Because big savings begin with small changes. —By G. Clay Whittaker
Yes, a new year is officially in full swing, and if you've made any resolutions, one of them is bound to do with money. Maybe that’s juicing your savings in the short-term or chipping away at your mortgage in the long-term. Maybe you’re thinking even bigger, and you want to grow your career, boost your earning potential, or break into a new line of work altogether. Whatever the case, the fact remains: the only way to achieve any financial goal—big or small—is to change your behavior for good.
Of course, that’s way easier said than done. So we reached out to bestselling author Tom Corley, an internationally recognized authority on spending habits. His books include: Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (2010), Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life (2014), and Change Your Habits, Change Your Life (2016). In his five-year study of the rich and poor, he says he's successfully identified upwards of 300 daily habits that separate the “haves” from the “have nots.” So if you want to be one of the former, set these wealth-minded goals for yourself in 2017 and follow his tips for seeing them through—and then erase all your financial worries with this essential list of the 25 Best Wealth-Building Tips Ever.
1. Put the squeeze on your credit card for the first 100 days
“Using credit cards to pay for everyday living expenses is a Poor Habit,” says Corley. “If you need to use credit cards to pay for ordinary living expenses, that means you are living beyond your means.” Taking control of life starts with finances, and the 100-day challenge is designed to recalibrate your spending habits. “After 100 days, a habit will begin to form,” he explains, “one that sets you up for success for the rest of your life.”
For more great ways to boost your savings, don't miss How to Cut $10,000 from Your Annual Expenses.
2. Pay an extra $100 a month towards your mortgage
“Small things sometimes pay big dividends,” says Corley. “Getting into the habit of paying just an extra $100 towards your mortgage significantly reduces the amount of interest you pay on that mortgage.” Plus, he adds, “it shortens the term of your mortgage.”
That means it’s over sooner, and cheaper. And debt is like a Band-Aid: you want to take it off as quickly as possible.
3. Have $100 a Month Automatically Invested into Savings
Setting savings on autopilot is the most painless way to put money away, because most of us aren’t good at making good decisions on a regular basis. “Saving is a habit that most people are not taught at an early age,” Corley says. “Only when we become older and wiser do we understand the importance of saving. Start today. If you can't afford $100 a month make it $50 a month or $20 a month. The important thing is to forge the savings habit now.”
Remember: you can automate your finances with these 6 Great Personal Finance Apps.
4. Devote one month to tracking every penny you spend
Self-made millionaires know where their money goes, says Corley. “If you want to walk in the footsteps of the wealthy, one of the footsteps they take is paying attention to what they spend their money on. Spending awareness helps you uncover erroneous or excessive vendor charges. It also forces you to think about where your money is going.”
In 2017, one month of tracking everything you spend will reveal a lot, and may surprise you.
For more great tips from the ultra-wealthy, check out 25 Life-Changing Lessons from Super-Successful Men.
5. Write Down Your Dreams—Seriously
Corley says we all cast our dreams aside at some point, but it’s never too late.
“Grandma Moses began painting at age 80. Colonel Sanders was in his early 60’s when KFC was born. Ray Kroc was 55 when he founded McDonalds,” says Corley. “The ability to pursue your dreams never dies.”
So what should you do?
“Take an hour out of your life and script out your ideal life. Paint a picture of the ideal, perfect life you desire, beginning in 2017. This exercise will rejuvenate you, inspire you and help you to dream again.”
For more life-changing inspiration, be sure to read 25 Ways to Be Happier Now.
6. Do One Thing Every Day to Advance Your Dreams
“A dream is a desired future outcome,” says Corley, “It is a destination. A goal represents some future action you intend to take. Goals are your transportation system and dreams are your destination. Because goals require action, you have control over whether or not you take that action and achieve your goals.”
Convert those dreams to goals, and do one thing every day to move forward in realizing your dreams.
7. Read 30 Minutes Every Day about Your Dream Job
Corley says perhaps the most significant self-improvement Rich Habit he uncovered in his five-year study on the daily habits of the rich and poor concerned reading.
“Wealthy, successful people are voracious readers,” he explains. “They devote significant time every day to reading for self-improvement.” Whether it’s practical advice on moving up the ladder, or just a trade journal on your dream gig, you should do the same.
8. Devote 20 minutes a day to developing a new skill
That reading goal? It has a “doing” component attached. Corley says wealthy people self improve daily, which means pushing out of a comfort zone. “Most do everything humanly possible to stay within their comfort zone,” Corley explains. “But each time you engage in a new activity that causes discomfort, you expand your circle; you grow as an individual. Never fear the pain of growth. It is that very pain that makes you stronger and helps you grow into the person you need to be in order for success to visit you.”
9. Seek Out Relationships with Successful People
According to Corley, wealthy, successful people are very particular about who they associate with. “Their goal,” he says, “is to develop relationships with other success-minded individuals.” When they find that person, Corley says they then devote “an enormous amount of their time and energy into building a strong relationship. They grow the relationship from a sapling into a redwood. Relationships are the currency of the wealthy and successful.” Cultivate important ones of your own.
10. Exercise at Least 20 Minutes Every Day
You should be getting exercise every day, but weight lifters take note: get the heart rate going too. “Aerobic exercise, in particular, increases the volume of oxygen and glucose delivered to the brain,” Corley says, “helping nourish brain cells. It also helps keep the weight off, improves muscle performance and improves digestion.” There’s mental health benefit too. “Studies have shown that daily aerobic exercise fosters a positive mental outlook,” he says. “It increases positivity, optimism, confidence, cheerfulness and has a calming effect on the amygdala.”
Remember: being short on time is no excuse. Exhibit A: The World’s Fastest Full-Body Workout.
11. Adopt a frugal mindset
Corley says being frugal requires three things: 1) Awareness – Being aware of how you spend your money. 2) Quality – Spending your money on quality products and services and 3) Bargain Shopping – Spending the least amount possible, by shopping around for the lowest price.
“On its own, being frugal will not make you rich. It is just one piece to the financial success puzzle, and there are many pieces. But being frugal will enable you to increase the amount of money you can save,” says Corley, and the more you have in savings, “the more options you have to make money. Having money set aside in savings allows you to take advantage of opportunities. Without savings, opportunities pass you by.”
12. Start a fact binder immediately
While reading is important, retention of what you read is key. Corley’s strategy is the Fact Binder. “In your Fact Binder create various topic sections that are meaningful to you. Each day, after reading, add any new facts or information to your Fact Binder. Writing down what you read has a way of reinforcing what you just read,” he says. “Abraham Lincoln would write things down 3 times in order to commit them to memory. The physical act of writing creates a new neural pathway that allows the new facts or information to stick.” He also recommends you go over the new information once a week.
13. Limit laid-back screen time to less than one hour a day
We know screens are unavoidable, but you have to drive a wedge between work and entertainment. Corley says time wasters come in many forms: “TV, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, watching YouTube videos, trolling the Internet, Netflix, video games, etc. Excessive screen time takes you away from pursuing dreams, goals, reading to learn, exercising, work and other productive or creative activities that move your forward in life. Make 2017 the year you limit your time wasters, particularly recreational screen time.”
14. Make Tons of Birthday Calls
Being thoughtful makes you a better person, but it might also improve your professional relationships. “Happy birthday calls are a strategy the wealthy use to grow their relationships,” explains Corley. “At least once a year you will have to talk to your relationships. 25% of the time, the recipient of a happy birthday call will reciprocate. Making a phone call personalizes the birthday and separates you from the rest of the crowd.”
And once you’ve really padded your savings account, we can always help you spend $10,000 of it right now.