How Self-Made Millionaires Deal With Their Money Every Day

Tom Corley boats - crop
What secrets about managing money do the rich know that the average person doesn’t? I spent five years trying to answer that question. I asked 233 millionaires 144 questions and discovered the rich have certain very specific money habits that were instrumental in helping them accumulate their wealth.
1. Know Where Your Money is Going – Look at your bank statement and credit card statement every month. You’ll uncover expenses for things you were not even aware you were paying for, such as club memberships, subscriptions, recurring charges for products or services you don’t even use. Oftentimes these recurring charges are the byproduct of some “free” promotion you signed up for. The problem is those promotional periods end and when they do, that’s when the charges begin.
2. Annual Expense Review – Many expenses change over time. Insurance costs, such as life insurance, can actually drop when the life expectancy tables are internally adjusted by your insurance company’s underwriting department. You’ll never know unless you reach out to your insurance agent to find out. Also review your health insurance to make sure you’re not inadvertently paying for dependents who left the nest, are on their own, and have coverage through their employer. Cable and Internet costs often change when certain channels are added or dropped. You may be paying for channels you were not even aware were part of your package. Calling your cable or Internet provider to secure the lowest fees available should be an annual process. Periodically shop cell phone plans. Increased competition in the cell phone industry is driving down monthly rates. Make sure you are not paying more than you have to.
3. Avoid Spendthrift Friends – Most people were not taught the habit of living below their means by their parents. As a result, it is very likely that some of your friends are dragging you down with their reckless spending. A night out on the town can sometimes turn into an unexpected $300 night and vacations can turn into investments. Think long and hard about the affect your friends are having on your spending habits. If you hang out with spendthrifts, you could become one yourself. Our habits are influenced by those we associate with. The self-made millionaires in my study made a conscious effort to associate with like-minded individuals. Make sure you are associating with individuals who share your desire to live below their means.
4. Purchase Good Quality Used Cars – New cars lose value as soon as they come off the lot. Buying good quality used cars allows you to take advantage of this loss in value anomaly prevalent in the auto industry. 44% of the rich in my study purchased good quality used cars. Typically these are cars coming off a lease. They may be two or three years old. At 125,000 miles most cars will require some annual repairs. Expect to incur about $1,500 a year in repair costs when you hold on to cars beyond this 125,000 mileage mark. That is still significantly less than you would spend on a loan or lease for a new car.
5. Use On-line Coupons – Online sites like Groupon, Living Social, Fab and many others offer discounts of 50% or more on restaurants, products and groceries. Thirty percent of the self-made millionaires in my study used coupons. Why pay more than you have to on groceries or other expenses?
6. Keep Housing Costs Between 25% – 30% of Your Monthly Net Pay. Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, most of the rich do not live in mcmansions. Sixty-four percent of the rich in my study lived in modest homes.
7. Save 20% of Your Net Pay – Automate your savings by having 20% of your net pay sent to your savings account every pay period. This will force you to live below your means because you will be forced to live on the remaining 80% of your net pay.
8. Never Gamble Your Savings – There’s no such thing as getting rich quick without exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. The power of compounding with safe investments can grow your savings and make you wealthy. Saving just $250 a month over 40 years will produce $381,505 at a 5% return.
9. Allocate Your Savings Using The Bucket System – Bucket #1 is your Retirement Savings Bucket. Bucket #2 is your Specific Expense Bucket (i.e. saving for a down payment on a home, wedding costs, birth of a child, etc.). Bucket #3 is your Unexpected Expense Bucket (i.e. home repairs, car repairs, medical costs, unemployment, etc.) and Bucket #4 is your Cyclical Expense Bucket (birthday gifts, holiday gifts, vacations, back to school, etc.).
10. Establish Savings Goals Per Bucket – Earmark a certain percentage to set aside for each bucket. For example, if you save 205 of your net pay the allocation might look like this: 10% for Retirement Bucket, 4% for Specific Expense Bucket and 3% for both Unexpected Expense Budget and Cyclical Expense Bucket.

Saving money is a process. Accumulating wealth is a process. It’s all one big process, this thing we call financial success. But if you don’t have a process or adopt good money habits you will never be able to save. It just won’t happen. When you develop good money habits you feel like you are finally in control of your life. It’s empowering.


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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

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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