Thomas C. Corley

About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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Happiness Activities


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What is happiness?

Happiness is the byproduct of an increase in one of four types of Happiness Hormones: Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin.

Each of these hormones, when elevated, increase the sensation we call happiness.

The pursuit of happiness, therefore, is really the pursuit of activities which elevate one or more of the Happiness Hormones.

Activities Which Boost Happiness Hormones

  • Anaerobic Exercise – Weight Lifting.
  • Aerobic Exercise – Jogging, Fast Walking, Hiking, Swimming, Biking, Basketball, Soccer, Dancing, Spin Cycling.
  • Eating Spicy Foods.
  • Gratitude.
  • Exposure to Sunlight.
  • Drinking Milk.
  • Pursuing Goals.
  • Hugging.
  • Getting a Massage.
  • Holding Hands.
  • Taking Vitamin D3
  • Talking to any upbeat person.
  • Laughing.
  • Moderate Consumption of Alcohol.
  • Anticipation of a Happiness Activity.

If you are feeling down, find an activity which boosts your Happiness Hormones.

Rich Habits Poor Habits Episode 49 | Rich Habits Part 1

Tom Corley spent years studying the difference between the habits of our country’s rich and poor, questioning hundreds of individuals.

On the rich side, these were people with annual gross income north of $160,000 and net liquid assets of $3.2 million or more

Some of the differences between rich and poor are obvious, while others are a little more surprising.

Here are the most important Rich Habits you can take up to reach and maintain your wealth potential:

1. Live within your means.

Wealthy people avoid overspending by paying their future selves first.  money savings

They save 20 percent of their net income and live on the remaining 80 percent.

Among those who are struggling financially, almost all are living above their means.

They spend more than they earn, and their debt is overwhelming them.

If you want to end your financial struggles, you need to make a habit of saving and budgeting what you spend.

Here are some sensible ways to budget your monthly net pay:

  • Spend no more than 25 percent on housing, no matter if you own or rent.
  • Spend no more than 15 percent on food.
  • Limit entertainment—bars, movies, miniature golf, whatever—to no more than 10  percent of your spending. Vacations should account for no more than 5 percent of your annual net bill finance debt
  • Spend no more than 5 percent on auto loans, and never lease. Ninety-four percent of the wealthy buy instead of leasing. These folks keep their cars until the wheels fall off, taking great care along the way so that they save money in the long run.
  • Stay away from accumulating credit card debt. If you are doing this, it’s a clear sign that you need to cut back somewhere.
  • Think of savings and investments as two completely different things. You should never lose money on your savings. Try to stash six months of living expenses in an emergency fund in case you lose your job or your business goes belly-up.
  • Contribute as much as you can afford to a retirement plan. If you work for a company that matches your contributions up to a certain percentage, great. Always take that free money when you can get it.

2. Don’t gamble.

Talk about a sucker bet: Every week, 77 percent of those who struggle financially play the lottery.

Hardly anyone who is wealthy plays the numbers.

Wealthy people do not rely on random good luck for their wealth.

They create their own good luck.

If you still want to bet after knowing the risk, use money from your entertainment budget.

3. Read every day

Reading information that will increase your knowledge about your business or career will make you more valuable to colleagues, customers or clients.


Among wealthy people, 88 percent read 30 minutes or more every day.

Just as important, they make good use of their reading time:

  • 63 percent listen to audiobooks during their commute.
  • 79 percent read educational career-related material.
  • 55 percent read for personal development.
  • 58 percent read biographies of successful people.
  • 94 percent read current events.
  • 51 percent read about history.
  • 11 percent—only 11 percent—read purely for entertainment purposes.

The reason successful people read is to improve themselves.

This separates them from the competition. By increasing their knowledge, they are able to see more opportunities, which translate into more money.

Comparatively speaking, only one in 50 of those struggling financially engages in this daily self-improvement reading, and as a result the poor don’t grow professionally and are among the first to be fired or downsized.

4. Forget the boob tube and spend less time surfing the Internet

How much of your valuable time do you lose parked in front of a screen? Social media buttons on keyboard

Two-thirds of wealthy people watch less than an hour of TV a day and almost that many—63  percent—spend less than an hour a day on the Internet unless it is job-related.

Instead, these successful people use their free time engaged in personal development, networking, volunteering, working side jobs or side businesses, or pursuing some goal that will lead to rewards down the road.

But 77 percent of those struggling financially spend an hour or more a day watching TV, and 74 percent spend an hour or more a day using the Internet recreationally.








Toxic Traits


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One of the most glaring differences between the rich and the poor in my Rich Habits Study was who the rich and the poor surrounded themselves with.

The self-made millionaires in my study built Rich Relationships – relationships with individuals who possessed Rich Traits, characterized by a positive mental outlook on life. Rich Relationships are typically upbeat, enthusiastic and success-minded individuals.

The poor in my study had a tendency to build relationships with other toxic people – individuals who shared a pessimistic, hopeless, negative-minded outlook.

Toxic people have certain Toxic Traits that act like a virus, infecting everyone around them. Becoming aware of these Toxic Traits helps you to avoid or rid yourself of negative influences which only serve to hold you back or drag you down in life.

Toxic Traits

  • Sarcastic
  • Gossip About Others
  • Selfish
  • Blame-Throwers
  • Dependent Mindset
  • Victim Mindset
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Argumentative
  • Dream-Killers
  • Habitual Liars
  • Untrustworthy
  • Addicted to Something – Drugs, Gambling, Sex, Alcohol
  • Excuse Finders
  • Fault Finders
  • Perpetual Financial Problems
  • Inconsiderate
  • Lethargic or Lazy
  • In Perpetual Conflicts With Others
  • Erratic Behavior – No Control Over Emotions
  • Irrational
  • Rude
  • One-Uppers
  • Envious or Ungrateful
  • Deceptive
  • Unresponsive to Others
  • Bullies

No one’s perfect. Even the rich possess some Toxic Traits. The key is this: Does an individual have an abundance of Toxic Traits?

If the answer is yes, then avoid them. Their toxicity will hold you back or drag you down.

Motivational Habits


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Self-made millionaires are self-motivated.

They create daily routines, or habits, that help them stay positive and motivated. Below are examples of some of the Motivational Habits that self-made millionaires use to stay motivated:

  • Write a script of your ideal, perfect life.
  • Read your ideal, perfect life script.
  • Re-write your ideal, perfect life script.
  • Create a Vison Board of the things that exist in your ideal, future life.
  • Look at your Vision Board and daydream.
  • Express gratitude for three things that happened yesterday. Gratitude gets you in the right farm of mind. It is the gateway to a positive mental outlook.
  • Read something inspirational. This could be a book, blog or article.
  • Surround yourself with upbeat, enthusiastic people. They will keep you infected with an upbeat attitude.
  • Create positive affirmations and review them periodically.
  • Engage in some activity, like exercise, which makes you feel good about yourself.
  • Engage in some fun activity.
  • Create a list of goals you would like to accomplish in life.
  • Review your list of life goals.
  • Create a Victory Log.
  • Review you Victory Log.
  • Listen to uplifting music.
  • Listen to uplifting podcasts.
  • Watch an uplifting TEDx talk.
  • Reward yourself – prior to engaging in a task, specify a post-task reward. This could be a treat, dinner with friends, a beer, etc.
  • Meditate.

Self-made millionaires create motivational routines that help them stay in the right frame of mind so they can engage in activities which help them move forward in life. Motivational Habits are your personal triggers which help keep you motivated.

Scouts Realize More Success in Life


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I studied the daily habits of 361 rich and poor individuals over a five-year period.

I asked each individual 144 questions, or 51,984 questions in total.

Through my books and the widespread media exposure I’ve received, my research has been read, listened to or viewed by over 50 million people in 25 countries.

In my study, I identified three groups of self-made millionaires:

Savers, Executives and Entrepreneurs.

The wealthiest of the wealthy happened to be Entrepreneurs, with an average net liquid wealth of $7.4 million, which they accumulated over an average of twelve years.

This was more than double the $3.4 million average net liquid wealth among Savers, which took them thirty-two years to accumulate and significantly more than the $3.6 million net liquid wealth for the Executives, which took them twenty-five years to accumulate.

Why were the Entrepreneurs able to accumulate so much more wealth and why did it take them so much less time?

As I learned from my study, Entrepreneurs are experimenters. They experiment with different activities until they find one they are good at or passionate about.

When you experiment with different activities, eventually you stumble upon one that reveals an innate talent or stirs your passion.

Experimentation exposes your calling in life – your life’s purpose.

When you discover your calling in life, you come alive inside. You find yourself wanting to engage in an activity all the time. As a result, you spend much more time engaging in the activity, and become an expert in it.

What does this have to do with Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts?

Becoming an Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or level one can reach as a Boy Scout. Only 4% of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts.

In order to become an Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts must obtain a minimum of 21 merit badges.

A merit badge typically represents one of 135 diverse activities a scout must engage in in order obtain a badge.

Here are some examples of the merit badge activities offered by the Boy Scouts:

  • American Business
  • Cooking
  • Dentistry
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Genealogy
  • Law
  • Journalism
  • Nuclear Science
  • Public Speaking
  • Robotics
  • Salesmanship
  • Space Exploration
  • Veterinary Medicine

As you can see, many of these Scouting activities can be monetized, meaning they can become a career or profession that produces income.

Some of the most successful historical figures have been Eagle Scouts:

  • Sam Walton – Founder of Walmart
  • Gerald Ford – President of the U.S.
  • Steven Spielburg – Filmaker (Star Wars)
  • Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft
  • Neil Armstrong – Astronaut who became the first man on the moon
  • Ross Perot – Billionaire Founder of EDS and one-time Presidential Candidate

A nationwide study conducted by Baylor University found that Eagle Scouts were more likely to:

  • Achieve personal, professional and financial goals in life.
  • Become leaders in society.
  • Leave their mark on society through their life achievements.

The Girl Scouts have their own version of the Eagle Scout called the Gold Award.

The Girl Scouts Gold Award website touts the achievements of its Gold Award achievers:

“Gold Award Girl Scouts do well in life! They rate their general success significantly higher than their peers and report greater success in reaching their goals in many areas.”

And they have their own Who’s Who list of famous recipients.

Those who succeed in life and realize incredible riches, discover an innate talent or something that makes their heart sing. They find it through experimentation – experimenting with diverse activities until they find one that they are good at or they love doing. They then spend their entire lives engaged in that activity, practicing it, perfecting it, and eventually becoming an expert in it.

People are happy to pay a premium for their superior knowledge or skills.

For those parents out there who want their children to grow up to be successful in life, experimentation is the Holy Grail for success. And the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts have institutionalized a very unique process that encourages experimentation.

Experimentation reveals our calling in life – an innate talent or a passion. When you find the thing you were supposed to do, life rewards with happiness and a sense of fulfillment. The other byproduct, wealth, is just icing on the cake.

Three Types of Self-Made Millionaires


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In my five-year Rich Habits Study, I interviewed 177 self-made millionaires. I am often asked by the media how they got rich.

Essentially, my self-made millionaires fell into three distinct groups:

The Savers

The first group of self-made millionaires in my study saved their way to wealth. These Savers accumulated their wealth by living below their means, saving money and then investing that money prudently. According to my Rich Habits research, this path to multi-millionaire status took about thirty-two years.

Savers typically were risk averse, employed most of their lives, earned a moderate wage and had a low or moderate standard of living.

Self-made millionaire Savers were among the least wealthy in my study, with an average net worth of $3.4 million.

Being a Saver is the risk-averse way to building wealth. It’s the safe path to wealth accumulation. However, it required discipline, sacrifice and attention to detail in order to live below their means, save and prudently invest.

The Executives

The second group of self-made millionaires in my study worked for large publicly held corporations. Through hard work, smart office politics, constant self-improvement and powerful relationship-building skills, they rose up the ladder in their respective companies.

As executives, they received higher than normal compensation, which always included bonuses and stock compensation.

This stock compensation was in the form of one or more of the following:

  • Qualified stock options
  • Non-qualified stock options
  • Stock rights
  • Restricted stock
  • Outright stock grants

The stock compensation, irrespective of its form, was always disproportionate to their base compensation, meaning, significantly higher than their base pay. This stock compensation was responsible for generating most of their wealth.

It took this group about twenty-five years to accumulate their wealth.

The Entrepreneurs

The third group of self-made millionaires in my study were the entrepreneurs – individuals who started their own business. This group, by far, accumulated the most wealth, averaging $7.4 million over an average of twelve years.

This was the highest risk and hardest path towards building wealth. In fact, 34% of the self-made millionaire entrepreneurs in my study failed at least once in business, which took a toll on their families and their lives.

The upfront investment in time and money was significant.

The early part of the journey for the typical entrepreneur was one fraught with nothing but uncertainty.

They invested most, if not all of their time, money and energy in something with no guarantee of success.

Despite their best efforts, things often went wrong. In the beginning, there was an endless parade of setbacks, obstacles and mistakes.

With every misstep, doubt was a constant companion. These doubts fill their waking moments and invaded their dreams.

Peace of mind was hard to find. Uncertainty sucked the life out of them. It often drained them of their confidence and every setback caused them to wonder if it was all worth it.

It took superhuman resilience to survive the entrepreneur’s journey.

But the journey transformed their lives and the lives of their families.

It forced them to develop new skills, acquire new knowledge and learn how to find and build relationships with other outstanding, success-minded people.

Those who were able to survive the journey and succeed, became millionaires and found happiness and fulfillment awaiting them on the other side of their journey.

There’s no easy path towards accumulating wealth and becoming a self-made millionaire.

Saving your way to wealth is the least stressful and least risky path towards accumulating wealth, but it requires enormous discipline and sacrifice.

Climbing the corporate ladder to wealth requires unique skill-sets and more than a little bit of luck. Finding a publicly held company to work for is easy. Finding one that is in a growing and expanding sector where profits and share price are consistently rising requires some luck.

Being an entrepreneur is perhaps the hardest way to accumulate wealth. The ups and downs, characteristic of entrepreneurship, requires enormous emotional control, long work hours, persistence, resilience, focus and the ability to rebound from mistakes and failure.

Rich Thinking – The Success Mindset


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Rich Thinking is a habit, or rather, many habits. Rich Thinking habits establish a success-oriented mindset, something that is critical to, and a prerequisite to, the acquisition of success.

So, what are the Rich Thinking Habits?

I Must Improve Every Day

Being obsessed with daily self-improvement triggers all sorts of daily behaviors, or daily habits:

  • Reading to Learn every day in order to acquire expert knowledge in your field or craft. This requires a thirty minutes or more of daily reading.
  • Engaging in Deliberate Practice every day to help perfect and improve your skills. This requires two hours of more of Deliberate Practice.
  • Curiosity. This requires seeking specific answers to things you know nothing about.

I Will Never Quit

  • Emotional Stability is at the heart of this Rich Thinking habit. When things go wrong, as they mostly do during the success journey, Emotional Stability means avoiding the tendency to get down on yourself. When things go right, Emotional Stability means avoiding the tendency to become euphoric. Emotional Stability means never overreacting to defeat or success. You’ve seen this habit at work in high performers like Roger Federer, Eli Manning and Michael Jordan. You would never know either of them was winning or losing because they possess the Emotional Stability Rich Thinking habit.
  • Managing Expectations requires setting realistic expectations at the very beginning. When you set realistic expectations, you avoid the ups and downs.When you set unrealistic expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment, sadness or depression. When you set realistic expectations you are setting yourself up for satisfaction or happiness.
  • Focus eliminates distractions. When you make focus a habit, you ignore the noise and distractions that take most people off task.
  • Persistence means you continue to pursue your dreams and your goals no matter what happens in your life.

I Know Where I’m Going

Dream-Setting is about visualizing what your ideal, perfect life looks like ten or twenty years into the future. You create a blueprint of that life by writing a script about what your future life will look like. This habits requires that you continuously tweak your blueprint, you re-write your script, as facts and circumstances change. During the pursuit of success, some things will go right and more things will go wrong. Staying focused on the end game, requires re-writing your script when your circumstances change, while still maintaining your focus on where you want to end up ten or twenty years into the future.

I Will Maintain a Positive Mental Outlook

Gratitude is the gateway to a positive mental outlook, so it all begins with being grateful for what you have. This sets in motion all of the other positive traits you will need to succeed: optimism, enthusiasm, hope, passion and inspiration.

The most successful individuals have the ability to stay positive during stressful situations. They understand that positivity is the springboard of all creativity and insight, which helps you overcome obstacles and find solutions to problems.

I Will Adopt a Solutions Mindset

Successful people do not focus on finding problems, they acknowledge a problem and then focus on finding solutions.

I Will Become Process-Oriented

Everyone who pursues success makes mistakes. Those who succeed see those mistakes as learning experiences. They learn from their mistakes. Once they figure out what they did wrong, they develop processes that enable them to avoid making the same mistakes.

I Will be Patient

Success takes a long time. Those who succeed adopt the Rich Thinking Habit of Patience. They patiently persist, waiting for opportunities and luck to manifest themselves and then taking advantage of those opportunities and that luck.

Rich Habits Poor Habits Episode 48 | Being rich is really about two things Part 2

In Rich Habits Study, Tom Corley interviewed 233 wealthy individuals (177 of whom were self- made millionaires) with at least $160,000 in annual gross income and $3.2 million in net assets.

He found that becoming and staying rich tends to come from two actions:

1. Accumulating wealth farm seed soil grow wealth

2. Keeping the wealth you’ve accumulated

But accumulating wealth is only one part of the equation.

In his book “Rich Habits Poor Habits,” he shares another equally important part of being rich: holding on to the wealth you’ve accumulated.

Staying rich requires that you forge certain specific habits that ensure the wealth you’ve accumulated does not disappear.

Here are a few of the most important Rich Habits that will help you keep your wealth:

Putting your wealth to work. 

Putting your wealth to work means investing it wisely in stocks, bonds, real estate and other business opportunities.


These investments create additional streams of income that pay dividends down the road.

Setting aside part of your wealth for retirement.

Save 10-20% of the income you make and put that money into long-term retirement assets that you don’t touch until you retire.

Watching what you spend.

Do you know where your money goes?

You should.

Tracking what you spend opens your eyes so you may know exactly where your money goes.

Tracking your spending allows you to make adjustments to how you spend your money.

If you don’t track your spending it can get out of control.

This “lifestyle creep” can cause your wealth to disappear over time.

Avoiding spontaneous or emotional purchases.

Never buy anything on impulse.

It is almost always the wrong thing to do.

That spontaneous or emotional purchase will lose its luster after only a few weeks.

Then you’re stuck with something you don’t need and that does not generate any income.

Living below your means.

Living below your means keeps you from falling into the trap of lifestyle creep. calculator coin money save debt

No matter what good fortune visits you in life, do not change your standard of living.

Don’t supersize your life by buying things you really do not need.

Live a modest, simple life.

Never forget wealth is a two-step process.

The game doesn’t begin and end with getting rich.

You must forge Rich Habits that guarantee the wealth you accumulate sticks around for a long time.

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What It Takes To Become Exceptional


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Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe and Clemens Tesch-Romer co-authored a paper titled The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.

This paper introduced the world to a new concept that turned the nature and understanding of high performers on its head.

Their research was made famous by author Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book, Outliers, The Story of Success.

That new concept is known as Deliberate Practice.

Deliberate Practice, not innate talent, is what sets expert performers apart from everyone else.

The most effective Deliberate Practice activities are those that can be repeated at high volume.

Instead of practicing only what you are good at, Deliberate Practice requires that you insistently seek out specific things you are not good at, via feedback from mentors or coaches, and then define practice activities that will make you better at those things you are not good at.

This requires an inordinate amount of practice; something most will not do, because it is not fun and it is hard, physically and emotionally.

Deliberate Practice requires a fanatical obsession to improve through repetitive practice and then seek feedback from mentors or coaches, as to your performance.

Gladwell summed up this required investment in improvement, through Deliberate Practice, as The 10,000 Rule – devoting 10,000 hours of Deliberate Practice to your craft, in order to rise to the level of mastery.

So, what are the elements of Deliberate Practice, in achieving mastery?

  1. Identifying Your Weaknesses – Identifying areas within your craft that require improvement.
  2. Defining specific activities around your weaknesses that you can practice on for three to four hours every day.
  3. Seeking feedback from mentors or coaches with respect to your performance in those specific activities.
  4. Deliberately Practicing, over and over again, those specific activities you are not good at, until you gain mastery.
  5. Repeat #1 – 4 for each weakness, until all of your weaknesses improve to the point of mastery.

Get Comfortable Asking For Help


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As a rule, most people do not like asking others for help.

You don’t want to feel like you are burdening someone else or you don’t want to feel obligated to someone else.

But I learned from my Rich Habits research that self-made millionaires get comfortable being uncomfortable with a lot of things. Asking for help, is one of those things they became very comfortable doing.

They learned to get comfortable asking for help in the form of mentorship, professional expertise, tapping the skill set/knowledge of individuals, seeking wisdom and guidance from others, or asking for financial or non-financial assistance.

When I became President of The Ashley Lauren Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps families struggling with pediatric cancer, it became apparent that I was going to have to get comfortable asking people for money.

As an adult, I’ve only ever had to ask banks, venture capitalists or private equity investors for money for the various business ventures I’ve been involved with over the years. That was easy for me to do because they would be getting something of value in return for their money.

But asking ordinary individuals to fork over their hard earned money, knowing they would be getting nothing in return, was something new for me. It took practice, but after seven years in working with the Ashley Lauren Foundation, I’ve gotten pretty good at asking for help.

Interestingly, getting comfortable asking for money has had a positive influence on my other businesses. It helped me to forge the habit of learning to asking for help.

Now, thanks to my non-profit work, I no longer worry about burdening others or feeling obligated when I ask for help. The sting of asking for help goes away the more you ask for help.

What I did find interesting and unexpected is that asking for help from others strengthened my relationship with them. We grew closer. The roots to the relationship tree grew deeper.

Asking for help forges a special kind of bond between two people; a unique bond that essentially says we have each others back.

So, get comfortable asking for help. If you’re uncomfortable with it, like I was, join a non-profit. In time you will get comfortable asking for help, which is a Rich Habit of self-made millionaires. It’s a habit that Helps improve your business, profession or career.