If you think your only chance of becoming a millionaire rests with a lucky SuperLotto pick or a surprise inheritance from a great-aunt you've never met, take heart: These days, more people are becoming bona fide "millionaires" (that is, having a net worth of $1 million or more after subtracting all liabilities) than ever before.
Spending is the antithesis of wealth creation unless it is based in true necessity or works as an investment strategy
They're not all related to Hollywood stars, nor are they geek savants in the lineage of a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs; they're just average, everyday people, though there is something different about them. They're inspired, they're tenacious and they're disciplined.
Many, as you might expect, are small-business owners, just like you, but their acquired wealth might just be more than you might have expected. Here's what makes those folks different from their non-millionaire peers and how those differences might actually be the same traits and tenets you have yourself.
Don't think you're cut out for the millionaires' club? Don't count yourself out just yet.
Decide what you need
For those who've put their $1 million or more in the bank, most started by asking themselves a key question: What do I need now and what can wait until later?
This is the first crossroads encountered on the road to becoming a millionaire: "stuff versus stash." Simply enough, you can't have $1 million if you spend $1 million.
Most of us would be shocked if offered a final tally of our lifetime spend in our final moments on this earth.
"I spent how much?” we'd exclaim and that might be startling enough to push us from this world and into the next. Many millionaires have learned to value their wealth over their stuff.
Don't let money be your only motivation. You can earn a lot doing something you absolutely hate. The result? A miserable millionaire
Sure, they might get on the earnings path, through a business or by some other means, and can easily afford to indulge themselves in fun and fanciful purchases, but most choose not to.
Spending is the antithesis of wealth creation unless it is based in true necessity or works as an investment strategy (because you will need to spend money to launch and maintain a business, but you won't necessarily need to buy the fanciest car to drive around in).
While some of the spending makes sense and is necessary, many would-have-been-could-have-been millionaires became mired in debt. That's spending on liabilities that drain your next revenue before you've even earned it.
Millionaires, instead, live within their means—usually below their means—as they make their way to riches. So look at how you spend your money. Dare to do that lifetime-spend analysis now. Then decide what you can do to keep more of the money you make.
Yes, your business makes a big difference
In their book, The Millionaire Next Door, authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko revealed that two-thirds of America's millionaires were self-employed and that 75% of them were entrepreneurs.
Rather than work for somebody else (and it is possible, the authors contend, to become a millionaire on that path; it just takes longer), these folks decided to cut out the middleman (the employer) and establish a direct connection to earnings and themselves.
Choosing the right business, of course, is tantamount. Careful and grueling research is required to launch and sustain a business that will grow and garner profits. Personal dreams sometimes need to be put aside if the data reveals it would not be a profitable venture.
That said, if it is your dream to join the millionaires' club, that will likely motivate you in whatever business you choose. Of course, don't let money be your only motivation. You can earn a lot doing something you absolutely hate. The result? A miserable millionaire.
It's not necessary to become an actual 'millionaire' to live a life of financial independence. It's up to you to determine how much money is enough
Once you've got it, keep it
And that brings us here: Once you have your $1 million, don't blow it!
Just as reaching that $1 million mark took discipline and determination, it can take as much or more to remain atop this pinnacle. The good news is that, by having made good choices to get here and having lived a life of reasonable spending, those will likely be your nature going forward.
If you've managed and minimized your debt, while making your stash of cash swell, it's not likely you'd suddenly become a spend-happy fool.
Seek out a trustworthy financial adviser, someone with a proven track record of helping other millionaires stay millionaires. You'll be guided in spending, investing and tax implications of your money.
You don't have to hand over control of your finances to the adviser, but an objective eye might be what you need to give you a second opinion on how you might spend your money and how you might keep it.
And know this: It's not necessary to become an actual "millionaire" to live a life of financial independence. It's up to you to determine how much money is enough for you because we each define "rich" a bit differently. But if you do have your eye on the big "m" out there, there's nothing holding you back from reaching for it and writing your name in its vaunted guestbook.
With what you have today, in financial assets and business foundation, you're already on your way. Why not take the next step by establishing your plan to become rich, just the way you want to. You can, you know?