I wasn't always good with money. I had to learn how to be. I grew up in an immigrant Chinese home with two very loving but frugal parents — where clipping coupons and reusing ziplock bags was the norm.
It wasn't until I began my career on Wall Street that I realized the ultra-wealthy were less concerned with scrimping and saving and more focused on investing and growing their wealth.
By observing and learning from their habits, I made my first million by age 27. Here are four unpopular rules rich people follow that most others don't:
Rich people put most of their spending power into buying assets (stuff that makes them money over time) instead of liabilities (stuff that costs them money over time).
Instead of buying, for example, a flashy Lamborghini that loses a third of its value as soon as you drive off the lot, a truly rich person will take that same chunk of change and buy a two-family duplex and rent it out.
They don't care what you think of them or whether you're impressed. They're happy to just cash your rent checks and let you pay their mortgage.
So many people have a scarcity mindset — a constant feeling that we're never going to have enough money, that we're one slip-up away from disaster and we have to hoard every last cent.
The problem with this mindset is that it can make people very competitive with other folks in similar financial situations. So you have people at the bottom of the pyramid spending all their time and energy fighting each other for resources, instead of trying to overthrow those at the top.
Rich people have an abundance mindset. Since they know they're going to be able to take care of their bills, they're not worried. This gives them the freedom to decide what they want to do with their time, rather than only focusing on what they need to do to survive.
Rich people understand that sometimes, things take time, and they're happy to wait. They're kings and queens of delayed gratification.
A rich person has no problem, for example, socking away money in a retirement account. Yes, the $6,000 they invested in their IRA account this year is off-limits until they're 59-and-a-half.
But they know that just because they can't spend that money now, it's not like it has disappeared. It's actually the opposite: the longer they wait, the more money they get later on.
Rich people love being known as the smartest person in their friend group: the one with the best taste, who is on top of all the trends. You'll often hear them say things like:
- "I have this great tax person — you should work with them."
- "I found the best cocktail bar — you have to try the martini."
- "I joined the best country club — and I'll sponsor you to join, too."
They recognize that when they're open about their knowledge, other people will be more inclined to share what they know. It is another valuable form of currency, and it's the same reason rich people love nothing more than putting their besties in positions of power.
Their thought process is: "I'm not qualified for this job, but my friend is, and once she gets it, she'll owe me a solid. Then, as soon as she's in a leadership position, I'm automatically tapped into that whole network."
Yes, it's because they like to see their friends succeed, but it's also because they're thinking strategically — and towards the future.
Vivian Tu is a former Wall Street trader-turned expert, educator, podcast host, and founder of the financial equity phenomenon Your Rich BFF. Her new book, "Rich AF: The Winning Money Mindset That Will Change Your Life," is a definitive guide to personal finance for the new generation. Follow her on TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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