The Occupy movement has raised awareness of what they call "the 1%"; the wealthiest people in North America. As of 2009, if you earned more than $343,927 you were a member of the 1%; your group earned 17% of the income and paid 37% of the income tax in the United States, according to CNN. Only 14% of your group was making their six or seven figures on Wall Street.

TUTORIAL: Investing 101: Types Of Investments

Although you may never make it into the 1%, improving your quality of life isn't as difficult as you think. Most of the 1% may have lucrative jobs, but it's what they did with the money they made, that put them into the top 1%. According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income was $49,445 in 2010. What would you need to do to make it to the median or even a little bit above that? Here are some ideas.

Pay Down Debt
You've heard it before, but paying down any debt, regardless of how small, saves you money and makes you feel a little better about your finances. Start with a small debt and use the money you saved to pay down another debt.

Cut Out a Luxury
Cut out your Starbucks twice per week and you've saved $416 a year. Put that $416 towards debt, or put it in your Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Over 20 years, that $416 invested that you saved each year, would turn into $15,500.

We live in a world where saving is like flossing. We know we should, but we don't do it enough. The top 1% have made saving a habit. Some of the 1% still report that they shop with coupons.

Live Within Your Means
Billionaire Warren Buffett still lives in the modest home he purchased in 1958 for $31,500. Are you living within your means? If you do it now, your "means" will rise as you save more.

Don't Play the Lottery
There's a reason the lottery is often referred to as a tax on the poor. You won't get rich playing the lottery or gambling on anything. (For additional reading, check out: Is The Lottery Ever Worth Your Money?)

Don't Day Trade
An Australian study followed a group of day traders and found that 70% lost money and the other 30% had a high risk of ruin. They were only able to make a small profit, because they had one or two great trades, among a long list of bad choices. The top 1% invest for the long term.

Buy at a Discount
Never pay full price for anything. Be patient with all purchases and wait for the sale. You can buy everything cheaper than the sticker price, somehow. Figure out how to do that.

Use Your Talents
Regardless of what you do for a living, you have talents that are untapped in your life. Use your hobby as an income source or use your day job skills to moonlight as an independent worker.

Nobody likes an ego, but the 1% got ahead because of their contacts. Use your relationships to get some face time with other people.

Believe in Yourself
Winners are winners, because they do what winners do. Winners know that they're not victims of circumstances, because those circumstances are new opportunities. Winners know that they have value and they know that often, the difference between the winner and the loser was not intelligence, but drive and initiative. Go after what you want and don't look at economic headwinds. You may not make it to the 1%, but to live a prosperous life you don't have to be remotely close.

The Bottom Line
It may be a challenge for the average American to reach the top 1%, but these tips, if followed properly, are a step in the right direction. They are certain to help the average family get above the median household income.

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    What a Family Tradition Taught Me About Investing

    We share some lessons from friends and family on saving money and planning for retirement.
  2. Budgeting

    Preventing Medical Bankruptcy

    If you’re worried medical expenses could overwhelm you, there are some thing you can do to ease your concerns.
  3. Personal Finance

    How Tech Can Help with 3 Behavioral Finance Biases

    Even if you’re a finance or statistics expert, you’re not immune to common decision-making mistakes that can negatively impact your finances.
  4. Taxes

    10 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips

    Getting organized well before the deadline will curb your frustration and your tax liability.
  5. Retirement

    How to Stretch Your Retirement Savings

    What does "nest egg" mean for your personal situation? Will you deplete it, or will you nurture it to generate income that lasts throughout retirement?
  6. Savings

    These 10 Habits Will Help You Reach Financial Freedom

    Learn 10 key habits for achieving financial freedom, including smart budgeting, staying abreast of new tax deductions and the importance of proper maintenance.
  7. Budgeting

    How Much Will it Cost to Become President In 2016?

    The 2016 race to the White House will largely be determined by who can spend the most money. Here is a look at how much it will cost to win the presidency.
  8. Credit & Loans

    How To Minimize Holiday Debt Before It Happens

    Holiday expenses can drown you in debt. Find out how to avoid this festive spending hangover.
  9. Budgeting

    Save Money by Avoiding these Expensive Organic Products

    Save money on your next trip to the grocery store by not paying extra 10 organic products.
  10. Credit & Loans

    The Basics Of Lines Of Credit

    Lines of credit are potentially useful hybrids of credit cards and normal loans. Learn how a line of credit can help (and hurt) your finances, and how to find the best one to suit your needs. ...
  1. Are secured personal loans better than unsecured loans?

    Secured loans are better for the borrower than unsecured loans because the loan terms are more agreeable. Often, the interest ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can personal loans be included in bankruptcy?

    Personal loans from friends, family and employers fall under common categories of debt that can be discharged in the case ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can Sallie Mae loans be consolidated?

    Sallie Mae loans can be consolidated with other federal loans, but not with private loans. For federal loan consolidation, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does Sallie Mae disburse funds?

    Sallie Mae is the number one provider of financial aid and student loans in the United States, servicing over 25 million ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do Sallie Mae loans go directly to your school?

    Sallie Mae is the biggest provider of financial aid and student loans in the United States. The company operates as a private ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can Sallie Mae garnish my wages?

    Private lenders such as Sallie Mae can garnish wages. In the case of federal student loans, the government has the power ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Flier

    The slang term for a decision to invest in highly speculative investments.
  2. Bar Chart

    A style of chart used by some technical analysts, on which, as illustrated below, the top of the vertical line indicates ...
  3. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  4. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  5. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  6. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
Trading Center