Personal Finance

The top three things you're not doing that are keeping you from becoming rich 

Key Points
  • One out of every 4 Americans is confident they’ll be rich someday.
  • Meanwhile, few are taking the steps they need to in order to meet that goal, according to a GoBankingRates survey.
  • About 25 percent of the survey respondents said they're making some moves to nail down their financial future.
lechatnoir | E+ | Getty Images

Americans are confident they'll be rich — but their finances say otherwise.

A survey by personal finance site GoBankingRates asked people to rate their confidence, on a scale of 1 to 5, of someday being rich. A quarter called themselves "very confident," but most also admitted they weren't taking any steps toward reaching that goal.

The steps people could take to become rich include paying off debt and increasing earnings. The top answer was "doing nothing."

The road to riches is simple. Make more or spend less. Or do both.

Whichever combination of these you choose, though, be sure to create a solid foundation for yourself.

Have an emergency savings cushion so you can easily meet unexpected expenses. Develop good financial habits, such as saving for retirement. And make sure you do the following three things.

Got debt?

Your first order of business is paying off credit card debt.

Especially if you have high-interest consumer debt, get started with a plan for how you'll pay it off.

Once you've eliminated those monthly payments, take that same amount and stash it into savings or invest it.

Earn more

Look for ways to increase your income.

Negotiate a raise or consider getting a second job – even if it's as simple as walking a neighbor's dog once or twice a week or selling a few items on eBay.

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Earmark that money for savings or investing. "One of the best ways to get wealth is to avoid lifestyle inflation," said Shane Mason, a CPA and certified financial planner in Brooklyn, New York.

Invest more

Start small, and don't worry about starting at a lower level.

Stephanie Kibler, who blogs at Poorer Than You, began saving for retirement and was able to set aside just $5 a month. People told her it was a ridiculously small amount that would never help. "But it did matter, because it gave me a place to start the habit," Kibler said. "It allowed me to say, 'I am a person who saves for retirement.'"

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Once you develop the habit of regular investing, increase the percentage of your annual income saved. Grant Sabatier, who blogs at Millennial Money, recommends upping it by 1 percent every 30 days.

Develop some self control

Keep a cool head when it comes to spending.

When you want to buy something, ask yourself – each and every time – whether that item will move you closer or farther away from your goal of being rich.

Kibler says her spending philosophy is to spend money on things she really values. For instance, she and her husband bought a $3,000 couch after finding one that would suit their needs. Instead of buying it on the spur of the moment, they considered it and saved for it – for three years.