4 Habits That Helped Me Reach My First Million

Updated: January 30, 2021

How do you become a millionaire? There are many ways.

I tried playing the lotto before but then I realized that the odds of winning are atomic. I also tried climbing up the corporate ladder but I felt that I’m not cut out for a 9-to-5 job.

Then, I tried entrepreneurship, which worked for me and so I started earning good money. However, while I began to live comfortably, my net worth wasn’t growing as fast as I wanted to.

It was not until I learned these four habits that I started to see real growth on my account. It took a few more years but eventually, my net worth reached seven digits.

What are these habits? That’s what I’m sharing with you today so that hopefully, it can also help you see that first million in your bank account.

1. Buying things that are durable.

I learned to give durability the most weight when choosing which brand or item to buy. I would read online reviews and ask for feedback from friends before deciding on major purchases.

This allowed me to save money, especially on shoes, bags, clothes, and gadgets, because I didn’t have to replace them as often. For instance, I prefer an iPhone because they last 2 years longer with me than my experience on Android phones with similar specs.

Moreover, I realized that durability doesn’t always come with a premium price. Most are just at mid-range, like Rusty Lopez, whose leather shoes I find to be really durable.

2. Creating checklists and systems.

Simply, I learned how to work hard AND work smart. Emphasis on “AND” because I realized that working smart means working hard first and then finding ways to do things faster.

Working hard is crucial because it provides a fundamental understanding of how things should be done. After which, I create checklists and develop a system so I could be more efficient, or so I could easily outsource or delegate the tasks.

For example, at first, I manually tracked my cashflow in a notebook and encoded them on a spreadsheet at the end of the day. Even though it was tedious, I remained patient and persistent.

Slowly, my simple spreadsheet transformed. From simple columns of income and expenses, I encoded formulas and other functions that gave me summaries, analysis, and predictions for my cashflow. I still use that spreadsheet today and it’s satisfying to see the history of my cashflow through the years.

Another example would be on paying my bills. I didn’t want to miss a due date, so at first, I’d pin the bill on our refrigerator door as a reminder. Additionally, I created alarms on my phone for the payment deadlines.

After months of experimenting, what worked best for me was to have a checklist in my smartphone of all my regular expenses with their usual due dates — electricity, water, internet, mobile plan, credit cards, etc. Then, once a bill arrives, which I now get through email, I’d just immediately pay them online and then mark it on the checklist. Rinse and repeat every month.

This way, I don’t have to remember due dates anymore. And based on their usual due dates, I can easily see which bills I have to follow-up or manually check because sometimes, the electronic statements of account don’t arrive on time to my email.

Creating checklists and developing personal systems improved my productivity. It also conserved my mental energy, so I was able to do more tasks that required analysis and deep thinking.

3. Investing regularly.

As part of my habit to develop systems that would increase my productivity, I realized that it will never be enough to simply work for the money. It’s cliche but it’s true — you have to find ways to make money work for you.

This was a period when I became obsessed with building passive sources of income. This led me to discover the merits of cost averaging as an investment strategy. And given that managing my businesses takes most of my days, this was my best option at that time.

I’m glad that I “forced” myself to invest monthly because when it eventually developed into a habit after a couple of years, the stock market went on a bull run. The value of the shares that I bought little by little every month from before suddenly tripled in value within months.

This made me a believer in cost averaging and that’s why it’s still my preferred investment strategy until today. It’s a boring strategy and that’s why I like it.

4. Having a growth mindset.

I learned how to love learning, especially through reading.

I consumed self-development, non-fiction books, and bookmarked a lot of blogs and websites that discussed my various interests. From reading, I learned about personal finance, business, productivity, investments, blogging, and so much more.

Aside from expanding my knowledge, I also worked on building new skills. In fact, if you check my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that I have a good number of endorsements for Social Media Marketing, SEO, and even Online Reputation Management. They were given by peers whom I was able to learn from and work with before I became a Registered Financial Planner.

Your education determines your execution. You can’t do what you don’t know. That’s why you should always be learning, always be applying, and always be practicing.

In Summary

These habits that helped me reach my first million are habits that anyone can learn; it doesn’t matter if you’re a student, an employee, a freelancer, a professional, or an entrepreneur.

Learn how to spend wisely so you can save money. Learn the best ways to get things done so you can earn more. Invest your earnings regularly, no matter how small, because it will eventually compound and grow. And never stop learning, because, in a world that’s always changing, what you know will help you recognize new opportunities that will come along your way.

I made my first million years ago… now it’s your turn.

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2 comments

  1. Fitz, MAN, you are preaching to the choir. This article could have closed with: “and that’s how you do it folks” because what you have presented does indeed work and has been proven over time.

    You are spot on with details like purchasing quality at a reasonable price. I was in the shoe industry (Brockton Massachusetts, USA) for a short period of time before college. It saddened me to see our shoe industry go rapidly downhill as most of it was moved overseas. We soon had few choices and the quality was low. A few smaller manufactures have managed to hang on along with some higher quality imports. The rest is junk, a knowledgeable person can tell with a quick look. Poorly constructed shoes, hiking and work boots made with low quality materials simply fall apart. They are no bargain and a waste of hard earned money.

    For the most part I agree that as long as you invest, you will get there. Where I differ is in wanting to speed up the process a bit. I love selling covered calls, cash secured puts and any kind of credit spread that put cash into my account. As the cash builds up, you can add more positions or use it to place trades on different underlying to diversify. Waiting for a quarterly dividend is fine but you can also earn monthly or now even weekly by selling options against part of your portfolio. My preference is to always have most of my cash working & earning. I do this in a ROTH tax advantaged account so all income is tax free after 59 1/2 years old and your account has been opened more than five years. I sure hope that option trading will be available on the PSE one day. For now, if you have the means to do so, an international account in countries where they have an active options market may be appealing to you..

  2. Me and my husband are finally getting to the stage in life where we’re willing to step up from bargain-basement items to items that are a good intersection of durability and cost, and it’s been a solid strategy so far, even when it’s hard to part with the upfront costs of things. I’m trying to see price tags based on “cost per year of use” or “cost per hour of use” rather than as a single price. If a computer costs $100/year for a bunch of years, it’s better than the cheapest computer which will be broken in just a couple of years.

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