Picture of businesswoman dressed in white shirt sitting in her office and holding money in hand near face
Tae Kim

Tae Kim

5 Millionaire Habits that Changed My Life

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Millions of people dream of becoming millionaires, but how many of us actually know how to achieve this status?

In this post, I’ll share with you five millionaire habits that changed my wife and I’s life for the better, and helped us reach financial security in our 30s.

So, what comes to your mind when you think of a millionaire?

A trust fund kid that received his or her wealth from their parents?

Or the young tech geniuses that found a great idea and cashed it in with some investors?

How about a high powered executive in an expensive suit, dining at fine restaurants and spending his weekends on his yacht?

Would you be surprised if I was to tell you that our TV image of a millionaire is actually a minority, and that most millionaires don’t look anything like what we imagine?

Dr. Thomas Stanley did a study of actual millionaires and summarized his findings in his famous book “The Millionaire Next Door.”

The biggest finding from his research was that not only are majority of American millionaires (80% of millionaire) are first generation rich (meaning they became millionaires by their own making) many of them don’t live the lifestyle that we imagine when we think of millionaires.

They don’t wear expensive clothes, watches and other status artifacts commonly associated with millionaires.

This is a direct quote from book.

“These people cannot be millionaires! They don’t look like millionaires, they don’t dress like millionaires, they don’t eat like millionaires, they don’t act like millionaires – they don’t even have millionaire names. Where are the millionaires who look like millionaires?”

– Vice President of a Trust Department, The Millionaire Next Door.

When I read this book and his finding, it was a huge encouragement.

It showed me that becoming a millionaire was not a far fetched dream, and that it was achievable, just like many other had done in one generation.

So if you are excited to learn my favorite 5 millionaire habits, let’s get right started.

1 - Don't Care What Other People Think

If you’ve ever heard of anyone talk about their regrets on their deathbed, this is a common statement.

Bonnie Ware worked in Palliative Care for many years and wrote a book titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” listing out the most common regrets expressed to her by the people she cared for.

The #1 statement she heard was

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

– The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Too many of us live our lives thinking too much about what other people think.

I struggled too many years trying to please others (e.g. my parents, my teacher, my boss, my colleagues) rather than spending more time looking into myself and identifying what is that I wanted.

As children, we do need adults to provide us their opinions so we have something to model our lives against.

However, as we get older, we must learn to find our own pathway and have the courage to make our own decisions, even though it may deviate from what others expect of us or what the society expects of us.

My wife and I faced this when we decided to cohabitate with my parents.

The common American Dream story is that once you graduate from college, you move out of the house, you get married, buy a white picket fence house and have 2.5 kids.

We deviated from this standard narrative when we decided that it would be best for us financially as well as emotionally to live in a multigenerational household well into our adulthood.

Many people looked at us in a weird way and we received many judgement.

Couldn’t we afford our own place?  Do we still need the support of our parents as adults?  Don’t you know how to raise you own kids?

However, despite the ups and downs, we stayed on the path and today we have achieved more financially than we could have ever had, if we did not enter into this non-traditional multi-generational living.

Don’t care what other people think. Life is too short.

2 - Master Money

The school system is structured to give us life skills to navigate the complexities of life.

We learn to read. We learn basic math. We learn out national history.

However, one crucial life skill that is not taught in our school system universally, is basic money management skills.

Somehow, I got through 12 years of K-12 education, 4 years of undergrad and 2 years of graduate school, without really understanding the fundamentals of personal finance.

And one of the most embarrassing part of this is, I went to graduate school for my MBA, where I should have technically learned more about money.

It wasn’t until I was flat broke and under $105,000 of student loans at the age of 30, I started to develop my financial knowledge through attending personal finance seminars and reading personal finance books.

If you want to be successful in life. If you want to become a millionaire, you have to master the basics of money.

It’s like having a basic knowledge of how nutrition works. If we don’t know what food is healthy for us and what isn’t, we shouldn’t be surprised if we start having health issues.

In the same way, if we don’t master the basics of having a budget, investing our money and using financial products like insurance to our advantage, we will always be at a disadvantage.

You don’t need to get a PhD in Finance, but you do need basic knowledge.

You reading this article is a great start.

Kudos to you and I encourage you to keep expanding your knowledge.

3 - Cultivate a Love of Reading

My parents weren’t able to provide me much guidance when it came to navigating the professional adult life in America.

As immigrants from South Korea, they hustled through menial jobs to provide my sister and I the opportunity they never had.

They didn’t know specifically what that new opportunity looked like, but they knew enough that strong education would help us get there.

I am very thankful that my parents instilled in me the value of education at an early age.

As an immigrant child who didn’t know a lick of English at the age of 9, I learned how to read and write by spending countless hours at the local public library.

Books are so amazing because they provide insights into the greatest minds in history. They provide a view into ancient civilizations. They open up our imagination with new worlds.

And when it comes to becoming a millionaire, Seth Godin said best

“It’s not an accident that successful people read more books.” – Seth Godin.

Most millionaire became millionaire because they focused on growing themselves and applying new knowledge to their career, business and wealth.

The most accessible and best source of knowledge is books.

If you want to one day become a millionaire, cultivate a love of reading.

“The person you will be in 5 years will be based on the books read and the people you surround yourself with today.” – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

I expect to see you in 5 years surrounded by books and fellow millionaires.

4 - Learn to Rest

The fourth habit I want to share is “Learning to Rest.”

This was a habit I had to develop much later in life because it didn’t make sense to me when I was younger.

When we are in our twenties, we are hungry for progress.

When I graduated college, I was eager to jump into adulthood. I wanted to prove to the world that I was an adult. That I had succeeded in life.

And I thought the way to success was to just hustle. I had give 110% everyday and in everything.

Resting was for losers. I wanted to be a winner.

However, as I got older, I learned that going 110% all the time was not only physically and emotionally impossible, it wasn’t very smart.

We tend to treat our minds and bodies like machines. We think we can focus for 10 hour straight when science teaches us that, that is not possible. We think we can work effectively for 12 hour straight without rest, when science shows us that our effectiveness deteriorates after just few hours.

In the book “The Power of Full Engagement” By Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, the two Performance Psychologists tried to identify the key difference between the greatest performing tennis players and good, but not the greatest tennis players.

Interestingly, they couldn’t find any significant difference in their skillsets or ability.

However, the key difference came when they observed how each player was using the time between points.

The greatest players used this key time between points – when they would walk back to the baseline, bounce the tennis ball and get ready for match, by effectively resting.

They mastered the ability to lower their heart rate, take a breather and renew themselves for the next match.

Whereas, most lower ranked players had no recovery routine at all. When hooked up to an EKG, the lower ranked players heart rates remained amped at high level, while the greatest players were able to regulate their heart rates between the match and the time between points.

They had mastered the ability to effectively ‘rest’ so when it came down to the actual match, they were able to give their 110%.

By end of the game, the greatest players didn’t beat their opponents most often because of skill, but through sheer exhaustion. The lower ranked players didn’t know how regulate their energy level – they were thoroughly spent by the time they were well into the game.

High performers, in tennis and in life know how to regulate their energy level through effective rest. They know how to renew themselves effectively so when it comes to game time, they can focus and win.

“We live in a world that celebrates work and activity, ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance.” – The Power of Full Engagement

5 - Prioritize Quality Time With People You Love

In 1938, Harvard set out what came to be known as one the longest study every done by following 268 Harvard students for the next 80 years.

Harvard wanted to know – what are the key components to a healthy and happy life?

And they found a clear winner

“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.”

We talked a lot about habits that can make us millionaires.

And if you do follow the habits that I outlined in this video, I firmly believe that its not a matter of IF you will be a millionaire, but WHEN.

However, regardless of how important money is in giving us the basics of what we need to sustain ourselves and to take care of our families, money alone will not give us happy, fulfilling lives.

If you really want to be a successful millionaire, someone who want to truly live a RICH life, focus on people you love.

Living with my parents in my thirties was more of an accident that intentional planning. It was a mutually beneficial decision and it made financial decision at the time.

However, looking back at the last 10 years, what I’m most grateful for outside the financial benefit, is the time I was able to spend with my aging parents.

I’ve heard that 90% of time kids spend with their parents is done by the time kids are 18 years old.

Interestingly for me, this percentage is actually going the reverse as I get older.

Share this post!
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Excellent article! I too once thought that you can rest when you’re dead, that hustle and giving 110% was what was required to get ahead. I now think differently (after suffering burnout from a stressful job) – rest is crucial