Learning from the Rich: 4 Traits You Should Emulate

by Jessica Sommerfield · 12 comments

Climbing the rock at sunset

Most people wouldn’t complain if they suddenly became rich. In fact, millions of people play the lottery every week with just this hope — even though, statistically, their chances of winning are next to nothing.

Obviously, very few of the wealthy people we’re jealous of have gotten rich this way. As we know, “get rich quick” schemes are usually a gimmick or a con, so it follows that most wealthy people have invested time and effort into getting where they are today.

If we’re honest, we can admit that if we spent less time complaining about our circumstances and more time studying and following the lifestyle habits and principles that have made people rich, we’d be a lot closer to our financial goals.

The ideology and practices that build wealth can be summed up as hard work, conservatism, ingenuity, and an opportunistic mindset.

Let’s break those factors down.

Hard Work

There really isn’t a magical formula for building wealth effortlessly. Sure, there are smarter ways to build wealth, and principles that work better than others. But what it really boils down to is just plain, hard work.

At some point in their life, rich people have been the ones who studied for hours, worked late into the night, never watched television, went on vacation, or had social lives, and gave up countless small luxuries for the sake of their goal. A large amount of effort is required for a large financial gain. Most people aren’t willing to put that much effort into it.

Conservatism

The simplest reason why rich people have money is that they haven’t spent it. Think about it. As the old adage says, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. In the consumerism culture we live in, it’s easy to fall into the habit of spending everything we make.

Wealthy people have mastered the discipline of saving money and making it work for them instead of always working for money.

If you study the lifestyles of the wealthiest people in America, you won’t find them buying the newest, most popular vehicle every year. Instead you’ll probably find them driving a vehicle that’s paid off and has high mileage. You won’t find them maxing out credit cards for every known retailer; you’ll find them to be conservative and wise about their spending. A well-known financial adviser, Dave Ramsay, has said, “You have to live like no one else  in order to live like no one else.”

Ingenuity

By ingenuity, I’m not saying wealthy people are any smarter or even more educated than ordinary folk. But they’ve realized their own unique abilities and mixed them with some creativity to say, do, or create something no one else has — something that works, and something that everybody wants. Ingenuity lies in everyone, but wealthy people have utilized it to their financial advantage.

An Opportunistic Mindset

Wealthy people work hard and are wise and careful planners. On the other hand, they’re also willing to take the risks often necessary for great success. People who are tentative when an opportunity arises often miss out on some of the greatest advantages.

While being unafraid of opportunity is a good trait to have, it sometimes carries consequences. Not every uncertain or risky opportunity succeeds (otherwise, there would be no need for courage). Rich people have often faced discouraging failures, but remain undeterred by them. They know that, in spite of failures, they’ll eventually succeed, and because they’re willing to take great risks, their success will be equal to it.

The path to riches is paved with hard work, conservatism, ingenuity, and an opportunistic mindset. Without these traits, it’s difficult to live a lifestyle that will result in lasting wealth.

Take a look at your own life. Do you have these traits?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

KC @ genxfinance April 28, 2013 at 5:39 am

These are no secrets really. You just have to decide and work hard. Make sure that you have the right mind set and perseverance t see things through. Don’t give up easily.

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Steve April 28, 2013 at 7:46 am

Just read The Millionaire Next Door. It lays it out pretty clearly and these 4 examples are but a small few of the traits it takes to get more wealthy,

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Alex C April 29, 2013 at 5:49 am

It is not hard work that gets the rich where they are, but smart work along with hard work. There are many people out in the world who are busy, constantly a go go go type of person and does not have much time to rest, but that is because they are focusing on the wrong things. They typically work on small tasks that do not matter too much like the dishes and things. They need to get done, but just working hard makes someone put the dishes first over starting a business.

So though hard work is important, the hard work needs to be placed on the things that will make the most impact on your life.

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Bry May 1, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I agree. Hard work is simply not enough. You have to maximize your time just like your money. Putting together a business model is way more productive than doing dishes. Weathly people are very wise with the use of their time. I would to add, they also have more patience than the average person as far as waiting for the rewards of all their smart work.

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Josie May 2, 2013 at 9:19 am

PATIENCE is the key. I struggle with it myself…I am in my late twenties and decided to really get organized with my personal finances. Made it to the milestone of being debt free but I feel like I am crawling with my saving goals. I have to remind myself to be patient, that wealth doesn’t happen overnight and that at least I am moving forward..slowly..but moving.
Not sure if I will ever be wealthy but I do hope to control my money and not let it control me. My changes had taken a lot of bravery to go against what everybody thinks I should be doing with my money (and the “everybody” that is hardest to face are my parents)…I am a much more confident and assertive person than I was a few years ago. I would add that to the traits: confidence and assertiveness…I definitely see it in the people I admire.

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John S @ Frugal Rules April 29, 2013 at 6:39 am

I would tend to say that none of these are really big secrets. I think a lot of it boils down to many who are rich think outside the box, are wise with their money and work hard. Many of them work for themselves and work hard at what they do.

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Jay Aspenwood May 3, 2013 at 4:34 am

Great points, Jessica! Working hard, spending conservatively, being ingenuous, and being prepared to grab opportunities make a ton of difference.

To me, it all starts from spending conservatively: if you manage to save much of your income, you’ll have savings you can invest, and those investments are what can really make you wealthy. For investments, it tends to be, though, that the less effort they require, the lower the return. Buying bonds or stocks can be done with limited amount of time and effort, but also tend to come with lowish returns – hard to stay above 12% a year. This is where opportunity and hard work come in: opportunity often shows up in overalls and looks like a lot of work, so grabbing it means you’ll really have to roll up your sleeves and get busy. This is also why such opportunities also tend to come with higher returns: only few will be prepared to put in the effort, so the effort gets amply rewarded. Luckily, the ingenuity part is sort of optional, or like an added bonus: with it, you can probably find better opportunities and make more of any given opportunity.

So, spend conservatively, invest your savings into opportunities that require effort and hard work, and let your ingenuity make it all even better. With this, your success and financial wealth are almost guaranteed!

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Jason Dunne May 3, 2013 at 11:26 am

Money is really one of those things that is complicated to understand. We live in a society which values material possessions over experiences. If used properly, through saving, investing, and discipline, money can be life changing because it forces you to contemplate why people are so addicted to money and what money can buy.

By the time your investments make more than what you need you start looking back of the stupid things you did with money and start being more appreciative of the things you already have, and it is easier to decide when having “enough” is really enough. Money can make you a noble and wise person. Smarter and efficient than the status quo.

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lana May 5, 2013 at 9:13 am

It’s not just about the spending, it’s about having money to invest and having the guts to ride the waves of the marketplace over a long period of time. If you hide money under your mattress, you’ll never keep up with inflation. People have to get out there and make the decision that they’re going to put they’re time and attention in either a home, business or the market or all of the above.

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Anton Ivanov | Dreams Cash True May 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

Excellent list! While I would agree with other commenters that there are other important traits to consider if one wants to become wealthy, these four are the foundation. I think CONSISTENT hard work is probably the most important one. Successful people are those who can uphold an excellent work ethic day in and day out for months and years.

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Rich Bob September 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm

1. Step OVER homeless people, do not walk around them. That gives them more time to panhandle.

2. Learn to save your urine until you can pee on the homeless people as you step over them. This will not only save you time later at a urinal, but it will both be a blessing for the homeless (they can get their liquid ration for the day) and a deterrent (cuz really, no one likes to be urinated on).

3. Offshore as many jobs as you can, this will create more homeless people for you to be able to urinate on. One never knows when they’ll need a urinal, after all.

4. Make sure you say a prayer as you jump over the homeless person, one wants to insure that they appear pious and religious at all times. It also gives you an out, later, if anyone claims you’re being mean. Mean people, as we all know, don’t pray.

5. Practice being able to sneer and say the following at the same time: “GET A JOB, YOU LOUT!” When you get REALLY good, you should be able to jump, shout AND urinate all at the same time.

THERE YOU GO, FOLKS! BEING RICH 101.

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Rich Bob September 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm

An Opportunistic Mindset = GREEDY

Come on, be honest. Stop trying to make it anything other than what it is: GREED.

Now pretend you’re still a Christian.

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