Published in: Banks | Oct. 8, 2019

5 Financial Habits of Highly Successful People

By:  Kailey Hagen

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There are many ways to become wealthy, but staying wealthy requires good money habits.

It's easy to chalk up wealthy people's success to luck and a high-paying job, and undoubtedly this is a factor in some cases. But wealthy people don't stay wealthy for long unless they also have good financial habits to help them hold onto their money and grow it even further. Here are five smart money habits that help wealthy people stay wealthy. You can start incorporating them into your life right now, regardless of your income.

A group of smiling people having wine and food at a patio table.

Image source: Getty Images

1. They live within their means

In today's consumerist culture, many people find it difficult to avoid the pull of advertising and end up buying a bunch of things they don't need. This inhibits their ability to save for future goals and for some, it leads to costly credit card debt that can haunt them for months or even years afterward. 

It isn't always easy to avoid the temptation to overspend, but it's crucial if you ever hope to become wealthy. Create a budget if you don't already have one and stick to it. Allow yourself some money to spend on wants, but make sure you first prioritize both your basic living expenses and saving for future goals like a house down payment, a vacation, or retirement. For larger items on your want list, you might have to save up for a couple months before you can afford to buy them, but this is better than taking on credit card debt.

2. They set clear financial goals

Saving for its own sake is a difficult concept for a lot of people, but it's easier if you attach your savings to a clear goal, like retirement, a child's college fund, a home or car you want to buy, or a vacation you'd like to take. Successful people understand this and they use their goals as motivation.

Almost everyone has some vague financial goals, but you should write them down and calculate approximately how much each will cost you so you have a target to aim for. If they're time-sensitive, figure out how much you need to save each month to hit your goal. Otherwise, decide how much you'd like to allocate toward each goal each month and build these expenses into your budget.

3. They save a substantial portion of their income

There is no magic percentage of your income that you should be saving each month in order to become wealthy or live the life you want. But there's no denying that the more you save, the easier it is for you to finance your long-term goals and to handle financial emergencies when they arise.

Open up a savings account and see if you can set automatic deposits from your checking account each month so you don't have to remember to transfer the money on your own. You can base how much you need to save on the budget you've created, or you could decide to allocate a certain percentage of each paycheck toward saving. Some budget models, like the 50/20/30 budget, recommend saving 20% of your income, but if this isn't feasible for you right now, start with a lower amount, like 10% and try to raise your savings amount by 1% each year. You can also put year-end bonuses, tax refunds, and other unexpected windfalls toward savings.

4. They invest their money

Investing your money is one of the best ways to grow your long-term savings. It's not ideal for savings you intend to use within the next three to five years because the markets can fluctuate and you could lose money instead of gaining it. But for longer-term savings, investing is a smarter choice than a savings account because your rate of return will most likely outstrip inflation, which isn't true of most savings accounts, even high-yield accounts.

You can invest money in a retirement account or in a taxable brokerage account. There are also robo-advisors that can help beginners start investing even if they have little or no knowledge of the various investment products. Mutual funds are a great starting choice for new investors because they offer instant diversification. They're a bundle of various stocks and bonds that you purchase together, and this helps ensure that you don't lose all of your savings if one stock or bond that you're invested in does poorly.

5. They never stop learning

It's okay if you are unsure of how to invest your money properly or the best way to plan for your future, but successful people push themselves to learn more so they can manage their money better. You can do this by reading financial books and articles online, or you could enlist a financial advisor for more personalized assistance.

Choose a fee-only financial advisor instead of a fee-based advisor if you can. Fee-based advisors earn commissions when you buy certain investment products from them, and this can lead them to recommend investments that may not suit you just so they get a little more money. You don't have to worry about this conflict of interest with fee-only advisors.

By incorporating the five habits above into your life, you can begin to improve your financial situation and achieve your goals faster. It won't happen overnight, but you will start to notice a difference over time if you stick with it.

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