There is a certain stigma that has been painted of the “rich:” Mansions, exotic foreign cars, yachts and elaborate themed parties for apparently no reason – like the infamous white party. I mean, why do you need to have a party just to wear a white outfit? Buying into this image makes becoming wealthy seem like an impossible goal for many. But, most wealthy people live very normal lives. That’s because the secrets to getting rich are actually normal, boring secrets.
In the age of billionaire tycoons, being a millionaire may not be as impressive as it once was. In fact, the number of millionaires in the United States is growing: In 2013, CNBC reported that there were 13.2 million millionaires in the U.S. Still, having a million dollars or more in the bank is certainly nothing to write off as insignificant.
Chances are that if you ran into one of these 13.2 million millionaires, you may not even know that they belonged to such an elite group. That’s because most millionaires have figured out that fitting the “rich” stereotype can actually cause more harm than good when it comes to their financial success.
The 12 Boring Get Rich Secrets
Yes, the majority of millionaires are similar to you and I. They just know a few secrets to becoming – and remaining – a millionaire that others haven’t quite figured out yet. And they don’t like to share these secrets because while they’re incredibly effective, they’re also incredibly boring. There’s no glitz and glamour, no “rich” stigmata attached to them. If they told “normal” people their secrets, they might start thinking they can join the club of exclusivity too.
But luckily, we’ve uncovered a few of them and are willing to share them with you. Here are 12 boring secrets to getting rich that your millionaire counterparts won’t tell you:
1. Spend less than you earn. This is probably the most important secret to getting and staying rich. Ask any millionaire, and most of them would tell you that they would gladly defy society’s definition of “rich” rather than being deceptively poor. It’s never a good look when your neighbors see a tow truck repossessing the Bugatti in your driveway.
2. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Simply having money means nothing. It’s what you do with that money and how you use it that brings feelings of happiness and accomplishment. And there’s scientific research to prove it. Buy experiences instead of material items. Delay instant gratification. Donate to a charitable cause. Reach your definition of financial independence.
3. Be debt free. Or at least be bad (high interest rates), short-term debt free. The foundation of financial independence is rooted in having total control over your money. It’s a state of mind that’s cultivated from not having to pay others back, but being able to put your money to work for you instead. This is important, because this sense of independence sans debt can be achieved at virtually any income level.
4. Treat your money like your child. Okay, maybe not literally; don’t put it in a stroller and walk it down the street. But do treat it like a child to a certain degree. Money is incapable of managing itself. It needs help and guidance, a structure within which it can grow. It craves discipline. You can’t expect to just leave your money to its own devices and expect it to turn out the way you want it to. Growing wealth is just like raising a child. Give it your attention on a regular basis.
5. Patience is a virtue. Yes, millionaires are more common today, but no one becomes a millionaire overnight. Becoming a millionaire comes from hard work over a number of years. It comes from diligently saving 15% or more of your income, and understanding that investing is a marathon, not a sprint.
6. Pay off credit cards in full every month. I’ll say it again: Pay off your credit cards in full every month! This is that bad, short-term debt we touched on earlier. It also goes back to instant gratification. Waiting to buy something until you have the cash to afford it will always pay off more than impulsively spending money you don’t have. There’s no doubt that we’re a consumer society that wants things now. But millionaires understand that if they don’t have the cash, they can’t afford it.
7. Pay yourself first. Savings rates in America are at an all-time low. We all find ways to pay out our money to other people, but we forget to pay the most important person: You! Liquidity is essential to becoming financially independent. I cannot stress enough the importance of saving at least 15% of your income on a monthly basis. When something goes wrong, you have a safety net to bail you out. When the opportunity of a lifetime comes along, you have the capital to take advantage of it. Don’t be afraid to think big when it comes to your savings goals.
8. Investing requires a disciplined approach. Investing is one of the most unnatural things you can do; the markets defy traditional logic and reasoning, and have unpredictable behavior. When volatility strikes, it’s hard for investors to stay disciplined. Mostly because they haven’t defined their true investment philosophy, what they believe. Our newest investment strategies are designed to aide this. Their goal is take some of the sting out of volatility, making your investment ride smoother. Millionaires have done this. They know what they believe and why. They know where their money is, what it’s doing and why. They can move with the market instead of fighting it. They base their investing actions on a coherent philosophy that expresses their values, free from emotion and bias.
9. Making a financial “plan” doesn’t guarantee much. Unfortunately, life doesn’t care about your plan, and it won’t adhere to it. Life will happen, I can promise that. So instead of planning for something that we can’t predict and is out of our control, millionaires position themselves to effectively react to changing information. Our digital financial model, JB Wealth Builder, does just this. Being able to pull all of your financial information into one destination and evaluate the impact of those decisions on your complete financial life is imperative. Millionaires know you can’t make smart financial decisions otherwise.
10. Stuff happens. As we just said. There are risks threatening your life’s work every day. Millionaires understand that you’re a fool if you don’t protect yourself against that risk. And no, it’s not just about life insurance or disability insurance. It’s about everything from your personal liability to your estate plan to your tax plan. Most people are only one “what if” away from not reaching their full financial potential. Life events cause ripple effects, and either the dam holds up or the flood breaks through, unleashing chaos. Millionaires understand the importance of a protection first mindset. The rest means nothing if your life’s work isn’t protected.
11. Time is a good friend, if you’re in your twenties. Most everyone will tell you that they don’t feel confident in their retirement nest egg. Sure, not knowing how long it will last or how much you will really need plays a part in this. But the real issue is that too many people wait too long to start saving. They take too great of risk with their money, and end up losing big. They cash out retirement accounts for down payments on homes. We operate with this idea that there’s always time to catch up. Millionaires understand that this couldn’t be more wrong. They start early, they start smart and they know this money is for their future, nothing else.
12. You can’t spend what you don’t see. It’s true, money can burn a hole in your pocket. The only way to snuff out the flame is to get it out of there and spend it. This is why a lot of six-figure earners find themselves living paycheck to paycheck; they spend everything they make. Setting up automatic deductions on your paycheck not only keeps you from seeing this money, but forces you to pay yourself regularly. Millionaires understand this struggle, and realize it can be easier to overcome when it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Why Does This Matter to You?
Really, what this comes down to is redefining what we think of when we hear the term “rich.” Sure, there’s a certain element of glamour to it, a hint of the fairytale. But if that’s all you think being rich means, then you probably feel like you just wasted the last five minutes of your life reading this article.
However, if your definition is a lifestyle where you can quit working for your money and have your money work for you, this advice may just be a home run.