The 10 Kinds of People Who Get Rich (and How They Do It)


I think it's safe to say that most people wouldn't mind having a little more money in the bank. Maybe a lot more money. According to a 2008 survey by Pew Research Group, 43% of Americans report that being wealthy is "somewhat important" to them, while another 13% said that being rich was "very important." Of course, wanting to be richer is one thing; actually accumulating that wealth is quite another. However, there's plenty of research to support the idea that there are certain sorts of people who are likely to become wealthy — and I'm not just talking about the kind who were born that way. In fact, according to research by Fidelity, 86% of today's millionaires are self-made. Here are 10 traits that tend to show up in the wealthiest people, and how those characteristics help them bring in the big bucks. (See also: Money Lessons From Millionaires)

1. Selfish

Yes, the rich really are more selfish. According to a paper written by University of California psychologists in 2011, people who saw themselves as "upper class" tended to prioritize their own self-interest. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing — and it doesn't mean you have to laugh uproariously in the face of the next person who asks you for change in the street. According to Steve Siebold, author of "How Rich People Think," selfish doesn't necessarily mean ungenerous. Instead, wealthy people often believe that in order to take care of others in a really meaningful way, they have to take care of themselves first.

2. Dreamer

If you want to accomplish big things, you have to think big. According to Siebold, rich people dream big dreams, and it's those dreams that provide the fuel for their future success. After all, many of the most successful ventures started out as little more than outlandish dreams. With a lot of time, hard work, and a little luck, they became new ideas, new inventions, and new companies. A big dream isn't always achievable, but looking ahead is what propels successful people forward.

3. Goal-Driven

Of course, dreams aren't enough all on their own. According to author and Certified Financial Planner Tom Corley in his book "Wealthy Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals" rich people not only set goals to achieve their dreams, they also set goals that are specific and require specific physical actions. In other words, they figure out exactly what actions they need to take each and every day to move them closer to their goals. (See also: Saving Money Is Easy With the Right Goals)

4. Action-Oriented

Ever bought a lottery ticket or dreamed of collecting a fat inheritance? This isn't what a wealthy person would do, according to Siebold. Wealthy people are action-oriented, and they tend to believe that it's their own actions and hard work that'll help them build more wealth. As a result, they never rely on the idea that money will just come to them, whether through a lottery win, an inheritance, or some other stroke of luck.

5. Liable

Making money isn't easy — for anyone — but according to Corley, just as wealthier people tend to put the onus for bringing in wealth on themselves, they also tend to blame themselves when they fail to achieve their financial goals, whereas less wealthy people are more likely to blame the markets, their employer, or their luck. Taking responsibility can feel like a drag, but it's worth the effort. Not only does it provide the opportunity to celebrate your wins, but it also forces you to take a close look at your failures — and what you can learn from them. (See also: Embrace Failure and Win)

6. Curious

Think your education ended when you got your college degree? According to Siebold and Corley, that alone suggests you're less likely to ever be rich. "Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful," Siebold writes.

Didn't go to college? No problem. Siebold's research also found that many of the richest people had little formal education, and instead focused on amassing specific knowledge in the areas they wanted to pursue.

7. Logical

Money and emotion don't mix — at least not for the rich. Of course, the dominant emotion that surrounds our finances tends to be fear, which often leaves us just hoping we can retire someday, never mind live rich. The wealthier set, however, sees wealth as a tool, a choice, an opportunity. As a result, they tend to deal with their money in ways that expand those opportunities, rather than just ways that will keep them safe from financial harm.

8. Frugal

It's easy to assume that the richest people are those riding around in nice cars, wearing designer clothes, and living the high life every day of the week, but the truth is that many of the richest people are surprisingly frugal. And that's part of the secret of how they accumulated their wealth in the first place — or at least how they manage to maintain and grow it over the long haul. Billionaire Warren Buffett still lives in the same modest, Omaha, Nebraska, home he bought 50 years ago, rather than a mega-mansion; billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg drives an Acura, rather than a supercar; and millionaire actress Hilary Swank still clips coupons (and so does Michelle Obama!). Think about it: The biggest barrier to actually becoming richer might be living like you're rich before you actually are. Those who get (and stay) among the ranks of the wealthy tend to keep the good financial habits that helped them get there. (See also: 10 Habits of Financially Happy People)

9. Adventurous

According to Siebold, "leverage is the watchword of the rich." What's leverage? In finance, it can mean using borrowed capital to produce a greater return, but in a broader sense it means using something — anything — to maximum advantage. In either case, it often means taking risks and busting out of your comfort zone. That doesn't mean that wealthy people take huge risks. They key is to learn to know which risks to take and how to maximize opportunity.

10. Patient

Most millionaires are self-made, which means that their wealth isn't a switch that's flipped over night. In many cases, it takes people years — often decades — to amass a lot of wealth. And getting there involves keeping an eye on the prize, staying frugal, and essentially delaying the gratification of enjoying that money until later. A famous experiment conducted at Stanford University in the 1950s and '60s actually linked the ability to delay gratification in children to their future success. Building wealth takes time and discipline, which makes patience a real virtue in the realm of personal finance.

Being wealthy isn't a foregone end-goal for everyone. In fact, many people don't care to be "rich" at all, at least not in a monetary sense. But I'd venture to guess that most of us could use a little more financial security, a little more money for the future, and a better eye toward making it happen. If that sounds like you, consider taking a few cues from the rich. Your life may be richer for it. (See also: 7 Habits of the Financially Successful)

Is "being rich" one of your life's goals? What are you doing to get there?

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Guest's picture

Great article...I consider myself a frugal, goal-oriented does that mean my chances of become rich increases with every trait?! ;)

Guest's picture

Very interesting article, I definitely believe that there is a lot of truth in many of the points you made. I especially agree that action orientated individuals are more likely to generate wealth. Focus is important and can lead to a rich future :)