Money

Author who studies millionaires: How to cultivate a philosophy of wealth

The non-rich spend their money and save what's left. The rich save their money and spend what's left.

One is a poverty philosophy and the other is a wealth philosophy, and only one will help you.

Poverty Philosophy

I spent five years studying the good and bad habits of 177 self-made millionaires and wrote four books, sharing that research. According to my Rich Habits data, those who are poor usually don't forge the important habit of saving money and, thus, are never able to invest. How can you invest what you don't have?

If you were never taught the Rich Habit of saving, you automatically default to the Poor Habit of spending — sometimes all of your money. And if you spend everything you make, you eliminate any opportunity to create wealth through prudent investment.

In effect, you abandon one of the least difficult and more certain paths towards accumulating wealth: saving and investing.

Wealth Philosophy

Saving money is crucial to creating wealth because only by saving money can you invest. And this Rich Habit, saving and prudently investing your savings, is one of the three paths to wealth I discovered in my Rich Habits research, and often write about.

What makes this path so important is that it is accessible to just about anyone. Unlike the two other paths (becoming a virtuoso or pursuing a business dream), it isn't particularly sexy. It does not require any special skills, innate talents, excessive risk or even some outrageous work ethic. The only requirements are saving at least 10 percent of your income and prudently investing those savings.

It does take a relatively long time to accumulate wealth this way — an average of 32 years, I found. Also, in terms of the millionaires in my study, those who pursued this path were also the least wealthy millionaires in my study.

Nonetheless, this is one of the more certain and least demanding ways to get rich.

The wealthy who save and invest force themselves to survive off 80-90 percent of their net income by automatically setting aside 10-20 percent of their income with every paycheck.

What I mean by automatic is that they treat saving as if it were a monthly bill – the first and most important bill they must pay each month.

This wealth philosophy elevates savings to the point where it becomes your No.1 financial priority, or No. 1 monthly bill.

When you consider saving your No. 1 financial priority, you are able to engineer your standard of living around it (i.e., keep it low), in order to ensure your ability to keep saving.

How you think about money, your money philosophy, drives your money habits. If you have a Wealth Philosophy, you will see money as a tool to build wealth and you will forge good money habits, enabling you to save and invest prudently.

A version of this article was originally published on Rich Habits.

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