By Brian Tracy
If you sincerely want to retire as a self-made millionaire, one of the smartest things you can do is develop the number-one habit of financial success.
Perhaps the most easily identifiable habit of self-made millionaires is the habit of frugality. Wealthy people allocate their funds carefully and with great deliberation. They know that, as the English saying goes, “If you take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves.”
Self-made millionaires develop the habit of regular saving and investment from an early age. George Clason, in his bestseller The Richest Man in Babylon, wrote that the key to financial success is to “pay yourself first.” He recommends that you save at least 10 percent of your income off the top, before any other expenditure, for the entirety of your working life.
Human beings are creatures of habit who quickly adapt to almost any external condition or circumstance. If you save 10 percent off the top of your paycheck and discipline yourself to live on the other 90 percent, you’ll soon adjust your lifestyle downward slightly so you’re quite comfortable on the lesser amount. In no time at all, living at this level becomes a habit and you stop thinking about it. Continue gradually adding to the percentage you save until you’re saving 15 percent and then 20 percent of your income. You won’t even notice the difference in your standard of living because it will be so gradual. But, the difference in your financial life will be absolutely extraordinary.
Take complete control of your financial life.
When you develop the habit of thinking more carefully about your income and savings, you’ll soon find yourself spending less on your day-to-day expenses. You’ll begin paying down your debts and not incurring new ones. You’ll start delaying or deferring expenditures and finally stop buying those items entirely.
Meanwhile, the habit of saving money out of every paycheck will cause your financial fortress account to grow. In a year, you’ll have a few hundred dollars. In a couple of years, you’ll have a few thousand. In 10 to 20 years, you’ll have several hundred thousand, or even a million.
As your financial accumulation account grows, develop the habit of adding every unexpected sum of money that comes to you to this account, to make it grow faster. If you sell something from around the house, get a bonus at work or receive an income tax refund, instead of spending it immediately, as unsuccessful people do, instead put it into your financial fortress account.
Activate the law of attraction.
Here’s an extraordinary discovery. When you begin to save money, and you feel positive and happy about your growing account, these positive emotions imbue that money with a form of energy that begins to attract more money into your life. Old friends will pay back debts you’d forgotten about. You’ll have opportunities to earn additional money that hadn’t occurred to you. You’ll sell things that you’d kept for a long time and thought had no value. And as you add these amounts to your account, it will develop even more positive energy and attract even larger sums of money.
I’d heard about this concept for years, but I was always broke and there never seemed to be anything I could do about it. Then, about two years after I got married and started my own business, I ran out of money and had to sell our house to get cash.
After moving to a rented house, my wife, Barbara, demanded that I turn over to her $10,000 from the sale of the house. She took the money and deposited it in a bank account to which I didn’t have access. No matter how many financial problems we had in the months ahead, she refused to consider the possibility of spending that money. This was her security blanket.
The most remarkable thing happened. From that day forward, we were never broke again. Every month, business came in, the bills were paid and opportunities opened up. Within a few years, we were able to move out of the rented house and buy a beautiful new home in a lovely neighborhood.
Learn to love saving your money.
When we’re growing up, we’re encouraged to save money from our allowances. However, as children, we view money as a tool with which to buy candy, toys and other things that make us happy. As a result, we naturally begin to look at saving money as a punishment, something that deprives us of the things we desire. Since the basic human motivation is to move away from pain toward pleasure, most people develop the habit of associating spending with enjoyment and saving with unhappiness. As adults, this habit manifests in our desire to spend money as soon as we earn it.
Your job is to reverse the wiring on this habit. You need to begin thinking in terms of pleasure whenever you think of saving and accumulation and pain whenever you think of spending.
The law of emotion says, “Whichever emotion you dwell upon will grow, just as a fire would if you put more fuel upon it.” The more you think about the pleasure and enjoyment you get from seeing your savings and investment account growing, the more motivated you’ll be to spend less, save more and grow that account. In no time at all, instead of worrying about the amount of money you have available for bills, you’ll be reviewing the money that’s accumulating in your bank account.
This article is originally posted in Entrepreneur.