Want to become a millionaire? It is easier than you think.
A look at the lifestyles and habits of the majority of self-made millionaires in America shows that you, even you, can join the wealthy million-dollar club.
The number of millionaire households in the U.S. reached a new high in 2023, with nearly 22 million households boasting a net worth exceeding $1 million.
A majority of these folks are self-made millionaires who have toiled long and hard, lived below their means, and created multiple streams of income in order to break free of poverty.
9 Secrets and Habits of Self-Made Millionaires
Want to become a millionaire at any age? Here’s how to get started.
1. Develop a Rich Mindset
There is indeed something known as a ‘millionaire mindset.’ To become wealthy, you need to elevate your thinking, focus on abundance, and ditch your poverty mentality.
When I first read Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich, about a decade ago, it destroyed many of the wrong ideas I had about prosperity.
You can become whatever you desire to be, attain any heights you want to get to, and succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
Stop making excuses for yourself. Have a clear vision of what you want in your life and go for it. If you are going to become a millionaire, you need to start seeing yourself as one and then work to make it a reality.
Be ready to embrace the pain and sacrifice that success requires. Success often means going through the grind, day after day, until your day of breakthrough comes. Self-made millionaires don’t stop when the going gets hard!
One of the reasons that millionaires are economically successful is that they think differently. — Thomas Stanley in The Millionaire Next Door.
2. Create a Financial Plan
Write down your financial goals. Be specific.
Self-made millionaires don’t just think 2-3 years out. They plan 10, 15, and 20 years into the future and set goals that are not only ambitious but often appear to be impossible to reach.
Know how much you earn and what you spend. If you are going to put your money to work for you, you need to be familiar with how it flows through your account. Celebrate each milestone as you reach your goals and work your way up toward financial freedom.
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. — Alan Lakein.
3. Create Multiple Streams of Income
There is only so much money you can save when you are living paycheck to paycheck. Focus your energy on increasing your income so you can live comfortably now while also saving and investing for the future.
As per ESI Money who interviewed more than 100 millionaires, most millionaires have higher than average incomes even if they did not start that way.
They work their way up from the bottom, build their careers, and put in tons of extra hours, year after year.
They diversify their income streams.
Hard work pays. However, to join the top 1% as a first-generation millionaire, you often need to make money even when you are sleeping. A majority of self-made millionaires have multiple sources of income.
Thomas Corley, who spent five years studying the habits of 233 wealthy people, found that 65% of them had three streams of income, 45% had four streams, and 29% had five or more streams.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Maximize your earning ability so that, boom or bust, you can continue to build wealth.
Here are 113 side hustles to get you started.
If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die. — Warren Buffett.
4. Start Investing Early
Compound interest is your best friend. Even folks who have never earned above-average incomes can join the 7-figure club by harnessing the power of compounding returns.
For example, as per this CNBC article, if you invest $5 per day in an account that generates 10% annual returns, you will become a multimillionaire ($2.3 million) in 50 years!
This is just one scenario, but you get the point. A little sum of money consistently set aside in an interest-generating account will, over time, amount to a lot of money.
Compound interest has a dramatic effect on the growth of your investments over time. The earlier you start, the better.
Maximize your retirement account contributions (401k, Roth IRA, and Traditional IRA). If your employer offers a 401(k) match, take full advantage and don’t leave free money on the table.
Tax-deferred growth is a surefire way to quicken your journey to millionaire status.
Other habits of self-made millionaires in relation to their investments include:
- They minimize their investment fees. Chasing returns or a sudden breakthrough in the stock markets often leads to heartbreak and an empty bank account. Savvy investors invest for the long term and maximize their returns by using low-cost index funds.
- They take risks. If you sock away all your money in a low-risk investment such as CDs (Certificates of Deposits), it will take forever to grow your money. Millionaires love the stock markets because they understand that ‘the higher the risk, the higher the expected returns.
- They monitor their portfolios. You should know what’s going on with your portfolio and rebalance it when required. Monitoring doesn’t necessarily mean activity. Good investors know that they need to focus on the long-term and avoid short-term investing biases.
Time is your Friend, Impulse is your Enemy. — John Bogle.
5. Invest in Yourself
Millionaires invest in themselves.
Improve your skills and increase your knowledge daily. Ever wondered why billionaires like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates read several dozen books every year?
Take yourself seriously, understanding that you are your very best asset. Education is not only about going to school. In fact, some of the wealthiest individuals in the world do not have a formal post-secondary education.
Learn from life and the school of hard knocks. Find mentors. Read voraciously and increase your competencies where they count. Here is a list of personal finance books you can start with today.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin.
6. Automate Your Finances
Take the guesswork out of your savings and investing by automating the process. Self-made millionaires don’t make savings the last thing they do with their paycheck.
Set up an automatic savings plan or direct deposit to your investment accounts such that you only get to spend what’s left over after paying yourself first.
Check out some useful automatic investing apps.
Most investors want to do today what they should have done yesterday. — Larry Summers
7. Live Frugally
Live well below your means. It may be surprising, but many of the really rich people are also some of the most frugal. You can grow your wealth by:
- Using credit wisely
- Not living to impress the Joneses
- Saving money until it hurts. Save/invest at least 20% of your income
- Buying a home you can afford
- Avoiding lifestyle inflation
Having a frugal lifestyle does not necessarily mean you should be pinching pennies. Increase your income to the point where your frugality means a very comfortable lifestyle.
Need help cutting your monthly household expenses? Here are 115 ways to save extra money today.
If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting. — Benjamin Franklin.
8. Take Calculated Risks
In their book, The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley and William Danko noted that many first-generation self-made millionaires in America were self-employed.
Becoming an entrepreneur involves embracing risk and becoming willing to stretch yourself and leave your comfort zone.
Whether you choose to climb the corporate ladder or build your own startup, success will require you to seize opportunities, think and act outside the box, and be willing to meet challenges and learn from your mistakes.
If you want to shine in the sun, you must be willing to move out of the shadows.
I am not where I am because of luck. I am where I am because I took risks others weren’t willing to take. The world rewards the risk-takers. It always has. It always will. — Dan Pearce.
9. Associate With Successful People
To quote Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If you want to become a millionaire, you need to associate yourself with like-minded individuals who have a rich mindset and avoid negative people.
Surround yourself with creative big dreamers who share your vision of success and who are willing to put in the work. Find successful people to mentor and inspire you.
You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully. — Jim Rohn.
Become a Millionaire at any Age
You can join the very wealthy club by following these nine habits and secrets of self-made millionaires.
Everyone starts from somewhere. If you are currently drowning in consumer debt, deal with your debt problem first by following these financial tips to improve your finances.
After making some progress and becoming debt-free, raise the ante by following these steps until you reach financial freedom.
Before you can become a millionaire, you must learn to think like one. You must learn how to motivate yourself to counter fear with courage. Making critical decisions about your career, business, investments and other resources conjures up fear, fear that is part of the process of becoming a financial success. — Thomas J. Stanley.
Again, the 9 ultimate habits for wealth creation are:
- Develop a rich mindset
- Create a financial plan
- Create multiple streams of income
- Start investing early
- Invest in yourself
- Automate your finances
- Live frugally
- Take calculated risks
- Associate with successful people
- Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche
- 16 Best Dave Ramsey Money Tips
- 115 Creative Ways To Save Money
- Invest Smartly With The Rule of 72
- 10 Automatic Apps To Save Money and Build Wealth