How to get rich. It's a simple phrase, but yet, it is one of the most challenging parts of life that we all naturally want.
Getting rich means several different things. It means that we've amassed a fortune, generally through investments, earning a high income, and doing whatever it takes to make money. It also means we've avoided bad debts and live a reasonable lifestyle free of excess.
The principles of getting rich are not all that complex.
And, we are going to take a look at exactly what those principles are and how to apply them to your life. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea of how to get rich and the exact techniques that rich people used to get to where they are.
If you're ready, let's begin.
How to Get Rich Using Three Simple Techniques
Technique #1: Invest (don't just save)
It might seem strange to think about, but rich people do not get rich by just saving money. It's counter-intuitive, I know.
Getting rich isn't about saving money. Believe it or not, that is not what builds serious wealth.
Don't get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with saving some cash by changing up your spending habits you developed over the years that probably resulted in wholesale hemorrhaging of your precious greenbacks from your wallet.
It’s just not the magic sauce to building wealth and getting rich.
Wealth comes from a very different source: Investments.
Saving money is better than spending it, but wealth is built by investing our money in appreciating assets.
- Stock market
- Real estate (property or homes)
- Relics or historic objects
The idea behind this is simple: we buy an asset (for example, a share of stock or a piece of property) for a certain price. Over time, the asset appreciates (or increases) in value. And boom! We have something that’s worth more than what we paid for it.
But, here’s the magic:
Through the power of compound interest, our assets don’t just build linearly. Instead, appreciating assets build exponentially.
It’s a curve, not a straight line.
Compound interest means your assets build upon themselves.
If you invest $1,000 and it appreciates 10% (or $100) in a year, then your new base starting point in year two is $1,100. Another 10% gain is $110, not just $100.
Add a couple of zeros to those numbers, and we begin talking about quite a bit of money. Enough money on which to retire.
It’s almost like magic, except it’s not.
It’s real, and it’s how I built up enough wealth to retire in my mid-30s. I started investing when I was young. In high school, actually.
My dad made me do it.
And, I owe a lot of my success to my dad. His inspiration and teaching had a huge impact on my life, and it’s something that I’ll never forget.
We all don’t have to start investing in high school to retire early.
Regardless of age, if you haven’t started investing in appreciating assets, start. Start by talking with your HR department at work to find out about your options. Or, speak with a trusted financial advisor.
When it comes to investing: late is better than never.
Technique #2: Grow income
If investing is one of the primary mechanisms that rich people use to get rich, how can we maximize our investments? By growing our income and using it in smart and effective ways. Remember, a bigger salary only helps if you invest it.
Don't fall into the trap of lifestyle inflation.
Otherwise, you'll wind up like so many high-income earners who live paycheck-to-paycheck.
How can you increase your income this year?
- Ask for a promotion or salary increase at work. However, understand that we aren't all cut out for management positions! 🙂
- Change jobs. Throughout my career, a job change has always netted a 10% to 20% increase in salary.
- Go back to school or take weekend classes to develop a new skill. Use that new skill to boost your salary.
- Start a side hustle (outside of work). Side hustles help improve cash flow and could even turn into your full-time gig.
Technique #3: Stay out of debt
Debts are big business in the U.S. Escape the debt spiral, and you set yourself up to amass a lot of money.
The fact is staying out of debt is a huge problem in the United States. In fact, nearly a third of all Americans have more credit card debt than they do savings.
Also, don't be fooled. Just because you work a good job and make decent money doesn't mean that you're in the clear. In fact, high-income debt is a thing. It plagues a LOT of people who earn big money and operate within a culture where spending money isn't just accepted but encouraged.
Earning a high income doesn't mean that you're rich.
Or in other words, your income-to-debt ratio is important.
For example, in the book “The Millionaire Next Door, “the late author Dr. Thomas Stanley studied high net worth individuals for several years and found a striking similarity among them: most rich people don’t spend money as you might think.
Those with a high net worth typically live in regular homes and drive modest cars. Rich people…truly rich people – with a lot of money, tend not to be the ones driving expensive luxury cars.
Instead, Stanley found BMW, Mercedes, and other luxury car drivers who “look the part” tend to be high-income earners, but not necessarily those with a high net worth.
In other words, they make a lot of money but don’t necessarily have a lot of money.
“Many people who live in expensive homes and drive expensive luxury cars do not actually have much wealth. Then, we discovered something even odder: Many people who have a great deal of wealth do not live in upscale neighborhoods,” Stanley found.
The problem is high incomes trick people into thinking they are rich or can afford practically anything.
But as we’ve already seen, the numbers don’t agree.
When high-income earners spend the large majority of what they make, they rack up debt and live the high life under the false assumption that they can afford it.
They become a part of the “pseudo affluent,” and that's a one-way street to never-ending money problems. And if you spend the majority of what you earn, nobody is getting rich.
Remember: With few exceptions, your debts are a weakness because they systematically hurt your financial position.
People get rich by:
- Establishing and maintaining a good financial position (i.e., emergency fund, retirement savings, etc.) before accepting debts – for the exception of student loans younger in life for marketable degrees
- Accepting smart debts that are calculated and purposeful
- Never take on a debt that you cannot payback
Use debt as a tool, not as a way to spend money that you don’t have.
Bonus Technique: Automate
One of the best ways to ensure your income continues to build up your investment portfolio is by using the power of automation.
Put your money on auto-pilot.
For example, a lot of employers offer 401k or IRA retirement plans. And, most of those companies will automatically contribute straight from your paycheck into your investment accounts. You don't need to lift a finger.
It makes getting rich nearly automatic. Your retired self will thank you.
Once it is set up, you’ll never have to worry about it again. It just happens, like clockwork. No discipline. No remembering.
When we put our finances on autopilot, things just happen through the magic of automation. I used this to the fullest throughout my career.
- I automatically contributed to my 401k and IRAs
- I automatically transferred money from checking into savings
- I automatically paid my credit card bills, so I *never* ran a balance
Automation helps to ensure those repeatable and dependable processes that need to happen every month…happen.
We aren’t relying on our discipline to pay bills to avoid late fees and interest.
There’s a reason why we’ve never paid a single interest charge on our credit cards. Never a late fee. No reductions in our credit score (if you even care about that).
This is all due to setting up automated processes that guarantee that things happen when they need to happen.
Getting rich is something that we all want, but too few of us truly achieve. To get rich, remember these three keys:
- Getting rich requires investments, not just saving
- Boosting income increases cash that we can invest, and
- Staying out of debt eliminates financial weaknesses
And, by putting our money on auto-pilot, we don't need to worry about making money transfers or investment contributions every month. We set up our automated system once and then sit back and let it run.
Also, a little healthy selfishness goes a long way to putting ourselves into the position to build wealth. It does not mean that we only think of ourselves. Instead, it means we focus on our own foundation first. We prioritize our lives. Our hopes and dreams.
In other words, it sets us up to build wealth, get rich, and live a life of complete and utter financial freedom.
Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.