“The one percent” is a term that’s been thrown around for some time. It’s kicked off political tirades, social movements, and Hollywood blockbusters. (Remember The Wolf of Wall Street? How about The Big Short?) But there’s yet another thing the term can turbocharge: Your savings account.
By copping the habits of the financial elite, you too can join their lofty perch and send your bank account numbers into the stratosphere. All it takes is adopting a few daily habits—some are financial, but many are just run-of-the-mill, everyday hacks. So read on and bask in the wisdom. And for more ways to slap another zero on your bank account, try out any of the 20 Side Hustles That Will Send Your Savings Into the Stratosphere.
They get up early
“The early bird gets the worm” is the last thing you want to hear when some upbeat so-and-so opens the drapes and zaps you with sunlight. Still, the simple act of getting your day started early is a simple rule many one-percenters live by. Early risers of note include Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group, Disney CEO Robert Iger and, Marissa Mayer (of Yahoo! and Google pedigree). Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, suggests writing your plans for the following day. The first task should make you excited to get out of bed. And if that doesn’t cut it, learn The Single Best Trick For Waking Up Earlier Every Day.
They save like they mean it
If you want to be in the 1%—and if you want to stay in the 1%—you’re going to have to save money like a boss. We’re talking fully 20% of your income. That may sound like a hefty chunk, particularly if you’re living paycheck to paycheck right now. But fear not! By making significant bites out of your monthly nut (see the next tip), it’s easier than you think.
They know their expenses
Business guru H. James Harrington said: “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” Simply put, you’ll never rein in unnecessary spending if you don’t take a sustained and unflinching look at what’s flying out of your pockets each and every month. Luckily, there are apps for that. A great one is Mint by Intuit. It allows you to plug in all of your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, investments and, once you’ve budgeted your monthly expenses, it’ll show you what on earth is going on with your money each month. For more great download ideas, learn the 10 Best Budgeting Apps You Can Get on Your Smartphone.
They budget everything
Although monthly expenditures ebb and flow from month to month, get specific about how much you want to spend on housing, groceries, eating out, and gas—as well as how much you want to save. At the end of each month, see if you can improve on the previous one. And for more ways to save cash, learn the 40 Ways to Seriously Boost Your Savings After 40.
Here’s another old saying that the 1% live by: Healthy body, healthy mind. Exercise keeps your brain healthy, minimizes stress and improves memory. Those are all handy attributes if you want to make some smart money moves. What’s more: Studies show that exercise can boost creativity and productivity by as much as two hours. It makes you smarter, too.
They consign debts to history
The 1% scoff at the idea of carrying debt. If you want to count yourself among them, paying down and paying things off should be a top priority. If you’re working but you’re not in the green every single month, it’s time to root out the problem and neutralize it. Instead of thinking about ways to accumulate more debt, make a pay-off plan. Focus on your highest interest credit cards and loans first, then move to the second highest ones, until your debt is erased.
They don’t ignore bills
Being reminded of how much you owe is a pisser. We have a natural tendency to ignore bills in the vain hope that maybe they’ll just go away. They won’t. In fact, that strategy will only compound the misery that will be visited upon you at some point and in some form. Be brave, and tackle your creditors’ notes head on.
They audit their expenses
Keeping a beady eye on your expenses will almost certainly save you a ton of cash over time. We’re talking double charges, fraudulent charges, dodgy-looking service fees, and recurring charges for a product or service you no longer need. You’ll be surprised just how much pork is hiding out in those numbers.
They take an interest in interest
The 1% are able to live off of the interest that their investments bring in, but if they weren’t born with money, they didn’t start that way. They built things slowly over time. Now that you’re saving 20% of your income, it’s important that you put that money somewhere wise. Diversify your investments, and track them on a monthly basis. Study where your money is and just how well it’s performing.
They invest in their homes
Depending on where you live, how much space you need and how many people you live with, owning your own home may be a very wise choice. In fact, if you don’t own your own home, you could be breaking an important rule of the 1%. If you already have a home, be sure to invest in it. Upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms will pay dividends in the long run.
They take a stake
Nine out of 10 one-percenters say that taking an equity position is necessary to get filthy rich. But just one out of ten people in the middle class have an equity position of any kind, and the vast majority (70%) say they’re not even trying to get one.
They find the edge and take it
Gaining small advantages in a series of deals can have a cumulative effect on your wealth over time. However, surveys show that most people don’t seek them out, so they’re likely to end up on the losing side of every deal. So play for the upper hand, even if it’s modest.
They act like hedgehogs
The hedgehog strategy gets its name from the spiny creature that has just one strategy at its disposal: it curls up into a ball. Point being, doing one thing well is better than doing lots of new things. Typically, one-percenters have taken an ordinary idea and executed it exceptionally well, honing their skills at it along the way.
They hire for their weaknesses
If you’re in a position to put a team together, don’t fall into the trap of hiring people who have a similar background or skill set to yours. Do what you do best, and hire other people to support you where you’re weaker. Build teams with complementary capabilities. Surveys show that most people would rather learn to do tasks they’re bad at than get others to do them. Those at the top often take the opposite view.
They resist the sunk-cost bias
You’ve heard that old aphorism “throwing good money after bad.” The one-percent have—and they live by it. One survey showed that 71% of the ultra-wealthy have no problem cutting their losses and moving on if a prospect isn’t headed in the right direction, while only a fifth of the middle-class say the same. The hoi polloi fall afoul of the sunk cost-bias: People want to keep pumping money into a non-starter, because they’ve already invested. If a deal doesn’t seem right, it’s almost always less risky to walk away—or run, as the song goes.
On average, self-made one-percenters have more failures under their Gucci belts than members of the middle class. They’ve used failure to help them succeed on their next big swing. But one survey found that only 17 percent of the middle class say they learn from their failures. Remember: Everything worth trying contains an element of risk.
They don’t believe hype
All your life, you’ve seen advertisements for luxurious goods that make you think, “One day…”. If that day is now, detach yourself from the desires you had when you didn’t have a pot to piss in. Ask yourself: “What will a Mercedes do for me that a BMW won’t?” Then, “Will a BMW change my life more significantly than an Audi?” Boom! You’ve got yourself a solid German automobile—and an ability to sock away some of your hard-earned cash.
They know when to splash out
There’s a “The More You Know” PSA on TV that spells out how much you could save over a year if you brew your coffee at home instead of making a Starbucks run every time you need a pick-me-up. They have the math right, but they’re not looking at the bigger picture. Specifically, how having your favorite beverage makes you feel. Above, we talked about budgeting and reining in unnecessary expenses. That’s important! But if ordering a $4 latte makes your day better, do it.
They don’t keep up with the Dow Joneses
Unless you have a job in finance, you can’t exert much influence on the markets. So why waste you time glued to the indexes or watching Jim Cramer jump up and down like a meth-addled hobgoblin? Instead, focus on what you can control: Putting money in a broadly diversified, low-cost portfolio—and not dipping into that money.
They spend on education while they’re young
The Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman found that spending on high-quality early-childhood education offers kids the greatest bang for the buck in their adult years. Why? Between the ages of three and eight, children develop conscientiousness, perseverance, sociability, and curiosity. All of those qualities are more important to success than traditional markers of academic achievement.
They eat out less
Recent research showed that one-percenters spend 30% less of their money on dining in restaurants and saved 30% more of it for retirement. Kit out your kitchen with these 25 Foods That’ll Keep You Young Forever.
Another habit of the rich is plant their noses in a book. Bill Gates reads for one hour as part of his bedtime routine, and science suggests there’s a good reason why. A recent study from the University of Toronto showed that subjects who read a short story scored lower on a test to determine the “need for cognitive closure” than people who’d read an essay. The researchers concluded that the fiction readers were inclined to be more “open-minded”, “creative,” and rational.” Those are great attributes if you want to make some long-term coin.
They retain information
Although reading novels might have interesting effects on the way you think, reading non-fiction can have a marked effect on how you operate. The key is to remember the quotes, insights and ideas you just absorbed. If you want to retain information quickly, read the Ultimate Guide to Speed-Reading A Book.
They don’t confuse being responsive with being productive
No doubt you’ve heard of Tim Ferris’ book The 4-Hour Workweek. In it, Ferris argues that reading and answering emails hampers productivity. To minimize distractions, Ferris recommends checking email twice a day: at 11am and 4pm, or after you’ve completed at least one critical item in your to-do list, then once more before the end of your workday.
They know their team
If you’re hitching your wagon to other talented employees, you’d better know what motivates and inspires them. That’s the belief of about 70% of people in a survey Louis Schiff did for his book Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons. Schiff found that less than 20 percent of the middle class felt similarly. His survey suggests that a willingness and desire to know and understand your business associates is a sure marker of success. And for more ways to join the one percent, learn the Best Way to Earn $500,000 In Your Spare Time.
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