The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire

rich businessman
Photo by elwynn / Shutterstock.com

I’ve been offering financial advice professionally for nearly 40 years. I’m also a millionaire several times over.

During my decades in the trenches, I’ve heard every conceivable piece of financial advice, acted on many and offered some of my own.

Here are the best of the best — a few simple sentences you can follow that will absolutely, positively make you richer:

1. Never spend more than you make, ever.

seesaw-w-piggy-banks
Ullrich / Shutterstock.com

When I was 10, I started cutting grass to earn money beyond my meager allowance. Minutes after earning my first buck, mom was stuffing me in the car for a trip to the bank to open my first passbook savings account.

Fifty years later, priority one is still to put something aside from every paycheck and send out less than I bring in.

Of course, life being what it is, it hasn’t always worked out that way. But in general, getting richer every month is as simple as spending less than you make, and getting poorer is as simple as spending more than you make.

2. Avoid debt like the plague.

debt-free
Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock.com

Most people treat debt as if it’s a normal part of life. They divide it into categories like “good debt” and “bad debt.” They discuss it endlessly, as if it’s some mathematical mystery.

Debt’s not complicated. Paying money to temporarily use other people’s makes you poorer. Charging money to temporarily let other people use yours makes you richer.

Since paying interest makes you poorer, you only do it two situations:

  1. When you have to in order to survive.
  2. When you’ll earn more on what you’re financing than what you’ll pay to finance it.

Unless borrowing is ultimately going to make you richer, don’t do it.

3. Buy when everyone is freaking out, and sell when everyone thinks they can’t lose.

Man Panicking
Anton Watman / Shutterstock.com

Rich people ring the register when the economy is booming, but that’s not when they created their wealth.

You get richer by investing when nobody else will: when unemployment is high, the market is tanking, everybody’s freaking out, and there’s nothing but fear and misery on the horizon.

The cyclical nature of our economy all but ensures bad times will periodically occur, and human nature all but ensures that when bad times happen, most people will freeze like a deer in the headlights. But downturns are the time you’ve been saving for.

If you think the world is truly ending, buy canned food and a shotgun. If not, step up. As billionaire investor Warren Buffett famously advised, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

4. You can either look rich or be rich, but you probably won’t live long enough to accomplish both.

Man-with-2-Women
Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock.com

When I as worked as a Wall Street investment adviser, I quickly learned that people who have tons of money most often don’t look like it. They don’t have to.

So, who are the big shots wearing the fancy suits and driving the Porsches? Often it’s the people who make a living selling stuff to the rich people.

I can’t remember the last time I wore a fancy suit. I’ve never owned a new car, and I live in a house that’s worth about a third of what I could afford.

Diverting your investable cash into things like cars, clothing, vacations and houses you can’t afford will make you look rich now, but prevent you from actually becoming rich later.

5. Live like you’ll die tomorrow, but invest like you’ll live forever.

People on the beach
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

You should always strive to get as much out of life as you can each and every day. After all, you could die tomorrow.

But here’s the thing: You probably won’t. Put something aside so you can continue soaking up what life has to offer for as long as possible.

6. There are only six ways to get rich.

Woman with Money
Sofi Photo / Shutterstock.com

The only ways to get rich:

  1. Marry money
  2. Inherit money
  3. Exploit a unique talent
  4. Get exceedingly lucky
  5. Own or lead a successful business
  6. Spend less than you make and invest your savings wisely over long periods of time.

Even as you’re aiming for any of the first five, practice the last one and you’re guaranteed to become rich eventually.

7. The riskiest thing you can do is take no risk.

Man with Apple
Minerva Studio / Shutterstock.com

Whether it’s money, love or life in general, if you want rewards, you have to take risks.

When it comes to money, taking risks means investing in things that can go down in value — like stocks, real estate or your own business. Can you get through life without taking risks? Sure, but as my dad was fond of saying, you’ll never get a hit from the dugout.

Invest $200 a month at 2 percent for 30 years, and you’ll end up with around $98,000. Earn 12 percent on the same investment, and you’ll end up with about $600,000. Taking a measured amount of risk is the difference between getting rich and getting by.

That being said, making risky bets is simply gambling. Take measured risks. Minimize risk by knowing as much as possible before investing, not putting all your eggs in one basket and learning from your mistakes. Or better yet, learn from someone else’s.

8. Never make your well-being someone else’s responsibility.

Man Sleezy Salesman
Mike Focus / Shutterstock.com

If you need surgery you have little choice but to trust your fate to a professional. But when it comes to your money, don’t ever turn over complete control to anyone.

Seeking advice is always a good idea. But no matter who that adviser is or how smart they are, your money is more important to you than it is to them. So, if you’re not doing everything yourself, at least understand exactly what’s going on.

Virtually anyone can learn to navigate their finances. If you can’t be bothered to take responsibility for your own money, just keep in the bank. At least that way you won’t end up ripped off, broke and blaming someone else for your problems.

9. When it comes to information, less can be more.

People Around a Desk
Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

About 15 years ago, I put about $2,000 into Apple stock. I sold half of it a few years ago, but as I write this, my remaining shares are worth about $300,000. Had I been watching financial news every day and reacting to pundits and market gyrations, I’d have sold it all long ago and been kicking myself today.

If you want to be rich, buy into high quality stocks and hold on to them for long periods of time. If you want to kick yourself, buy into high quality stocks, then sell them at the drop of a hat based on something or someone you saw on air or online.

10. Time isn’t money; money is time.

Time is Money
Galushko Sergey / Shutterstock.com

Whoever said “Time is money” had it backwards.

Time is the one nonrenewable resource you have. Once your time is up, it’s up.

So, the trick is to spend as much of your limited time as possible doing stuff you want to do rather than working for other people doing stuff you have to do. Money is the resource that allows you to do this.

If you go to the mall and spend $200 on clothes, that’s $200 you could have invested. If you’d earned 12 percent on that $200, in 30 years you’d have accumulated around $6,000. Ignoring inflation and assuming you could live on $3,000 a month in retirement, forgoing those clothes today means retiring two months earlier.

Of course, you must have clothes. But maybe you don’t need $200 worth, or maybe you could have gotten them for less.

It’s your choice: stuff today or time tomorrow. Those who choose the former often stay poor. Those who choose the latter often get rich. Which will you choose?

If you like this post, share it! And if you’re not already subscribed to our newsletter, do that, too. You’ll be glad you did.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts
Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts

Protecting a nest egg is tough — but you can make the situation far worse with some boneheaded mistakes.

8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper
8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper

Here’s how a veteran thrift shopper scores the best deals — and turns a profit from them.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts
7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts

IRAs come with bells and whistles that many other accounts lack — including some perks you may not know exist.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

Social Security Checks Likely to Grow This Much in 2021
Social Security Checks Likely to Grow This Much in 2021

The federal government recently released a key statistic that gives clear insight into what next year’s COLA will be.

The Safest Grocery Store to Shop During the Coronavirus
The Safest Grocery Store to Shop During the Coronavirus

One grocery chain stands especially tall in its efforts to keep stores safe in the age of COVID-19.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Hobbies That Help You Live Longer
7 Hobbies That Help You Live Longer

Research shows some hobbies can add years — or even decades — to your life.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less
5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less

In this week’s podcast: tips on retiring overseas — from someone who’s been helping American expats for decades.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.