7 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Become a Millionaire

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What do you picture when you hear about someone who's a millionaire?

Perhaps a well-groomed old man lounging in his bathrobe, sipping on a tall glass of some complicated beverage, overlooking acres of achievement from the portico of his mansion?

Or maybe a fine-dressed young lady, confidently walking the through a Manhattan park on her way to the corporate meeting where she will soon land a business deal worth 50 years of your income.

Millionaire. It's a title you may have never dreamed you could ever give yourself. But what if you could? I want you to envision yourself as a millionaire. It's a lot of fun. Imagine all the good you could accomplish in the world. Dream of the possibility. Believe you can become one. It could be simpler than you think.

You're Rich Already -- But Don't Stop There

Before I show you a some surprisingly simple ways to become a millionaire, reflect on just how wealthy you are already. On GlobalRichList.com, enter your annual net income or net worth and compare your wealth with the rest of the world. Say you net $20,000 in income every year. You're in the top 3.65 percent richest people in the world by income. Imagine if you make more.

Don't whine because you're not a millionaire yet. It's OK to dream, but remember that contentment should be a cornerstone of your financial plan.

Surprisingly Simple Ways to Become a Millionaire

Simple tasks are not always easy tasks. If I were to hand you a spoon and ask that you dig a hole 9 feet down into packed soil, that'd be straightforward and simple -- but not be easy.

Likewise, you'll find some of these simple ways to be just that -- simple but not easy. But come on, you're tenacious enough for the job, right?

Jaime Tardy, author of "The Eventual Millionaire," has interviewed hundreds of millionaires. "One of the main traits of a millionaire is perseverance," she said. "The ability to keep going in the face of adversity even when the finish line is very far away."

Although these tips may seem surprisingly simple and familiar, don't underestimate their effectiveness.

1. Work Smarter and Harder than Your Competition

Identify your competition. How hard are they working? What are some differentiators you can bring to your workplace or market?

Start by working smarter. There's no use in working harder if your work isn't effective at producing income -- you'll be spinning your wheels.

Simple, common sense changes can greatly improve your effectiveness: Don't sell ice cream cones on your front lawn in the dead of winter. Instead, set up a booth at the park in the sizzling summertime.

Work harder than others are willing. We've all seen the guy or gal at the office who works the hardest Maybe they're a little nerdy or a little too interested in their job -- or are they? Maybe they're onto something. After all, aren't they getting the promotions and becoming the office linchpins?

I remember when began my career with A.G. Edwards & Sons in 2002, I was in a training class of around 55 people. After completing training a year later, our class was reduced to less than half. At my fifth anniversary, only five of us were left. Most failed because they weren't willing to put in the hard work required.

I beg you to not be afraid of hard work. Not only will your boss feel better about what you're doing for them -- you will too.

"I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked. You may be more talented than me. You might be smarter than me. And you may be better looking than me. But if we get on a treadmill together, you are going to get off first or I'm going to die. It's really that simple. I'm not going to be outworked." -Will Smith, actor

2. Learn from Your Mistakes and Move On

Everyone makes them. I've made some pitiful mistakes. Would you get suckered into two multilevel companies that go nowhere? Would you lose $8,000 on an online business venture? Those are just some of the investment mistakes I've made.

Mistakes are difficult to swallow. I think our first gut reaction to the realization we messed up is to shift blame -- to others or to circumstances. The very best way forward is to admit we fumbled the ball. Are you willing to admit when you make mistakes?

Some people, when faced with their own inadequacies, beat themselves up. And you know what that does? It paralyzes them from making the decisions they need to make to achieve success.

So, take the simple step to fess up and move on. Yes, it's simpler than you think -- especially once you have practice. Millionaires don't give up because of a few silly mistakes. They press on.

"Only those who are asleep make no mistakes." -Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea

3. Build Something That You Would Love -- And Experiment, Too

You can read book after book about how to research what your customers will love, and by the time you deliver it, they'll be bored with it.

If you're the entrepreneurial type -- I know I am -- work on projects you can get excited about. Chances are, if you create something that you'd use and love, others will too.

Millionaires understand that some of the best ideas don't come out of costly research but out of a passion for making the world a better place.

In 1945, Percy Spencer experimented with a new vacuum tube while doing research for the Raytheon (RTN). He popped popcorn, melted a candy bar and saw the great potential for what culminated into the microwave.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple (AAPL) recently explained in an interview with Charlie Rose that it's more difficult to edit than it is to create something new. But I've learned that sometimes creating something new can be the best way forward to becoming a millionaire.

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new." -Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple

4. Learn to Budget -- or Get Help

I hate budgeting. Thankfully, my wife budgets like a pro. ​If you don't budget, I promise you'll lose money to overspending.

Want to make yourself sick? Count up how much you're spending on eating out, clothing, gadgets, and other delights and write it down. Then, start budgeting. After a year, look at how much you're spending and compare with your initial count. Yikes. Try not to lose your lunch.

A hugely important part of budgeting is ensuring you're spending less than you're making. And the only way to do that friends, is to track everything. If you're not a spreadsheets-kind-of-person, that's OK. Just make sure you have some help.

"Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1." -Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A)

5. Start Investing -- It's Simpler Than You Think

Millionaires many times become millionaires -- and stay millionaires -- because they invest.

The good news? It's pretty simple. Betterment.com is a great place to start when you're new to investing. The people behind this site believe that investing doesn't have to be complicated and that if more people had an easier way to do so, they would. With Betterment, you really only have three decisions to make: how much money to invest, how often you want to invest it, and how you want your asset allocation to look between stocks and bonds. Boom. You're done. I like that.

There are other ways to start investing. I proved that in my Grow Your Dough Throwdown where I opened up seven accounts with seven online brokers, funding each with $1,000. I wanted to show people how easy it is to get started investing.

Just start somewhere. It's OK if you don't have a lot of money to invest right away. I started with investments at a very young age, with a little help from my mom. Start investing a few bucks and I'll applaud you. Also, once you start investing, don't abandon the ship. The stock market has its ups and downs. Just ride the wave. Think long-term.

6. Don't Believe Discouraging People

As soon as you accept that you're not going to become a millionaire, you probably won't -- and you'll settle for the ordinary. After all, your beliefs affect your actions -- and your actions affect your outcomes.

When you listen to discouraging people, you're letting them accomplish their goal -- to drag you down and ensure you don't surpass their success. No good.

Instead, I suggest you prove them wrong -- but be humble about it. Your results will speak louder than your words, I promise you.

"I just love it when people say I can't do it. There's nothing that makes me feel better, because all my life, people have said that I wasn't going to make it. -Ted Turner, founder of CNN

7. Save Some of Your Income for a Rainy Day

If you've lived on this planet for any considerable number of years, you know that bad stuff happens. Sometimes several bad things happen all at the same time. That's why I recommend that you save some of your income for a rainy day.

Medical emergencies can last years. Trees go through roofs. Jobs can be lost.

Here's what this has to do with becoming a millionaire. If you have an emergency and don't have some liquid cash saved up in a savings account, you're likely to either go into debt (bad idea) or borrow from family members (very bad idea).

Think of debt as the polar opposite of investing. Instead of you investing in companies, companies are investing in you -- looking to make as much profit as possible by pulling it out of your wallet. It's bad news, people.

According to many experts, you should have around three to six months of expenses in your emergency fund -- in bad times, I recommend you shoot for eight months.

Get Out There and Become a Millionaire

Think trying to become a millionaire will change you? Don't. It's all about the journey. Just don't make the journey more complicated that it needs to be. These methods are surprisingly simple and easy to understand. Doing them is another matter. But I believe in you.

Remember, it's OK to pursue millionaire status. But don't do it for the fame. Pursue it for your family. Pursue it for your community. Pursue it for a purpose greater than yourself.

After you earn your million, read how I would invest it.

"Being a millionaire wont change who you are. It won't magically make your life better. You're still the same person. It's the journey of getting there that's the sweet part. Don't miss the good and bad of that journey. Understand what you want out of life and how much money you need to do that. Then be patient and persistent on doing whatever it takes to get there." -Noah Kagan, Facebook employee No. 30 and founder of AppSumo

15 Important Expenses That You Forgot to Plan For
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7 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Become a Millionaire
Is your water bill due quarterly? Figure out how much you need to save each month to have enough to pay for the bill when it comes, and put that amount aside each month so you'll be prepared. Do the same for any bills due regularly but not monthly.
Bills you only have to pay once a year can be even harder to remember, so be sure to note things like property taxes, auto registration fees and insurance premiums and budget for them as well.
Annual subscriptions and memberships regularly trip up people's budgets. Be sure to set aside money each month for things like:
  • Newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
  • Gym memberships.
  • Warehouse club memberships.
  • Union dues.
  • Road service membership fees.
Other expenses don't happen on a regular basis, but you can still predict the need to pay for them over the course of the year. Chief among these are repair and maintenance expenses, with the biggest ones being car-related costs (oil changes, inspections, new brakes or tires, etc.) and home costs (leaky faucets, spring-time yard work, etc.).
Some home repairs go beyond the scope of "routine" and require a significant amount of money in reserve. These can include replacing your roof, installing new windows or doing a major home renovation. You can anticipate the need for most of these repairs before you have to make them, so be sure to start budgeting for them in advance.
You also need to repair and maintain your body, so factor in medical costs like annual physicals, eye exams and dental checkups, as well as co-pays and prescriptions costs if you have any ongoing conditions.
If you plan to purchase any large items in the foreseeable future, from appliances to a new car, make sure you're putting aside enough each month to pay for them in cash. It's always best to pay for big-ticket items upfront rather than finance them (unless you can get a fantastic discount by financing and can pay the balance in full before any interest kicks in).
From birthdays to holidays, there are plenty of special occasions each year to budget for. Make sure to include:
  • Birthday gifts.
  • Holiday gifts.
  • Anniversary gifts.
  • Party hosting costs.
  • Dinner costs if you take someone out to celebrate.
  • Wedding expenses (gifts, travel, hotel stays, etc.).
Your four-legged family members also need to be part of your budget. Pet care costs to consider include:
  • Food and treats.
  • Toys.
  • Vet bills and medications.
  • Grooming.
  • Boarding or pet sitting.
Do you take an annual vacation? Travel twice a year to visit family for the holidays? Set aside money each month for any travel-related costs such as airfare, hotels, meals, rental cars and souvenirs.
Whether you run a business or simply a household, there are certain expenses you may need to plan for in the business category. These can include:
  • Tax preparation fees and tax payments.
  • Conferences.
  • Trips.
  • Continuing education.
  • Dues for professional organizations.
Whether you give annually to a charity of your choice or like to have some money set aside for your friends' and family's fundraisers, make sure to allocate enough each month to cover these donations
A good budget allows for a little "free" spending money you can do with as you please. It can be $20 a month for fancy coffee at your favorite coffee shop or $100 a month to feed your favorite hobby. The amount doesn't matter so much as the fact that you're allowing yourself a little guilt-free fun to keep your budget from feeling too restrictive.
Depending on your lifestyle, your eating out and entertainment budget could be a little or a lot. Whether you prefer to have dinner out once a weekend or see a movie every few weeks, figure out how much you'd ideally like to have and then examine any budget categories you can tweak to make room for it. If you realize you need to cut back on your habits a little to save money, that's fine too-at least you're aware of it now so you can act accordingly.
Even if you're not a clothes horse, chances are there are certain items you'll need to purchase throughout the year. These can include:
  • Updated work clothes.
  • A new coat, hat and other accessories come winter.
  • A new bathing suit for the summer.
  • New shoes as yours wear out.
  • Back-to-school clothes for your kids.
Calculate your annual spending on all clothing and accessories and divide that amount by 12 to determine how much you should be putting aside each month.
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