Clearly, it’s not about being born wealthy. BMO Financial Group, a private wealth bank, conducted extensive research and found that only 3% of millionaires can trace their wealth to an inheritance.
So the lion’s share of millionaires did it themselves and studying how they got where they are today can yield some telling insights, according to author Dr. Jude Miller Burke, who is a leadership coach and self-made millionaire herself.
After a three-year study of nearly other 200 self-made millionaires, Burke wrote The Millionaire Mystique: How Working Women Become Wealthy – And How You Can, Too! Fortunately, the insights in her book aren’t limited to or applicable only for women.
Here are some key takeaways that everyone can capitalize on, as identified by Business Insider.
They treat learning as a lifelong pursuit
The future of education is all about lifelong learning, but too many people don’t further their education after they get out of school. Of course, that’s not the case with the wealthy.
Self-made millionaires are all over the chance to beef up their skills whenever they can — whether it’s finding free opportunities to learn computer coding, identifying ways to go back to college later in life for free, learning how to speak a foreign language for free by using an app or just keeping up with the latest and greatest in free continuing education resources.
“They are the kind of people who always want to read up on their fields, go to conferences to learn something new, and teach people what they find so fascinating,” Burke notes.
They’ve got that P.M.A.
Call it what you want: Positive mental attitude, optimism or just seeing the glass as half full. Whatever it is, self-made millionaires have it.
“Everyone appreciates the person who can say, [when] faced with failure, ‘We’ll just find another way to get it done,'” Burke says. “The pessimist is too afraid of negative consequences to keep trying. The optimist determinedly accepts no other choice.”
According to research done by author Thomas Corley, 86% of rich people habitually associate with other success-minded people — and they try to avoid individuals who have a negative mindset.
Read more: Why rich people don’t hang out with this kind of person
They have a high EQ
So-called “soft skills” like social graces, communication abilities and cognitive or emotional empathy are all the rage in business circles these days. But self-made millionaires have long known about this stuff.
“When your staff is glad to see you in the morning because you are always smiling and ready with a genuine compliment,” Burke writes, “they are people who will work as hard as you need them to at crunch time.”
They’re genuine and have good etiquette
Who says etiquette is a lost art? Self-made millionaires are well versed in the bedrock of good manners. The value of a quick personal phone call on a birthday or when someone faces a life-changing event is just one example.
Others examples include knowing how to make proper introductions and understanding the value of a hand-written thank you card — instead of an email, text or Facebook message. They may be the small things in life, but they make a whale of a difference.
Burke notes that self-made millionaires “make people feel comfortable and at ease. The best analogy to it is the graciousness of a hostess in her own home or at a fancy reception.”
Passion defines them
It’s certainly not new advice, but it is as timeless and true as it’s ever been: Follow your passion and the money will follow.
Passion is the seed that bears great fruit for those who are self-made.
As author Thomas Corley notes, “Passion makes work fun. Passion gives you the energy, persistence, and focus needed to overcome failures, mistakes and rejection. It infuses you with a fanatical tenacity that makes it possible to overcome obstacles and pitfalls that block your path.”
Emotional control is their hallmark
Grace under fire. Cool under pressure. Everybody knows somebody who exhibits these characteristics!
“Control your emotions or they will control you.” So says the Chinese proverb. That’s a lesson that self-made millionaires have learned very well.
“[They] practice the art of deliberate reaction,” Burke observes. “They step back and, at least for a few seconds, think about the best way to respond to the provocation, whatever it was.”
Want a shortcut to becoming a self-made millionaire? The earlier you save, the better!
Years ago, Clark popped up a chart on his website that showed how a 15-year-old teenager could save just $2,000 a year for 7 years. And then, never saving another penny again, the money would grow to be $1,000,000 at 65 thanks to the magic of compounding.
It sounds amazing, but it’s true. This MarketWatch story came to the same conclusion using different numbers. According to their findings, here’s what you have to save each month to retire a millionaire — if you start with $10,000 invested and your portfolio grows by 7% every year:
25 year olds have to save a little over $300 a month. That’s just $10 a day for the rest of their working lifetime.
35 year olds have to save $775 a month.
45 year olds have to save $1,850 a month.
55 year olds have to save $5,700 a month.
The point is the earlier you start, the easier it is. But it’s never hopeless at any age. If you’re getting a late start, it just means you may have to delay your retirement.
One key to making the math work is to delay taking Social Security as long as you can. If possible, don’t jump at the opportunity to take it at 62 like most people do. Working until 70 and taking Social Security at that age too is a great formula for success.
Maybe you don’t care about retirement, in which case saving money never becomes something you’re about. But if the goal is financial independence, you should start young and save every day.