1. Focus on earning.
“In today’s economic environment you cannot save your way to millionaire status,” writes Grant Cardone, who went from broke and in debt at age 21 to self-made millionaire by age 30. “The first step is to focus on increasing your income in increments and repeating that.
“My income was $3,000 a month and nine years later it was $20,000 a month. Start following the money, and it will force you to control revenue and see opportunities.”
Earning more money is often easier said than done, but most people have options. Read about 50 ways to bring in additional income, some high-paying jobs you can do on the side, how you can earn passive income, and how to start a side-hustle from a woman who earned up to $4,000 a month on the side.
2. Save to invest, don’t save to save.
“The only reason to save money is to invest it,” writes Cardone. “Put your saved money into secured, sacred (untouchable) accounts. Never use these accounts for anything, not even an emergency. This will force you to continue to follow step one (increase income). To this day, at least twice a year, I am broke because I always invest my surpluses into ventures I cannot access.”
Investing is not as complicated or daunting as we make it out to be. The simplest starting point is to contribute to your 401(k) if your employer offers one, and take full advantage of your company’s 401(k) match program — which is essentially free money — if it has one.
Next, consider contributing money towards a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, individual retirement accounts with different contribution limits and tax structures (which one you can use depends on your income). If you still have money left over, you can research low-cost index funds, which Warren Buffett recommends, and look into the online investment platforms known as “robo-advisers.”
The key to consistently setting aside money is to make it automatic. That way, you’ll never even see the money you’re contributing and you’ll learn to live without it.
3. Ask for help.
“At a certain point in my business, I couldn’t grow any further until I hired a few key people,” writes Daniel Ally, who became a millionaire in less than five years, at the age of 24. “Asking for help wasn’t my forte, but I had to make it happen. Within months I had a lawyer, editor, personal trainer, part-time chef, and other personnel. It cost me a fortune at first, but eventually helped push me into the million-dollar mark. Most people won’t ask for help because their ego is in the way.”
Asking for help extends beyond hiring key people. As self-made millionaire Steve Siebold explains in his book “How Rich People Think,” rich people aren’t afraid to fund their future from other people’s pockets. “World class believes in using other people’s money,” he writes. “Rich people know not being solvent enough to personally afford something is not relevant. The real question is, ‘Is this worth buying, investing in, or pursuing?'”
4. Be decisive.
“Avoid decision fatigue,” writes Tucker Hughes, who became a millionaire by age 22. “Attention is a finite daily resource and can be a bottleneck on productivity. No matter the mental stamina developed over time, there is always going to be a threshold where you break down and your remaining efforts for the day become suboptimal.
“Conserve your mental power by making easily reversible decisions as quickly as possible and aggressively planning recurring actions so you can execute simple tasks on autopilot. I know what I am wearing to work and eating for breakfast each day next week. Do you?”
Hughes isn’t the only one who believes in developing decisiveness. After studying over 500 millionaires, journalist and author Napoleon Hill found that they all shared this single quality. “Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly,” Hill wrote in his 1937 personal finance classic, “Think and Grow Rich.”
5. Don’t show off — show up!
“I didn’t buy my first luxury watch or car until my businesses and investments were producing multiple secure flows of income,” writes Cardone. “I was still driving a Toyota Camry when I had become a millionaire. Be known for your work ethic, not the trinkets that you buy.”
Need inspiration to save more and spend less? Read up on tips and strategies from regular people who saved enough of their incomes to retire before age 40.
6. Know when to take the right risks — and act on them.
“Before reaching the seven-figure mark, you must take many risks,” writes Ally. “Taking risks requires much faith in yourself and others, but it must be done. Faith is knowing that what you want will eventually happen as long as you believe it. You’ll have to take major leaps in your life, sometimes not even knowing where it will lead. However, it will pay off once you get to the other side, even if you burn a bridge or two in the process.”
You can’t get rich with low expectations — the wealthiest, most successful people think big and play to win.
While playing to win in any aspect of life requires an element of risk taking and a level of comfort with uncertainty, it could be the difference between living an average life and living a rich life, says self-made millionaire T. Harv Eker, who also studied incredibly wealthy people before releasing his book “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.”
7. Invest in yourself.
“The safest investment I’ve ever made is in my future,” writes Hughes. “Read at least 30 minutes a day, listen to relevant podcasts while driving and seek out mentors vigorously. You don’t just need to be a master in your field, you need to be a well-rounded genius capable of talking about any subject whether it is financial, political or sports related. Consume knowledge like air and put your pursuit of learning above all else.”
Many modern-day successful and wealthy people are voracious readers. Take Warren Buffett, for example, who estimates that 80% of his working day is dedicated to reading.
8. Master soft skills and cooperate with others.
Building a fortune takes people skills and charm just as much as it does strategy. As Hill warned, “Most people lose their positions and their big opportunities in life because of this fault than for all other reasons combined.” And billionaire Mark Cuban put it bluntly in an Entrepreneur article about the keys to being successful in business: “People hate dealing with people who are jerks. It’s always easier to be nice than to be a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.”
That being said, there is a fine line between cooperating with others and being a pushover. “In the process of reaching the seven-figure mark, I’ve learned dealing with people is the most important attribute,” writes Ally. “No one can become a millionaire without knowing how to deal with people assertively. You must be prepared when your best friends turn on you or your family betrays you. Sometimes, it will happen at the most unpredictable times.”
9. Shoot for $10 million, not $1 million.
“The single biggest financial mistake I’ve made was not thinking big enough,” writes Cardone. “I encourage you to go for more than a million. There is no shortage of money on this planet, only a shortage of people thinking big enough.”