We can’t all be millionaires by 30, but we can certainly use some of their financial advice. In the finance field, there will always be opposing opinions on the best ways to manage your money. But why not take tips from people who are successful at doing it?
According to a study from Spectrem Group’s Market Insights Report 2017, there are 10.8 million millionaires in the United States or about 3% of the population. Meanwhile, a good chunk of the population is facing some kind of debt, with the average credit card debt per U.S. household alone at over $6,600.
So, what can we learn from those who have managed to beat the odds? We tapped some of them to find out what they know about amassing a fortune. Here five millionaires (or those who manage millionaires’ funds) reveal their secret budgeting habits.
1. Buy used
Just because you have the money to spend, doesn’t mean you have to spend it on new and fancy things. That’s what Ilene Davis, millionaire and author of Wealthy by Choice: Choosing Your Way to a Wealthier Future, found when she went from earning a moderate income to becoming a high earner.
For example, Davis buys most of her clothing at thrift stores or consignment shops. She even entitled one chapter “Unfashionably Rich,” showing readers four pairs of jeans and asking the difference is among them. The answer: One pair cost $132, the other three combined around $12.
“I also only buy used cars and will opt to watch movies with friends at home instead of going to the theater,” she said. Those are just a few ways to live a thrifty lifestyle, but there are plenty of ultra-easy frugal tips to try.
2. Pay for items in cash
John Savin, the owner of Savin Wealth Management, has worked with high net worth individuals (those who have $1 million in liquid financial assets, according to Investopedia) since 2001. He believes there is a major difference between how millionaires handle their finances versus the masses: It comes down to cash flow.
“Millionaires are hyper-critical of their inflow and outflows of cash, particularly the expenditures,” he said. “Money is a tool that should work harder for you than you for it.”
With that in mind, Savin offers a simple tip to help you manage your cash flow without having to check your bank account every day. “Pay for items in cash,” he said. “If you can’t, do not buy it.”
This is a theory also touted by financial talk-show host and author Dave Ramsey. On his website, he suggests using an envelope system. You write the categories of items you can pay for in cash on envelopes — groceries, clothing, and gas. Then you put the monthly allotted amount of cash into those envelopes. When the money runs out, you can’t spend any more on that item until next month.
3. Work your financial goal backward
You might have these lofty goals of having millions in the bank, but you’ll need an action plan if you ever want to make that a reality. To do that Brian Lim, millionaire, and CEO of INTO THE AM and iHeartRaves, says you need to think about your money in reverse.
“Figure out a specific financial freedom number as a goal,” he said. “Then calculate backward on how much you need to earn to make it hit that goal.” By breaking down your goal, you can start to understand what it takes to achieve it. Without this crucial step, you will struggle as you don’t have a game plan in place.
For example, if you know you need to make $100,000 a year to reach your financial goal in five years, then you can start to look for jobs that pay more, take on a side hustle, or spend less to make up the difference. You can also try one of these four goal-setting methods to help get you started.
4. Auto-save your money
While Ryan Stewman, a millionaire and best-selling author known as the “hardcore closer,” abides by the pay-in-cash rule for many of his purchases, he also follows one other budgeting practice: automatically saving his money.
“Every week I have money automatically transferred from my checking to my savings,” he said. “When I was young it was $25 a week. Now it’s about $1,000 per week. I never miss the money, and I can’t see it in the savings account without logging in.”
By having a particular amount automatically deducted weekly, you won’t even notice the money is gone, according to Stewman. He has a decade worth of savings, which he uses to invest in blue-chip stocks, but you can use it for any financial goal, such as a down payment on a home or paying off a student loan.
5. Max out your retirement
It might be hard to think about saving for the future when you have tons of costs right now, but putting money aside for retirement can prevent a financial headache in the future. That’s the advice John Crossman, millionaire and owner of his own real estate company Crossman & Co. gives when it comes to budgeting.
“Max out 401(k)s and IRAs because I don’t know a better investment vehicle,” he said. “If your company matches, then it is free money. It grows tax-free, and the payment penalty prevents you from pulling money out early. It’s the best investments I have made.”
Even if you can’t max out your accounts, Crossman recommends contributing as much as you can as early as you can. “Even if it is the bare minimum, start now,” he said. “The younger, the better.”
For example, if you put $250 a month toward retirement starting at age 35, you would end up with about $250,000 by age 65 with a 6 percent return. If you start 10 years earlier, you’ll have nearly double that.
Saving money is easier than it seems
What’s great about these tips is that they’re helpful no matter your financial situation. None of these millionaires are telling you to invest in property or play your money in the stock market. Instead, they’re all simple, straightforward budgeting lessons to use as a starting point.
Help get your finances in order by looking at ways to increase your net worth, reduce your debt, pay off your student loans quickly, and perhaps take on a side hustle.