You don’t have to launch a blockbuster tech company or be a Buffett to live like a wealthy person.
All it takes is the right money mind-set, as well as the financially savvy habits that go with it.
“The primary difference between the wealthy and the rest of us is that they're in control of their money — they don’t let money control them,” says Jaime Tardy, a business coach and author of “The Eventual Millionaire.”
We rounded up the biggest financial blunders many people make — but prosperous folks avoid — so you can boost your own net worth.
Mistake #1: You Refuse to Face Facts
If you’re not a numbers person, it can be tempting to forget your finances, whether it's neglecting to stay on top of your investments or ignoring your bank statements. But rich people don’t amass big bucks by being blind to their balances.
“If you don’t have the facts about your financial situation, money will stream through your hands like water,” Tardy says. The consequence? You could land in debt, make poor investments — or end up broke when you retire.
The Get-Rich Fix: “Some people assume that you have to be an investment banker to understand money, but the wealthy weren’t born with some secret know-how — it’s a gradual learning process,” Tardy says.
If you're starting from scratch, first gather some basic information from your bank account, like how much you earn and what you spend, so you know what you’re netting each month. Once you have all the facts, you can decide how to start growing your money.
If investing is your money blind spot, build up your knowledge base by listening to podcasts, signing up for a seminar or hiring a financial adviser.
Mistake #2: You Overspend
When you think about the lifestyles the rich can afford, you probably picture luxuries like a ski chateau in Chamonix or a closet full of Manolos. But wealthy people are more down-to-earth than you might think.
“Millionaires aren’t out there buying Lamborghinis,” Tardy says. “They make purchasing decisions based on their current financial status and their goals. They’re rich because they’re good at keeping money — not spending it.”
The Get-Rich Fix: Have your eyes started to glaze over from hearing about budgeting? We get it.
"Make budgeting a game by giving yourself an interesting new challenge every week," says Tardy. “See how little you can spend on groceries, or even skip food shopping one week and invent meals using what you already have in the cupboards.”
Mistake #3: You Don't Adjust Your Finances Following a Big Life Event
When you get married or a parent passes away, your bank account is probably one of the last things on your mind. But don't postpone adding your spouse to your will, canceling your joint account after a divorce or signing on to your new company’s 401(k).
“Successful people understand that every transition you go through has a financial implication — and they make sure to build a plan for those turning points,” says Pete Bush, CFP®, of Horizon Wealth Management in Baton Rouge, La.
The Get-Rich Fix: Whenever your life takes a new direction, adjust your finances accordingly. “Think about it like football,” Bush says. “The coaches have a game plan heading in. But let’s say the quarterback, running back and linebacker get hurt in the first quarter and are out of commission. Their original intention is now irrelevant, and they have to come up with a new blueprint.”
Mistake #4: You Waste Cash on Fees
It’s one thing to spend $100 on a meal at your favorite restaurant. Hey, at least you enjoyed yourself! But it’s entirely another to throw that sum at overdraft fees or missed payments.
“The difference between wealthy people and everyone else is that the rich watch where their money is going, and they protect their wealth by making sure none of it slips through their fingers,” says David Bach, author of “Smart Women Finish Rich." “Rich people will rarely be caught paying their bills late, bouncing checks or carrying a high-interest credit card because they hate to waste money.”
The Get-Rich Fix: Automate, automate, automate. We’re bound to miss a payment or overlook a bill at some point. So set up auto-pay for mortgages, car payments, insurance and credit cards to lower the risk of late fees.
And never coast. “Rich people read their statements, checking regularly for mistakes,” Bach adds. “They know that if they catch errors on their bills, they can call their provider and get them fixed ASAP.”
Mistake #5: You Focus on Saving More — But Not Earning More
Millionaires don't waste money, but they also know earning additional income is a way to attain financial goals faster. “[Wealthy people] understand that while there is a limit on how much you can save, there is no limit to how much you can make,” Tardy says.
In other words, even though slashing your expenses by $50 or even $100 a month will boost your bottom line a little, raking in thousands more from a salary bump will have a much greater effect.
The Get-Rich Fix: Seek out ways to earn more. If you haven't asked for a raise recently, and know you’re delivering value to your company, schedule a meeting with your boss to make your case.
Or, use the hour you would have spent researching the cheapest dish detergent to brainstorm side gigs.
Mistake #6: You Obsess Over Price — And Sacrifice Value
Sometimes our frugal intentions sabotage us: You buy $50 shoes instead of a good-quality $200 pair that will last longer. Or you make repeated repairs to your gas-guzzling car rather than get a new model.
But rich people know better.
“Wealthy people understand that the cheapest route isn’t always the most valuable,” Bush says. “They are able to take the long view and consider how what they pay today compares with the worth over time.”
The Get-Rich Fix: Change your mind-set from “find the rock-bottom price” to “find the best value.” Then do the math.
“Take the ‘bargain’ and ‘value’ options of whatever you’re looking at — a mortgage, car loan, etc. — and run the cost out over a reasonable time for that transaction,” suggests Bush. “Compare them both ways, taking into consideration your cash flow, and see which works best for your situation.”
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.