Here are 21 choices the world’s wealthy make that have brought them to and kept them at the top of their finances and lives:
From the moment you get out of bed, you’re defining your own financial future. Without even thinking about money, the decisions you make in every aspect of your life affect how close you get to attaining more than just comfort, but real wealth.
Thinking big must come naturally
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right. Henry Ford knew what he was talking about. From a gasoline-powered horseless carriage, to the cars we drive today, no one would have blamed him for thinking his ideas were far-fetched – but he did it anyway.
If not you, then who? That’s how rich people think, asks T. Harv Eker in his book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.
The only thing standing between you and your first million is your mindset. Small thinking produces small results, and aiming low won’t get you where you want to go.
They invest in their physical and mental health
Self-development is a choice – and you’re probably not making it. Balance is key when climbing your way to success, so skipping gym in favour of burning the midnight oil or sleeping in could be harming your efforts.
According to Thomas Corley in his book Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, cardio is not only good for the body, but also the brain.
“It grows the neurons (brain cells) in the brain,” he says. “Exercise also increases the production of glucose. Glucose is brain fuel. The more fuel you feed your brain, the more it grows and the smarter you become.”
Join 76% of some of the world’s wealthiest who work out at least 30 minutes a day.
Getting a head start gets them going
Squeezing in a cardio session a few days a week requires you to make time, so getting up early is a prerequisite.
How early? Try three hours before you’re due at work. This give you time to navigate the inevitable daily disruptions that could so easily derail your day.
These disruptions have a psychological effect on us, says Corley. “They can drip into our subconscious and eventually form the belief that we have no control over our life,” he explains.
Getting up early affirms that you’re in control of your life and that confidence alone is enough to get you through the day.
They know they’re in control
You can either let things happen to you or regain the reins on your life. Rich people do the latter, as Eker explains:
“You have to believe that you are the one who creates your success; creates your mediocrity, and your struggles around money and success.”
It comes down to a mindset shift that can only be achieved when you acknowledge the power you possess over your life, and the direction in which it’s headed.
The risks they take are calculated
While average people play it safe, the rich know that every investor loses money on occasion, and there’s always room to make more cash.
“One group stays awake worrying about losing what they have, while the other can’t sleep because they’re dreaming of what’s possible,” Corley says.
Making money is never going to be guaranteed, but knowing what ‘good’ risks to take can make you wealthy.
Money doesn’t come first for them
The reason they keep going to almost insane levels is that wealthy people are doing what they love to earn the money they have.
You’ve heard people say you need to find a job you don’t need a vacation from – well, that’s the secret to getting and staying rich. Do what you love and then find a way to get paid for it. It’s not about doing a job you hate just for the money.
“Members of the middle-class have been trained in school and conditioned by society to live in a linear thinking world that equates earning money with physical or mental effort,” says self-made millionaire Steve Siebold.
They are bigger than their problems
A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life, and no one knows this more than financially successful people.
The routine you read about being so important earlier can easily get derailed, and you have to make a conscious decision not to ruin your day. Focus on your goals instead, says Eker: “The road to wealth is fraught with traps and pitfalls, and that’s precisely why most people don’t take it. They don’t want the hassles, the headaches, and the responsibilities. In short, they don’t want the problems.”
He says the secret to success is to grow yourself so that you’re bigger than any problem you may encounter.
Their inner circle is also rich
This is more than just about birds of a feather flocking together. The right crowd comprises positive and successful people. This motivates you to do better as you’re surrounded by inspiration, proving it can be done.
According to Eker, the fastest and easiest way to create wealth is to learn exactly how rich people, who are masters of money, play the game. Be grateful to have a template for success instead of being jealous of their achievements.
Opportunities are their main focus
What’s your outlook on challenges? Successful people see opportunities where the average person would see an obstacle. They’re always focused on what they can learn from something instead of worrying about the negative impact it may have on their plans.
Peak performance coach Phil Drolet believes that rich people choose to see everything as a blessing; as a stepping stone for something greater.
“That way, you can start developing the mindset that will lead you to exceptional wealth,” he says.
They don’t use their own money
It’s said it takes money to make money, but no one said it had it be your own. “Rich people know not being solvent enough to personally afford something is not relevant,” says Siebold.
“The real question is, ‘Is this worth buying, investing in, or pursuing?’ The truth is you have to have great ideas that solve problems to make money. If you do, you will attract money like a magnet.”
Investors don’t feel like they’re giving away their money, but helping solve a problem. It’s a win-win situation.
Despite fear, they act
“If you want to create your greatest life, you have to tame the beast of fear,” says Drolet. “Fear will never completely go away, but it’s the ability to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ that separates those who create their dream life and those who simply dream about it.”
That’s why wealthy people are few and far between – they face their fears, acknowledge them, and get on with it. It’s the only way to learn and grow.
Their money works for them
You’ve worked so hard for the money you have now. You don’t have to keep working as hard to grow it substantially. Passive income is the best tool to building your wealth, so don’t just keep your money in that investment account – invest it so it works for you (almost) as hard as you worked for it.
Money in the bank won’t make you rich, and successful people know that. It’s of no use if it’s waiting for you to need it, when it could be multiplying right now.
Their net worth trumps money in the bank
Net worth is a combination of your income, savings, investments and cost of living – not how much is in your bank account right now.
Eker explains that your net worth is the financial value of everything you own and that’s why it’s the ultimate measure of wealth: “If necessary, what you own can eventually be liquidated into cash.”
Successful people, therefore, focus on optimising what they earn, how much they spend and their savings and investments to acquire and keep their wealth.
They know not all assets are equal
“Things don’t make you rich. Image doesn’t make you rich.” Financial planner Ian van Greunen learnt this valuable lesson from his father when he started working. “He told me that a good suit has its name on the inside.”
He notes that wealthy people don’t have fancy lifestyle choices that put them in a negative vortex of spending on assets that don’t appreciate.
Flashy cars and high-end labels make you look and feel good, but they’re not part of the bigger picture you’re trying to achieve, right?
Even their smallest decisions are smart
Your spending habits could be standing in the way of you becoming wealthy. That latte from the coffee shop every morning. That sandwich from the deli every day. That pack of cigarettes that could be costing you up to R1000 a month. They add up.
“Assuming that you work for 40 years, you would spend R480 000 on cigarettes over the course of your working life,” Van Greunen theorises. But, what if you invested that same amount instead?
“Assuming inflation rates of 5% and that we could invest that money to achieve a real return 5%, if we took that smoking habit and invested it over 40 years you would accumulate R6 million,” he says.
So, consider this: What is the real cost of your spending habits?
They choose property wisely
Property is only an asset if you’re making money from it. If you’re going to purchase an expensive home, ensure it’s going to appreciate enough for you to benefit off its sale, or that you’re able to rent it out and make a sizeable return – you can even do both.
Van Greunen, however, recommends the home you live in should be modest, like most of the world’s wealthy. “You do not become a millionaire by living in a million dollar house in a million-dollar suburb,” he says. “Most millionaires buy existing homes in the average suburb.”
He suggests this formula to determine how much you should be spending: “Take your total household income per annum and multiply that by three. This should be the highest amount you spend on a home.”
The things that make them rich would surprise you
Some of the highest paid professionals in South Africa still don’t save enough. Why? Because having a high income doesn’t mean you’re wealthy.
“Wealthy people, as much as they hate doing it, run their lives every month on a budget,” says Van Greunen.
If that sounds like too much admin, consider how much longer it’ll take to reach your financial goals if you’re not monitoring the ins and outs of your money. And if you think your money isn’t a big enough sum to manage, you’re wrong.
“The habit of managing your money is more important than the amount,” says Eker.
They aren’t concerned with humility
You know your capabilities, can name all your achievements and probably know your worth. So why shouldn’t everyone else? Self-promotion isn’t a bad thing – just ask all the successful people who promote themselves, their ideas and their products with enthusiasm.
Believe it or not, you can do this without (most) people thinking your ego is as big as the amount of money you’re looking to get them to spend.
There’s even an award for it that author Tim Ferriss won in 2008: The Greatest Self-Promoter of All-Time.
They’re committed to making money
Working hours are going to get longer if you want your earnings to get larger. If you’re not going all in, it’ll be evident in the result of your money-making efforts.
“Getting rich takes focus, courage, knowledge, expertise, 100% of your effort, a never-give-up attitude, and of course a rich mindset,” Eker notes. “Rich people are unwavering in their desire to attain wealth. As long as it’s legal, moral, and ethical, they will do whatever it takes to have wealth.”
Clarity is key, as Drolet says, you have to be absolutely clear in your mind that you’ll create exceptional wealth, and you will.
They are trailblazers
“You can’t sit with us” is music to a successful person’s ears. They’re going to find a new table and get other people to sit with them, because who wants to be part of the herd when you can lead your own?
According to Corley, failure to separate yourself from the herd is why most people never achieve success. “We so desire to blend in, to acclimate to society, to be a part of the herd, that we will do almost anything to avoid standing out in a crowd,” he says.
You don’t need to be popular to be great. Everyone’s doing one thing, so naturally doing something else, you really care about, should earn you greater success.
They’re in it to win it
Most people want to have just enough to cover their living expenses, go out once in a while and vacation somewhere nice once a year.
If you think like this, that’s all you’re going to get. Aiming to be financially comfortable isn’t enough, because you’re going to make just enough to survive and not a cent more, says Eker.