How To Get Rich: What Millionaires Do To Grow Their Money From $100k to 7-figures

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 20 February, 2023

Getting rich and building wealth starts with mindset and requires taking action towards your goals. Here are five habits of self-made millionaires that will prove invaluable in your wealth journey.

“The first $100,000 is a (pain), but you gotta do it. I don’t care what you have to do – if it means walking everywhere and not eating anything that wasn’t purchased with a coupon, find a way to get your hands on $100,000. After that, you can ease off the gas a little bit.”

That quote is by Charlie Munger, who is almost as revered in the investing world as Warren Buffet.

What Mr Munger is getting at is, once you have a certain amount of money saved up, it becomes easier to grow your wealth.

This is because the more money you have, the easier it is for you to stick to your financial goals, instead of getting distracted every time your favourite brands go on sale, or being derailed by financial emergencies that are bound to pop up every once a while.

So whether it’s getting to your first S$100,000, or your first million, take a leaf from the books of millionaires with these four successful habits to grow your money.


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Table of contents

1. Eradicate debt (and stay debt free)

First and foremost, get rid of any debt you have, and do so as quickly as you can.

When you hold debt, you have to sacrifice part of your income to interest payments, which reduces your cashflow and leaves you with less to meet other important needs.

But even more insidious is the impact that debt has on your long-term finances. Every dollar you owe is one less dollar that you can save or invest, which means you are essentially taking money away from your future self.

If you are highly indebted to the point that you are unable to keep up with your daily expenses, or are unable to put money into savings, recognise that you are teetering on the brink of danger.

All it takes is an emergency or an unexpected expense to start you sliding down a slippery slope to never ending debt.

Thus, you must focus on clearing your debt as quickly as possible. Even an extra S$50 per payment can be helpful in the long run.

And getting free of debt is just the first step. You must stay vigilant against taking on debt (which stems more from bad financial habits than anything else, if we’re being honest), especially as your money starts to grow.

This goes double for those who’ve never experienced the burden of debt. Good job – now keep it up and ensure you remain free of debt.

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2. Prioritise needs before wants

One often-repeated tip to learn to differentiate between needs and wants.

That is sound advice, but it makes it seem like we’re supposed to only ever spend money on what we need, and forever deprive ourselves of what we want. No wonder some people find it so hard to save!

But what if the point isn’t to restrict ourselves from buying what we want? Instead, what if the key is to learn to put wants aside for later, in favour of more urgent needs?

Ok, so let’s say you want to take a course so as to improve your career prospects. But you also badly want to go for a holiday. You only have enough money to do one or the other, not both.

This puts both goals in competition, causing you to be torn between a need and a want. What if, instead we recognise that both goals are worthy, but that one should take priority over the other?

You would realise that the more important thing right now is to sign up for that data analytics course so you can further your career. And then, when you get a bigger pay-check, you can reward yourself with that holiday.

This way, instead of pitting them against each other, you have ranked needs and wants according to their natural order of importance.

This helps you grow your money by helping you to do what you need – thereby laying a foundation for your wealth – while turning your wants into fuel for motivation. Once you've hit a milestone such as $

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3. Set personalised financial goals

Short of striking the lottery, you can’t become a millionaire without working out how you’re going to get there. And the crux is to set realistic financial goals that you can take action towards every day.

In this, it is helpful to have some guidelines. For instance, instead of setting a goal to save money, it is far more useful to know that financial experts recommend saving 20% of your income every month.

Armed with this knowledge, you can then examine your own budget and determine what is a suitable level of savings for your current circumstances – perhaps 15% or 10%, if you can’t quite put aside 20%.

Or let’s say your goal is to start investing. Well, how much should you invest, what should you invest in, and how are you going to go about it? Should you use a robo advisor? Sign up with an online broker? Also, what’s the deal with investment-linked policies, can you really get insured and invest at the same time? And should you?

It would be worthwhile spending some time and effort to research the various methods and options out there, as doing so will help you start your investing journey off on a firmer foot.

The takeaway is to set your own financial goal that is meaningful and doable to you, by personalising the goal to you. You will then be more able and willing to put your financial goal into action, and stick with it.

4. Move up the value chain

It is generally true that your income tends to go up as you get older, since you naturally pick up skills and career experience over time that make you more valuable to employers.

However, that doesn't mean you should take for granted that you will one day start earning your dream salary. Instead, you should actively aim to increase your income, whether by moving upwards in your career, starting and growing a side hustle, or becoming a successful entrepreneur.

It’s called “moving up the value chain”, which can only happen when you deliberately make yourself more desirable and valuable to employers, customers and clients by supplying products or services that they need.

Think about the iPhone. Without Steve Jobs’ single-minded insistence on creating a smartphone so irresistible that everyone wants one, would Apple have become one of the most valuable companies of our times?

Some younger readers may dismiss this as “anti-woke boomer speak that reduces humans to mere units”, but the reality is, what you get paid is directly tied to the value you can bring to your employer, client or to society.

So if you’re serious about wanting to grow your wealth and get rich, start thinking like the value-producing unit that you are and plan how you are going to move yourself up the value chain.

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5. Install the right mindset

Building wealth is about habits, and habits are but behaviours that are repeated over a long time. In turn, behaviours are actions taken in accordance with beliefs, which means it's all down to your mindset.

In short, we act as we believe. So if you believe that you’ll never get rich, then guess what, you won’t.

But sometimes it’s a lot more subtle. For instance, if you believe that billionaires are evil, capitalism destroys lives, and corporate greed is ruining the world, you will experience discomfort and conflict – whether you’re aware of it or not – whenever you think about your own desire to become wealthy.

This is known as cognitive dissonance, which is a natural phenomena that arises when humans are presented with conflicting information.

Essentially, since you hold strong negative beliefs about wealth, your desire to become rich yourself causes conflicts in your psyche, which manifests in self-sabotaging behaviours.

There is a lot more to discuss about cognitive dissonance and how it gets in our way, but that’s beyond the scope of the article. For our purposes, it’s important to know that having the right mindset is crucial if you genuinely want to get rich.

Make it a habit to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings about money and wealth, and frequently examine how you feel about being a rich person yourself.

This will help you to glean what your own beliefs are, so you can identify and challenge negative beliefs that sabotage your efforts, and replace them with positive, supportive ones.


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An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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