5 morning money habits to help you become wealthy

ESI Money
Wallet Hacks
Joseph Gordon Levitt as Matt, Mindy Kaling as Mindy in NBC's "The Mindy Project"
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Tim Ferriss says that "if you win the morning, you'll win the day."

It makes sense because no matter how the rest of your day goes, if you had a productive morning, you've already put points on the board. You've made progress on the things that matter most. The day is already a success. The rest is gravy.

Author Hal Elrod shares the same sentiments in "The Miracle Morning."

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His formula is simple:

  • Get up early (or at least earlier than you do now)
  • Make progress on the things most important to you (those items that otherwise often get pushed aside because they aren't as urgent)
  • Win the morning and thus win the day

Do this repeatedly and the successes build up over time. Even if your progress is minimal, small gains every day add up to big wins.

This process, of course, works for any number of goals: educational, family-related, physical fitness and, of course, money goals.

I've been a Miracle Morning follower in one form or another for years, so today I'd like to share five morning habits you can implement (whether you get up early or not) to help you become wealthy.

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1. Take time to be thankful

After counseling hundreds of people in financial messes, I can say that much of the over-spending, hyper-consumerism in America today is fueled by a desire for happiness. People believe if they just buy this or that, they will be happy.

Hence we have a society of unhappy people trying to purchase happiness by buying themselves stuff. All they end up doing is putting themselves in debt.

The cure for this is thankfulness. (sometimes called gratitude)

My experiences are supported by research. Here's how Psychology Today describes the situation:

A study recently published in Psychological Science shows that an attitude of gratitude tempers impulsive urges. The authors don't say why gratitude forestalls impulsiveness, but their findings make sense within the context of my own research. I've found that people typically purchase impulsively for one of two reasons: to counteract a sense of emptiness, boredom or a void in their lives; or because they are not fully focused while they're making a purchase. Gratitude is the antidote to both.

By focusing on what you have instead of what you lack, you are less likely to over-spend. Doing so will allow you to eliminate one of the key money mistakes that's keeping millions from accumulating wealth.

You may feel that you don't have anything to be thankful for. Let me assure you that simply by living in America you do, especially when compared to the rest of the world.

In case you still need help, here are some suggestions of what to be thankful for. They won't apply to everyone, but will cover the majority of people:

  • Freedom of speech and movement
  • Your health and the health of your loved ones
  • Drinkable water inside your home
  • Income above almost the entire rest of the world
  • Safe communities

The list could go on and on.

Taking time to be thankful each morning won't be time-consuming. Simply set aside a minute or two to ground your day in gratitude.

Whether you do this through journaling or meditation, it will start your day off on the right note.

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2. Exercise and eat well

What does this have to do with your finances?

Well, here are some facts on the relationship between health and wealth:

  • Heading to the gym has been linked to higher pay — 7 percent more for men, 12 percent for women.
  • A very healthy person pays $120,000 less in healthcare costs from age 65 to 85 than a less fit person.
  • Studies show that midlife fitness leads not only to lower medical costs in retirement but also to bigger nest eggs. Healthier people have an extra $500,000 in net worth as they hit retirement age.
  • Exercise helps protect you from numerous costly ailments, from diabetes to stroke, with lasting, sometimes unexpected benefits (like a better back).
  • On average, obese workers earn 2.5 percent less than those with normal weights.
  • Being overweight costs an extra $65,000 over 40 years.
  • Between the cost of cigarettes and health-care-related costs, smoking can cost you over $1 million over the course of a lifetime.

A big portion of these results are related to exercising and eating well. So why not get those accomplished the first thing in the morning?

I'm not a morning person and used to dislike early exercise. Then I forced myself to do it. I felt great afterwards and seemed to have more energy throughout the day. In addition, I didn't have to exercise at night (my previous option) when I was both tired and wanted to spend time with my family.

These days I'm at the gym by 7 a.m. even though I'm retired. And I follow my workout with a healthy breakfast.

If you're skeptical, just try it for 30 days. It doesn't need to be anything fancy and can be done in the convenience of your home.

If you're like the averages noted above, doing so will help you earn and save more, making a huge impact on your finances.

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3. Educate yourself

I believe you should be your own financial advisor.

The principles of becoming wealthy aren't that difficult to understand. If you know them you can manage your own money and avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people.

Here's how easy it is: simply spend 15 minutes a day learning about money and you will be an expert in no time.

Better yet, this is one of the easiest tasks to accomplish each morning. You can read (books, blogs, websites, newspaper, magazines) or listen (audiobooks, podcasts) your way to expertise while also accomplishing something else:

  • You can listen to a podcast while exercising.
  • You can read a website while eating a good breakfast.
  • You can listen to an audiobook while driving to work.

My preferred method during my work years was listening in the car (now it's listening while walking). The thousands of miles I drove to and from work became a classroom for me, probably leaving me with more knowledge than I accumulated getting an MBA. Imagine what you could learn in a short period of time while doing something else. It's really incredible if you think about it.

There are few free lunches in life, but this one allows you to grow your knowledge with zero incremental time investment.

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4. Work on accomplishing your money goals

Here is how Zen Habits recommends setting goals and accomplishing them:

  • Set your goals.
  • Set action tasks for each goal.
  • Do the action tasks – one a day is ideal.
  • Motivate yourself to stay focused.
  • Review your goals often.

I've found this process to be quite effective as well.

On any given morning you could be doing any of these five steps and thus making tremendous financial progress.

There are almost a limitless number of goals you could consider, but let me suggest you break them down as follows:

  • Earning — How much more do you want to earn and what steps can you take to get there? Maybe actions to grow your career or start a side hustle.
  • Saving — What are your saving goals over the next year and what steps need to be taken to reach them? Consider creating a budget and using it to identify opportunities.
  • Investing — What investments do you want to grow your savings exponentially over time? I prefer index funds but you may like other options.
  • Other — What are other money-related accomplishments you want to make this year? Some popular ones include updating an estate plan, reviewing insurance for coverage and cost, and checking credit reports.

Whatever you want to accomplish, get the process down and work to make some progress every day.

5. Work on your career and/or side hustle

I know, this tip could be covered in the above. But it's so important that I wanted to separate it from the pack.

Of the three steps to becoming wealthy (earning, saving, and investing) the one that's often the most neglected is earning. (millionaires have 7+ sources of income)

There are a wide number of reasons why most people don't focus on earning, but the truth is 1) if you build your career, you can make millions more and 2) if you have a side hustle you can retire much earlier.

These two facts alone make earning more worth its own time of focus each morning.

And don't just take it from me. Millionaires back me up.

I've interviewed almost 30 millionaires (with 30 more already scheduled) and their stories are consistent — they spend a lot of effort growing their incomes.

And you should too.

So that's my list of the five steps you should take every morning to grow your wealth.

Anything you'd like to add or change?

ESI is an early 50's retiree who achieved financial independence, shares what's worked for him and details how others can implement those successes in their lives. His blog ESI Money is about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI) and appears courtesy of Wallet Hacks.

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This article originally appeared on Wallet Hacks.

This contributor has affiliate relationships with some retailers in some cases. If you purchase an item from one of his stories, he may get a small share of the revenue from your purchase. This article does not constitute financial advice, it is only meant for information-sharing purposes and CNBC nor the author will be held liable, legally or otherwise, for any decisions taken as a result of this article.

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