Thomas Corley on the Rich Habits of the Wealthy

Wealth Management

Learn From the Daily Habits of Wealthy Individuals

More money doesn't have to mean more problems.

Certified financial planner Thomas Corley. Photo by Eric Vitale

Thomas Corley, a certified financial planner, spent five years researching the habits of wealthy people for his book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals. Of the people he surveyed, 76% were self-made millionaires.

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If you had to select one daily habit that has the greatest impact on building wealth, what would it be? I call it dream-setting. It essentially means trying to identify the ideal life you desire 10 or 15 years down the road. Create a script—almost like a journal—for that life. Inside the script you are going to have a number of dreams. Bullet point each one, and build goals around each of them so you know what you have to accomplish in order to realize that dream. For example, if you wish to make $200,000 a year, what specific things would you need to do to get there? Do more training? Get a specific license in your industry? Purchase more rental properties? Invest in more-efficient equipment? Then ask yourself if you have the knowledge, skills or resources to pursue each goal.

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You say that wealthy people read consistently. What do they read? Does Twitter count? Ninety-six percent of self-made millionaires read 30 minutes each day for education, career or self-improvement. Fifty percent read history. Seventy-one percent read material that has to do with self-help; 56% read something inspirational. Only 3% read for entertainment. It doesn’t matter where you’re getting the information—it could be Facebook or Twitter. The important thing is you’re educating yourself. A lot of self-made millionaires in my study listen to audiobooks while they’re commuting to work or doing chores.


You say that self-made millionaires have multiple sources of income. Can you explain? They take their profits and reinvest in other things. They take calculated risks with their money to create revenue streams. Some buy rental properties or invest in side businesses. One of the people I interviewed was a lawyer and a dedicated saver who invested in the stock market. He invested $250,000 systematically over 30 years, and now his stock and bond portfolio is worth $2.5 million to $3 million.

What is the most common habit that prevents people from becoming wealthy? Increasing your standard of living to meet your increased income. You don’t want to supersize your life just because you’re making more money. Stuff doesn’t make you happy.

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How much does the average self-made millionaire save? All of the people in my study saved 10% or more of their net income every year, and 95% saved 20% or more of their net income. And they did this long before they became rich.