5 Financial Habits Of Millionaires That May Surprise You

The average consumer often looks at their lifestyle and budget, wishing with all their might to one day become a millionaire. This vaunted financial status feels like a "made it" moment, and you might think breaking through that ceiling results in smooth sailing and clear skies for the rest of your life, eying it up as the financial goal to end all your worries. But the reality is that millionaires don't create wealth and manage their status by achieving it and then resting on their laurels. Millionaires instead are active participants in their ongoing success story. A millionaire is someone constantly searching for better financial stability and new opportunities to consolidate their position and build additional strength.

To do so, millionaires employ some surprising habits and strategies that might seem unimportant among those in this rarified air. A few statistics stand out, however. Firstly, per Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report 2023, there are 22.7 million millionaires in the United States, making it a far more common financial status in this country than might seem obvious, but even millionaires are quick to say they don't feel financially secure in the modern marketplace. To create the stability they crave, millionaires utilize these strategies to maintain stable budgets and monetary management.

1. They leverage credit cards daily

It might seem like strange wisdom, but the reality is that millionaires tend to route most or all of their daily spending through a rewards credit card. Even though some high-net worth individuals like Mark Cuban or Dave Ramsey suggest shying away from debt products, the reality is that responsible utilization creates positive momentum in your credit history, and if you use a rewards card, you'll bank miles, cash back, or other points to use for free or reduced purchases down the line.

Millionaires don't just pull their credit cards out indiscriminately, though. To make this strategy worthwhile, it's crucial to pair credit card spending with immaculate management practices. You'll need to pay off your card in full every month, for one, to avoid hefty interest charges that erode the benefits these cards provide. Those who've built sizable wealth know that every little bit of help makes a difference.

Any time you reduce the cost of your purchases — even by the few percentage points of cash back you receive by using a credit card — you make a massive difference in ongoing budgetary math. For example, cash-back cards offer the ability to amass a decent war chest of bonus cash that can offset a larger purchase in the future, or provide a constant trickle of cost reduction throughout your everyday purchases. Travel rewards cards, meanwhile, build points that can ultimately be used to support free or severely reduced travel costs.

2. They continue growing their emergency fund

You may think a millionaire wouldn't have much need for an emergency fund, but that assessment actually runs contrary to the reality. Millionaires double down on their emergency savings strategies, building robust emergency funds that are constantly being tended to with great care. This is because emergencies can befall an individual or a family at any time, and without warning. Having enough cash set aside to deal with this sudden spending need means you and your loved ones won't have to "figure it out" in the event of a surprise expense. Falling back on using credit cards or other lending products can derail future budgeting for months — even years — to come as you work to repay the borrowed capital that was used to stave off an issue in the present.

Millionaires know the value of a thriving emergency fund, and they continue to pay into this cash reserve, even when it might seem like they don't need to. After all, millionaires have enough funding to deal with surprise costs, don't they? Another surprising fact of life is that around half of people earning over $100,000 per year live paycheck to paycheck. Even if you've built a solid financial footing and have broken into this upper echelon of net worth, keeping up with the habits that helped springboard you there is a truly essential step that modern millionaires understand and prioritize.

3. They don't pursue instant gratification

Delayed gratification is a common trait among millionaires. On the other hand, many people often find themselves constantly fighting a losing battle against the draw of instant gratification. Buying that next thing gives you a sense of completion, and building a collection of things that continues to grow alongside your ambitions is a core feature of both the human experience and the marketing efforts of modern businesses.

But millionaires take a different tack. Avoiding the trap of instant gratification allows those with millionaire bank accounts to invest more and plan for future financial needs. Rather than keeping up appearances and driving a fancy car, wearing flashy designer clothing, or living in a big, boisterous home, they plan for the long term. There's really no need to own the newest thing out there — and millionaires know this. Rather than investing in the here and now, millionaires plan for long-term gratification and stability so they can enjoy all of life's bountiful rewards for many years to come.

4. They budget relentlessly

In the same way that an emergency fund may seem like a trivial financial feature in a high earner's money management strategies, budgeting can appear to be less important, too. Yet, millionaires are consummate budgeters and they strive with all their might to live beneath their means. This means paying out less than they take in, as a baseline.

But living beneath your means also includes the management of debt products. Millionaires don't tend to drive new cars or spend oodles on new wardrobe pieces or jewelry. Instead, they focus on things that benefit their future and their lived experience. They prioritize saving and investing, and they don't take on new expenses that could threaten their future fiscal stability without agonizing scrutiny beforehand. Generally, millionaires will look to purchase used cars that meld great bargains with a quality service record for a reliable ride at a fraction of the full price tag. They also cook at home and scour their monthly budget for frivolous spending that can be reduced or eliminated for the best in financial mobility.

Budgeting remains a core feature of the millionaire's financial toolbox. Without a solid budget in place, it becomes exceedingly easy to overextend, which then results in a reduction of net worth and a drain on long-term financial viability. By failing to budget, you may end up relying on credit cards for too many purchases and ultimately have to pay hefty interest additions, eroding your financial strength.

5. They build multiple sources of income

Your salary is your first, most important income source. However, millionaires aren't content with just settling for their primary take-home pay. Instead, they look for ways to create additional revenue streams that will enhance their budgetary calculations and create more opportunities to save, invest, and grow wealth. Alternative streams of income are often marked by their passive nature. Passive income includes real estate, dividend stock holdings, and many other investments of time and money that pay you back without requiring constant attention. Once established, a passive income generator will continue paying out without additional demands. Your salary, by comparison, requires you to continue showing up to the office or job site every day.

Additional streams of income don't have to be passive, though. Millionaires often busy themselves with business-building efforts that run in tandem with their other responsibilities in the workplace. A millionaire might launch their own brand as a sort of side hustle or parlay their expertise into a new income stream by writing about their knowledge or appearing online or on television to lend their specialized experience to relevant discussions. Millionaires are constantly on the hunt for new ways to utilize their time, energy, and money to create more financial stability. It's a trait that often sets them apart from the typical consumer and one that anyone would be wise to consider imitating in their own life.