A disclosure is sometimes required when writing about something controversial. Upon reading the article’s title, you may feel a bit indignant. Some of you may have an internal (or even external!) monologue going something like this:
“What?! Rich people? Follow rules?”
“I follow rules, too, but I’m not rich!”
“Looking at things, it would seem that the rich don’t follow any rules!”
All of these sentiments are understandable and even justifiable in certain circumstances.
Consider the 2008 global recession.
The whole thing started because of greed. Greedy, already-filthy-rich financial institutions and so-called “experts,” thought it’d be a good idea to offer mortgages to just about anyone who applied.
We all know how well that turned out. Oh, and the American people ended up footing the bill for a multi-billion-dollar “bailout.”
But, contrary to what many think, the rich don’t have any particular advantage that expedites their rise to the upper echelons of the income bracket. At least in the beginning.
Here’s something to consider.
Per Wikipedia, the five richest people in the United States are:
- Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon
- Bill Gates, the co-founder and long-time CEO of Microsoft
- Warren Buffett, investor and founder of Berkshire-Hathaway
- Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle
- Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Facebook
Any guesses as to how many of these men were born into wealth? Zero.
In fact, Bezos and Ellison had to navigate turbulent childhoods. Bezos’ father abandoned the family (his last name is taken from his stepfather) while Ellison was raised by foster parents.
Nope. What sets the wealthy apart is the rules that many of them self-devise and painstakingly follow.
“Okay, but what about the rest of the rest of them?” you may be asking. According to the late Thomas Stanley, Ph.D. and author of The Millionaire Next Door, 80 percent of America’s millionaires are first-generation affluent.
In other words, eight out of every ten high-net-worth individuals are self-made.
Surprising, right? The way that the mainstream media demonizes the rich, you’d think that the only reason they “made it” was because of some plush trust fund stashed away at some megabank.
As you’ll see by reading the 12 rules that rich people follow, nothing could be further from the truth! If you’re willing to adhere to the following twelve rules of rich people, you too may see your finances change for the better!
For the purposes of this article, the word “rich” applies to people with a gross income above $160,000 and assets of at least $3.2 million.
12 Laws of the Rich
“Intelligence, talent, and charm are great, but more often than not these aren’t what separate the wealthiest among us from the poorest.” – Tom Corley (source)
Without further ado, here are the 12 laws of rich people that will change your life.
Law #1: Rich people create and follow good daily habits.
Habits are formed in the basal ganglia, a mass in the brain the size of a golf ball that serves as our “emotional center.” Once habits are programmed into the neurons of the basal ganglia, they can be difficult to unlearn. Worse, our conscious mind often does not “catch” the undesired habit surfacing; even if it does, odds are that we’d just carry on as usual.
So, how do you form good habits? First, you must recognize the subconscious behaviors that are making your financial life difficult. You must be brutally honest here. Get a notepad and write out every expense for a week. Where are you wasting money?
Law #2: Rich people are healthy.
From how long they watch television to how often they call Mom, rich people commit to a non-negotiable plan of action. In other words, rich people have good, healthy daily habits and ruthlessly stick to them.
Of course, rich habits aren’t limited to just financial. Put in place a workable diet, exercise, and a proper sleep regimen – and stick to it. You’ll have more energy and motivation.
Remember: habits shape behavior, but behavior can also shape habits.
Law #3: Rich people live below their means.
Spending money that you don’t have is a problem that plagues many Americans. Over 60% don’t have $1,000 in savings. This, in a country where the average annual household income is over $60,000.
What the heck is going on? Well, Americans may make a lot of money, but they also spend a lot of money. Especially money that they don’t have. Exhibit “A”: the average person has two bank-issued credit cards and carries a $5,551 balance.
Now, do some billionaires “waste” money? Sure. They’re billionaires – they have 100 million dollars ten times over. (BTW, most billionaires don’t waste money, either.)
They can blow money without thinking twice. But for the average rich person (defined by having nearly $4 million in assets), wasting money on the frivolous is foolhardy.
Law #4: Rich people prioritize savings and investment.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “A job won’t make you rich.” It’s absolutely true. Does this mean you shouldn’t have a job? If you’ve got the entrepreneurial talent, you can stake out on your own – but it’s still a job. Most of us have to make a living somehow.
So, how do you get rich if a job won’t make you rich? Savings and investment. You make your money work for you by figuring out the places that will reap the highest returns and putting your money in those places.
As of this writing, the best low-risk, high-yielding investments are:
- Certificates of deposit (CDs)
- Money market accounts
- Treasury b0nds
- Government bond funds
- Municipal bond funds
Law #5: Rich people love to read.
Rich people are incredibly well-read, with 88 percent reading at least 30 minutes per day. Here are some other interesting stats on the rich and reading:
- 94 percent read about current events
- 79 percent read educational material about their job field
- 63 percent listen to audiobooks during their daily commute
- 58 percent read biographies about other successful people
- 55 percent read personal development material
Perhaps most telling? Just 11 percent of the rich read for entertainment purposes.
Law #6: Rich people are even-keeled.
Rich people realize the importance of developing and maintaining relationships – even with those they don’t necessarily like. An attribute that helps people in this regard is the ability to manage emotions. In one study, researchers said that 94 percent of rich participants reported having a good handle on their emotions.
For people whose financial house is a bit messier, a paltry 31 percent reported having the same.
How do you manage your emotions? Begin with noticing the word manage here. What does management entail? Among other things, measurement, observation, and supervision. Managing your emotions is about observing, labeling, and watching them come and go. Notice that there’s nothing in that definition about attempting to suppress emotions.
Law #7: Rich people avoid procrastination.
Procrastination is a dream killer. If you don’t get a handle on the near-universal urge to put things off continually, you probably won’t succeed at much of anything.
Four strategies that the rich use to avoid procrastination include:
- Making a daily “to-do” list
- Setting deadlines
- Having accountability partners
- Engaging in positive self-talk (e.g. affirmations)
The easiest way to avoid procrastination is just to get started. Sit down and start working. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the feelings that accompany procrastination fade.
Law #8: Rich people are great listeners.
Again, the rich understand that financial success doesn’t take place on an island. Relationships are key. It’s no surprise, then, that wealthy folks are excellent communicators who place great emphasis on being good listeners.
The particular kind of listening that the rich practice is called active listening.
Active listening can be defined as “a (listening) technique … that requires the listener to fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.”
Law #9: Rich people don’t rely on luck.
When it comes to financial success, luck is rarely the catalyst. Aside from those who win the lottery or are born into wealthy – a very small minority – those who’ve become rich have done so with not luck, but skill.
Now, perhaps the rich person has caught some lucky breaks, but this is different than relying on luck. Or blaming the absence of luck for one’s financial failures.
The famous author Coleman Cox said it perfectly: “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.”
Law #10: Rich people have a mentor.
Get this: a whopping 93 percent of the wealthy had a mentor to whom they attribute their success!
Nothing else really needs to be said here. Find a wise teacher and follow their instructions! You may want to find out your life’s purpose first (see law #12).
Law #11: Rich people are mentally tough.
To start with nothing and build up wealth takes tremendous discipline, focus, and persistence. In other words, the rich are mentally tough.
That said, let’s dispel some myths about what exactly constitutes mental toughness. Mental toughness is not bullying. In fact, there is nothing interpersonal about mental toughness.
Instead, mental toughness is about accounting for and overcoming your own mental weaknesses. If you can somehow accomplish this seemingly Herculean task, the world is your oyster, as they say.
Law #12: Rich people know their main purpose.
While this one may be the last law, it is assuredly the most important. Most people who are financially independent achieve it through working on knowing and progressing towards their life purpose. That is, they prioritize the work that makes them happy and they find a way to get paid for it.
Here are a few steps that you can take to help you find your purpose:
- Make a list by writing down everything that has ever made you happy.
- Circle those things from step 1 that involve skill and then identify that skill(s).
- Order the circled items from #1 to #10 in terms of what makes you happiest.
- Order the circled items from #1 t2o #10 in terms of income potential.
- Total the columns. The one with the highest score may possibly identify your life’s purpose.
Final Thoughts: Becoming Rich
REMEMBER: Being rich within is the very first step of being rich in any area of your life…
If accumulating wealth is a priority, you’d do well to follow the twelve research-backed habits of the rich. Even if you don’t become rich, you may just acquire the most valuable possession of all: a good character.