Articles, FIRE, Habits

21 Habits Of The Wealthy vs. Poor | Which Do You Do?

Written By: Jon Dulin
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated November 1, 2023
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I get a lot of questions about the differences between the wealthy and the poor.

People ask me how they can go from being broke to becoming rich.

How they can take the step from the middle class into wealth.

Sadly, some people tell me moving up the financial success ladder isn’t possible without first having wealthy parents.

The reality is, anyone can become wealthy.

And the surprising part about this is, it is more about your daily habits and less about how much money you make.

Yes, making a high annual income is helpful, but it is not the golden ticket so many think it is.

If it were, there would be a lot more richer people and a lot fewer poor people out there.

In this post, I am going to walk you through the daily success habits of wealthy individuals so you can first become aware of what they do.

These aren’t hard things you need to start doing.

In fact, many of them are simple shifts you need to make in your day.

After you become aware of the typical day in the life of a rich person, you can start to add them into your daily routine.

Over time, you will begin to see the positive shift in your wealth.

16 Wealthy Habits Of Rich People vs. Poor People

#1. Live Within Your Means

This one is pretty straight-forward.

If you have to go into debt to buy something, chances are you cannot afford it.

Granted, a house and a college education are exceptions, within reason of course.

But for things like clothing, gifts, flat screen TVs, etc. you should not be going into debt.

According to studies, rich people save 20% of their income and spend the remaining 80%.

In other words, they pay themselves first.

Almost every poor person who is struggling financially spends more than they earn.

And by not saving anything, you will never get ahead financially.

In fact, if you don’t save, your life today will be your life in 20 years.

And if you spend more than you earn, you’ll be in even worse financial shape.

In addition to saving money first, you can also do a few things to save money on things you are spending money on now.

For example, if you have student loan debt, you can refinance this debt and save money every month. 

If you have a mortgage, you can look into refinancing this as well.

You could easily save hundreds every month by refinancing.

And if you have credit card debt, you need to make it a priority to pay if off as quickly as possible.

I encourage you to read through my pay off debt archives for help with all of your debt needs.

By making a little effort, you can start building your savings faster than you thought possible.

#2. Don’t Gamble

I gamble, but I don’t gamble.

What I mean by this is that I take part in a weekly football pool picking the winners of each week’s games.

I also will spend $100 on slots and blackjack when my wife and I or my friends and I head to Atlantic City.

And sometimes when the Powerball gets to $500 million, I’ll blow $20 and play.

The keys here are:

  • The money I spend is small in amount
  • The money I spend is money I can afford to lose

This is important because too many people play the lottery on a daily basis hoping to strike it rich or they use money that they really cannot afford to lose.

Random Event Odds

If you are choosing between buying a loaf of bread and buying 2 scratch-off lottery tickets, you need to seek help.

The main difference between rich people and poor people here is having the right mindset.

The poor mindset relies on luck to improve their financial situation. The rich mindset has the person rely on themselves to improve their financial situation.

If you are going to play the lottery, do so for fun.

When I play the Powerball, I don’t do so thinking I am going to win and the money will solve all of my problems.

For that minute they are reading the winning numbers, it is fun comparing my numbers to see if I did win anything.

Just look at how much money you spend in a year if you spend $10 a week in lottery tickets.

A whopping $520!

If you buy a scratch off ticket once every 2 weeks and save the rest, you will have $500 in savings after just a year.

Chances are you don’t win $500 or more a year playing the lottery.

So instead of relying on luck to change your finances, take action and improve your finances yourself.

This means setting up a budget and saving money like I pointed out in the first tip.

You could even go back to school for more education or even just read more about personal finance.

The point is you need to take meaningful action to improve your life.

You can’t just sit there and expect things to change, or hope that winning the lottery will answer your prayers.

#3. Read Every Day

a millennial reading a book about investing

I’ve gotten better at reading on a regular basis.

Why is reading important? A few reasons come to mind:

  • It makes you think
  • It helps you to learn
  • It grows your vocabulary
  • It keeps your mind sharp

The more you work to better yourself, the more it will overflow into other areas of your life, like your career and income.

The key though is to read things that will improve you.

Only 11% of the wealthy that read on a regular basis read for entertainment purposes.

Most read career-development material, personal development books, current events, and biographies.

But don’t think you can only read things to improve yourself.

I mix up my books and will read a great fiction novel and then read something that helps to improve my life.

Then I usually go back to another fiction novel.

If you don’t think you have the time to make reading one of your daily habits, you do.

Turn off the TV 30 minutes or an hour before bed and read.

Stop binge watching a TV show and pick up a book to read instead.

Another option is to buy audio books and listen to them on your commute or during your lunch break.

You can even listen to an audio book while going for a walk or doing work around the house.

You can try Audible out for free for 30 days by clicking this link.

You have the time. You just have to commit to reading.

#4. Forget The TV

This habit is one of the more interesting ones I came across.

The higher a person’s income, the fewer hours of TV they watch.

One reason is probably because they are out of the house more.

Not necessarily working, but networking and taking part in groups, seminars, volunteering, etc.

Also, they tend to read more leaving them little time for too much TV watching.

To put into perspective how little TV the wealthy watch, check out this cool chart from the General Social Survey.

General Social Survey

As you can see the wealthiest people watch 2 hours or less television on a given day.

While the survey doesn’t break down what they are watching, it would be interesting to know.

For example, they probably don’t watch many reality shows and focus more on news and documentaries.

The trick I found to help me watch less television is to DVR the shows I am interested in.

Instead of watching the shows while they are airing, I do projects around the house, read, or spend time with my family.

Then every once in a while, I check out the DVR and will watch some of the shows.

But I’ve found that most times I just delete the majority of things I recorded and never watch them in the first place.

This tells me that I would have just wasted my time watching the shows live since I wasn’t really interested in them in the first place.

#5. Stay Off Social Media

Have noticed all the issues we have right now, how it seems the country is divided like never before?

I’m not here to say who is right and who is wrong.

But I am going to tell you why I think things are like this.

The reason is social media.

And the sooner you can kick this habit, the better off you will be.

Here is why.

Think about talking to someone in person.

You not only see them, but you see their facial expressions.

Since the majority of language is non-verbal, this is critical.

You also can understand the tone of their voice.

Put these two things together and you have a better understanding of where they are coming from.

Now have the same conversion online and you are lost.

You have no idea when they are serious or joking.

A perfect example of this is work email.

I’ve had many times where I sent an email, thinking nothing of it, and the other person read it the wrong way.

This even happens with text messages.

The other big issue with social media is you get to hide behind a screen.

Most people wouldn’t say the mean or hurtful things to another person if that person was standing in front of them.

The point here is, you need to stay off social media.

You quickly get sucked in you lose hours of your day.

Pick up a book instead or go for a walk.

Both your mental health and physical health will be better off as a result.

#6. Focus On Your Health

What does the food you eat have to do with building wealth?

A lot more than you think.

When most of your diet is built around junk food calories and drinking too much alcohol and soda, your body is not working for optimal performance.

It is trying to rid itself of the junk and survive on the little good stuff you are putting into it.

It’s like being in a bad relationship.

Sure there are good times, but most of your time and energy is used for being hurt, sad, or angry.

When you eat bad food, you can’t focus or concentrate as well and you don’t have the energy you should.

Your sleep is poor, making you tired the next day.

When this happens, you are prone to giving into your bad habits and making poor decisions.

Instead, you need to start feeding yourself healthy food so you can perform better.

This isn’t to say you can never eat junk food.

Rather limit it.

I’ve found that when I eat poorly, I notice it now because I am not my usual self the next day.

#7. Control Your Emotions

Most of us get ourselves into trouble when we say something at a time when we are highly emotional.

I’m sure if you take 5 minutes right now, you can think of a few such times.

Before you say what is on your mind, take a step back and think things through.

Chances are you will be thankful you didn’t say what you were thinking.

Why is it important to control what you say?

You never know what will come back to haunt you. It’s as simple as that.

So while you may want to tell your boss who is letting you go where to stick it, you are better off biting your tongue.

You never know when you might need a reference for a future job.

Another emotion that separates the rich vs. poor is fear.

The rich lean into their fear and build self confidence. This confidence gives them the courage to keep pushing forward.

The poor on the other hand give into their fear and never build their confidence.

This causes them to get stuck in their situation and never improve.

If you can learn to think before you speak and lean into fear, you will see a monumental shift in your life for the better.

One great way to get started with this is by reading the book, The Magic Of Thinking Big.

#8. Network And Volunteer Regularly

Over 75% of wealthy people network and volunteer while less than 10% of the poor network and volunteer.

Why is volunteering important? There are a few reasons:

  • Volunteering makes you feel good. Studies show that volunteering a few times a month provides the same feeling as if the person was earning a salary of $75,000 a year.
  • It’s all about who you know. The more people you know, the more opportunities will come your way. These could be job opportunities or even the opportunity to go to conferences and other events where you can meet other like-minded people. You might even find new customers or clients when you network.

By volunteering and expanding your network, you set yourself up to take advantage of situations when they present themselves to you.

When you are happy and in a good mood, you are more likely to act on an opportunity as opposed to when you are unhappy.

Talk to any successful person and they will tell you that preparation was the key to their success.

They did things to put themselves in position to take advantage of opportunities.

So get out there and start volunteering, find happiness and grow your inner circle.

You never know the great opportunities it may bring.

#9. Go Above And Beyond In Work And Business

I think this is a common point, but so few people actually practice it.

When it comes time for their annual raise, they wonder why they are only getting the standard 3%.

You have to become valuable at work if you want to earn a higher income.

Here is my personal experience with this habit.

I was at work one day and I finished with my project. I went into my boss’s office and asked him what work he had that I could do for him.

After talking for a little bit, I found out there were a few tasks he had to do that he hated doing.

He showed me how to do them and I took over doing them going forward.

When it came time for my review, he remembered how I stepped up and took some of his work off his plate.

I earned a 5% raise that year.

But it didn’t stop there.

I was the first to get offered new opportunities and projects that would put me in front of executives and other directors within in the company.

In other words, simply helping my boss with his workload spring boarded my career forward.

If you are someone who punches in and punches out doing the things you were told are your responsibilities, chances are you aren’t going to get ahead and neither will your salary.

I’m not saying you have to be at work 24 hours a day.

But you do have to step out of your job description and take on more challenges and responsibilities if you want to earn a higher salary.

This means that sometimes you will have to come in early or work late, but not every day and the benefits of doing so are tremendous.

#10. Invest In The Stock Market

The rich realize that the stock market is their friend.

In order to grow their wealth, they need to earn a decent return on their money.

So they learn the basics and begin to invest their money.

The average person on the other hand, puts their money into savings accounts.

This is a safe investment since they worked so hard for their money.

But the problem is they won’t be able to grow their wealth by using a bank account.

Here is why.

Let’s say you are smart with your money and are able to save $50,000.

You put this money into a savings account that earns 1% for the next 20 years.

The rich person take her $50,000 and puts into the stock market for 20 years and it earn 8% annually.

At the end of the 20 years, you have a little more than $61,000.

The rich person has over $233,000!

Ending Value Of Wealth

They grew their wealth by over $180,000 and you grew yours by $10,000.

Even if investing scares you, you still need to do it.

You can invest in a conservative way and still earn a decent return.

Even if you earn 4% on your money, you are in better shape and will have fewer financial struggles in life.

Here’s proof.

Your $50,000 would grow to over $109,000 with that return, meaning you would have another $60,000 of wealth.

The bottom line is, when you invest your money, you grow your wealth, which opens the door to a better future.

#11. Set Goals, Not Wishes

What is the difference between a goal and a wish?

A goal is something you can essentially control the chances of it becoming a reality while with a wish you have zero control over.

This is closely related to playing the lottery from above.

For example, I can wish for 5 million dollars.

If I keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing up until this point in my life, odds are slim I am going to have 5 million dollars.

But, if I set up a goal to have 5 million dollars, things change.

I set up an action plan and take steps to better my chances of reaching my goal of 5 million dollars.

I also start to track my progress.

Here is the best part of this.

Say I fail on my goal. Does that make everything I did to reach the goal a waste of time?


Chances are I am earning more money now and I have a lot more in savings.

I might have failed on my goal of reaching $5 million dollars, but I am in a better financial place than I was before.

Additionally, I learned a lot about myself and grew as a person.

In other words, trying to reach the goal made me much better off than I was before.

Let’s say you have a goal of earning an extra $1,000 a month.

How would you achieve this goal?

For starters, you could work smarter at your job and earn a larger salary.

While this is a good start, you need to also think outside the box.

What are some things you could do to easily earn money on the side?

You could spend a few minutes a day taking surveys and easily make an extra $200 a month.

If you are good at writing resumes, you could make money editing resumes for people looking to change careers.

These are just a few ideas to show you how to set some goals.

If you need another reason why you need to set goals, 70% of wealthy people set at least one major goal a year while only 3% of poor people set goals.

Learn to set goals and improve your life.

Start off with something small, like reading for 30 minutes before bed for a month.

When you achieve this goal and built some momentum, set another goal.

Another goal you can set is to say 10 money affirmations a day.

This will help you to get in the right frame of mind to succeed in more of your goals.

As you achieve your goals and learn from your mistakes, you can begin to set loftier goals.

#12. Use Long Term Thinking

The way you think, or approach life has a major impact on your financial success.

For example, rich people think long term.

Before they buy something or do something, they take the time to figure out the long term benefits and consequences.

The poor think short term.

They give into emotions and don’t fully understand the long term effect of their actions.

Here is an example to help you better understand this.

A poor person will walk into a car dealership and tell the salesperson they can afford a monthly payment of $500.

A smart salesperson can work the numbers out, like length of the loan and interest rate to get you into a $40,000 car for $500 a month.

This sounds great.

But when you factor in how long you will be paying for the car, you total cost is over $42,000.

This might not sound bad.

But a rich person will walk in and say they will pay $30,000 for a car, and buy the car that fits into this budget.

In the end, the rich person paid over $12,000 less for a car.

They can now take this money and invest to grow into more money.

Or they can use it when an opportunity comes their way.

The goal for you is to try to look at the long term impact of things before you do anything.

The more you can do this, the better off you will be.

#13. Track Your Progress

One of the most underrated habits of rich people is tracking their progress.

They make it a point to monitor their progress so they can keep doing what is working and stop what is not.

The easiest way for a lot of people to take advantage of this is to track your net worth.

This is a simple habit that will have a tremendous impact on your future wealth.

Simply sit down and list out your debts, like auto loans, your mortgage, and credit card debt.

Then write down your liquid assets, like cash, bank account balances, and investment balances.

Finally, subtract your debts, also called your liabilities, from your assets.

The number you get is your net worth.

The higher this number the better.

What this exercise tells you is how well you save and grow your wealth.

And if you calculate it on a regular basis, it will put you into the right mindset to make smart financial decisions in life.

For example, when I was younger, I had a negative net worth.

My student loan debts were a lot more than what I had in savings.

I worked hard and one day my net worth turned positive.

It was around this time I was looking at a new car.

The problem was if I bought the car, my net worth would become negative again because of the car loan.

I ended up not buying the car and kept saving money.

By just tracking my progress with my net worth, I made smarter financial decisions.

#14. Avoid Procrastination

This is a big issue for many people.

You know you have to do something, but the DVR has the latest episode of your favorite show.

It would be so easy to just put off that task for an hour and watch TV instead.

The next thing you know, you’ve spent the entire night watching TV and got nothing done.

This is a problem because if you keep putting something off it will never get done.

Shocking, I know.

But if you never do it, then you will never be better.

Everything will stay exactly the same.

How boring is that?

And if your life is a mess now, it just means the mess will still be there in the future.

To overcome procrastination, you need to do 2 things:

  • Create a to-do list
  • Have a partner

By having a to-do list, you can keep track of the things you need to get done and then be motivated as you cross things off of your list.

Just make sure you prioritize your list.

Here is how you do this.

Make sure that you put the things that will have the greatest impact on your life at the top and the least impactful at the bottom.

This will take some thinking.

For example, the laundry might seem like something that is easy and should be done first.

But if your goal is to build your relationship with your spouse, then it is more important that you set up time to spend with your spouse.

The laundry can wait until later.

You could even throw a load in at night, then read for 30 minutes, move the clothes to the dryer, read some more, then take them out and go to bed.

In addition to a list, find a partner to be accountable to for helping you reach your goal.

This can be your spouse, family member, or even a friend.

By having someone to help keep you in line and to motivate you when times get tough and to celebrate with you when you reach goals, you will more than likely see your goals through.

Having an outside influence goes a long way to helping you avoid procrastination.

#15. Talk Less, Listen More

We are horrible when it comes to listening.

We love to talk about ourselves. Heck, this is why social media is so popular.

We get to talk about our lives and how awesome things are.

But the key to becoming wealthy is to learn to listen.

You can learn so much just by listening to others talk.

And if you are in a room of people, you can spot the rich person because the wealthy listen more than they talk.

You can learn how not to approach a problem versus how to approach a problem.

You can learn tips and tricks other people use and the things they have done to become successful.

The next time you are with others, stop talking and start listening to them.

Ask follow up questions based on what they say and not try to tell a related story about your life.

See what you can learn from them to make your life better and more efficient.

#16. Avoid Toxic People

I’ll admit, this one is much easier said than done, but it is completely true.

You are the company you keep.

This means that if you hang out with troublemakers, you too will most likely become a troublemaker.

You need to sit down and look over all of your relationships and cut out or limit those relationships that don’t improve your life.

Like I said, easier said than done.

If you have friends that are toxic, it can be easy to cut them out of your life.

Stop calling and texting them and do something else.

But with family, it isn’t so simple.

While you might not want to cut them out of your life completely, you can limit your time with them.

Only see them during the holidays or special events. Don’t get sucked into their stories when you are around them.

In other words, come up with a reason why you need to leave.

If you can’t leave, have a reminder on your phone.

This reminder should be a note of all the good you have in life and what goals you are striving for.

Doing this will help you wash away the negativity that will affect you when talking to these people.

It is so important that you go through this process if you want to become wealthy and successful.

Studies show that 96% of those struggling financially hang out with others that are struggling too, while 86% of successful people hang out with other successful people.

Where can you find successful people?

They are everywhere.

Join groups on Volunteer and network. Join a recreational sports team.

The options are endless.

You just have to start thinking and meet new people.

#17. Don’t Give Up

Let me break it to you, you are going to fail.

In fact, you will fail a lot in life.

For many of us, we see failure is a bad thing.

We think of failure as getting a bad grade or not being good enough.

We need to change how we look at it and see failure as a good thing.

When you fail, you are trying something new and growing as a person.

You are trying to be the best you that you can be.

There will be times when you stumble and fall and this is OK.

Just take a few minutes, think about why you failed and try again.

You tried again after falling off your bike, didn’t you? And again when you failed your driver’s test?

This failure is just another bump in the road.

Look back on what you did wrong and make adjustments and try again.

Odds are you will see success if you can objectively look at what went wrong and work on correcting it.

Learn from your mistakes and stop looking at failure as a bad thing.

#18. Set Aside Self-Limiting Beliefs

Some of us are great at putting ourselves down. Here are a few common ones:

  • I’m not pretty enough
  • I’m not smart enough
  • I’m just poor, I’ll never become rich
  • Things will never change
  • I’ll never get the job or promotion
  • I’m destined to be a failure
  • I’m destined to be alone

They key to becoming rich or even happy in some cases is to turn off this switch and start thinking positively.

Related read: Can You Buy Happiness with Money? 11 Ways to Buy Lasting Happiness

Here is a great infographic for how to do this.


When you say limiting beliefs to yourself, you start to believe them.

The next thing you know, they become true.

You give up trying in life and just coast through.

If you put in the hard work to have a positive attitude, start telling yourself that things can change, your outlook and mood will improve.

The result is you will start down a path of reaching and achieving your goals.

Remind yourself that many poor people have become rich.

Why not you? Remember that new jobs are filled every day.

Why not you getting hired? Start looking at all of the good things you have going for you and get into a positive mindset.

Don’t tell me you can’t think of anything you have going for you either.

Watch this video and then tell me how bad you have it.

Earlier I mentioned how having a partner can help you reach your goals. In that case, having a friend motivate you goes a long way.

In this case, having a mentor is like finding a gold mine.

Seek out and find someone that has achieved the success you want to achieve. Befriend them and pick their brain.

You’ll be surprised at how generous they are with giving you information to help you succeed.

In fact, over 93% of successful people have a mentor.

It will be much harder to be wealthy or successful if you are blindly chasing it.

By having someone on your side that has achieved the goal you want to achieve, you greatly increase your odds of success too.

After all, anyone who attempts to climb Mt. Everest takes along a team of Sherpa’s who have already achieved the goal.

So, take some time to find other successful people and see if they are willing to mentor you.

#20. Eliminate Bad Luck

There is no such thing as bad luck.

It is simply a state of mind. There is no such thing as good luck either.

But then why do some people appear to be lucky?

They prepare themselves for the opportunity.

No one knows what opportunities could come their way, but the people that catch the breaks and are lucky are simply in the right place at the right time.

They prepared to be ready for when opportunity presents itself.

luck wheel

They stay out of debt and save so they have the financial resources to take advantage of an opportunity.

They network and keep a group of other successful people around so they can be the first to hear of new ideas and businesses to be part of.

There are two times in my life that had a big impact on me, once when I was lucky and once when I was unlucky.

Both are because of what I did before the event occurred.

In the case of being lucky, I got laid off from my job two months before my wedding.

At the time, I was running a website on the side, slowly building it up and saving as much money as possible.

When I did lose my job, it wasn’t a time of panic.

Because I had built up another source of income and saved a lot my money, I was able to start working for myself.

Fast forward to today and I am making more working for myself and loving every minute of it.

The time I was unlucky was because I wasn’t prepared.

I had just bought a house I couldn’t afford and some opportunities that came my way to invest in real estate.

But because I was struggling to survive, I didn’t have the means to invest.

Those who were prepared and made the investment, tripled their money in a few short months.

The bottom line is it isn’t luck, its preparation.

If you follow all of the steps in this post, you too will see more opportunity come your way and will be able to take advantage of these opportunities yourself.

You just have to prepare so you are ready when the opportunities present themselves.

#21. Know Your Main Purpose

The happier you are, the more successful you will become.

The key then is to do things that make you happy.

If you are in a job you hate, the odds of you staying late to take on a new project or take over some of your boss’s work are slim.

This means your chances of earning a decent raise are slim too. Your best bet is to find a different job.

I can attest to this.

One of the jobs I worked, I hated. With a passion.

I would show up on time, or sometimes a few minutes late, and would check out right at quitting time and sometimes a few minutes early.

I would take a longer lunch break than I should have. I would surf the internet. I would take extra bathroom breaks. I would call out when I didn’t feel like working.

It’s no surprise my raises were barely 2% each year.

Eventually I started blogging full time.

I work more hours now than I did when I had a full-time job and blogged part time.

But the interesting thing is that I love every minute of it. It never feels like work.

I enjoy it and it brings me a lot pleasure to talk about personal finance and success.

The fact that I make as much as I do blog blows my mind.

The key for you is to find the things you love to do and understand the skills you have.

Then see if you can earn a living doing those things and using the skills you have.

If you can do this, you will greatly improve your odds of wealth and success.

One final tip on this point.

Don’t limit yourself.

I hated English class and writing papers in high school and college.

Yet, here I am a writer.

I enjoy it because I get to write about something that I enjoy and I don’t have to include a bibliography at the end.

What I am trying to say is don’t cross something off just because you don’t like it.

You may not like something just because of the association it has with something else.

Final Thoughts

There is your template for developing the same rich habits of the wealthy and becoming filthy rich and super successful.

Study these habits of wealthy people, follow them, and the world is yours my friend.

I know that doing all of these tips at once can be overwhelming, so start small.

Turn off the television and read or spend time on a hobby or with your family.

After some time, add something else into the mix, like volunteering.

The key is to take things slow. It is not a race.

The more patience you have with changing your routines, the more likely they are to stick for the long term.

The only thing left to do now is to not procrastinate and actually get to work!

Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on MoneySmartGuides and was republished with permission.

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