Money Habits of the Rich

tip-o-the-morning

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Those who know how to manage money make it their slave. Those who do not, become its slave.

In my research I discovered specific money habits of the rich that they used to accumulate enormous wealth:

  • Put Money to Work – Accumulating money is good but it will not make you rich. You must put money to work if you want to become wealthy. And putting money to work means taking smart, calculated risks with that money. The rich put their money to work by investing it in stocks, bonds, real estate and businesses.
  • Borrow Money to Create Assets – There is good debt and there is bad debt. Bad debt is debt you use to sustain your lifestyle. Good debt is debt you use to build assets that generate cash flow down the road.
  • Save Money – Saving 10% or more of your earnings/income allows you to accumulate money. You want to accumulate money so that you can take advantage of opportunities that come along.
  • Track What You Spend – Do you know where your money goes? You should. Tracking what you spend empowers you. It 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 money it will disappear and once it’s gone you can’t get it back.
  • Avoid 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.

If you want to become rich you must become the master of your money. If you don’t it will fly away and land in someone else’s pockets, never to return again.

Are you a Leaf or a Tree?

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Success is a process. Self-made millionaires forge the habit of processing success in their lives by engaging in daily goal-focused activities.

Nearly half of the self-made millionaires in my Rich habits study woke up at least three hours prior to work in order to focus on getting important things done in those early morning hours. Almost always, those early morning tasks were tied to their dreams and their goals.

If you don’t process success in your life, you will not have any control over your success. Like a tree that works every day driving its roots into the ground, building a strong foundation in order to grow, you must work tirelessly building your success foundation. If you don’t, you will be like a leaf on a fall day, floating aimlessly, waiting and hoping for another breeze to carry you along.

Don’t be a leaf, with no control over the direction of your life. Instead, work every day to build a strong foundation by making a habit of doing specific things every day that will help you grow in knowledge and skill.

Like a tree, your daily success habits enable you to drive your success roots deeper into the ground, building a foundation for success that will one day pay enormous dividends.

Never Criticize, Condemn or Complain

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One of the most valuable self-help books I ever read was How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

I had read that book twenty-five years ago, when I was really just beginning my career. I dusted that book off when I completed my Rich Habits research and re-read it. I took copious notes so that I could compare the teachings in that book to my research findings.

One of the many Rich Habits that I unearthed was one I called Rich Thinking – possessing a positive, optimistic, success-oriented mindset. In Dale Carnegie’s book, he touched on the Rich Thinking Rich Habit. In his book, he offered the following rule of success:

Never criticize, condemn or complain.

In my research, I found that the poor people in my study were filled with criticism and condemnation of their boss, co-workers, spouse, family, friends and rich people in general. They also complained about their lot in life. They complained about their jobs. They complained about their poor parents. They complained about the poor neighborhood they were raised in. The complained about the economy, politicians, government. I did not enjoy interviewing the poor people. They brought me down with their negativity.

Conversely, the self-made millionaires in my study were swimming in positivity. They were upbeat, optimistic and enthusiastic about life. I heard little to no criticism, condemnation or complaining in my interviews of those self-made millionaires. And, consequently, I very much enjoyed interviewing them.

When you take a look at the individuals inside your social circle, who are the ones you like hanging around with? My guess is, it isn’t the ones who constantly criticize, condemn and complain.

Humility Makes Great Teachers

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Some people have it hard and some people have it easy.

Of the 233 millionaires in my Rich Habits study, fifty-six were raised in wealthy households and 177 were self-made (41% came from poverty and 59% from the middle-class). The differences in the habits, thinking and decision-making between those who inherited their wealth and those who created their own wealth was, in many instances, very significant.

One of the glaring things I discovered, was that the majority of those who inherited their wealth seemed much more arrogant. Because they were born into money, they took for granted their wealth and they took for granted their amazing life. I got the distinct impression that they felt superior to me and, I suppose, to many others in society who were not born rich. There was a hubris in the way they conducted themselves that seemed to ooze out of them in conversation. And it made me uncomfortable talking to them. I did not enjoy interviewing those millionaires. Plus, I did not learn as much from them as I thought I would. Arrogant people, I learned, make very poor teachers.

The self-made millionaires, on the other hand, were not only a joy to interview, they were a real-life education in what it takes to become successful. What I found most endearing was their humility. Unlike the inherited millionaires, the self-made’s were a humble lot. And I now know why. Success came hard for them. They suffered constant rejection, endured costly mistakes, overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles and nearly 1/3 of them suffered humiliating failures that almost destroyed their families. Their pursuit of success humbled them.

Despite their success, they remained humble. And they remained humble because they understood all too well that the difference between success and failure was often a very fine line. One separated only by persistence and a never quit on your dreams attitude.

I don’t think you can learn much from inherited millionaires. They don’t have the scars and battle wounds that often teach valuable lessons. The real teachers were the self-made millionaires. Their struggles humbled them and made them great teachers.

Survive Until You Thrive

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Most people have dreams. They dream about being rich. They dream about quitting their jobs and being their own boss. They dream about buying real estate or starting their own company. They dream about living in a beautiful home near the beach, on a lake, in the big city or in the mountains. They dream about being able to afford to send their kids to college.

Dreams are critical to success. But dreams are really just your brain’s way of telling you to get moving.

Self-made millionaires are ordinary individuals. They are just like everyone else, with one major difference. They took action on their dreams. They are dreamers who became doers.

When you take action on your dreams, that means you become fully invested in your dream. It takes over your life. You think about it 24/7, 365 days a year, year in and year out. Self-made millionaires invest everything into their dreams: all of their money, all of their time and all of their emotions.

As a result, they are forced to forgo the immediate pleasures of life. They sacrifice today for tomorrow. Their real underlying dream is really for a brighter future for themselves and for their family. But to get there, they must make sacrifices. They have to struggle and do without in the early going.

I have a client I have been mentoring for some time to become rich. A few years ago she decided to pursue one of her dreams. She took action. After three years of pursuing her dream, she is still struggling every day to survive financially. But in our last meeting it became clear to both of us that if she could survive the next two years financially, she would become very wealthy. There is now light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s what self-made millionaires do. They dream, they take action on their dreams, they struggle to survive financially early on and then they thrive. The hardest part is surviving the journey. But the journey does get easier. And when things start to get easier, that is when you know you are getting close to success. You must survive until you thrive.

Here’s Why You Feel Off

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When you’re off you know it. You feel tired, down, and you get sick too often. You might also feel lethargic, lacking in motivation or you might even suffer from depression. These are very often symptoms of something big that is wrong with your body. When you’re not feeling right too often, it’s your body’s way of telling you that you have malfunctioning mitochondria.

Mitochondria are ancient bacteria that reside in every cell in the human body. Billions of years ago this bacteria hitched a ride inside our cells. It’s purpose is to produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the energy that powers every cell within our bodies. The average human cell has between 1,000 – 2,000 mitochondria inside each cell. When that mitochondria is functioning inefficiently you feel like crap all the time. You’re unable to focus and think clearly, causing brain fog.

What’s causing your mitochondria to malfunction?

  • You’re not getting enough oxygen – You don’t exercise aerobically every day and your stores of oxygen are low. Mitochondria uses oxygen to create ATP. When you are not getting enough oxygen, your mitochondria are not producing enough ATP to power your body.
  • You’re microbiota inside your large intestine is unhealthy – Eating too many carbohydrates and not enough fibrous vegetables can kill good microbiota. If just about every meal you eat lacks vegetables, you are literally starving the good microbiota inside your gut. This impairs your immune system, making you sick too often and could actually lead to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many other ailments.
  • You’re not getting enough sleep – During sleep, your brain does a lot of janitorial work. It recharges your brain cells and clears away the junk inside those brain cells (free radicals and waste produced by brain cells. During sleep, the brain sends out a swat team of immunological cells that rids the brain of unhealthy, dying or malfunctioning brain cells. You need at least four sleep cycles every night in order for your brain to perform maintenance. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, so you need a minimum of six hours of sleep every night. Five sleep cycles, or 7.5 hours of sleep a night is optimal.

For more information about how to increase your energy read Head Strong, by Dave Asprey.

Are You an Anchor?

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Tom Corley boats - cropWhen I embarked on my Rich Habits Study I was not content with identifying the Rich Habits of wealthy people. Success habits only get you half way down the field. In order to get down the rest of the field and score, you also need to know what not to do. That is why I also studied the Poor Habits of those struggling with poverty.

Poor Habits anchor you in poverty and affect everyone around you. What are some of the anchors dragging you and everyone around you down?

  • Negative Beliefs – Negative beliefs are like apps you download onto your cell phone. They program your thinking and direct your behavior in a very bad way. Worse, they infect those within your social circle. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored. What are some of the negative beliefs that are acting like an anchor around your neck and dragging you and others down?
    • I’m not smart
    • Poor people can’t become rich
    • Everyone in my family is overweight
    • I’m not lucky
    • I’m not a people person
    • I’m disorganized
    • I fail at everything
  • Negative Talk – We are constantly talking to ourselves and others. When the words we use internally (self-talk) are negative, it’s like adding computer code to our negative programming. When the words we use externally (talking to others) are negative, it turns people off. Negative people suck the energy out of everyone they come into contact with. Negative people are simply exhausting to be around. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored.
  • Gossip – Most gossip is negative. When we engage in gossip it telegraphs to others that we cannot be trusted and, thus, should be avoided at all costs. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored.
  • Complaining – Everyone has problems. We are all trying to solve our own problems. When you complain to others about your problems it turns people off because they are overwhelmed trying to deal with their own problems. They don’t need or want to hear about your problems. They don’t have the energy to deal with their problems and your problems at the same time. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored.
  • Financial Mess – There are a lot of reasons why people struggle financially. They spend more than they make, they take on too much debt, they struggle holding onto a job, they mismanage their business, they gamble too much, they drink too much, they have a poor work ethic or they are not self-reliant and depend on the generosity of others to constantly bail them out financially. Those who are unable to manage their finances drag themselves down and everyone around them. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored.
  • Blame Thrower – Blame Throwers do not take responsibility for their life. They blame everyone and everything for their lot in life.  Blame Throwers are by nature selfish individuals who have no control over their lives. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored.
  • Anchored in Ideology – When you are anchored in ideology, you are close-minded and resistant to change. You ignore the ideas, opinions or feedback of others. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored.
  • Needy – Those who are constantly needy are not just anchors around their necks, they are anchors around everyone they come into contact with. People catch on, the word gets around, and eventually you will find yourself alone and ignored.

We are our own worst enemy. Our anchors drag us down and everyone around us. Those anchors act like neon billboard signs that tell others: “I am an anchor who will drag you down”.

Find your anchors and remove them. If you don’t, people will catch on and you will find yourself alone and ignored.

Ignore Your Weaknesses

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One of the self-made millionaires in my study was very close to illiterate. He struggled reading and writing the English language. Yet, he was able to accumulate $20 million during his lifetime. How?

He hired professionals who were expert in reading and writing English.

The purpose of primary education (elementary school) is to teach kids the fundamentals: reading, writing and arithmetic. Some kids are very good readers, some are bad. Some are good at writing, others not so good. And some pick up math faster than others.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Primary school helps identify those strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, when the school system identifies a weakness in a student, they then deploy significant resources to help strengthen those weaknesses. That’s how the U.S. education system works – it focuses on strengthening weaknesses and pays very little attention to strengths. And this is the Achilles Heel of the education system.

The path towards success and accumulating wealth is through your strengths.

A strength is anything that comes easy to you. Every individual is born with certain strengths. It’s genetics. We are genetically hardwired with certain strengths. The real purpose of primary education should not be in strengthening our weaknesses but in identifying and exploiting our strengths. Since primary schools don’t do that, the responsibility shifts to you.

The secret to escaping poverty and accumulating enormous wealth, for the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study, was in finding one or two strengths and then devoting their lives to leveraging those strengths. They figured out what they were good at, which is typically anything that came easy to them, and then they chose some career path or some business enterprise that allowed them to focus on their strengths.

The path towards success is not eliminating your weaknesses. Ignore your weaknesses. Strengthening your weaknesses only leads to mediocrity. Your innate strengths are your superpowers. Those who focus on their strengths, find success, happiness and wealth. Your innate strengths are life’s way of telling you: “this is what you you were born to do.”  

Always Start With a Big Brush

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Painters always start with a big brush. Using a big brush first allows painters to create the initial overall shape of whatever it is they are painting. Once they have their shape completed, only then do they move to the smaller brushes in order to fill in the details of their painting, bringing their painting to life.

Creating the life of your dreams requires the same thing. You must start with a big brush in order to create the outline of the life you desire. This big brush outline focuses on certain basic qualities of the life you desire:

  • Financial independence
  • Doing work that you love
  • Having a loving family
  • Living in a beautiful house in a safe neighborhood.

Once you have the outline of the life you desire, only then do you fill in the details:

  • Saving 20% of my income until I have $3 million in the bank
  • Getting my Certified Financial Planner license so that I can become a successful financial planner
  • Finding a loving spouse who desires to start a family
  • Buying or building a Victorian home three blocks from the beach

The outline is your WHY. The details are your HOW. Like a painter, you build the life of your dreams by reaching for the big brush first, your WHY, and only after you have defined your WHY do you reach for the smaller brush to define your HOW.

The mistake most make is reaching for the smaller brush first. They put their ladder on someone else’s wall by pursuing some career path a parent or teacher recommended. Only latter in life do you realize that you were pursuing someone else’s WHY. And you’re unhappy with their WHY because it’s not your WHY.

Those who live the life of their dreams always put their ladder on their wall. They reach for the big brush first. That gives them their WHY and the rest, as they say, is just details.

Creativity Requires Practice

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“Genius arrives when you show up enough times to get the average ideas out of the way.” – James Clear

Creativity has little to do with inspiration and everything to do with practice. When you study some of the most successful, creative people who ever lived: Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, at the heart of their creativity was the relentless practice of their craft. Every day they invented, tinkered, pondered, experimented or wrote. Their creativity was the fruit of countless hours of toil.

Creators don’t wait to be inspired to create. Rather, they forge ahead every day, practicing and honing their skills until that golden nugget of genius reveals itself. As Thomas Edison famously once said, “genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”

In order to create anything meaningful in life, you must go at it every day. Historians very rarely focus on the effort behind genius. And that’s too bad because true genius lies not in the result but in the effort that gives birth to the result.