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6 habits of millionaires anyone can learn

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By Andrew Housser

What do you think of when you think of a millionaire? You might imagine someone you have seen on television or in the movies – people wearing expensive clothes, driving a flashy car and living in a mansion. Perhaps you think of luxurious vacations or regularly eating meals in expensive restaurants.

It’s true that millionaires might do some of these things. But it is also true that millionaires are likely to get up early, work hard at something that interests them, and spend hours every week on self-improvement, whether that means networking with other people, improving their education, reading, or exercising to stay healthy.

Fortunately, those habits are accessible to anyone. Whether you are financially successful or just hoping to become that way, here are six things millionaires know about money that can help you, too.

1. Set the right kind of goals. Goal-setting is key to obtaining what you want. You can make the most progress in life by setting positive and challenging – yet attainable – goals. Consider how you define success and what you want from life. Then identify what will help you get there. For instance, if your goal is to travel to a tropical beach, do you want  to go once on vacation? Do you want to relocate there? Define what you mean, and then list exactly what you need to achieve it. To move permanently, you might need to build a portable career. For a memorable vacation, you might need to save $100 a month for several years.

2. Minimize expenses. There is never a need to pay more than you have to. Learn habits of smart money management, including budgeting, finding bargains, and not buying things that you don’t need or will not use for long. On a regular basis, check with your service providers to evaluate and see if better options or deals are available. This might include  insurance, cell phone, Internet and TV service. Every time you uncover savings, invest that amount. For instance, if you cut your cable bill by $20 a month, add that $20 to your monthly emergency fund savings or debt repayment.

3. Spend time doing something productive. The average person spends almost 11 hours every day with media – watching TV, watching videos, scrolling through social media or browsing the Internet. Consider turning some of this time into more productive time. Take a class, read a book, watch TED talks that inspire you to make positive change, get a part-time job, or spend time with your family.

4. Know what’s happening with your money. Know exactly how much money you have, how much (if anything) you owe, and to whom. Some people want to put their head in the sand and ignore their financial reality. But facing the truth is the best way to make positive change. List your debts and savings account balances. How can you decrease debts and increase savings? If you owe more on credit cards than you can repay each month, you owe too much. Make the tough decisions you need to make to begin repaying debts and working toward financial freedom.

5. Don’t waste money on fees. Bank fees, late fees and interest can pull hundreds or even thousands of dollars out of your pocket every year. Owing $10,000 on a credit card at an average interest rate of 15 percent will cost you $125 in interest per month. That means you will pay $1,500 per year. If you instead deposited that $125 each month in an investment earning 4 percent annually, in 30 years, you would have more than $86,000. Pay bills on time to avoid late fees. Check your bank and credit card statements for errors. Setting up auto-pay for car, mortgage and student loans can help assure you will never miss a payment.

6. Focus on earning more. For your long-term financial well-being, it is smart to focus not only on saving money, but on earning more of it. Learn new skills that will keep you relevant in the job market. If you have not received a raise recently, evaluate (honestly) if you deserve one. If so, ask for one – and if the answer is no, find out what you need to  do to earn more. Consider taking a class or taking on training to move up in your career.

Most people won’t become millionaires. But if you practice good money habits day after day and year after year, you just might. And no matter what, you can achieve financial peace of mind and freedom from debt – accomplishments that are priceless.

Andrew Housser is a co-founder and CEO of Bills.com, a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about personal finance issues and compare financial products and services. He also is co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network, LLC providing comprehensive consumer credit advocacy and debt relief services. Housser holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University and Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.
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