Somehow, our culture has come to believe some myths about millionaires that just aren’t true. We’ve been fed a lie and swallowed it like cotton candy at the county fair. And that makes me mad.
Why? Because I want you to reach your financial goals. And if you believe the millionaire myths floating out there, you won’t think hitting that seven-figure milestone is possible—and you won’t even try.
But those millionaire myths are just that: myths.
You and I have been lied to. You can become a millionaire. You can enjoy financial security. You can reach your money goals. Don’t believe everything you hear or see.
Let me share some millionaire myths and tell you why they’re absolutely wrong.
Millionaire Myth #1: Big Risks Lead to Big Bucks
One of the biggest myths out there is the idea that you have to take big risks to make big money. If you believed every commercial or online article, you’d think the path to wealth is paved with start-ups, Bitcoins, day trading and single-stock investments.
Think about it. How many late-night promos focus on a small investment that “guarantees” a big payoff? How many day-trading offers do you get online? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an infomercial about investing in a Roth IRA or a 401(k) as the best way to build wealth. That’s because it rubs against our instant-gratification culture that says you can get what you want, when you want it. We don’t want to wait the 20 or 30 years it takes to build wealth the slow way.
But the majority of millionaires didn’t strike it rich by buying into an “opportunity.” They didn’t find a gold mine that nobody knew about. They invested in their company’s 401(k). Every month. Every year. For decades.
Building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. And slow and steady will win the race every time.
Millionaire Myth #2: Fancy Degrees and High-Paying Jobs
Most TV shows and movies propel the myth that successful people got a leg up by having a degree from a fancy school or by having a high-paying job. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I know millionaires who worked for decades as janitors and teachers. And I know CEOs and high-power executives who have seven figures in debt.
One look into the bank accounts of celebrities will prove my point. Michael Jackson. Nicolas Cage. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Stephen Baldwin. Kim Basinger. Curt Schilling. Burt Reynolds. MC Hammer. All of these people blew through their money and found themselves in deep financial holes.(1)
Their stories are living proof that it’s not about the amount of money you make. It’s about what you do with the money you earn. If you live debt-free, if you put away 15% of your household income every month, and if you do that for 20–30 years, you’ll find yourself sitting on a pile of cash come retirement time. But it’s up to you to take those steps.
Millionaire Myth #3: Wealth Without Working
There’s an old commercial with a punch line that said, “We make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.” And guess what? That’s absolutely true for everyday millionaires. Very few wealthy people inherited the bulk of their money. I’ve never met a millionaire who got their money from a lottery ticket—and I’ve talked to a lot of millionaires.
The millionaires I‘ve met at events and talked to on my show didn’t have some long-lost uncle who made them wealthy. They didn’t go hunting for food, strike oil by accident, and move to Beverly Hills. Instead, they tell stories of hard work, perseverance, sacrifice and focus. Those are the real ingredients for building wealth. There’s no accident, luck or inheritance involved.
Here’s the truth, so listen up: Myths are excuses. If you think becoming a millionaire is due to outside forces, then you don’t have to take responsibility for your financial future. You can put the blame on something or someone else. You can sit back and wallow in frustration when wealth doesn’t land in your lap. But that doesn’t cut it, folks.
Your ability to become a millionaire is dependent on one thing: you. It’s not up to an inheritance, a big executive job or a fancy degree. You have to set your goal, create your plan, and do the freaking hard work it takes to hit that goal. This is the land of opportunity, not the land of “do nothing and expect to become a millionaire.”
But here’s the bottom line, and it’s good news: You can become a millionaire. I’ve met with and talked with thousands of people. People who turned $1 million in debt into $1 million in net worth. People who took smaller vacations and bought used cars. People who focused on their goals instead of the neighbor’s newest toy. People who didn’t listen to millionaire myths.
The big question is this: What do you believe about becoming a millionaire? Because what you believe determines what actions you take. And your actions will determine your future.
Believe in yourself and believe in your abilities. Believe in hard work and the power of time and compound interest.
Then get to work!
For real stories about real millionaires, and how you can become one too, check out my book, Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—And How You Can Too.