Wealth is a SCIENCE. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE do things that MAKE them successful. This has been studied and proven OVER AND OVER.
If you aren’t already wealthy, chances are you would like to be. Most people want more money than they already have access to, and many dream of becoming a millionaire or multi-millionaire.
The question is, what are the habits, knowledge, and strategies the wealthy use that the rest of us don’t? Millionaires, especially the self-made variety, are different from the average working person in only one thing: their habits. Let’s look at some of the ways the successful standout and how you can easily emulate those habits and grow your own balance sheet.
Table of Contents
1. Get started early.
This means both DAILY, and over your lifetime. The sooner you start, the more successful you’ll be. Daily, It seems to be true that successful people tend to wake up early. Many senior executives of large companies rise before 5:00, and one study shows that half of the self-made millionaires are awake at least three hours before they begin work. Not surprisingly, many of those early risers exercise first thing in the morning and then get on with their day. Millionaires as a group spend approximately six hours exercising each week, compared with less than two hours weekly for the “average” American.
You might not like to get up early, but you can do it anyway; over time, it will get easier. Your body will adjust, and you will discover what many financial overachievers already know—it’s the best time of day for strategic thinking, quiet contemplation, and getting ahead of the competition.
Also, as reported by Thomas Corley, the author of “Change your Habits, Change Your Life,” getting a head start on your day minimizes the chance that you will be interrupted or distracted before you accomplish your goals for the day. As a result, you can get the most important things done before anyone else starts working.
2. Be frugal with your money.
This goes back to the meme where a broke guy is covered in designer clothes, and Bill Gates is standing next to him in Khakis and cheap polo. Who’s the real baller there? Hint: It’s not the guy wearing the $2k fit.
The wealthiest people are often the most careful with spending. Contrary to a fantasy of buying whatever they want, most millionaires seem to be cautious with the expenses, spending much less than they earn. Spending less allows them to save and invest, which is key to growing wealth. If you spend your entire income, you have nothing to use for investments. On the flip side, if you’re continually investing, that creates the upward spiral of net worth growth that can propel you to a massive financial height beyond your peers who blow all their income every month.
Some of those early morning hours that millionaires favor can be devoted to researching investment options. As a group, they disproportionately love real estate, investment funds, and stock index funds. Also, millionaires are more likely to turn a hobby into a paying business or run a side hustle to increase their income, or at the very least a tax break. Ever seen a car museum? That’s where ultra-high-net-worth individuals park their cars. In a professional, massive garage, that’s also a huge tax-advantaged structure.
Aside from mortgage loans, millionaires prefer to avoid debt if It doesn’t make sense to pay interest. According to financial planner Faron Daugs, his multi-millionaire clients pay cash for their cars, then keep them long-term to avoid making monthly payments. If they need to finance the purchase, they plan to keep the vehicle long after it’s paid for.
Daugs also reports that his self-made clients keep a substantial chunk of emergency money, so they don’t get derailed by an expense they need to borrow to cover.
3. Invest conservatively.
The BIGGEST setback you can take in your financial career is taking a TOTAL loss on an investment. So invest SAFELY in things that will be there and have a track record. Sure, some lucky people buy an emerging stock or some crypto shitcoin when it’s available at a low price and enjoy the satisfaction of watching the value skyrocket. But millionaires actually don’t count on jackpot winners. Instead, when investing in stocks for instance, they are more likely to select low-cost index funds. Index funds are diversified, reducing the risk of losing money, and generally perform well over time.
They also favor real estate, which has the advantages of cash flow, tax advantages, leverage, and often appreciates in value. Even in the WORST economy, you still own the property and it still exists, so the value will NEVER go to zero.
4. Improve your mind.
Americans spend very little time reading—the average American reads about four books a year, with some reading zero. On the other hand, the average millionaire, in a study by Stanley Fallaw, author of “The Next Millionaire Next Door,” spends over five hours a week reading for pleasure, not counting work or investment-related material. They read self-help and personal growth books, history, and biographies of other successful people. This reinforces and teaches the habits they need to continue to grow in their pursuits.
Millionaires do more than read, though. They exercise their brains in addition to exercising their bodies. Bill Gates is known for being passionate about playing bridge, while Richard Branson prefers chess. These strategic pastimes help keep the brain active and finely tuned. Playing games that require complex thinking are excellent for combining entertainment with personal development. Richard Branson says he has played thousands of chess games and thinks it is the best game in the world. In his view, the game combines tactics, planning, bravery, and risk-taking. He points out that it has the advantage of also fostering great conversation during the game.
Some achievers prefer more creative pursuits. Warren Buffett plays the ukulele, Meryl Streep knits, and George W. Bush likes to paint. Tom Hanks collects vintage typewriters, and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo loves to bake. If I could eat a millionaire’s cookies, while listening to Warren Buffet play the ukulele, and knit a sweater with Meryl Streep, I feel like that might be the best day of all time.
Another approach to mental (and spiritual) improvement that millionaires widely practice is meditation. Meditation is known to relieve stress and increase productivity and is employed by many well-known business leaders, including:
- Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn
- Bob Shapiro, former CEO turned venture capitalist
- Padmasree Warrior, formerly Cisco’s Chief Technology and Strategy Officer
- Andrew Chert, CEO of Panda Express (also encourages staff to meditate)
- Marc Benioff, Founder, and CEO of Salesforce
- Oprah Winfrey
- Bill Gates
- Ray Dalio, CEO of Bridgewater the largest hedge fund in the world
From my own experience, I can say that meditation has been an absolute game changer that has allowed me to improve focus, and happiness, and be MUCH more clear on life priorities without getting caught up in the noise of daily events.
5. Be deliberate and organized with your goals
This means being intentional and extremely clear on what your goals are. From there, WORK BACKWARDS. Outline what steps and smaller goals will be needed to achieve those. Break those goals into deadlines and GET MOVING. Two of my favorite books I recommend that cover this area are the 12 Week year, and The One Thing by Gary Keller. Both are extremely helpful in identifying how to choose, plan, and execute high-level goals.
Don’t believe that goal setting and planning are effective? John Corley’s book reports that 81 percent of wealthy people have a daily to-do list. What makes them different from the rest of us is they actually do the things on the list. Two-thirds of millionaires in the survey said they routinely accomplish 70 percent of the tasks on the list.
They don’t waste time watching television, with most logging less than an hour a day compared to three hours a day for the “average” person. Instead, they spend time reading for self-improvement, planning and studying their investment strategy, and thinking about the best ways to move forward toward their goals. According to Fallaw, self-made millionaires are persistent and resilient; they keep pushing when they encounter a setback.
In summary, self-made millionaires use their time wisely, don’t waste money, exercise both body and mind, and never give up.
The Rich also have strategies that they use that might sound insane to the average person. One of the most significant strategies they utilize is using debt strategically in various ways.
We spent a ton of time researching these debt strategies and compiled them into a video that goes into detail about how the rich make money with debt. Check out the link next to me now to see the results of our in depth study of how the wealthy use debt to make more money.
President of Saint Investment Group
Nic is a two decade seasoned expert in investing and capital raising, specializing in Real Estate and debt markets. With Saint Investment Group, he leads large-scale distressed asset purchases and innovative syndications for investors.