Want to be financially successful?
Join the club!
You’ll need a lot of drive, knowledge, and dedication to manage your money well enough to develop financial security and independence, but the good news is that it’s completely possible -- even if you weren’t born with a silver spoon in hand. (Editor's note: Read Clark talking about his "silver spoon plan" upbringing!)
The ever-popular personal finance book, The Millionaire Next Door, pointed out that most wealthy individuals in the United States are self-made. This means they earned their million dollars -- and you can, too.
It helps to start by understanding what makes financially successful people stand apart from those who have trouble managing their money. What do they do differently? How do they act with or think about money when they’re growing the value of their nest eggs?
While you’re busy building your own wealth, think about these 7 habits of financially successful people. And then consider how you can develop them for yourself.
They have a good relationship with money
"It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses." – George Eliot
People who are financially successful are actively involved with their money and they understand what their assets are doing. They have budgets, they track spending, they ensure they regularly contribute to investments, and they plan ahead to avoid financial pitfalls. If a financially successful person runs into a roadblock, they work to solve the problem rather than ignoring it or blaming it on something else.
This is difficult to do if you have a bad attitude or relationship with finances. You can’t ignore your financial problems and hope they’ll go away on their own, or blame money for problems in other areas of your life. Work to erase your negative or inaccurate money scripts so you too can develop a good relationship with money. Keep a positive attitude and take personal responsibility for your financial situation (even if you’ve been dealt a tough hand).
They live frugally
"Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like" – Will Rogers
Looking rich and having wealth are two very different things.
Financially successful people don’t care about impressing other people with the stuff they own. They live well below their means so that they can invest their money and increase their wealth.
When money is invested, it can compound and continue to earn more money. Big houses, fancy cars, expensive clothing and jewelry, and the latest and greatest things and toys only eat away at your assets. They don’t provide anything in return for the money you had to exchange to acquire them -- not even lasting happiness.
They understand what their values are
"You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need." – Jerry Gillies
That’s not to say financially successful people are cheap. They make sure to live beneath their means and save more than they spend -- but they still spend money. But it’s the way they spend it that makes all the difference.
They understand what matters to them. They’ve taken the time to discover their own values, dreams, and goals, and they use their money wisely. Every purchase is aligned with what they feel is important in life.c
Instead of worrying about what anyone else says you should spend money on, take the time to reflect on what you care about and keep your money habits tuned into these values. Don’t be pressured into spending that doesn’t further you on the path to your dreams and financial goals.
They look for positives (and learn from failure)
"When things go wrong, don't go with them." – Elvis Presley
Did you know negative thinking makes it more difficult to find creative solutions to the problems you may be facing? When you dwell on negative emotions, it causes you to narrow your focus and makes it difficult for you to see the big picture. Positive thinking, on the other hand, can make you more productive, motivated, and able to take on challenges because you’re not blinded by your own negativity.
Financially successful people tend to think positive, and they surround themselves with other positive people. They don’t dwell on what went wrong; instead they use failure or mistakes as a learning opportunity so they can do better next time.
They create their own opportunities
"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." – Milton Berle
Those who are financially successful don’t sit around and wait for good things to fall out of the sky. They don’t rely on luck or someone else to help them. They help themselves.
For you, this may mean making your own opportunities by earning more. You can negotiate for a raise, look for a new job, pick up part-time work, freelance or do consulting on the side, try a new career, or even start your own business.
This certainly takes hard work. But the end result is worth it. Take the initiative and then take charge of your own success.
They set goals
"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." – Yogi Berra
To be financially successful, you have to know where you’re going. That’s why people set goals and make plans for turning their dreams into realities. They develop an action plan. If you want to be financially successful, you need to sit down and come up with your personal set of goals. Without something to work for, you’ll find it difficult to take action and move in the right direction.
Ensure your goals are realistic and break big ones down into manageable pieces that you can work on in stages. Celebrate small victories and keep track of your progress.
They ask questions
"True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing." - Socrates
Asking questions and constantly growing their knowledge base is one of the most important habits of financially successful people.
If they don’t know something, they ask. If someone tells them, “this is the one right way to accomplish X, Y, and Z,” they go find a second (and third, and fourth) opinion so they can make an informed decision. If they come upon a problem, they research solutions to solve it.
In other words, they constantly seek to become more financially literate. And you should, too.
The world of personal finance is filled with methods, systems, ideas, and strategies for getting things done. We all share a common goal of building wealth and doing more with our money, but there are so many paths to getting there. Learning what others say, think, and do can help you in your own journey.
Don’t let a lack of financial education stop you from trying to develop better money management habits or from building wealth. Even the most financially successful people among us started somewhere. There are countless resources available to you -- and plenty of people who can help -- but you must ask questions to get started.
Kali Hawlk is a freelance writer and content manager currently working on building her business and becoming a full-time solopreneur. She's passionate about personal finance, careers and business, and all things Gen Y--and she writes about it all on her blog, Common Sense Millennial. An avid runner, she enjoys getting outside as often as possible when she's not immersed in blogging and helping other small businesses build and manage their online presence. Connect with her on Twitter @KaliHawlk.