There’s a simple formula to follow if you want to become rich and successful: Earn more, spend less and save as much as you can. It sounds great, sure -- but how, exactly does one do all that?
The process starts with being willing to put yourself out there and head down a riskier but ultimately more rewarding road. You must break your old patterns and change your perception of wealth. You’ll need to shed your middle-class mindset and adopt new habits that will set you up for lasting financial freedom and prosperity.
These 11 lifestyle changes can help you can make your dream of obtaining wealth a reality. Once you start, you'll see how even small shifts in your everyday practices can lead to deeper transformations.
1. Visualize yourself achieving your goals.
If you want to achieve great things, you need a clear plan of action. Develop a state of mind in which you clearly can visualize your goals for attaining wealth. So many people don’t reach their true potential because they don’t really know what they want or how to get there.
This takes focus, belief in yourself and the courage to see your plan through. Begin by constantly envisioning the different elements of your plan and add to it one piece at a time. Eventually you will have developed a step-by-step guide that leads where you want to go. Along the way, you will cultivate the determination and tenacity you need to achieve your goals.
2. Push yourself beyond your normal boundaries.
A middle-class mentality seeks a comfortable, complacent existence. It wants to avoid the pain of constant hard work.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that attitude, but you aren’t going to become a millionaire from the comfort of your couch. If your goal is becoming successful beyond your wildest dreams, you'll need to face discomfort and uncertainty at times. You must get used to pushing yourself outside of your normal boundaries.
Start by doing five things every day that make you uncomfortable or even scare you a little. Build up your physical and psychological endurance. Being willing to endure a little temporary pain will help you build the mental fortitude necessary to see you through difficult times. It will help you embrace the difficult decisions that must be made if you’re going to turn a cautious life into something extraordinary.
3. Adopt a modest lifestyle.
While you push the boundaries on your mental and physical abilities, it’s also important to keep close tabs on your spending habits. Adopting a frugal mindset alone won’t earn you more money or make you rich, but learning to live modestly is an important part of achieving overall financial stability. You'll only sabotage yourself if you blow your wealth before you have the chance to accumulate it.
“A frugal mindset focuses on what you need, not just on what you want or what you think will make you happy,” says Adam Toren, founder of Young Entrepreneur and Biz Warriors, a small-business forum. Once you recognize that needless impulse purchases undermine your financial freedom, it changes your whole perspective on consumerism.
Take a few simple steps down the economical path: shop with a list, look for deals online before making a purchase and buy used items.
4. Track your spending and cut the excess.
Get up close and personal with your money habits. Record how you spend every dollar. Do this for at least 30 days so you can get a clear picture of your spending habits. Then take the time to analyze your practices. What are you buying that you could reduce or eliminate completely?
Start by looking for obvious cuts -- the cable bill for channels you never watch, the subscription for a magazine you hardly ever read, that gym membership you only use once a month. Cut these ongoing expenses and move to an à la carte method: Pay only for what you need, when you need it.
5. Learn a new skill.
To become a success, you also need to become knowledgeable, well-rounded and competitive. This requires you to be dedicated to self-improvement and the continued learning.
Keep broadening your prospects -- devote time every day to learning something new. According to Josh Kaufman, author of "The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast!", you can learn a new skill quickly by following this pattern: Deconstruct the skill, self-correct, remove barriers to learning and practice for at least 20 hours.
6. Work an extra job.
Rich people don’t rely on one job to build their wealth. They're always working something on the side. Having more than one source of income increases your ability to build wealth, helps you increase your skill set and expands your knowledge in different areas. Think of this as a chance to monetize a hobby or area of interest.
Do you love photography? Have a talent for music, art, tutoring or coaching? You could turn any of these areas into a lucrative side hustle. And who knows? Maybe your side job could be the start of a whole new career and fruitful money-making venture.
7. Watch your food bill.
An occasional dinner out is a nice luxury, but restaurant bills really can add up if you eat out often. Go for homemade meals, and you'll likely end up eating healthier and cheaper, too. Follow these tips keep your grocery bills in check:
- Go grocery shopping on a full stomach to keep from buying junk food you crave.
- Maintain a list of everything you need so you can make fewer but bigger shopping trips to the store.
- Use your smartphone's calculator app to add up each item that goes in your cart and track the total as you work your way to the check-out lane.
8. Use automatic transfers to help you save more money.
It’s easier to save money if you never see it in your account to begin with. Set up automatic fund transfers from your bank account so money comes out before you even miss it. It's OK to start small. You'll find that just $50 a month will add up over time.
The more money you have socked away, the more options you have. Your savings enables you to take advantage of investment opportunities or bankroll lucrative ideas, including your own.
If you really want to get serious about accruing money, try saving an hour a day of your income. If you make $50,000 a year working 40 hours a week, you make $25 an hour. According to "The Automatic Millionaire" author David Bach, you’ll never have to worry about money again if you adopt this approach.
9. Make your money work for you.
Most millionaires follow a rule of thumb that can work for you, too: Invest at least 20 percent of your household income each year. In fact, author Ramit Sethi contends that most millionaires don’t measure the amount they make each year. In his New York Times bestseller "I Will Teach You to Be Rich," he explains these high earners are more concerned about how much they save and invest over time.
You don’t have to be wealthy to work toward the 20 percent goal. You just have to start making regular contributions to an investment account. Begin with your employer’s 401(k) plan and set up an IRA. Next, switch your “big bank” savings account to a high-interest savings account. You’ll go from earning negligible interest rates to accumulating something meaningful over time.
10. Pay with cash.
If staying on a budget is too difficult and impulse purchases are getting the best of you, try paying with cash -- especially when you go shopping. Studies show consumers spend less when they use tangible money to pay for things. It makes them more mindful of how much they're actually spending.
This tactic comes with a side benefit that's also a deterrent to overspending: You have to make a trip to the ATM or bank to withdraw money. Once it's gone, you'll know you're done shopping. Try taking out $100 and making it stretch over a week. You’ll see those mindless $20 purchases come to a halt pretty quickly.
11. Associate with successful people.
They say you can judge a person by the company he or she keeps, but you also can gauge someone's potential in part by taking a look at the people he or she associates with. Our friends affect our worldview. Their ideas and life philosophies eventually meld with our own, and their ambitions and dreams can be a catalyst for our own aspirations and desires.
Consciousness is contagious. Exposure to other driven, resourceful and intelligent people will broaden your state of mind and expand your thinking. There's a reason rich and successful people often form tight cliques and gravitate toward one another. The wealthy understand these relationships create a kind of synergy. Start increasing the amount of time you spend with people who are richer and smarter than you. Some of their success might rub off!