5 Things Wealthy People Never Say

Do you dream of being wealthy someday? Imagine a world where you don’t have to worry about paying the bills, saving for retirement, or providing for your family because you know everything is in order. A world where you are free to do the things you love with no debt to hold you back. A world where the impossible becomes possible.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? On some level, I think all of us aspire to a life of wealth - maybe not millions of dollars, but a level of financial security that allows a significantly better lifestyle. Why else would the lottery be a $53 billion industry in the US alone? Yet, as we know so well, only a small percentage of the population ever achieves an income or net worth that would classify them as wealthy.

Why Aren’t More of Us Wealthy?

Have you ever stopped to think about why some people reach that wonderland of riches while most of us struggle just to get by? Some people will argue that choices determine where we go in life, while others will argue that environment or circumstances play the greater role. Still others (like me) believe it’s a combination of those factors. No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, you have to admit that rich people know something the rest of us don’t. Otherwise everyone would live in giant mansions and drive expensive cars, right?

Choices and circumstances aside, I think there’s another huge difference between the wealthy and rest of us - attitude. No matter how much we may want wealth, many of us don’t truly believe we’ll ever achieve it, and we behave in ways that prevent wealth as a result. The proof is in our actions and, more often, our words.

5 Things Wealthy People Never Say

1. “I can’t wait to get my tax return!” - Wealthy people don’t give Uncle Sam an interest-free loan all year just so they can receive a lump sum of their own money later. They certainly don’t hit up the mall every spring like wild animals on a stampede, filling multiple carts with electronics and clothing. Wealthy people use their money in ways that will add to their monetary assets, not their material ones.

Think wealthy: Change your withholding so that you break even at tax time instead of getting a refund. Instead of using the extra money to go shopping, invest in your future - save for retirement, a home, or something else that will benefit you in the long run instead of providing short-term happiness.

2. “I was doing fine until…” - How many times have you heard someone talk about being derailed by an emergency like a car repair or broken appliance? Do you think that happens to the wealthy? Of course not! They are prepared for nearly anything that comes their way.

Think wealthy: Start an emergency fund, even if you can only save $10 a month. Hold onto that money no matter what - a disaster will come along before you know it. Insure your assets to protect them from damage.

3. “I’m too scared to check my bank balance.” - Obviously wealthy people aren’t afraid to see what’s in the bank; they know there’s lots of money there! But how likely is it that they magically started paying attention after they accumulated their fortunes? I guarantee they were keeping track even when there wasn’t much to be excited about.

Think wealthy: Make the decision to stay informed about your income and expenses. If you’re having trouble making ends meet, figure out why and make a plan to do something about it. Keep that head out of the sand!

4. “I don’t understand [financial concept].” - Too many of us shy away from things that seem complicated or too different from what we’ve always done, especially where money is concerned. Wealthy people don’t let themselves feel intimidated - they do research (or hire someone to research for them).

Think wealthy: When you don’t understand something about your finances, ask for help! With so much information at our fingertips, there is no reason we can’t educate ourselves and make informed decisions - most of the time, we just choose not to make the effort.

5. “I deserve nice things.” - Believe it or not, the truly wealthy don’t live the way we think they do. In Thomas Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door, we learn that millionaires are decidedly more frugal than most of us. Instead of maintaining a lavish lifestyle because they “deserve” it, wealthy people live below their means and delay gratification a great deal of the time. Those people you see living it up on TV aren’t wealthy - they’re renting an appearance.

Think wealthy: Instead of telling yourself you deserve to buy more stuff with your hard-earned money, tell yourself you deserve to make that money grow. Make saving money a priority; after all, how can you get rich without money in the bank?

Why Aren’t YOU Wealthy Yet?

I can tell you exactly why I’m not wealthy - I have consistently run in the opposite direction from the actions that could encourage me to hold onto more money than I spend. While things have improved, that mindset is difficult to escape. Most of us don’t grow up surrounded by real wealth. Pro-wealthy behaviors aren’t instinctive to us because we’ve never seen them.

Sometimes it’s easy to use the excuse, “I wasn’t born rich.” While that may be true, that doesn’t mean you can’t change your thought patterns and behaviors to become wealthy someday. Think of it this way: For anyone to be born rich, someone before them had to be rich. As you travel back through the family tree, the wealth had to start somewhere. And that’s that point where someone made a decision to do things differently.

Think about the way you talk about money. Would wealthy people say those things? If not, it may be time to look for a new perspective. Just like you can’t learn a foreign language by saying, “I don’t speak a foreign language,” you will never become wealthy if your financial language consists only of excuses that make wealth impossible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NetWorthProtect Neo Networth

    One thing I have learned is that wealthy people generally don’t spend money. Sure they have nice things, but wealthy people usually spend a small % of their income and savings. They focus on making more money and risk managing the money they have to protect it.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      That’s true, and a very hard thing for many people to grasp. For someone with lots of money, buying a Rolls Royce is like me buying a tricycle. I can’t go out and buy a Rolls Royce because it would cost more than I make in a year. Unfortunately many people don’t seem able to understand that the wealthy actually spend less even though it looks like they’re spending more.

  • http://twitter.com/financialsamura Financial Samurai

    I really think wealthy people for the most part believe they can create their own luck. There’s a strong belief in themselves.

    Also, wealthy people don’t confuse Revenue with Net Profits!


    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Very true - it takes a confident person to achieve wealth. Which is part of the reason I don’t believe I’ll ever become wealthy. I’m okay with that, though. It’s not really one of my goals. I just want to be comfortable, and as I look around, I don’t think I’ve ever even experienced true discomfort. So I consider that a success!

  • http://www.broketo.ca Melissa

    I can tell you exactly why I’m not wealthy. I simply don’t make enough to be wealthy, and I don’t live in an area with a cost of living low enough to offset my shitty pay. ‘Tis the way it is! But I’m not in financial ruins, either, so I can live with it.

    I do looooooooooove my tax return, though! Like, seriously! I know it’s letting the government make interest on my money blah blah blah…but I don’t care. Haha. I love getting a big fat cheque once a year.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I definitely feel you re: the income! Even before my job turned shitty and I quit, I never made enough to even be considered middle class. But I refuse to say that I could never be wealthy. I’ve got a lot of years left to work on my plan for world domination. Bwahahaha….

  • http://twitter.com/budgetingbabe budgetingbabe

    I am totally guilty of thought #1! I usually daydream all day about the trips I’ll take when I get my tax return. Oy.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      After last year’s return, I filled out a new W-4 at work and used the money to fund my Roth IRA. I’m glad I did it, but I have to say it makes me sad to see my little miniature tax return this year instead of a great big one.

    • http://www.americandebtproject.com/ American Debt Project

      I laughed really hard at #1…I totally said it and I was trying to think of a rich friend saying the same…doesn’t happen. They’re not eagerly waiting for money to hit their bank account.

  • http://www.thebudgetingtool.com/ Mochi & Macarons

    So true. I definitely have to agree with Neo Networth that wealthy people don’t spend their money as much as those who don’t have money.

    For me, it’s more that I do the following:

    1) Focus on building my net worth — income is irrelevant when you don’t take into account how much actually goes into your bank accounts and stays there

    2) Watch expenses — sometimes not very diligently but I do know when I am ‘out of control’, which is exactly why my January budget was disappointing, but understandable considering my 2011 Year-Long Vacation.

    3) Make as much money as I can — I know I said income is irrelevant, but without income, you can’t save.

    4) Focus on maximizing my career — Building new skills, updating my resume, being slightly ambitious (not a workaholic); this also includes NEGOTIATING HARD for more money

    5) Try to maximize my percentage of net savings. I did a preliminary budget (still yet to be tested) for next month when I believe I’ll start my job, and I am hoping to save 75% of my net income.

    As a result, I feel financially secure…. but it can be hard to resist the siren call of shopping.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I think all of those are excellent ways to work toward wealth! It’s hard for me to give up gadgets - well, I can’t even say that because I don’t bother trying. I love electronics and I will give up my iPhone when someone pries it from my lifeless fingers. I know the money I spend on my phone bill is money I could be saving, but I have to have balance. I’d much rather increase my income than give up something that’s important to me.

  • http://upendilife.com/ Rafiki

    Awesome post.

    Of the 5 points you mentioned I still suffer a bit from number two “I was doing fine until…”
    I do have an EF but every time I have to dip into it I can’t help but feel a little like I was derailed. I am able to recover much faster but because I have to shift focus to rebuilding the EF I always feel like I am off track. Overall this is still a good thing so no point sweating it.

    Also, this post was so awesome in inspired my blog post for today due to this particular line “how can you get rich without money in the bank?”.

    Great post Andrea. I can’t say it enough. It is hard to escape the mindset when you never knew otherwise but it is possible.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I’m bad about the same thing - one mishap and I’m throwing my hands up going “MY PLANS ARE RUINED!” like a big drama queen. I hate spending money from my EF because it seems like it sets me back a million years. BUT that’s progress! The fact that I have an EF and that it bothers me to spend it shows that I’m getting there.

  • http://www.momdropbox.com Audrey

    I really like this post. Reading The Millionaire Next Door was an eye-opener for me: I didn’t understand that the ’average’ millionaire had a frugal lifestyle before that. It’s ironic that the way to get rich is (usually) to live like you’re not.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Agreed! I absolutely love that book - I learned so much from it.

  • http://edwardantrobus.co.cc/ Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

    Like Melissa, the reason I’m not wealthy has a lot to do with income. I can’t wait for this winter to be over! It’s Wednesday and I still haven’t gotten a call for work this week.

    I was also stupid with money back in college… and went to college! I’ve paid off a number of old debts at this point, but my minimum payments are still a good chunk of my income. (like 50% last month) But this will get better.

    As far as being born rich, I do have rich relatives and ancestors. But I come from the black sheep side of the family, so now trust fund for me!

    But about W-4′s and tax returns. We owe $500 this year. Because a mid-year job change messed up withholdings. Plus there is no way I can predict my income a week ahead of time, let alone a year. I’d much rather loan out interest free $20/week and get a grand back like my brother always seems to get, then go through this stomach-turning situation where I’m scrambling for cash to come up with an extra $500 in 2 months.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Very true - sounds like the nature of your work/pay make it difficult to plan. It’s hard to build wealth when you’re not even sure when you’ll work next. At the risk of sounding like an asshole, I will say that your situation is all the more reason to save when you can. Just like for me - my freelance income is unpredictable, so when I make extra money, I don’t get to enjoy it because I have to save for the times when I don’t. It’s tough! I’d love to be wealthy someday but I doubt it’ll ever happen, so I have to settle for “able to pay the bills and eat” instead.

      • http://edwardantrobus.co.cc/ Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

        No worries. The way we have the direct deposit set up, $100 from each check goes into a separate checking account for debt payments. The rest goes into savings. We wind up pulling about $200/month out of savings to pay for bills. During good weeks, we sock away a fair amount. During worse times, there is a net drain. But we are ahead compared to this time last year.

  • http://www.thefreefinancialadvisor.com/average-joes-money-blog/ AverageJoe

    It was interesting being able to look inside people’s financial pictures for 16 years. Not surprisingly, most of my wealthy clients didn’t really care about “deserving nice things” while some of my clients that appeared wealthy (but were really broke) had awesome cars, great homes and expensive jewelry. I was really worried for some of them that it was going to be an ugly future for them….

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      That’s why I think the whole country should be required to read “The Millionaire Next Door.” We all tend to think of wealth in terms of houses, cars, clothes, and jewelry, yet people with real wealth don’t worry about those things. It’s fascinating to me - the values many of us hold aren’t the ones that will make us rich.

      • http://www.americandebtproject.com/ American Debt Project

        That one and the “The Richest Man in Babylon” will take people a long way. I love those books!

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I don’t say any of those things, why am I not wealthy yet?
    I haven’t had a tax refund check in yearsss….I don’t know if I create my own luck, but I believe I am very lucky.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      So maybe you’re on your way! How far away from 40 are you, again? Still plenty of time.

      • Anonymous

        Less than 2 years! What’s wealthy anyway?

        • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

          I say retiring by 40 is a pretty good indicator you’re headed for wealth. I define wealth as having enough money to keep you from worrying, and I’m guessing a 40 year-old retiree isn’t worried about much or else he’d still be working.

  • http://twitter.com/seedebtrun See Debt Run

    when i first started this climb out of debt.. i wondered “it is quite odd that living like i am poor, can make me wealthy”..

    but that was faulty thinking. the way that i was living before was not “living like i am poor”, but instead it was living with blinders on. material things are not going bring happiness. and making a budget and sticking to it can actually be a rewarding process.

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      That’s very true. Addiction to stuff is very hard to break. For example, I used to change my purses to match my outfits. Sometimes I would swap 2 or 3 times a day depending on what I was doing. So naturally I had about 60 handbags! While I still like to carry a different bag for a dressy occasion or something, I pretty much stick to the same one. And miraculously, I haven’t died. I had convinced myself that I “needed” all those purses, and now I’m over it. But it took a long time to get there.

  • Fabulouslyfrugirl

    You got me on the tax refund

    But I am going to send in the form to lower my taxes since I do contribute so much to retirement savings each year. No time like the present, right?

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I think that’s a great idea. It worked out well for me last year - my paychecks stayed the same, but I was able to put that money away for retirement instead of wasting it on junk every spring.

  • http://twitter.com/1stmillionblog First Million Blog

    Such a great post. Especially the tax return bit. My coworkers always look at me like I’m nuts when I happily explain that I nearly always break even come tax time.

  • Anonymous

    Well dang…. As I was reading each of these, I was finding that I have said them all. And truthfully…I probably still say them. ” I do deserve nice things..right?” Yep, I say this one a lot. Great article Andrea. I needed it.

  • http://moneycactus.com Shaun @ Money Cactus

    REALLY good article! I completely agree with this, in order to be wealthy you have to think like a wealthy person.

  • http://twitter.com/yngcheapliving Kraig Mathias

    Andrea, I love this post. I am going to share this with people I know personally. It hits home on how poor person thinking will keep you poor, as long as you keep thinking that way. Personally, I have changed my thinking and would consider myself to think like a rich person. I’ve been training to think this way by my father, who is no longer with us, and by being a follower of Dave Ramsey for the past couple years. Not only does this kind of thinking (and speaking) move me toward being wealthy, but it also empowers me to follow my passion and, like you mentioned, do things differently. It gets me so excited to think about my future if I get my thinking and lifestyle on track today. Thanks for the great story to wake up to!

    • http://twitter.com/sooverdebt Andrea

      I’m testing out a response signed in through Twitter to see if my avatar comes up. I’m guessing it won’t but I have to figure this out!

      • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

        Kraig - I’ve informed Disqus of the issue with my avatar (and yours) and hopefully they’ll take a look shortly.

  • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

    Very true! But I think that’s exactly why people need to stop trying to keep up with the wealthy - things they can easily afford aren’t as affordable for the rest of us.

  • http://www.myyearwithoutwastingmoney.com/ Ella

    Good post! The really rich people I know are no spenders. They save a lot of their income and created financial security by spending little and earning a lot

  • Anonymous

    Great article. Being wealthy is within the grasp of most anyone who is age 35 or less. Unfortunately, once you start to approach 40, you no longer have as much time on your side, meaning you need a much larger income (and save more of it) to become wealthy. It isn’t a matter of what you make, it’s what you do with what you make and how much time you have to let your assets compound.

    Of course, being wealthy probably won’t mean “live in giant mansions and drive expensive cars.” Those are things people who will never become wealthy, or whom soon will no longer be wealthy, tend to do.

    The comments of bad pay and living in an expensive area don’t hold water. That’s thinking like a poor person. If the area you’re living in is too expensive to allow you to save, move somewhere else. People who become wealthy don’t make excuses - they sacrifise and do what they need to do to win.

    SmallIvy (http://smallivy.wordpress.com)

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Great points! I wish I could communicate to every high school graduate in the world re: the need to start saving NOW. It makes me sick to think of all the years I wasted and how hard I’ll have to work to catch up. Plus it only gets worse as more time passes. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!

  • http://everythingfinanceblog.com Tushar Mathur

    I have stopped saying the first 4 sentences, but I still say the 5th one Need to save and earn more.