6 Reasons You're Not a Millionaire


In 2012, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart was officially declared the richest woman in the world, boasting assets of more than $26 billion. Not long after, Rinehart took heat for an article she wrote for the Australian Resources and Investment Magazine, where she suggested that those who wanted what she had should "spend less time drinking or smoking and socializing and more time working."

"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself..."

Obviously, she didn't run that article through a PR consultant before she submitted it.

But as off-putting as that statement might be, I can't help but reluctantly concede that there's some truth to it. Now, don't get me wrong — I'm not for a moment suggesting that the reason we're not rich is that we don't work hard enough. Quite the contrary, I think most people work very hard and we tend to do whatever it takes to put food on the table and provide for our families. We're resourceful, we're dedicated, and we don't give up.

I also believe that social programs are a good thing and that we have a responsibility to help those that need help. Always. Without Question. Period. (See also: Easy Ways to Support Charity)

But I also think that we've lost some of that vision and moxie that brought us here. I think that if you could measure potential, we'd be off the charts, but we've learned to ignore it, suppress it, and bury it down deep because it's easier, or at least safer, than taking the risk to see what we're really made of.

So all that said, if you still want to know the real reason you're not a millionaire, read on, and just know that I say all of this with nothing but love.

1. You Work for Someone Else

When you work for someone else, you're essentially trading time for money, and there are two problems with this strategy:

  1. You only have so much time to trade
  2. Someone else is in charge of setting how much your time is worth

So, while it's not impossible to reach millionaire status while working for someone else, it doesn't happen often.

Does that mean you should run out and quit your job? No, but it does mean you should start looking at your time as a valuable commodity and rethink how you're spending it. Then, find a way to start moving toward a more profitable way of spending your days, a way that pays you for your talent and ability rather than the number of hours you've worked or the amount your pay-grade says you've earned.

Maybe you start out by moonlighting or maybe you save up until you can take the big leap. Either way, the path is the same. (See also: 9 Ways to Earn Extra Cash)

And if you're not hip to venturing out on your own, then you need to find another way to increase your income. Maybe you become very good at moving up the corporate ladder, or maybe you become remarkably savvy at investing, or better yet, maybe you do both. The point is, if your goal is to be a millionaire in a reasonable amount of time, you're the one that will have to make that happen.

2. You're Not Trying

While most millionaires are looking for ways to increase their wealth, the rest of us are simply looking for ways to pay our bills. This mindset has a direct effect on how much money you make.

When I first launched my freelance career, I had a clear number in mind. I knew that I had to make X amount of dollars to pay my bills and keep my household running smoothly. Interestingly, that's exactly the amount of money I made, month after month, year after year. Whatever amount I needed, that was the amount I made, and for the longest time, I felt pretty proud of my ability to meet my obligations.

But then I realized that I was still just working to pay my bills, trading time for money, even if I wasn't driving downtown to do it. I had changed the method by which I earned my paycheck, but it was still just a paycheck all the same.

And oddly enough, once I made this realization, once I set aside that mental "must-have" number, my income started to increase. I may not have made my first million yet, but I'm finally starting to see the path that will get me there.

If you want a million dollars, then set out to make a million dollars. There's nothing wrong with "doing what you have to do" to get by, but don't let that become your goal.

3. You Don't Believe

Ask anyone — and I mean anyone — if they'd like to be rich, and most won't even hesitate before saying yes. But ask those same people if they're certain they'll become rich, and you'll find that the answers aren't nearly as confident.

That's because the average Joe or Jane doesn't really believe they'll ever be millionaires.

They'd certainly like to believe it, but their doubt resonates much louder than their desire. As long as that's true, the wealth they desire will elude them.

Now, this commitment to becoming rich might sound like something out of a new age book, but the fact remains that it is a common trait among the real-life wealthy. And if becoming a millionaire is really what you want to do, then you have to believe that it will happen, come hell or high water. (See also: 5 Lessons From Millionaires)

This is why Donald Trump can go from having millions in the bank to millions in debt to millions in the bank again. He believes he is supposed to have money. Think what you will about Trump, but the fact remains that he keeps coming back, no matter what financial obstacles life might throw his way.

When faced with bankruptcy and over $900 million in personal debt in 1991, do you suppose Trump ever, even for one second thought, "Well, this is it... I guess I'll just throw in the towel?" And incidentally, he didn't just make this comeback once. Trump has filed for corporate bankruptcy three more times since then, and according to analysts, he's now worth more than he was before the bankruptcy.

How's that for a testimonial to the power of positive thinking?

In the words of Warren Buffet, "I always knew I was going to be rich. I don't think I ever doubted it for a minute."

4. You Don't Trust Your Instincts

Catherine L. Hughes didn't start out as an obvious success story. At 16, she was a teen mom. She attended college, but never finished. Yet, despite her slow start, she used her job at a local radio station to propel her career, and eventually secured a position as the General Manager of Howard University's radio station. Not long after, she and her husband bought their first radio station, and Radio One was born.

Then came the divorce. Hughes was able to buy out her husband's shares in the station but was forced to sleep on the studio floor with her son because they couldn't afford to live anywhere else. Her mother pleaded with her to let the station go and find a more suitable life for her and her son.

But Hughes stuck to her guns and today, Radio One is a multi-million dollar media company. "Sometimes," says Hughes, "the ones who love you the most give you the worst [business] advice. If I had listened to my mother.... there would be no Radio One."

Who have you been listening to? Maybe it's time to get a second opinion. Or maybe it's time to start listening to your gut and seeing just how far you can fly.

5. You're Waiting

In his book, How Rich People Think, author Steve Siebold writes, "...while the masses are waiting to pick the right [lotto] numbers and praying for prosperity, the great ones are solving problems."

Yes, this is one of those harsh realities I mentioned earlier, but that doesn't make it any less true. What's more, we have a tendency to apply this mentality to all aspects of our lives, and that leaves us in a perpetual state of limbo. We're waiting for our boss to give us a raise or a promotion. We're waiting for our partner or spouse to make us happy and fulfilled. We're waiting on the government to fix the problems in our world, solve unemployment, create better programs, and lower our taxes. We're waiting for the right time, for more money, or for a better opportunity.

In fact, if you think about it, we're always waiting for something. All that waiting is keeping us from achieving what we really want and, more importantly, what we could really become. As long as you're waiting, someone else is in control of your future. And if someone else is in control, you'll never get to where you want to go.

6. You Need to Revamp Your Relationship With Money

In a 2012 post for Entrepreneur.com, Grant Cardone writes,

Who says, 'Money won't make you happy'? People without money. Who says, 'All rich people are greedy'? People who aren't rich. Wealthy people don't talk like that. You need to know what people are doing to create wealth and follow their example: What do they read? How do they invest? What drives them? How do they stay motivated and excited?

And he should know.

Cardone is an entrepreneur, international speaker, best-selling author, and sales and training expert for Fortune 500 companies. He makes a living off teaching others how to make a living and all of his success comes down to mindset.

Cardone isn't the only one pointing to our dysfunctional love affair with money. Finance diva Suze Orman has written at length on the importance of a healthy relationship with money and treating it with respect: "Your money is governed by how you treat it: it's that simple. It thrives when you are being responsible, respectful, and doing honorable things with it." And to do that, you have to get past this idea that wanting it — and being committed to getting it — somehow makes you a bad or selfish person. (See also: Make Plans for a Better Relationship With Money)

I'm going to quote Siebold one more time as well: "[The middle class] sees money as a never-ending necessary evil that must be endured as part of life," he writes. "The world class sees money as the great liberator, and with enough of it, they are able to purchase financial peace of mind."

Now, think about how you see your money. Is it a means to an end? Or a strategic tool in your life plan arsenal?

Does it bring you joy, or does it cause you stress and worry? Figure that out, because when you revamp your relationship with money, it's surprising how many doors will start to open up.

What's keeping you from your first million?

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Guest's picture

Nice tips Kate! When did you realize you became a millionaire and did things start feeling different once you were?

Guest's picture

While we might not all be millionaires (not that I have an issue with not being one ever in my life), we can do many things for us and our families if he just put our minds to it. Hard work and dedication can really take us a long way.

Kate Luther's picture

I totally agree - it's all in what we decide we really want. Thanks!

Guest's picture

and after you become a millionaire...ENJOY life!

Guest's picture

Referencing Gina Rinehart and her "advice" - it's not as if she earned her billions herself, she was an heiress. Which brings me to the main reason I'm not rich - my parents weren't rich!


Guest's picture

I guess you didn't read the article...your mindset is in the wrong place.

Kate Luther's picture

LOL - yes, that would certainly make things eaiser. But I wasn't really holding up Rinehart as self-made - I was suggesting their was some truth to her comments (despite how politically incorrect they might be). My best analogy would be professional athletes - when they're first drafted, they're hungry for success and play the sport with everything they have. Once they get those big contracts, it's not unusual to see them start to slack off... not totally of course, and not right away, but you can definitely see the change. They don't play as "hard" as they use to and that was the underlying theme in her comments. We used to treasure things like hard work, creativity and innovation... now, we're more intrigued with "instant solutions" that require little to no effort from us. That was was my point.

Guest's picture

It is certainly true that when it comes to earning money, whether a million or a few thousand, the main thing standing in our way is oursleves. It is all about being proactive.

Kate Luther's picture

Thanks for your comment, Kostas. I agree... and I like the idea of being in control of my future :)

Guest's picture

Hey Kate,

This post resonated with me. I think there a couple of reasons which you may have missed in this posting. First, most people don't know a lot about business or personal finance so ignorance plays a role. Second, most people don't make the decision to be rich. They make the mental commitment and/or sit down and grind through the work to make it happen.


Kate Luther's picture

Hi James,

Those are both great points. I've written before about the need to understand your financial picture in depth, beyond just knowing how much you get paid and that certainly applies here. I also agree that you have to "decide" to make more money or it won't happen... you'll just end up working to earn the paycheck instead.

Thanks so much for your comment :)


Guest's picture
big richGuest

I worked for a large company for 32 years an never got above 1st level management.
I was in the sales dept. I retired at age 56 with a net worth of around $2,500,000 which included the value of our house that we own , my 401k plan,a buy out on the pension plan plus other savings. Other sales people who I worked with for many years also did well.I think that you can make it working for someone. You just have to pick the right place an the right company an work hard.

Guest's picture

I am totally guilty with some of these reasons. I am certain that I do want to get rich, but I am totally uncertain that I cannot achieve it. I guess I have to be more positive with my goals that I can become a millionaire and I will work hard to make this possible.

Guest's picture

After reading this post there are a lot of reasons I am not on track to being a millionaire.

I work for someone else, I don't work hard enough at my sideline and I truly don't believe that I will become a millionaire.

I always think about and dream about and hope that I will have more money but I don't actually do the work

Guest's picture

Good article! Hilarious as Gina Rinehart's statement is, I agree with it. The truth can hurt.

I disagree with point #4 though. I think people should NOT trust their instincts. Instinct is what told people to sell investments at the bottom in 2008 and start buying again now that things are at a peak. It told people to line up and buy gold when it was at an all time high of $1,900 in 2011. When it comes to money instinct is, more often than not, dead wrong. It's been proven that an investor's worst enemy isn't the market, the economy, or scam artists, it's themselves. Jack Boggle has it right when he says to stick with the plan and ignore "the noise". Think like a Vulcan with your money--keep instinct and emotion out of the game and you'll do great.

The example also points to "survivorship bias". An example can be made of a company that did well while ignoring the dozen that failed. Radio One succeeded but how many stations failed over the same time period?

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