“To master the world, one must first master one’s self.” - Chinese Proverb
Success can be defined many ways. We can be successful at work, in school or with our relationships. We can measure success by how happy we are with ourselves, and whether we feel a sense of purpose in this world. We can evaluate success by how much money we make.
Today, let’s take a look at some characteristics of millionaires.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average U.S. household will earn close to $1.5 million during a 30-year work span in today’s dollars. The choices people make with this money go a long way in determining their ultimate financial success or failure.
Here are some of the key characteristics of millionaires in the United States, based on the Spectrem Group Survey and research conducted by Drs. Thomas Stanley and William Danko:
1. There were 6.7 million millionaires in the U.S. in 2008.
2. Approximately 65 percent of millionaires are working.
3. Thirty-six percent own a business.
4. Eighty-seven percent are married.
5. Average age is 55.
6. On average, they do not own the newest cars.
7. On average, they do not shop for name brand clothes.
8. On average, they invest 20 percent of their yearly income.
9. Eighty percent built their wealth in one generation.
So, if you would like to become more affluent, what can you do to develop greater financial mastery?
The following are 15 wealth building values, attitudes and habits:
1. Wealth creation begins with the right attitude regarding money and finances.
2. Abundance begins when you’re no longer living from paycheck to paycheck.
3. Abundance is having your assets and ideas making money for you.
4. Wealthy people make money while they sleep (investments, on-line business, people working for them, etc.)
5. With the exceptions of mortgage and student loans, avoid accumulating debt.
6. Pay off your credit card balance in full each month. Pay off any credit card debt ASAP. Credit card interest drains wealth.
7. Keep only one credit card for maintaining a good credit rating. Do away with the rest.
8. When receiving your paycheck, pay yourself first by setting 10-15% aside in a nest egg.
9. With your nest egg, make wise investment choices:
A. Maximize your 401K, especially if your employer matches your contribution. Not all 401Ks are created the same. Some are far better (or worse) than others. Thoroughly understand the nature and restrictions of the one you’re interested in before investing.
B. Make purchases which appreciate in value.
C. Limit purchases which depreciate in value (automobile, name brands, etc.)
D. Key to real estate: location, location, location.
E. Financial market: invest in index funds.
F. Financial market: manage your greed and fear.
G. Financial market: diversify; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
10. Keep a liquid cash reserve of at least three months of living expenses. Add one month (minimum) for each year above age 20.
11. Limit frequent, discretionary expenses that add up quickly, such as gourmet coffee, eating out, cigarettes, alcohol, ATM fees, cell phone surcharge, multiple cable subscriptions, etc.
12. Learn from people who already enjoy long-term financial success. Ask about their financial values and strategies.
13. Find a partner in life with healthy, intelligent, and compatible financial values.
14. Make a financial plan with specific goals and targets in mind. Create a timeline to realize your plan, step by step.
15. Remember wealth alone does not lead to long term happiness – self acceptance, quality relationships and a meaningful life’s purpose do. However, wealth can provide the personal freedom to enjoy a higher quality of life. If you’re blessed with wealth and abundance, give something back in gratitude.
Preston Ni is a professor of communication studies, Fortune 500 trainer, executive coach, and organizational change consultant. Write to Preston at email@example.com, and access free resources at www.nipreston.com. © 2010 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.