January 30, 2023
When it comes to money habits, we can either form those that cause us to be saddled with debt and worried about our financial future or those that bring us financial freedom.
The good news is that it is possible to break bad habits.
It is also possible to form new habits if you make a point to perform these tasks regularly.
In fact, many of the richest people have done just this.
They have curated a list of money habits to guide their spending, saving, and investing.
CNBC reports, “Select asked Faron Daugs, certified financial planner, founder and CEO at Harrison Wallace Financial Group, about the financial habits his wealthiest clients all share that could apply to the average person. […] Daugs focused on only his wealthiest self-made millionaire clients who have not inherited wealth or trust funds. According to Daugs, these clients have an average net worth around $6 to $8 million and range in age from 40 to 55 years old. […] No matter how Daugs’ clients started, they all use [money] habits to help them grow and maintain their wealth.”¹
Here’s the thing – you don’t have to be a millionaire to embrace smart money habits.
Anyone, no matter where they are on their financial journey, can use the following 10 money habits to build wealth.
#1 Pay Yourself First
Make it a habit to pay yourself first.
This means that, before you pay the first bill, you pay into your savings and retirement accounts.
Taking care of your future self is one of the best money habits you can have.
Action Step: Set up your accounts (savings, 401(k), IRA, etc.) to automatically take money from your paycheck.
#2 Live below Your Means
One money habit that many wealthy individuals share is that they make a priority not to live above their means.
In other words, they earn more than they spend.
They don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. They don’t strap themselves with a mortgage that will leave them burdened in retirement.
They know how much they’re bringing in and spend and invest accordingly.
Action Step: Carefully assess your income and expenses to see if you are living above your means. If you are, make decisions on what you can cut back on.
#3 Invest in Your Future
Consistently funding your retirement is a smart money habit.
It’s easy to put off funding your future when you live in the present, but your future self desperately needs you to make a habit of contributing to your retirement fund.
You don’t want to live a less-than-stellar retirement or put your kids in the position of having to take care of you when they are just starting to take care of themselves.
Action Step: Boost retirement contributions. Even contributing 2% more makes a big difference in the long run. If you get a raise, increase your contribution to match it.
#4 Set and Follow a Budget
Take a good long look at your finances, expenses, and spending habits. Use this information to create a monthly budget that follows the “live below your means” money habit.
Add savings and retirement as budget line items. Then, make a point to follow your budget.
Action Step: Download a budgeting app, such as Mint, to start tracking your spending.
#5 Learn Something New Every Day
A great habit for everyone is to learn something new every day.
However, for the purposes of money habits, we suggest learning something new regarding finances every day.
Start with the financial questions you already have, and seek the answers. Listen to financial news shows and podcasts, read books and blogs, etc.
According to Acorns, “The majority of the millionaires expressed a goal to never stop learning, growing, and improving. Almost 9 out of 10, 88%, shared that they read every day to increase their knowledge about their job and their industry. More than three-quarters, 85%, reported that they read a minimum of two books a month, and 63% reported that they enjoyed listening to audiobooks or podcasts while commuting to work, exercising, or doing housework.”²
Action Step: Subscribe to the 401k Maneuver Blog.
#6 Use Credit Cards Wisely
One of the worst money habits is using a credit card to purchase items you cannot afford. However, this doesn’t mean credit cards can’t be used. They just need to be used wisely.
Make it a habit to only use your credit card when you know you can pay it off at the end of the month without accruing interest.
If you have a rewards credit card and use it this way, you can reap the benefits without worrying about debt.
Action Step: Start paying off credit card debt and, if you do use your credit card, only charge what you can pay off at the next billing cycle.
#7 Shop with Purpose
One of the worst money habits people have is buying on impulse. All those little impulse buys add up and eat away at your savings.
The same thing can be said about shopping simply to bring satisfaction or ease boredom.
In contrast, one of the better money habits is shopping with purpose.
Instead of buying things that will bring you momentary happiness, try to buy only things that have a purpose or will serve you for a long time.
Action Step: Take a list with you the next time you shop and stick to it.
#8 Monitor Your Finances
If you avoid looking at your bank accounts, 401(k) statements, or other financial statements, this is a money habit you want to shift as soon as possible.
You should always have an idea of what you have in each account for financial planning.
Action Step: Learn how to read and understand your 401(k) statements.
#9 Avoid Lifestyle Creep
It is tempting to elevate your lifestyle when you start bringing more money in.
Don’t do it.
This is known as lifestyle creep.
According to Acorns, “A big part of building wealth is focusing on frugality and avoiding lifestyle creep. To that end, 64% of the millionaires described the homes they own as ‘modest.’ […] And this frugal mindset also extends to their off time. Nearly all, 96%, said they spent less than $6,000 a year on vacations, and 41% spent less than $3,000 a year. And 84% shared that they never gamble.”³
Rather than adjusting your lifestyle to match your new income, adjust your savings and investments.
Action Step: Plan your next big purchases (vacations, vehicles, etc.) with savings in mind.
#10 Meet with a Financial Advisor Regularly
The role of a financial advisor is just what it sounds like – advise you about your financial situation!
If you already have a financial advisor, make a point to speak with him or her to see what changes need to be made to build your wealth.
If you don’t have a financial advisor, now is the time to find one.
Speaking with an expert and asking questions is a great money habit.
For example, David Blanchett, Head of Retirement, CFP, CFA of Morningstar, reported that participants that received expert guidance had as much as 40% more income during retirement versus those who received no help at all.⁴
Action Step: 401(k) Maneuver is like having an online advisor helping you grow and protect your 401(k). Enroll in 401(k) Maneuver.
- David Blanchet, Morningstar Analyst 2014, “The Impact of Expert Guidance on Participant Savings and Investment Behaviors”