Mastering your money can come down to establishing a few smart habits.
After all, “habits are the cause of wealth, poverty, happiness, sadness, stress, good relationships, bad relationships, good health, or bad health,” writes Thomas C. Corley in “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life,” a culmination of his research on hundreds of self-made millionaires.
Below, CNBC has rounded up 11 simple money habits you can adopt today that will help make 2017 a more lucrative year.
1. Automate your finances.
If your financial plan isn’t on auto-pilot, change that immediately, encourages self-made millionaire David Bach. Automating your finances — sending your money automatically to investment accounts, savings accounts, and creditors — allows you to build wealth effortlessly.
It’s “the one step that virtually guarantees that you won’t fail financially,” Bach writes in “The Automatic Millionaire.” “You’ll never forget a payment again — and you’ll never be tempted to skimp on savings because you won’t even see the money going directly from your paycheck to your savings accounts.”
Simply link your accounts, so that money from your paycheck goes straight to your 401(k) or from your checking account to your savings account, and set up the exact day you want to make transfers.
In addition to never making a late payment again, automation “frees up valuable time and allows you to focus on the fun parts of life, rather than spend time worrying about whether you paid that bill or if you’re going to overdraft again,” writes Bach.
2. Invest your ‘spare change.’
Investing is one of the most effective ways to build wealth, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lot of money to get started.
In fact, thanks to micro-investing apps such as Acorns, you can start by simply investing your “spare change.” The app will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically put any spare change to work.
Other apps also aim to make investing simple and accessible, and automated investing services known as robo-advisors can work for you, no matter how much you have in the bank.
The key takeaway: Start investing sooner rather than later to take full advantage of compound interest. As Bach explains, “the miracle of compounding can transform a relatively small but consistent amount of saving into major wealth.”
3. Ditch the small, daily purchases, such as your morning coffee.
Bach coined the term “The Latte Factor,” the idea behind which is that eliminating your $5 daily latte could help you save quite a bit of money over time.
Just as you can put your spare change to work, you can put this money to work. A $5 daily coffee amounts to about $35 a week, or $150 a month. “If you invested $150 a month and earned 10% annual return, you’d wind up with $948,611 in 40 years,” Bach notes.
Start by determining your “latte factor,” cut back on that expense, and direct the money towards an investment account, the financial advisor suggests: “We all throw away too much of our hard-earned money on unnecessary ‘little’ expenditures without realizing how much they can add up to.”
4. Come up with specific money goals.
“The number one reason most people don’t get what they want is that they don’t know what they want,” self-made millionaire T. Harv Eker writes in his book “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.” “Rich people are totally clear that they want wealth.”
To reach that level of clarity, he suggests writing down goals for your annual income and net worth. Like all goal-setting, be realistic, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. After all, the wealthiest people aren’t afraid to think big.
5. Save, don’t spend, unexpected cash.
Pretend that extra money, such as a bonus, birthday check or any windfall, doesn’t exist.
Get in the habit of putting any surprise cash, even if it’s just that $20 bill you found in your coat pocket, to work. Apply it to student loans, debt, your emergency fund, or an investment account. It’ll add up. Plus, establishing this habit early on will help you avoid lifestyle inflation when you get more surprise cash in the form of a raise.
6. Tell yourself you deserve to be rich.
The wealthiest individuals believe that “success, fulfillment and happiness are the natural order of existence,” self-made millionaire Steve Siebold writes in his book “How Rich People Think.” “This single belief drives the great ones to behave in ways that virtually guarantee their success.”
On the flip side, the average earner remains average because they expect to, the self-made millionaire explains: “The masses think they aren’t worthy of great wealth. Who am I, they ask themselves, to become a millionaire?”
Try asking yourself, “Why not me?” After all, that’s what the millionaires and billionaires do.
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8. Set your alarm clock earlier.
In addition to reading, wealthy people tend to wake up early. Self-made billionaires Richard Branson and Jack Dorsey start their days at 5:00 a.m., and they’re far from the only successful people to get up before the sun.
In a five-year study of hundreds of self-made millionaires, author Thomas C. Corley found that nearly 50 percent of them woke up at least three hours before their work day actually began.
We can’t guarantee that joining the early bird club will make you rich, but it can’t hurt, and it will almost certainly make you more productive.
9. Surround yourself with successful, high-earners.
Who you hang out with matters more than you may think. In fact, your net worth tends to mirror that of your closest friends, Siebold points out.
“Successful people generally agree that consciousness is contagious, and that exposure to people who are more successful has the potential to expand your thinking and catapult your income,” the self-made millionaire writes. “We become like the people we associate with, and that’s why winners are attracted to winners.”
Looking for a new crew to roll with? Consider joining a high-end tennis, golf, health, or business club, Eker suggests in “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.” “If there’s no way you can afford to join a high-end club, have coffee or tea in the classiest hotel in your city,” he writes. “Get comfortable in this atmosphere and watch the patrons, noticing they’re no different from you.”
10. Track your spending.
You can’t build wealth if more money is leaving your wallet than coming in. To ensure you’re earning more than you’re spending, track your daily expenses.
There are a handful of apps that will do this for you, such as Mint, Personal Capital, and Level Money. You can also use a spreadsheet on your computer or simply record your everyday purchases in a notebook or on your phone.
Perhaps you’ll find another “latte factor” that you can cut back on.
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11. Prioritize high-interest debt.
It’s important to understand that all debt is not created equal. An effective strategy is to rank all of your debt in order of interest rate, from highest to lowest. Then, prioritize the debt with the highest interest rate, while still paying the minimum on all of your debts, in order to pay less over the lifespan of your loans.
There is an alternate option, too: Rank your debt in order of size and start with the smallest. It’s a strategy that personal finance expert Dave Ramsey calls the “snowball method.” The idea is that each time you pay off one form of debt, you build momentum, which helps you tackle the next biggest, and so on.
The important thing is that you get out of the red as quickly as possible. After all, it’s hard to start building wealth if you’re not debt free.