You don't have to "beat" the market to become rich (although Warren Buffett did and does it very well). The market data (such as the Dow, S&P500) are merely indexes for how some of the market did at any one time. The only time you need to beat the market is when the market declines, in which case, if you can show a positive or neutral return, you would be doing okay. For example, say the market as measured by the S&P 500 increased 10% each year for 5 years and then dropped 10% for two years. If you had 8% returns each of the 5 years the market was up and broke even the two years the market was down, you would still show a 40% return (plus compounding) against a 30% return for the market - even though you beat the market only twice in 7 years. The goal (in addition to beating the market) is to show a positive return across time regardless of what the market index does. Also, remember that Warren Buffet's philosophy of investing is different than most investors - Buffett only invests in companies and industries he knows and looks for value (i.e., a company he feels is undervalued for whatever reason). Buffett could really not care less for what the market as a whole does (for a good story, read Lowenstein's biography on Buffett).