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Sometimes it obvious who are financially successful people. Other times, the financially successful are hiding amongst us. These are the people who have habits that make them rich, but they don’t necessarily show it.

The millionaires living in our neighborhoods who we know always seem to have money, but it is not obvious why.

The traits of financially successful people are not hard to understand but can be hard to implement. Once you understand these traits, you can determine if you want to evolve your behavior to join that elusive club with a millionaire mindset.

Being Financially Successful – Stop Stereotyping

Financially successful people exist at all income brackets. Really.

Both examples below are people whom I know. I am sure you know similar individuals.

A janitor making $30,000/year who owns her own home, doesn’t have debt, and has an IRA that she has contributed to every year. She has clearly done an amazing job of managing her finances. She is financially successful.

In comparison, take the family with the breadwinner making $200,000/year who has a lovely home, kids at private schools, and two beautiful BMWs sitting in the driveway. This family on the surface is clearly better off, but is it? Now consider that they still have a mortgage, potentially student loans (their own, not their kids), car loans, and credit card debt.

Now, who is financially successful? The janitor is more likely to become a millionaire in her lifetime. The janitor proves that you don’t need to have a big salary to become a millionaire (though, it does help). More importantly, you need to have the right habits and mindset.

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7 Traits of Financially Successful People

1. Set Goals and Adjust Objectives

These people have financial goals. Most likely, a few obtainable goals that are truly meaningful.

They might not write down their goals in the SMART goal format, but don’t underestimate the power of their goals.

Financially successful people are absolutely passionate about their goals. Just ask them.

The timelines might be adjusted based on life circumstances. Smaller objectives are changed based on success/failure.

The overarching goals rarely change. The goals are just too important.

2. Comfortable with Being Different

A common trait of financially successful people is actually uncommon in the general population. It is the trait of being comfortable with being different.

Success rare comes from following the herd. These are the people who have learned to save, earn, and invest more than the average person. In fact, they might appear to be a little less well off. They may not have a nice car or join the country club.

They might hide or disguise their financial differences to make you feel more comfortable. It does not mean they are uncomfortable with doing things differently.

3. Smart and Frugal But Not Cheap

There is a big difference between smart and frugal and just plain cheap.

A smart, frugal person knows what they want and will make compromises. Saving money does not consume him.

A financially successful person understands that you cannot have it all. He will be frugal on things that do not matter to him but will spend wisely on those important items to him.

I think of it as the 80/20 rule. 80% of the spend is smart and frugal. The other 20% is on things that bring joy (within the constraints of the budget).

He might always buy a new car (not frugal) but will save for the car and pay cash – still smart.

A cheap person gets handcuffed by being cheap.

It is all about saving for the cheap person and that is a real problem as financially successful people are looking at finances from a multitude of angles.

4. It’s Not All About Saving

Most people start their financial journey by paying off debt and saving money. They need to save money to pay off credit card bills or student loan debt. The mindset is to save money, save money, and save money.

This is not the mindset of a financially successful person.

She needs to consider how to spend her money wisely, how she will invest, and how to earn more money. These aspects of finance are as or more important than saving money and paying down debt.

The financial impact is a consideration of all major life decisions.

5. Take Risks

Taking risks is a key trait of successful people. These people are less afraid of failing than the average person. They see failure as a learning opportunity and stepping stone for improving.

The problem with people starting their financial journey with the save money to pay down debt mentality is this saving money is the primary goal. Doing something more than saving money is considered risky in their mind and risk is bad.

There are so many ways to build your financial portfolio. You cannot be single-dimensional.

Saving money is the least effective method of providing long-term financial returns.

Investing money has a much higher return. The S&P 500’s average annual return has been 8% from 1957 to 2018. Savvy investors who are willing to take educated risks beat the S&P 500 returns.

What is the current savings account interesting rate? Less than 1% at most banks.

Finally, another great investment is in you and your career. Building your career and getting the advancements are going to require risk-taking.

What that risk-taking looks like is different for every person. It could be anything from taking a job in another state to starting your own business. The key is you need to put yourself out there and break away from the herd. It is risky.

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6. Keep It Simple

Financial success does not have to be rocket science unless you are an aeronautical engineer.

Simple goals and well thought out plans will allow you to be successful financially.

There is no holy grail and no quick fix.

Stop looking for the magic pill to make you financially successful. There is no magic pill.

Financially successful people know to stay true to the fundamentals. Keep it simple and keep learning about finance. Fill in your knowledge blind spots, this is not rocket science.

7. Who’s In Control?

You are in control. Quite simply successful people believe in themselves.

They know there might be speedbumps, but they will adjust to the new situation.

Taking control of your financial future is extremely gratifying. You are no longer stressing about money, which is commonplace. There are set goals with plans that you control.

Financially successful people are in control of their financial future. These are the self-made millionaires next door.

Can you gain a millionaire mindset? Of course, you can. Start with trait #1 of setting goals. The next step is continuing to learn. Learning, in the beginning, will be overwhelming. The knowledge you gain will be empowering and give you control.


Financially successful people are all around us. Their behavioral traits set them apart. Start adopting these traits and begin down the road of financial freedom. The road will not be comfortable, but the rewards are worth the journey. To recap, the 7 traits are:

  1. Set Goals and Adjust Objectives
  2. Be Comfortable with Being Different
  3. Be Smart and Frugal But Not Cheap
  4. It’s Not All About Saving
  5. Take Risks
  6. Keep It Simple
  7. Be in Control

If you are ready for this lifechanging journey, start today. Begin our 9-Week Financial Challenge. As a bonus, signup for our email (no spam…promise) and get a 30+ page free workbook to guide your journey towards financial independence.

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Below are a few articles that will help you on your journey including the first-week challenge in our series.

Good Luck, WhipperSnapper Finance

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