How Arnold Schwarzenegger became a multi-millionaire before acting

30 October 2019

How Arnold Schwarzenegger Filled His Banks before His Hollywood Phase

Welcome Aluxers, thank you for joining us today for some interesting information and a generous dose of inspiration about none other than the great Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Today we’re looking how a bodybuilder from Austria, managed to become a multi-millionaire before being a successful actor, then one of the biggest names in Hollywood, then governor, in a country that didn’t welcome him where everybody told him he won’t make it.

Here’s all of it in a video; how the terminator terminated his goals. In case you’re not an ABC worm.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the big picture:

Who is Arnold Schwarzenegger

Today, we are looking at the incredible story of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The mention of his name summons visions of bodybuilding competitions and 80s & 90s action flicks, but there is a lot more to this well-known celebrity.

It’s incredible how Arnold Schwarzenegger has a net worth of over 400 million dollars, starred in over 50 movies, including Kindergarten Cop, Twins, Conan the Barbarian, Predator, and the incredibly popular Terminator franchise. He also served as the Republican Governor of California from November 2003 to January 2011, when he reached his term limit. This earned him the nickname ‘the Governator.’

In addition to these well-known roles, Schwarzenegger has been incredibly successful in business and his investments. He also has five children and went through a very public divorce from his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, in 2011. With all that, his name, his image, his brand is known all around the world with many considering him the ultimate success story… but how did it all start?

Resource: 20 Celebrities You’d Be Shocked to Learn Went to Rehab


Some might say a “rags to riches” story is a bit cliché, but Arnold’s story is definitely unique. It begins in Thal [Th-al], Austria, where he was born on July 30, 1947, to Aurelia and Gustav Schwarzenegger.

Although he didn’t have a flushing toilet or running water or other common amenities, he did not see his family as poor because the other families he knew all lived the same way. He did not have a good relationship with his father, who suspected that Arnold was not his biological son.

Schwarzenegger said that the Austrian way was for the parents to force their children to conform, but he considered himself a rebel & his will could not be broken  

Arnold dedicated himself to bodybuilding as a teenager with the ultimate goal of winning Mr. Universe – the biggest bodybuilding contest known to man. He saw this as his opportunity to make it to America where he dreamed of getting rich and becoming famous. 

He would achieve this goal in 1967, when he was only 20 years old, making him the youngest Mr. Universe of all time. He won that title four additional times and later also claimed seven Mr. Olympia titles.

He realized his dream of moving to America in 1968 when he was 21 and barely spoke any English. He continued his bodybuilding training in Los Angeles, California, with the hopes that someday he might make it as an actor.

How does a kid, who barely speaks the language, who has a strong accent and almost no connections in showbiz find that inner drive?

 The Vision

Schwarzenegger often talks about the importance of having a vision and a purpose. He has stated that every time he faced a setback or was told that he would not be able to achieve his dreams, he told himself it was only temporary.

He was determined to be somebody! 

Arnold had a series of visions as follows: 

  • First things first: become a championship bodybuilder; 
  • Then be a millionaire; 
  • Then be the star in a box office hit & later on be elected as the Governor of California. 

For each goal, he clearly visualized what the end result would be and then got to work. He sees struggles and challenges as exciting because they bring you a step closer to making your vision a reality. 

He never wanted to compete, he was there to win and make his dream a reality.

As you expect, it wasn’t easy.

The Struggle

When Arnold got to America, he knew that there was very little money to be made in bodybuilding. He also did not want to be like most other actors who were so desperate for money that they would take any role. Nobody was open to hiring him anyone, because he was too big, had a funny name and accent and no acting experience.

He was determined not to rely on acting for money so that he could pursue only those projects that he was truly passionate about. 

This was the differentiating choice he’s made that set him apart from everybody else!

His first American business venture was a bricklaying business that he started with fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbu. Back then, everything European was sought after by the rich, because they believed it to be of superior quality, so they leveraged that perception. Soon after they started the business, the 1971 San Fernando earthquake hit and business was booming.

With an ear open to new opportunities he began networking. An acquaintance told them that there were major plans to develop an international airport and other businesses iny in Los Angeles County.

Speculating  this as a major money-making opportunity, Arnold and Franco took their profits from the bricklaying business and invested in buying plots of desert land in the valley. They figured that the land would be in high demand and would yield an incredible profit when the developers showed up, but they never did.

It turned out they had spent all their money on literal grains of sand. So it was back to the grindstone. 

How Arnold Schwarzenegger became rich has a lot to do with something he said;

“the difference between winners and losers is that after failing, losers stay down, but winners always get back up.”

That was his attitude even as at the age of 24. Undaunted by his failure, Arnold became determined to succeed in real estate.

He went back into the grind determined to succeed in real estate.

The Win

Arnold made it his goal to buy an income-producing property, he saw cash-flow as his way to financial freedom.

He even prioritized this over buying a home for himself to live in. He saved just about every penny he earned from bricklaying and bodybuilding competitions until he had $10,000 to invest in a 6-plex apartment building – this might not sound like a lot of money to you, but back then it was enough to put down as a down-payment. 

He lived in one apartment and rented the other five out. This was just the first domino in what would become a multi-million-dollar real estate empire. Three years after buying his first building, he sold it and bought one with twice as many apartments. Then he upgraded to a building with 36 apartments. 

With a little guidance from real estate magnate Albert Ehringer, Arnold was able to consistently sell his properties for major profits and trade up to bigger and better investments.

He kept buying and selling properties and soon his fortune was in the millions.

Arnold has called the 70’s “the magic decade” for investing in real estate because inflation was high, and it was a seller’s market. Before long, Schwarzenegger had leveraged his investments to secure a number of apartments and office buildings in prime locations like Main Street in Santa Monica.

He was in a position where he could buy a 500 thousand dollar building with a down payment of about 100 thousand dollars and the following year could sell it for a profit of 200,000 dollars beyond his initial investment.

The Build-up

With the first 2 goals on his list checked off, it was time for him to go after the 3rd one. Becoming an international movie star.

While every other actor was struggling to survive, waiting tables or taking minor gigs, he was already doing incredibly well from his real-estate, allowing him to pass on minuscule projects without the stress that others had to deal with.

He spent most of his time, looking for the perfect opportunity for him to shine. Next thing you know, this up-and-coming director James Cameron was looking to make a movie about a robot from the future.

They needed someone who looked like nothing they’ve seen before who talked differently and could pull this role off. Later on Cameron said, there wasn’t anybody else who could’ve played the terminator.

He took the money he made from acting and invested it wisely. Today his real estate portfolio alone is valued at approximately 300 million dollars.  He leveraged his work ethic, his fame and fortune to later becoming the governor of California.

While multiple times he mentioned he might run for president of the united states, this might not be legally possible since he’s not a US. born citizen, despite living here for over 40 years.

This is nothing but the compound effect in play. It is all about snowballing into bigger successes from your initial moves that go right.

The Lesson

Arnold’s story teaches us how to leverage a competitive advantage to get one foot through the door. Then through hard work, daily grind and a mind for business to secure your position. Once your essentials are being taken care of, you are free to pursue your passions. Even with everything and everybody going against you, while everybody is saying you can’t make it, if you maintain focus and get yourself ready for when opportunity presents itself, you, yourself could achieve your goals.

The man has a fascinating life and even put it all in a book he published called: Total Recall: my unbelievably true life story. It’s filled with everything he’s been through and gives a valuable insight into his willpower and decision making process.

We know the book can be fairly expensive at $21, so if you go to alux.com/freebook and sign up you can get the audiobook version for free thanks to our partnership with Audible!

Resource: 15 Lessons People Learn Too Late in Life

The Quote

While researching his story, we’ve come across this incredible quote we’d like to share with you that goes like this:

For me, life is about continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.

And that’s so important to remember, Aluxers, that we cannot get stuck in a cycle of merely existing from day to day but need to have the vision to make our lives meaningful, exactly how Arnold Schwarzenegger did it.