patterns among American citizens and assess the extent to which Americans prefer investing over working full-time
  2. To achieve this, FOREX.com commissioned us to conduct a uStats.org survey which surveyed 2,300 American citizens between 18th September 2023 to 28th September 2023. The survey consisted of multiple-choice questions, allowing respondents to select from provided options.
  3. In addition to the primary objectives, data regarding gender, age, state, employment status and working industry were also collected as additional data for the survey to provide context and enhance the overall understanding of the results.
  4. Once all responses were collected, the data was analyzed to identify investing habits and opinions.
  5. The full data set is available here.

[1] CNN Business | Fear & Greed Index

[2] IPSOS | “Americans Look to Generate Additional Income Streams..”

[3] Harvard Business Review | “Workers Don’t Feel Like a 9-to-5 Job Is a Safe Bet Anymore”