18 Tips to Get Rich (From Actual Millionaires!)

Millionaires.

They drive through their gated communities on golf carts, give fake smiles to everyone they see and wave that silly open-fingered punch as if they’re giving a high-five to your forehead. They dine at the local country club and eat only in miniature because that’s the classy thing to do. Never would you catch them in your local grocery store or gas station. They’ve got servants for that kind of thing.

Ummm…. I don’t know how to break this to you, but the above paragraph is absolutely false (and is only relevant in 3-star movies or less).

In the real world, millionaires walk among us each and every day. In fact, there are 10.4 million millionaires in the United States today, which means that if you see 300 people a day, 10 of them are millionaires….And I bet you couldn’t pick them out either.

18 Tips to Get Rich – From Actual Millionaires

Today’s millionaires are more discrete than ever. They drive simple cars, own simple houses, and stash money away faster than you ever thought possible.

They’re normal, like you and me.

In fact, if you see someone that looks wealthy (ie. fancy clothes, crazy nice car, or a house that could keep your house in one of its spare bedrooms), they’re probably not even close. Instead, their just in debt up to their eyeballs.

As my wife and I approach millionaire status ourselves, we’re starting to see more and more millionaires pop out of the woodwork. Church friends, co-workers, and casual acquaintances – people that we never knew had money, are starting to confide in us. They’ve told us their story and have provided their gold nuggets of wisdom, and now we’re passing that wisdom on.

These money tips from actual millionaires aren’t extreme and they likely won’t surprise you, but they’re absolutely essential if you’d like to join the secret club of millionaires.

Tips to Get Rich1) Give, Give, Give

It sounds counter-intuitive – to give money away when you’re trying desperately to keep it and grow it – but giving serves two purposes in building wealth.

  1. It will unveil the needs of others, inevitably making you more content in the process (which means you’ll want less and therefore spend less)
  2. You’ll be blessed financially later in life

No, I’m not about to preach the prosperity gospel. But think about it. If you do right for your fellow citizens, don’t you think the word will spread that you’re a man or woman of character? And wouldn’t that also mean that people would recommend you and your business to your friends?

Give because you want to, and because you’re called to do it. Don’t expect anything in return, but don’t be shocked if you’re blessed later in life.

2) Decide to Become Wealthy as a Family

Getting rich can wreak havoc on relationships. You devote your time and money to your work, and sometimes there just isn’t much left for hugs, kisses, or a simple night out to eat.

You and your family need to be on the same page. If they want more of you and your time, decide that upfront and either develop a passive income early (can you say rental properties?? ;)), or you might just have to be okay with earning less and forgoing that mega-mansion of your dreams. That’s okay – as long as your family all agrees and is happy with the decision.

3) Mortgage Payments < 25% of Your Take-Home Pay

One of the best tips to get rich is right here: Don’t make yourself house poor!

If you earn $3,000 a month after taxes and you owe $1,500 to your mortgage payment – and you’re doing this for the next 30 years of your life – then you’re not going to have anything left to invest. Which of course means that you’re not going to be rich.

Want to be rich on $3,000 a month? Then choose a home that costs only $750 a month on a 15 year mortgage (don’t think it’s possible? – I did it). You’ll be out of debt earlier than most and you’ll be able to save and invest loads of cash even while you’ve got the mortgage (and for sure after).

Pretty much the best way to get rich is to look like you’re lower-middle class for a while. My wife and I do it, and we honestly couldn’t be happier!

ditch your debt in less than a week4) Get Rid of All Debt

“Debt is a tool for growing wealth…” is often a phrase that’s used by finance professionals. This phrase has absolutely no place in personal finance. No matter what the debt is for, it’s not worth it. Get rid of it.

  • Student loan payments
  • Car payments
  • Credit payments
  • House payments

What if you had none of these payments? How much extra would that give you each month? $1,500? $2,000? More?

I don’t know about you, but a $2,000 bump in my income each month would sure go a long way in becoming wealthy! Get rid of all that debt and you’ll have it!

5) Move as Little as Possible

On the topic of saving money, here’s a tip that can save you thousands of dollars every couple of years.

Here it is: Stop Moving

Hopping from one house to another is incredibly costly. If you’re used to moving every couple of years, you’re just flushing thousands of dollars down the toilet every time.

  • realtor fees
  • moving costs
  • closing costs

They all add up, and they’re keeping you broke. One of the best tips to get rich is incredibly simple: Choose a house that you like and stay there for 20+ years.

Simple, but effective.

6) Drive Modest Dependable Cars

Buying a brand new car is a waste of money. Leasing a brand new car is even worse. But buying an absolute lemon isn’t the solution either.

You’ve got to have a balance when it comes to the car you drive. Typically a Honda, Toyota, or a domestic car that’s between 2 years old and 10 years old is your ticket. They’re dependable, cheap to fix, and the insurance is low. Follow this model all your life and you’ll have plenty of money to spare for investing (which of course, is how you get rich).

7) Invest 15% of Your Gross Income (at minimum)

If you want to retire with dignity, then you’ve got to invest a decent portion of your income each month toward your future. Some financial advisors recommend just 10%, but that’s a bit light (especially if you start later in life…which many of us do). The millionaires I speak with recommend a minimum of 15%, and even more if you can swing it.

The next question is, where should you invest?

  • Start with your employer and invest up to the match into your 401k
  • Invest the remaining amount into a Roth IRA
  • If you still have more to invest, put more into your 401k or begin saving for real estate investing (or if those both sound terrible to you, then maybe Motif Investing is your ticket)

8) Don’t Buy New – Fix It Instead

We live in such an “I want it now” society.

  • If we’re hungry for Chinese, we go buy some.
  • Want a new jersey for the big game? Click. Done.
  • Your TV’s broke? Time to go to Best Buy!

Whatever we want, we can literally have it in a matter of minutes. And when something breaks, our initial reaction is the exact same. Go buy a new one. But do we have to?

All the millionaires I sit with say, “Heck no!” Why not fix it, or if you can’t fix it, just do without it for a while until you can find a deal on a gently used one?

Want to be a millionaire? Learn how to use those fingers for more than your ever so important texts and tweets.

getting out of debt9) Go For Experiences, Not a Great Facebook Post

My Facebook feed is getting ridiculous. I have 600ish friends and it seems like at least 20 of them are on vacation at any given time. It’s all I see. Sprawling beaches, crazy fun parties, and Disney princesses. It makes me wonder though, are these people actually having fun? Or is this all just a new form of keeping up with the Joneses? You know…your friend went to Jamaica, so you just had to book a ticket too.

Millionaires care very little about what other people think. If they think staying at home and playing in the garden is fun, then that’s what they’re going to do. And, they definitely don’t feel the need to brag to their friends on Facebook about it.

10) Max Out Your HSA

Of all the tips to get rich, I think the Health Savings Account isn’t mentioned nearly enough. The HSA is a savings account where you can stash your money tax free so you can use it on anything medically related later in life.

Here are the major benefits:

  • You don’t pay tax on the money. EVER.
  • If you don’t use it during the year, you won’t lose it.
  • Companies often contribute each year
  • The money can be invested
  • You can use the money for anything after the age of 65. You’ll have to pay taxes on it, but no penalty.

Do you think you’ll have another medical expense in your life? Of course you will! So why not pay for it with before-tax dollars? Millionaires don’t think twice about this, and neither should you.

11) Plan For Windfalls

If you don’t plan for unexpected money, you’ll never get it.

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. If you don’t plan for the windfalls, you’ll spend it before you even get it, and it won’t ever feel like a windfall. This is why people only complain about their bad breaks and never recall the good ones.

Think to yourself, if I received an inheritance or a huge tax refund, what would I do with the money? Pay off debt? Put it toward Junior’s college fund? Write down your list and post it somewhere. The next time you receive just a few hundred dollars, you’ll be forced to do something responsible with it rather than just piddle it away like everything else.

12) Never Stop Investing in Yourself

Do you know why people get stuck in the same job all their lives? They’ll tell you it’s because of the economy or because management has something against them, but in reality, it’s because they stopped learning and growing.

We can only get promoted up to the level of our competency. And how do we grow our competency? Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t just happen! We need to read books, take classes, find a mentor.

Want some tips to get rich? Here’s one. Never let your mind fall asleep.

13) The Cheapest Product Is Hardly Ever Cheap

I used to be extremely cheap. In fact, I even wrote a post on it a couple of years ago: 25 Examples of My Extreme Cheapness. But, according to my millionaire friends, the cheap road does not lead to riches. More often than not, it actually keeps you broke.

For example: if you find an extremely cheap car on Craiglist, it’s probably a steal of a deal for a reason. Either it’s a scam or it’s literally being held together by duct tape. Buy it and you’ll end up putting far more money into it than if you would have just paid the extra thousand bucks on one with a clean history.

And, if you need a new appliance, television, sofa, doorknob, whatever…do not buy the cheapest one. It’ll just give you problems, you’ll need to replace it, and you’ll end up spending far more than if you would have just bought a slightly more expensive one in the first place. My rule of thumb? Avoid the cheapest product, buy the next level up.

14) Befriend Your Desired Future Self

Do you want a salary of $200,000 a year? Then what are you doing hanging out with your $30,000 a year yokel friends? Their mentality has only gotten them so far, and if you don’t want that life for your future then you need some new friends.

Start hanging out with those that you’d like to become someday – for wealth, morality, servant-hood, etc. They obviously know how to get where they are today (since they’re there), and can teach you far more than your simple-minded friends.

outdoor summer activities15) More Often Than Not, Slower is Better

Get rich fast and you’ll probably lose it all. You know why? Because you never really gained an understanding of how you got it in the first place.

Get rich slow and you’ll not only know how you grew your wealth, but you will have learned plenty of lessons along the way that will keep you from making future mistakes.

16) Don’t Inflate Your Lifestyle with Each Pay Raise

As you begin to better yourself and your income, it can be tempting to inflate your lifestyle with your new pay-grade.

We’ve all seen it. Jimmy gets a promotion at work and the very next day he shows up in a $40,000 car…. Of course he didn’t have the cash to buy the car. He just spent the next 7 years of his pay-raise on a ridiculous car payment.

Do NOT do this to yourself. Sure, you can treat yourself a little buy going out for a celebratory dinner, but don’t start driving a new car or jump into a bigger house just because you earn an extra $20k a year. Instead, pay off your debts and beef up your retirement contributions. You won’t regret it.

17) Think 20 Years Ahead

If you want to have an exceptional future, it kind of helps to actually think about it.

Before you do anything, think to yourself, “Will this matter 20 years from now?” 

If it will and you’re not in love with the outcome, don’t do it. It’s pretty much as simple as that.

Let’s practice a few:

  • “Will this $1,000 shopping spree impact my life 20 years from now?” — Yup, that $1,000 invested could turn into $8,000 in 20 years.
  • “Will this argument that I’m having with my wife about where the peanut butter goes matter 20 years from now?” Ummmm nope. Just let it slide if you know what’s good for you.
  • “My new Audi sure is awesome. Will this purchase impact me 20 years from now?” Yeah, probably by hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s just not worth it.

18) Invest in What You Know

Too many people make investing into something complicated and confusing. It doesn’t have to be. Some of the wealthiest people in this world have only invested in real estate. They buy a property for $100,000, rent it out for $12,000 a year…and that’s it. Super simple, but highly profitable.

If you don’t understand it, don’t invest in it. That’s how people lose their shirts.

Certainly, you should continue to learn and grow (reference point #12 above) so that you can improve your investing knowledge over time, but if right now you have no idea what an Index fund is…then steer clear of it. Put your money elsewhere.

Understand your current investments by signing up with Personal Capital (it’s free and totally safe). They’ll show you what you’re invested in and whether it’s right for you. Want to take it a step further? You could chat with an advisor and get a free consult. 

The Best Tips to Get Rich – From Actual Millionaires

There you have it – 18 solid money tips from the mouths of millionaires. You’ve got the secrets. Now it’s just a matter of putting them into practice. Which tips were your favorites? What will you do differently because of the tips above?

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12 comments to 18 Tips to Get Rich (From Actual Millionaires!)

  • Kathy

    I would add one more item which is…..know when you have enough. Yes, it is tempting to want to continue to grow your wealth but at some point in time you might possible attain a level of wealth that you don’t have to scrimp and save any longer. I’m not advocating that you suddenly go out and blow it all but there does come a time when you might start to think “I have all this money and I don’t spend it on anything enjoyable.” So when that thought strikes you, allow yourself to take a vacation, or simply go out to dinner. And while my motto has for years been “nothing I buy satisfies me as much as watching my bank balance grow” there is a point where if you don’t enjoy it EVER, then why have it? If you never enjoy it, you have become a scrooge.

    • That is definitely a tough one. When you save and save and save and save….and then…spend??? It can be really tough, especially if you’re in your retirement years and your nest egg amount keeps going down. But, unless you don’t ever want to live your life, spending money is inevitable. And in fact, it’s pretty necessary to actually enjoying your life!

  • Maxing my HSA and thinking 20 years ahead are two great tips.

    The delay of gratification is something everyone should practice. By thinking 20 years ahead, you exhibit an ability unique to humans.

    Thanks for sharing this list – Erik
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted..Positive Transformation – Bigger, Faster, Stronger 10

    • We started contributing a lot to our HSA because our first child was on the way. Ever since she’s been born, we just keep contributing to it because we don’t really need the dollars. It’s always nice to have something medical come up and really not worry about it because the money’s already there and doesn’t mess up our budget at all.

  • I thought it was difficult at first when I started implementing some major financial changes, but human nature is such that we adapt pretty fast to new situations (at least generally!). I think that’s why paying yourself first works so well!
    Even as a not-yet-millionaire, I can see the benefits of looking ahead to the life you want in the future. And it’s always confirmed when I have an unexpected emergency or cash outflow and can see how little stress it causes because I already have planned for it financially, I love this list-it shows the positivity that financial stability can bring to your life!

    • It’s best not to give money away to the Tax Man. The easiest way to do this is through pre-tax retirement investments and funding your HSA. Thanks for the comment, MYMM!

  • Great post, Derek! I love that you started with “Giving”. Having the heart in the right place is the first step, and I believe that generosity is a key to growing wealth (like you, I’m not a fan of the prosperity gospel, but I do think having your priorities in the right place is a critical first step).

    Great tips, and I’ve used most of them in my own path to Millionaire status.

    • Giving is very important – and I think the majority of wealthy people realize this fact, which is why many of them give hundreds of thousands of dollars away over the course of their lifetime!

  • Love this, Derek! Especially numbers one and four, which we’ve both found to be vital as we work our own way toward millionaire status. Good to hear sound advice from real millionaires.

  • In the market for a car right now…and I was stuck between a used car and leasing a new car….I think your timely article has helped me make the right choice!

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