This financial planner interviewed 233 millionaires—here are 5 money habits they all share
Financial planner Tom Corley is obsessed with millionaires.
During his career, he’s interviewed hundreds of millionaires to understand what makes them tick, how they shop, what they value, and, especially, what financial rules they follow.
Here we’ve compiled five universal money habits Corley has gleaned from his interviews. These rules are so powerful they’re shared by many of the 233 millionaires Corley interviewed.
So, what exactly are these potent money rules?
They protect their most important investment
Many wealthy people have one thing in common: They treat their bodies as temples. This means sticking to wholesome, nutritious, and unprocessed foods while maintaining a disciplined exercise routine.
That’s great, and we should all be doing that, but what does a healthy lifestyle have to do with money habits? Quite a bit, as it turns out.
Millionaires recognize that investing in their health is a contribution to their greatest asset. To excel in their fields of work, a strong body and mind are non-negotiable. Everything else flows from there.
Although many of these millionaires can fetch hundreds of dollars per hour when they work, they nevertheless allocate a valuable part of their waking day to exercise and nutrition. This tells us a lot.
Having a healthy body means you are likely to live longer and can therefore work and earn money for longer. It also means the hours spent working are more productive.
Being sluggish, lethargic, and sick never helped anyone get rich.
They rarely bet on longshots
Many people who’ve become independently wealthy have a healthy ambition and drive to obtain outsized success, but that doesn’t mean they live in a fantasy land.
Many millionaires stick to business ideas and investments they believe have a higher chance of success and avoid those that don’t. Resources are limited so trade-offs must be made.
While buying the latest cryptocurrency trending on social media is tempting, you’ll likely find the most consistently wealthy people are making less exciting, longer-term bets—like purchasing exchange-traded funds that track the S&P 500.
While it’s true that some people have made a lot of quick money in places like crypto, it’s typically only the small group of winners that are vocal. The larger pool of individuals who witnessed their investments evaporate tend to be much quieter.
We might know the name of the person who won last week’s Powerball, but we’ll never know the names of the many millions who lost.
For millionaires, focusing resources on bets with better odds makes more sense (and cents).
They spend on quality over quantity
While they may possess an impressive bank balance, you likely won’t find the planet’s wealthiest individuals splurging on fast fashion or laying down their credit card for the latest gadget on Amazon.
Instead, most of the millionaires Corley spoke with revealed a strong preference for high-quality goods.
Think quality and craftsmanship over cheap, mass-produced items.
Does it cost more? Without a doubt. But for the price, millionaires understand that the quality can far exceed that of mass-produced goods.
The irony: These millionaires often end up spending less in the long run. For example, a well-made couch that costs twice as much as the mass-produced, lower-cost option might last three times as long.
Not only do these millionaires end up ahead financially, they get to enjoy higher-quality goods along the way.
They avoid perpetual maintenance
Corley noted that millionaires prefer spending money to replace old, inefficient items, like a struggling furnace or old fridge, than continually having to repair them.
Instead of wasting time and resources maintaining and repairing old possessions, they avoid that trouble altogether and opt for newer, more reliable goods.
Like clothing and furniture, this comes back to quality. While a new dishwasher might require a large upfront cost, it prevents an unknown (often inconvenient) recurring expense for repairs and maintenance.
Not only do these repairs take time and cause frustration, over time they can cost more than a new machine.
For most millionaires, it’s simply not worth it. Better to upgrade and move on to focus their time on more productive endeavors.
They militantly save
When it comes to money, most millionaires never stop doing two things: saving and investing. And they spend a lot of time and effort on this aspect of their lives.
Corley noted that many millionaires tuck away a fifth or more of their net earnings each paycheck. Many of them automate this system so they don’t risk missing a transfer.
It also removes the visibility of a tempting higher daily balance. Better that your checking account be light to keep you from spending. All the while, your savings are increasing in the background.
Perfect. Out of sight, out of mind.
Learning the rules is just the beginning
Here are the five rules reiterated, but with simple examples for each. The exact application is less important than the act of building them into your life.
- Protect your most important investment: Today, make a healthy smoothie for lunch and go for a long walk after dinner.
- Don’t bet everything on longshots: Instead of buying lottery tickets or gambling on meme stocks, consider maximizing contributions to your retirement accounts.
- Spend on quality over quantity: Leave that impulsive Amazon item in your cart for 48 hours. After a day or two, it’s likely you’ll find the item less appealing. Avoiding the purchase will leave you with extra cash for more quality items when the time is right.
- Avoid perpetual maintenance: Next time a home appliance breaks down, ask yourself if it’s worth fixing. Keep in mind that the cost of recurring repair and maintenance adds up over time, to say nothing of the frustration and wasted valuable time these activities can generate. In many cases, swapping out your broken washing machine for a new headache-free unit is a financially sound decision.
- Militantly save: Set up a recurring transfer from your paycheck to your savings or investment account. It doesn’t have to be 20%. If you feel more comfortable, start small with just 5% and increase that when you can.
These rules are not meant to be rigid; they’re directional. Feel free to get creative, but most important, just start. And who knows, one day Corley may knock on your door.