Becoming a millionaire doesn’t happen overnight. Many people dream of becoming a millionaire but it requires years and years of building and maintaining healthy financial habits, along with making smart financial decisions.
It makes sense why becoming a millionaire is a significant goal for many people as it signifies financial security and the financial freedom to do and pursue the things that make us happy. It also potentially means not needing to work for the rest of your life. Many think luck, or a high-paying job, are the only paths to millionaire status but that’s not true.
You can increase your chances of becoming a millionaire if you implement these five money habits:
1. Establish Savings Goals
Most self-made millionaires established aggressive savings goals early in life. This could be as aggressive as 20% or more of their gross income year after year. It’s certainly not doable for everybody, but the point is to establish saving at least some percentage of your paychecks every time you receive one. (For more, see: How Much to Save to Become a Millionaire.)
You can get in the habit of doing so by automating the process. This gets you in the habit of thinking of your savings just like your 401(k). The goal is keeping it out of sight and mind. Once you have 3-6 months of cash available for emergency expenses, use your excess cash flow to invest.
Whether you’re contributing to an IRA or brokerage account, automate your contributions as well. Over time, the contributions and growth of invested capital can build impressive wealth using compound interest.
2. Be Frugal
This should be a no-brainer. Being frugal means spending your money wisely. Be selective in the items you purchase by prioritizing. There’s no secret skill to being a bargain shopper, it simply requires a certain level of patience and methodical thought before making any purchase.
You want to weigh all the options for whatever it is you are purchasing and ask yourself whether it is the best value for that particular price. It doesn’t hurt to get creative, either. There are a lot of little things you can do to live a frugal, but still, rich lifestyle that can ultimately make a big long-term impact on your wealth.
If you are new to this, start by making one small change at a time. Next time you go out to eat, for example, try going a little earlier and taking advantage of happy hour specials instead of full menu prices. Or next time you go to the grocery store, take some coupons with you.
Lastly, prioritize your spending. Figure out which expenses you can do without and which you cannot and work towards eliminating the not so necessary ones.
3. Avoid Lifestyle Creep
Lifestyle creep is raising your standard of living to match your level of income. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls that keeps people from building real wealth. As individual's incomes grow over the years, they continue to raise their standard of living - a bigger house, more expensive car, nicer meals out, more lavish vacations, etc.
If you really want to push the pedal to the metal on the road to millionaire status, you should focus on upgrading your savings and investments first before your lifestyle. A dollar invested today is much more powerful than a dollar earned in the future. Automate the additional income into investments and pretend like it was never there to begin with. (For more, see: How to Retire a Millionaire Without a 401(k).)
4. Keep Expenses Low
Wait, isn’t being frugal and keeping expenses low the same thing? When we think of a frugal person, it’s typically a personality trait or mindset that focuses on prioritizing spending. Keeping expenses low is generally about spending less. Keeping your spending under control is obviously going to help you track towards becoming a millionaire.
Stay away from bad debt to finance things you don’t necessarily need. If you’re still paying off student loans, credit card debt or a car loan, don’t add other debt to the equation. Spend within your means.
5. Surround Yourself with the Right People
This may not be quite as obvious as the others, but it’s certainly equally as important. Whether we like it or not, the people closest to us do have an influence and impact on the decisions we make in our lives, including financially. Surrounding ourselves with people who share the same goals and visions when it comes to becoming financially independent certainly has a positive impact on our ability to commit to habits that build wealth.
This is especially true when it comes to your spouse. Open communication is extremely important when you have shared finances with your spouse. Having shared goals that you spend the time to articulate and track towards helps to facilitate strong financial habits as a team. Friends who share the common desire to be financially independent one day, free from the requirements of living paycheck to paycheck, are only going to have a positive impact on your financial habits.
What does your millionaire future look like? Are you establishing the right habits to put you on track? if you're a Millennial, now is the best time to start building strong financial habits. Time is on your side and your financial future is in your control. (For more from this author, see: 5 Ways You Can Be More Financially Responsible.)