So what do the well-to-do do daily? That is, besides ask the butler to clear the tablecloth with one of those chrome, crumb-scraper thingies? Or send their laundry out via stretch limo? Or visit the bank vault the way some people pop by Trader Joe’s?
It’s true that money can’t buy many things — but some things can buy money, and wealthy people have a unique understanding of the difference. That’s because whether they’re eccentric or exceptional, wealthy people think and act differently from most of us; it’s how they made their riches in the first place.
What follows is a list of 15 things that the rich embrace as daily habits. What’s it worth to you? You do the math: If you know of someone who’s a millionaire and does all of these things, you could say that each one is worth $66,666.67. Or if you prefer round numbers — and what tycoon doesn’t? — call it $70,000 per habit for a cool $1.05 million. Speaking of which…
1. They Keep Their Cool
To write his 1937 book “Think and Grow Rich” — which has sold more than 70 million copies, reported Forbes in 2011 — author Napoleon Hill studied the habits of more than 500 wealthy people. Among the crucial factors he identified for likable people: When you’re trying to build wealth, overreaction gives people a poor impression. As Hill wrote in another essay, “Remember that silence may be much more effective than your angry words.”
2. They Maintain a Daily To-Do List
CPA Tom Corley, the president of Cerefice & Company accounting firm in Rahway, N.J., conducted a self-styled, five-year study on wealthy and poor people. His results appear in the book “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals,” and if buying it isn’t on your to-do list, maybe it should be.
When Corley asked about to-do lists, 81 percent of rich people said they kept them, compared with 19 percent of those in poverty. Two-thirds of wealthy listers complete 70 percent or more of their daily tasks. And if they’re falling short on some items, look at it this way: Leveraged buyouts take time, y’know.
3. They Don’t Watch TV
This action item (or non-action item) has more to do with “Judge Judy” reruns being hazardous to your mental health. It’s about productive use of time, as Corley relates on his Rich Habits website. Only 23 percent of the rich watch more than an hour of TV a day, compared with 77 percent of the poor. That leaves time for wealthy folks to do other things that broaden their financial horizons, such as reading.
4. They Read the Financial Times
Go ahead, make fun of those salmon-colored newsprint pages; the FT crowd is laughing all the way to the bank. In February, Harvard’s Nieman Foundation ran an article on the Financial Times’ supposed struggles. Its website ranks only 44th in the U.S. business news category, but it appears some folks are counting the wrong numbers. The piece also cites FT’s own stats, which estimate average subscriber income at $250,000 and show that 13 percent of readers are millionaires.
5. They Network
Like poor Cubs fans, rich people tend to hang out with each other. They also dedicate time to widening their circles of acquaintance and influence, whether through business organizations, LinkedIn or groups that attract ambitious, entrepreneurial minds, such as the Chicago Lean Startup Circle, a high-tech hub.
6. They Eat Healthy
It’s hard to get your moneymaking brain in high gear if you feed it Twinkies and Diet Coke all day long. And the sad news is that diets of low-income people are getting worse, while those of high-income people are improving, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. This is not merely a function of money; food like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats are not only heart healthy but relatively inexpensive — especially when compared to, say, caviar.
7. They Educate Themselves
Books on MP3. Avid reading. TED Talks videos. Whatever the forum, wealthy folks are absorbing more knowledge, according to Corley. His research showed that 63 percent of wealthy people listen to audio books during their commute to work versus 5 percent of poor people.
8. They Invest
Investing might sound like a no-brainer — if you’re rich, you have plenty of money to invest, right? But the wealthy track and pour much more money by percentage into pensions and insurance, whether actively or passively, on a daily basis. In its Consumer Expenditure Survey released in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that those in the upper 20 percent of the report’s income quintiles spend 15.6 percent of their income on pensions and insurance. That’s more than six times as much as the lowest 20 percent.
9. They Avoid Gambling
For some people, playing the market might seem like a gamble. But for the wealthy, temptations such as the lottery and casinos are less pronounced, says a study from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions. The institute found that the poorer the neighborhood, the higher the risk for problem gambling: It was twice as likely in neighborhoods with the highest levels of concentrated poverty compared to neighborhoods with the lowest poverty levels.
10. They Rise Early
The early bird gets more than the worm, it seems. “Take 100 millionaires from across the world, and I’ll bet you not one of them sleeps in,” wrote Murray Newlands, a startup adviser, investor and entrepreneur. “The majority of these individuals are up at 6 or 7 a.m. slaving away while the rest of us are still eating pancakes.”
11. They Exercise
OK, not every wealthy person does; we all know the “fat cat” stereotype. But Psychology Today reported in 2013 a study of 5,042 Finnish twin males. (Who knew there even existed 5,042 Finnish twin males?) The results showed that being physically active positively influenced 15-year income, with physically active males making 14 percent to 17 percent more than less-active males. In other words, they made it to the Finnish line sooner. (Insert groan here.)
12. They Set and Stick to Goals
This advice comes from Idan Shpizear, who parlayed $3,000 into a $27 million business, 911 Restoration, which helps homeowners recover from water damage. He says that focusing on goals makes the difference between survival and success. “A lot of people jump straight to business but don’t have a vision or strategy and goals. If you go through this process every day, your life will change,” he said.
13. They Set Aside Time to Be Creative
New York Times best-selling author Brendon Burchard — who hangs out with the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson — consistently blocks out time to create. He says it’s a habit of the super-successful, as noted in Entrepreneur magazine.
14. They Buy Up Company Stock
When Fidelity Investments looked at clients who had $1 million or more in their 401(k) accounts, they found that a whopping 75 percent of their assets were invested in company stock and stock mutual funds. So while the rest of us hit the vending machine at work, they dedicate a daily portion of their salary to becoming millionaires.
15. They Know When to Call It a Day
Newlands — the same expert that talked about “slaving away” — is by no means saying the rich are workaholics and that everyone else should be as well. Rather, they save their energy to take on tomorrow just as they did today: “Stop working at 5 or 6 p.m. and do not do anything work-related — which includes checking your phone or emails — until the next day.”