Wealth Habits: Lessons from My Journey to Affluence

Those of us who didn’t grow up with silver spoons in our mouths usually share thought patterns about money that we need to overcome. When we don’t, we have difficulty sustaining the wealth we accrue. There are plenty of stories of the person who won the lottery only to be bankrupt years later. An example that comes to my mind is MC Hammer. I recall watching a “where are they now” type show about him. I was shocked to learn that this huge star, who made millions upon millions of dollars, ended up a bankrupt car salesman.How did this happen? Every case is different, but I believe the underlying cause is that MC Hammer still thought like a poor person. That sounds harsh, but the reality is that there are big differences in how the wealthy, the middle class and the poor think about money.

Previously I wrote about limiting beliefs and how these can affect your ability to obtain and retain wealth. I also want to speak about habits that I’ve seen among the wealthy. I’ll share them below, but first let me explain what I did to watch wealthy people and how it affected me.

I read in The Trick to Money is Having Some that you should act like that which you want to become. To do this, I began reading interviews and watching videos of affluent people I admire and periodically visiting affluent neighborhoods and shopping centers.

Watching interviews of people who never experienced lack helped me understand how they spoke about difficulties, and I realized that even during downturns they avoided scarcity language. They expect money because they figure out how to take advantage of changing circumstances, rather than be afraid of them. I started watching videos of Ivanka Trump because a blogger I admire, Simona Rich, explained that Ivanka was a person she tuned in to for a better understanding of how the wealthy think.  I also enjoy watching entrepreneurial women who are successful in their endeavors like Marissa Hermer and Dina Manzo.

Next I began visiting affluent neighborhoods and shopping centers. This seems like an inconsequential step, but it was hugely important because it affected my feelings. Intellectually we can think, I deserve wealth and I want a lot of money, but we need to also feel comfortable being wealthy and having that money.

The first time I walked into a mall that housed Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton and Cartier shops, I felt like I had stepped outside of my class. As I forced myself to visit luxury boutiques, I worried that the Sales Associates could sense my feelings. In the end, I bought a Starbucks latte and aimlessly walked around because that felt most normal. It wasn’t until my third of fourth visit to that shopping center, that I felt relaxed and was able to make small talk with anyone.

Now, that I’ve explained two ways that I familiarized myself with wealthy people, let me share the main lessons I learned.

  • Buy Less, Buy Better – Often during my teens and twenties I bought items because they were a great deal. Even if they were clothes that didn’t fit properly or items I had no need for, I could not pass a great sale without buying something. I believed that by buying something cheaply I was capturing value.  I slowly realized that because I didn’t use these items, they actually held no value for me.  Furthermore, I treated them like junk. A great example of this is that I used to buy only discount sunglasses that were under $20. I would sit on them, lose them, and scratch them. I was careless until my husband gifted me an expensive pair. Nine years later I still have that pair. I value them and because of that I take care of them. Now I buy many fewer things that are of a good quality. I take care of them and I know they will last. I am teaching this lesson to my kids by reminding them that if they “Take care of their things, their things will take care of them.” Buy quality, maintain it, and expect reliability.
  • Get Rid of Things You Don’t Value – This goes hand in hand with the first lesson. Hanging on to items you don’t care about does nothing for you. It clutters your life and carries distractions. Just get rid of it! If you feel it would have value for somebody else, donate it. This feels good and you can get a tax receipt.
  • Make Your Money Work for You – Now that you are spending less frequently and the items you buy last longer, you can put the money you would have spent to work. Invest it. To start, I joined my companies stock purchase plan with just $10 per paycheck. Then, I progressed by setting aside enough money to start a Vanguard account. Now when I have extra money, I move it into an investment account rather than let it sit in my checking account until I’m inclined to spend it. For more ideas read this post.
  • Talk About Money – In my upbringing, it was taboo to discuss finances and especially to ask anyone how they made their money. I was shocked beyond shocked when I learned this is not the case with many successful and affluent people. They speak freely of money, how they make it, what they are investing in and inquiring likewise information of others. It’s not about how much do you have, but instead a question of what you do with what you have. I grew up thinking two things. First, don’t talk about how you come into money because somebody will steal your idea and there will be less for you. Second, don’t talk about money because you have it good and you can make others feel bad about their circumstances.  I still struggle with this second one.
  • Drop Lack Language – Stop saying things like, I’m broke, money doesn’t grow on trees, I’m poor, I can’t afford that. Replace them with I’m up and coming, there is lots of money to be made, I have a lot to be grateful for, I am rich, I can get anything I want in time.

I still have a lot to learn and will share my lessons as they come. For now, I am focused on my journey to affluence, and recognize that the way I think correlates directly to the opportunities I see. So I’ll finish by saying my favorite affirmation. I am blessed!

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