Wealth and high spending — they go together like strawberries and Dom Perignon, right?
In fact, the exact opposite is often true. Why? Because the latter can often ruin the chance of achieving the former.
In other words, sometimes the people who enjoy high-consumption lifestyles — for instance, living in prestigious neighborhoods, driving flashy cars, or eating in gourmet restaurants — don’t actually have much in the way of actual wealth. That is because wealth is defined by the value of your assets (investments, businesses, properties etc.), not your income. So if your salary is high, but you have high spending habits to match, then you won’t be giving your money a chance to grow. Instead, you’ll be burning through it as fast as you make it.
That is why studies have shown that self-made millionaires often live surprisingly ordinary lifestyles. And this can include eschewing high-status labels and products in favor of far more lowkey choices.
In fact, if you look at the habits and lifestyles of self-made millionaires, you will find that they often use the same four wealth-building strategies again and again. In a sense, you can think of them as four key promises that you can make to yourself. If you can stick to these promises and fully internalize them, then you will be giving yourself the best possible chance to reach millionaire status yourself. They are as follows:
Promise 1: Live below your means
Act like you earn a lot less than you do. While this might not sound very exciting, it’s a commitment that can be life-changing. But like many worthwhile habits, it can also be hard to implement at first — in fact, you might find that you have a lot of resistance towards it.
That’s because when your salary increases or your business is doing well, it’s all too easy to want to upgrade your lifestyle to match. After all, haven’t you worked hard for it? Don’t you deserve a few extra luxuries? For instance, you might be tempted to start buying designer clothes, eating out more regularly, or upgrading to fancier wines. And yet this is exactly the kind of behavior that can prevent you from ever becoming truly wealthy.
Instead, what you want to do is create a favorable gap between your income and spending. This surplus can then be tucked away in savings or investments to quietly grow — if you can be disciplined enough to not touch it. So to stick to this commitment, get ready to work out your priorities, create careful budgeting plans and track your spending daily.
Also, try to make a virtue out of being thrifty. Treat it almost like a money-saving game, where practices like bargain hunting and batch cooking become a fun lifestyle shift. Try to see every saving that you make, no matter how small, as one more step on your path to wealth.
Of course, no one’s saying that you can’t ever treat yourself — it’s more about making restraint the general rule and not going overboard.
Promise 2: Stop shopping to prove your status
Leading on from the first point, as much as this is a behavioral and lifestyle shift, it’s also a social and psychological shift. In other words, you’ll have to give up on the desire to ‘prove’ your affluence, keep up with the Joneses or impress your friends. This includes demonstrating status through clothes, furniture, cars, or any other kind of consumer item with kudos attached.
One key way to do this is to learn to see through those advertising messages that we’re all bombarded with daily. Get critical about the fiendishly clever strategies behind them, the way they create a ‘promise’ that you will somehow be a better, happier version of yourself if you buy this particular product. Of course, as you well know, it’s never true — these brands just want to persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash. Be smarter than them.
Promise 3: Put aside time each week to build your wealth
Even when we try our best to budget, on any given day everything can seem to cost money. Whether it’s grabbing lunch, filling up the car, or going to the store, we seem to be constantly reaching for our wallets.
That is why it’s crucial to create time every week — even just a couple of hours — to do the opposite. In other words, engage in activities focused on growing money instead of spending it. This could include financial planning, investment research, or learning from a money mentor who you can trust. Whatever it is, by setting aside time each week to grow your money, you will be moving out of the consumption mindset and into the wealth mindset. And that’s crucial.
Promise 4: Set compelling financial goals
While all the above strategies can be powerful, if you don’t have a compelling vision of where you want to get to financially, then you might struggle to stick to them, meaning that the next time you’re at the mall, you could soon be whipping out the credit card and burning a canyon-sized hole into the plastic.
So get clear on what you want, then make it as vivid and tantalizing as possible. It could be a million in the bank, financial independence in a rustic farmhouse, or retiring early to the Bahamas. But whatever it looks like, it must feel more powerful than any consumer product that could come along to tempt you (whether that’s Italian leather shoes or the latest shiny smartphone).
And by returning to your vision every day, you will remember why it’s worth all the effort, self-discipline, and self-denial. You will realize that your goal is much bigger and more important than acquiring the latest prestige products.
So how do you get to be a millionaire, in simple terms? By not dressing, eating, or living like one. Instead, try to be as strategic and savvy as those self-made individuals who live a lowkey life. You have nothing to prove to anyone, so let go of the need to impress your friends, colleagues, or associates — or rather, impress them with your self-control, financial know-how, and belief in your future. Forget the Champagne lifestyle and instead, take pleasure in watching your money flourish.