5 Things Wealthy People Do Differently

When it comes to the wealthy, there’s often a belief that they’re rich because they were born into money. While that’s certainly true for many, it isn’t the case across the board. Many of the wealthy have had to work their way up to being rich and to do so they’ve had to adopt a different set of habits from most other people.When it comes to the wealthy, there’s often a belief that they’re rich because they were born into money. While that’s certainly true for many, it isn’t the case across the board.

Many of the wealthy have had to work their way up to being rich and to do so they’ve had to adopt a different set of habits from most other people.

We can learn a lot from the wealthy, at least those among them who had to create the wealth they now enjoy. More precisely, it’s the habits that got them to where they are that we need to focus on and learn from.

What are those habits and practices? Here are five of them . . . .

1. Delayed gratification

One of the hallmark traits of the self-made wealthy is their willingness to do without today for a more prosperous tomorrow, also known as delayed gratification. That means a willingness to live beneath their means for as long as it takes to reach their financial goals. While their peers are showing a tendency toward embracing the good life at the first sign of prosperity, the would-be wealthy take a pass on all of that.

While others are saving 6-10% of their annual incomes—usually for retirement—people who want to be wealthy often save 20, 30, 40 or even 50% or more of their income.

Imagine how much money you’d have saved in 10 years if you saved half of your income during that time? The fact that no one ever sees this happen is one of the reasons that people believe that the wealthy somehow “come into money.”

True wealth accumulation tends to be a very quiet affair.

2. Frugal spending habits

Part of the reason that the wealthy are able to accumulate vast fortunes is because of their obsession with getting a deal. The self made wealthy learn early in life that you never pay full price. The combination of this habit with delayed gratification is a powerful force when it comes to growing wealth. Not only do you spend as little money as possible, but you buy at a discount when you do.

While most people are buying the most expensive house they can afford, the rich-in-progress buy beneath their means, and buy the cheapest house in the neighborhood to boot. They first ask themselves, “how much house can we afford?” The same is true of buying cars, if one wants to be rich someday, he buys a conservative car and may buy it used as well.

3. Avoiding consumer debt—or any debt at all

One of the advantages of frugal spending habits is that by always spending less, there’s also less need to go into debt. If you plan to be wealthy, that’s as it should be. Debt represents a reduction of future cash flow and the wealthy will avoid it. By paying cash on the barrel, there are no strings attached to what you buy that might compromise your ability to continue saving money at a high rate.

Notice how the drive to save large amounts of money causes frugal spending habits, which then enables the ability to make purchases without using debt; the three habits combine to form a pattern that brings the aspiring rich to the point of great wealth earlier than an outsider might expect.

4. Favoring low risk/high yield investments

If you want to be rich, the first rule of investing is not to lose money. If you have a small amount of money to invest you might be tempted to put it all into high risk growth stocks in the hope that a big run up in value will make you rich. But if you have—or hope to have—a large portfolio to invest, you might not take that kind of risk. Your investments will be in assets that are unlikely to collapse in price, reasonably likely to grow in value over time, and able to provide a steady cash flow while you wait for them to grow.

For the rising rich, a perfect investment asset might be an undervalued (and therefore very likely to grow) blue chip stock (not likely to collapse) with a history of above average dividend yields (steady cash flow). He doesn’t need for his investments to make him rich—he’s already on his way there and just wants to grow his wealth steadily and predictably.

5. Majoring on the majors

This attribute is part good habit and part talent—or perhaps it’s an outgrowth of having a financial life that’s cash rich, frugal, debt-free and filled with low risk/high yield investments. Whatever drives it, it’s a powerful force that enables the rich to multiply their wealth over time.

The aspiring rich are able to identify and concentrate on the areas of their lives that are most likely to make them the most money. Call it majoring on the majors or whatever you like, but they have the ability to center on the most profitable ventures and to let go of nearly everything else. They often do this by delegating non-profitable activities to others or maybe even to make them somehow go away.

This is easier to do when you have money to pay others to handle them for you or when your finances are relatively uncomplicated. If, for example, the rich person has a business, he might pay someone to handle specific aspects of the operation that are necessary but produce little or no revenue. That frees him to concentrate all of his efforts to generating more income for his business. As a result, his business and his income grow much more quickly, making him wealthier still.

Considering all of the habits above, it seems that becoming wealthy is really a lifestyle as much as anything else. Once you adopt it—by living beneath your means, staying out of debt, and saving large amounts of money constantly – you have capital to invest (conservatively) and to pay others to free you up to make even more money. It’s not so hard to see why the wealth of the self-made rich seems to spring out one day as if there’s a winning lottery ticket in the mix.

Do you think most wealth is produced by luck or by a combination of good habits? Leave a comment below!

  1. priscilla

    Wealth comes as a result of proper financial planning

    • Danita

      Not just financial planning but training. If your not taught them you end up learning the hard way or never at all.

  2. John S

    Well put article. A saying I learned years ago, “Rich people are rich because they don’t spend money” reminds me of points 1 & 2. Delayed gratification is key and it seems like (in general) that those with money have mastered that. It is a simple, yet, difficult trait for many of us to master. I find that when I am able to implement delayed gratification that I often enjoy & appreciate whatever it is that I end up purchasing rather than the thing I buy on impulse.

  3. John Fryters

    Though these principles are excellent, the only sure way to generate wealth (both financially and spiritually) is to follow the financial principles laid out in the Scriptures. If you follow those to the letter, the financial return will, absolutely no doubt, be guaranteed.

  4. Good post! I think setting financial goals, and creating a plan to achieve them, is one of the most important factors in building wealth.

  5. CM Pa Zed

    Thanks for a great article. Since i started reading Christian PF, i have managed to get out of debt, improved my budgeting and also my financial planning. Today, am working on investing money into a business. My financial health has improved greatly over since i got out of debt.

  6. donald aka Tata

    Too late for me. I’m sending the website to my grandchildren. Thanks for posting.

    • John Frainee

      Is it really too late for you Donald? Are you sure of that?

  7. William @ Drop Dead Money

    For a Christian, there’s something else: don’t let money own you. That includes the things money can buy.

    A friend bought a new Porsche several years ago. He parked it way back in the parking lot when he went shopping. One day he realized he was doing things for the Porsche, instead of letting it do things for him. He doesn’t have it any more. Oh, and he’s a millionaire… 🙂

  8. John

    I think that #4 is very important in “investing”. Many times, we take too much risks with lower returns (at least that’s what Taleb, the author of Black Swan, said).

  9. I agree completely with this article. Many people tend to be jealous of those who have more than they do, but in most cases, those who have more have worked harder for it. I think another secret of many wealthy people is that thy have been willing to work longer and harder than many other folk, which is why they have been rewarded in return for their efforts.

  10. esumowah

    Thanks for the practical article.I believe in addition to all the points and perhaps before them remember Jesus’advice- Seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these (includes riches) will be added to you as well.I am finding that this keeps my focus on the right track while trying to observe all the other good advice I get.

  11. Money Beagle

    Just as a side note, I’m pretty shocked that a blog this size with as many followers as you have doesn’t have a mechanism to share the post via Twitter. But, you’ve done something right so carry on, but just thought I’d throw out the feedback.

  12. Todd Sinelli

    I disagree with point #4. When you read “How to be a Billionaire” or when you study people that have accumulated massive wealth, rule #1 is to take magnanimous risk. ALL the billionaires profiled had this as their #1 attribute that served as a catalyst on their road of wealth. Even if you read Hebrews 11:6 in context that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith inherently involves risk in the unknown, this is very similar to speculative capital and business decisions. No one, but God (Ecclesiastes 9:1), knows the future. YOU must increase the risk / reward profile to achieve anything exceptional. Security is the illusion. Security in wealth is not biblical (1 Tim 6:17). Security in anything seen is temporal (2 Cor 4:16-18).

  13. Joshophate

    My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
    Because you have rejected knowledge (Hoses 4:6)
    It’s never too late. I marvel at the lack of understanding that the saints who allow their minds to be closed off to the glory of God. This is good news. Why did God throw the man in the fire? Because he could as least got interest on the 1 talent (Matthew 26:14-30). Come on saints what principles are you follow ing. This posting is God. When you are lazy what you have will be given to someone who has more ( Matthew 25:28 NIV. ) God has spoken be blessed.

  14. Simon Wells

    The reason why only 5% of people in this world are self made millionaires is because they are willing to make the sacrifices the other 95% are not. Simple as.

  15. Oyenike Adeyemo

    Good article.#I would also add that giving to the needy is essential, giving tithes and offerings are spirtual dimensions for us to be blessed by God.

  16. Katherine

    I can say that I have learned to delay gratification, shop for a deal, not be in debt, have savings for 4 months but when it comes to investing, I’m clueless and at the mercy of mutual fund investors through my 403b.

    Lasting, there was one point about saving 20,30,50 % of ones income. I thought..there is no mention of tithing!! I read recently that most Americans even “evangelicals” give less than 1% of their income. Doesn’t it say in Malachi 3:10 to give our tithe and the Lord will bless us? I can testify that the Lord has been faithful beyond what I ask or think and has fullfilled Deuteronomy 2:7 for me. I am not wealthy per se but I am blessed. I’m very thankful!!

    In addition, “weathy” based on whose standards? Americans are very ” weathy” in comparison to 3/4 of the global population. I try to remember that to keep perspective!

  17. Betty

    I have implemented living on less than I make. I realize I have what I need. Also the more I give, the more I get. That is how the world was designed to operate. When something stops with us it dies, if we share it grows. I agree with Katherine when we put God first everything else grows abundantly. Enjoy your articles.

  18. JD

    Good article, but honestly surprised there was no mention of being an entrepreneur, investing in real estate (how 80% of millionaires become millionaires), or creating multiple streams of ongoing income. Saving, putting “money” (actually currency with no real value backing it) in mutual funds, and avoiding any types of debt…that’s great for the Suze Orman/Dave Ramsey/manage debt crowd…but as Christians, I feel we’re called to help resource the Kingdom here on earth by receiving what God has already provided for us. How much more will a non believer listen to a financially independent, Jesus loving entrepreneur that has time AND money to spend with his family, give to ministries and actually live on purpose. Anyways, off my soapbox! Just my humble 2 cents.

  19. James

    I do these, but I am not wealthy….yet. 🙂

    • Rick

      Hi James,

      So, in a nutshell, what’s your plan to become wealthy?

  20. Darrius

    Great article! Most of my friends consider me cheap because I always search and find the lowest price for everything I buy, they can keep laughing but I guarantee that delayed gratification today will allow me to reap a plentiful harvest in the future!!

    • Lauren

      Thanks, Darrius. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  21. Paul Dabuco

    Being frugal is often an underrated value when in fact this should be the most important habit to develop.

    Life should be simple if we only follow the basic financial formula – spend less, save, invest, earn more, spend less.

  22. Josh Cook

    It’s tempting these days to buy things that we don’t need. There’s ads coming at us from every direction and a constant pressure from society that your stuff defines you. If you want to be wealthy then you need to do the opposite of what most everybody else is doing.

    • Lauren

      You’re right on, Josh! The world is very tempting these days with constant media pressure.

  23. Delayed gratification is key to success. If you can see the long term goal, you are more likely to stick to it and the bigger picture comes to life.

  24. Maureen

    Great piece of advice. I like it, my husband introduced this in our home and though hard am adapting and doing it. Thank you so much for writing this.

  25. Rich

    Wise words, I like 4 and 5! Focus on the most important practical ways to build wealth and low risk. I am looking for low risk investments.

  26. Jenny

    I’m now part of the “Dave Ramsey crowd” and my husband and I have seen results in only 3 weeks of mastering money, not allowing it to master us! Quite exciting, as we can follow these tips and be debt free within 12-18 months. HUGE, with 4 kids! Also, actively purging many of our unnecessary items has had delightful results (cleaner house, more time for fun and free activities, less clutter). We tithe and God’s promises are true.

  27. Sweta

    Well-written crisp article! It was more so interesting for me because in a small way, I have been following most of these 5 points….awaiting to see how soon it manifests into sizable wealth!
    Would appreciate some tips on how to pay-off debt inherited from our parents….and how liable are we to really pay those debts?

    • Lauren (SeedTime Editor)

      We are going to have a lot of debt-related content coming out in the next few months so that should be helpful for you!

  28. ray

    nice article. God bless you

  29. Jennifer

    I have seen a great improvement in my finances since reading Bob’s articles. Started to save more towards our financial goals. Thanks and thank God

    • Bob

      Awesome thanks Jennifer – that means a lot!

  30. Simon Wells

    There has been a lot of talk about sharing and keeping God happy, Yet i knew of a millionaire philanthropist who helped a lot of needy people, and he even gave in to those who were sending him begging letters as well. Guess what;
    He ended up bankrupt. Yeah that;s right. Where was God then ?
    And to top it all after all of his charity he ended up with a terminal illness and died completely broke. You tell me where God is?

  31. Jurgen

    It’s really quite easy: Spend less, Save More, Make More, Give More.