How NOT to Become Rich

by Ryan Guina

It seems like everyone wants to know how to become rich. Short of winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance, it’s rare to become a millionaire overnight. Even though it is difficult in practice and often takes years to achieve, the process of becoming a millionaire is easy: earn extra money, spend less than you earn, save, and invest. The final step is to add time and repeat the process. With time and dedication, many people can become rich. But sometimes the number one thing standing in the way of reaching your dreams is you!

How NOT to Become Rich

How NOT to become rich

You need to save more than this…

Sometimes the best way to learn to do something is to learn what NOT to do. It can be easier to avoid certain practices when you learn why they are harmful for you. If you want to become rich, then take a look at some of the things not to do – then take action accordingly.

Don’t earn money. You can’t write a book if you never write page one and you can’t become a millionaire if you don’t earn any money. There is still hope of getting ahead even if every cent you earn through your day job goes to pay your bills and living expenses. Think outside of normal 8-5 jobs and try to find alternative sources of income. This can include things such as working a part time job, earning money through investments, consulting, owning a rental property, etc. Earning multiple streams of income is a part of my long term financial plan, in part because alternative income can be a form of insurance against losing your job or other sudden decreases in income.

Spend more than you earn. The quickest way to get yourself into financial trouble is to spend more than you earn. You will never amass wealth or financial freedom when you are running a personal deficit. Spending less than you earn is the most important step in becoming financially free.

Don’t budget. Do you know where your money goes? It’s difficult to get ahead financially when you don’t have a list of your income and expenses. You can keep track with something as simple a pen and paper, or you can use a software program. Here is a list of free money management software to help you track your income and expenses.

Don’t save money. Living for today is great, but if you aren’t putting anything away for the future then you may find yourself in big financial trouble if you don’t have any money saved to cover large expenses. I recommend starting an emergency fund where you can have some cash savings for emergency situations. Here is a list of the top online savings accounts to get you started.

Don’t invest. Investing is insanely complicated and unless you have a ton of money, it won’t make a difference. Right? Wrong! Getting started is easy. It only takes 5 minutes to open a Roth IRA and you can invest with as little as $50. Here is some information about how to start an IRA, and a list of the best Roth IRA brokerages. You can also start an investment account through your employer’s 401k plan, or by opening an investment account with a brokerage or mutual fund company. Wherever and however you decide to invest, start now. The sooner you being investing, the longer you have for your investments to work for you.

Don’t take advantage of free money. Do you have a 401k at work? Then make sure you invest at least the minimum to receive the employer match. Not doing so is leaving free money on the table. Here are more tips to maximize your 401k plan and more ways to earn Free Money by opening accounts and taking advantage of sign up bonuses. These can make you several hundred, or even several thousand dollars a year!

Pay the minimums on your credit card debt. Interest rates on credit cards are often in the 20% range. The best way to manage credit cards is to pay them off in full each month. But if you can’t do that or if you already have credit card debt, then consider using a 0% balance transfer to move your credit card debt to a new credit card with 0% interest. Here is a list of featured 0% balance transfer credit cards.

Don’t improve yourself. Your ability to earn income is your greatest asset, and you should nurture your ability to earn income. Work to obtain a promotion, earn professional certifications, and improve your soft skills to advance in your profession. No one looks after your interests the way you do, so be proactive!

Becoming a Rich Isn’t Easy…

…but you don’t have to sabotage your chances of getting there by exhibiting poor financial habits. Even if you never become a millionaire, the tips listed above can help you on your way to financial freedom – which is much more important than any number anyway.

Published or updated September 3, 2014.
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve Miller

Great tips!

You might also add another way to not become a millionaire: “Wait to start all this till late in life.”

Warren Buffett seemed to understand “The Power of Early” better than anyone. He caught the vision at about age 10 and began working regular jobs that anyone could work: selling Chicklets at a stand in his front yard, finding and selling golf balls, caddying, running paper routes. Since he invested instead of spending his money, he was making more than his teachers during his high school years and had accumulated, by high school graduation, today’s equivalent (accounting for inflation) of $47,000!


2 Ryan

Great point Steve – getting started is the most important step! ๐Ÿ™‚


3 Curious Cat Investing Blog

Well said, though I must admit I never have budgeted. I just don’t spend money I don’t have. If you just do that, save money and invest sensibly (you don’t have to be Warren Buffett) and are patient you can do pretty well.


4 Ryan

budgeting is a personal preference. Some people SHOULD do it, while others are fine without doing it. It’s all about finding what works and being responsible with your income and spending.


5 Buddystips


Excellent advise on how not to succeed. One more thing comes to mind which probably to my knowledge affects everyone’s success rate…that point is “Don’t listen to others who rain on your parade and say you can’t do it.”

If you listen to friends and family who say you that you can’t do it (become a millionaire) or it is impossible, or if it was easy everyone would be doing it, then you will never try and you will not succeed. I have witnessed this in my life. Well meaning friends and family members (in their own mind) who try hard to keep you down. My advice is listen to yourself, listen to your heart, and find “peers” who believe and practice their lives the way you want to live and practice yours. Find good role models. Hang around with “Good company” who support your goals and support you. This will be your best pathway to succeeding.

For my part, blogging and visiting Blogs has opened up a new world for me and allowed me to expand my “peer” group. Good stuff!



Sometimes lists of what NOT to do strike home better than lists of what to do. Good idea, and good follow through ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t know Warren Buffet sold golf balls as a kid… I did, too. Interesting ๐Ÿ™‚ I know whats in my destiny!


7 Ryan

thanks, MLR. And it’s good to know the future “world’s 2nd richest man.” ๐Ÿ˜‰


8 Financial Samurai

Good one Ryan.


9 oneadvice

Totally agree with MLR – it is the lists which tell you what NOT to do which sometimes make much more sense.
Thanks for the post! ๐Ÿ™‚


10 jun jun

I have the book of Brian Adams entittled HOW TO BECOME A MILLIONAIRE. I learned a lot from it.It helps me and guide me to pursue my dream to become a millionaire.I have to listen what my heart beats.Wish me luck me..


11 C

Haha, I initially read the title such that it was giving tips on what NOT TO DO to become a millionaire (i.e. don’t do these things to become a millionaire). So I decided to come up with my own list.

Don’t do these to become a millionaire:
Be a drug dealer
Print fake money
Be Bernie Madoff
Play the lottery
Collect dead people’s social security checks (hey, it’s been done before)
Use a program to take a fraction of a cent from everyone’s bank acct
Die, just to get your life insurance money


12 muta

being a millionaire is not easy at all,you can be poor but how would you realy become a millionaire exactly.


13 Richard

I’ve been an attorney working in private bank trust departments for almost 20 years. I’ve seen how people with money acquired it and how they retained it. They are smart enough to know that you can never acquire money by spending it. They would sooner die than go into debt to buy consumer goods. They’ll go into debt but only to purchase property likely to appreciate.

These are the people who, instead of buying iphone after iphone and ipad after ipad, bought the stock of Apple when it was selling for about $7 early in 2003. Today, July 1, 2010, it sells around $260.

People with money don’t care about consumer goods, cars, big-screen TV’s or anything else that the masses “must have”. They know all this stuff is junk and that to buy it simply wastes money better deployed otherwise. In short, people with money got and kept it not by buying things but by buying the stocks of companies that sell things to other people…you for example.

I’ll leave you with this unsettling thought. Suppose you’d had $15,000 in October 1980 and that you’d been of a mind to “invest it”. You might have been lured to purchase jewelry, say a diamond ring, on the utterly untrue but long spread lie that diamonds are rare. Any jewelry store would have been happy to lure you in with a lot of special lighting over plush counters served by shills who are trained in how to try to induce you to put reason on hold and think romantically about how happy you would be if only you had a $15,000 diamond ring. They’d tell you it would be “AN INVESTMENT”. God help you if you fell for the scam. The ring you’d have bought on Friday, October 10th, 1980 for $15,000 would have been worth about $3,000 on Saturday, October 11th if you’d tried to sell it. It might not be worth even that today.

On Friday, October 10th, 1980, stock of Johnson & Johnson traded around $83 per share; you could have bought 180 shares for $15,000. That investment, a REAL INVSTMENT, would today, July 1, 2010, be worth over $500,000. After 48:1 stock splits, you would have over 8,600 shares of Johnson & Johnson paying annual cash dividends of almost $19,000.

You can be young in this country and be without money but this is no country in which to be old and without money. If you have no money you have no power. If you want to end up parking cars for a high school kid who owns a parking lot, keep doing what you’ve been doing. Keep buying “diamond rings”. If you want to have some say about where and how you live and on what terms, leave the consumer goods on the shelves and buy the stocks of companies that sell things to other people. Just make sure you’re not the “other person”..

Good luck.


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