Besides a lot of money, just what is the difference between someone worth $50,000 and someone worth $10 million? With so many diverse millionaires in the world today, it’s easy to see that being rich is not primarily related to geographical location, ethnicity, education, or even family wealth.
T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, says “you can have all the knowledge and skills in the world, but if your ‘blueprint’ isn’t set for success, you’re financially doomed.”
So what’s this special blueprint that sets wealthy people up for success? It’s written in the way they behave and in the habits they keep.
In particular, wealthy people have a different outlook and strategy when it comes to managing their income and cash flow—and that makes them even richer. Changing your habits is the first step toward being financially wise, stable, and capable of growth.
Here’s how the super-rich do it:
1. Put off instant gratification for a bigger payoff later.
Remember the Marshmallow Test of the 1960s? If not, here’s a brief overview: Psychologist Dr. Walter Mischel designed a test for preschool-aged children where they were put in a room alone and given one marshmallow. The children were told that they could eat their marshmallow immediately, or wait for the examiner to re-enter the room and give them a second marshmallow.
To four-year-olds, it was the ultimate test of patience, foresight, and the ability to delay gratification. Of the children able to wait for another marshmallow, Mischel said they were “more able to sustain effort and deal with frustration” as adults. Furthermore, these children went on to be physically healthier and score higher on State Achievement Tests.
2. Be frugal, even if you don’t have to.
“Learn how to live within your means and how to delay gratification; these are the habits that you need to maintain on the way up, so you can keep your millions when you get there,” says Adrian Cartwood, author of How to Make 7 Million in 7 Years.
Reports show that the preferred car of millionaires is a Ford. That’s probably not what most people imagine as their vehicle when they daydream about being rich, but it’s true nevertheless. Cadillacs and Lincolns are rated second and third, respectively. The reason for this is pretty simple: as an investment, vehicles have a poor return. Many wealthy people would rather invest their money into their own business or into a specific financial plan than spend it on a vehicle that will eventually need to be replaced.
Carlos Slim, CEO of Mexico’s telecom giant Telmex, is a great example of frugality in wealth. Worth $49.3 billion, Slim lives in a fairly modest 6-bedroom house in Mexico City, three miles from his birthplace. His children shared bedrooms growing up, and though he does own a Mercedes, he drives it himself.
3. Seek self-employment or start your own business.
If there’s one thing you can’t control when you are an employee, it’s your income and that’s something you really need to have control of in order to make and have plenty of money. The majority of millionaires in the United States are manager-owners of businesses, in charge of creating their own incomes.
Take Sir Richard Branson, for example. With startup capital of just £300 pounds, he first started a student magazine, then a mail-order record company, then Virgin Records, and eventually an entire empire of tourism, telecommunications, finance, and media companies. Today he’s worth almost $5 billion.
4. Seek education when necessary.
“Many world-class performers have little formal education, and have amassed their wealth through the acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge,” Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think.
Earning a college degree, a university degree, or even a high school diploma isn’t a necessary prerequisite to becoming incredibly wealthy. In fact, on the Forbes 400 list, college dropouts outnumber PhDs 63 to 21. Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, Shawn Carter, and many more top earners joined the working world before completing high school. Even Bill Gates dropped out of college.
Despite these numbers, education is a big deal; it just depends on what kind of education you’re getting. Entrepreneurs have to find training programs, mentorships, and on-the-job support that will help the business succeed and grow. They’ll need to learn technical skills, sales techniques, and how to complete any number of integral tasks to bring money in and keep it coming.
5. Invest your earnings wisely.
“Millionaires make wise investments. But not all wise investments are listed on the stock exchanges.”—Thomas J. Stanley, The Millionaire Mind
One of the most important investments a business owner can make is back into the business. It is crucial to a company’s growth and success. Millionaires surveyed by Legg Mason stated that they keep an average of 25 percent of their assets in cash. In order of popularity, the most common remaining investments made by the wealthy are equities, bonds, real estate, and non-traditional investments.
Embrace a New Attitude
Even if you haven’t reached a million dollars in income or savings, it’s good to emulate how the rich handle their money. Their wisdom and attitude toward money management can positively influence your financial decisions, and help you to achieve your own wealth and affluence.
Ask yourself a couple of questions: Can you put off the gratification of spending a paycheck for the larger, future payoff of putting together a successful business? Can you turn down a low offer and wait patiently for a higher one? Are you willing to reinvest your earnings into your own business? Can you learn what you need to run your business? Wealthy people can.