It ain’t easy being rich.
While some people inherit their wealth and others win the lotto, many people who are wealthy made tons of sacrifices to get there. That’s the finding of a survey of 2,400 people, released Thursday by retirement planning and insurance firm Principal, which looked at what people who have maxed or nearly maxed out their retirement accounts did to make that happen. (To max out your 401(k) for 2016, you’d save $18,000 – $24,000 over the year, depending on your age; do this each year of your adult life and you’ll likely become a millionaire.)
The No. 1 sacrifice they made? Driving an older car. Indeed, 47% of these so-called super savers say they drive an older car in order to help them build up their coffers. That’s followed by owning a modest home (45%) and not traveling as much as they’d like to (42%) as the top sacrifices.
5 things rich people sacrifice to get rich
– Drive older vehicle (47%)
– Own a modest home (45%)
– Don’t travel as much as they’d prefer (42%)
– Tolerate high levels of work-related stress (40%)
– Work so much that it takes time away from their social life or family (27%)
These rich-but-frugal souls are people like speaker and consultant Eve Doyle, who at 55 is already retired thanks to her savings habits. Doyle tells Moneyish that she and her spouse never bought expensive cars — “we were happy with lower-end Hondas. Kept our two-seater Del Sol for 14 years. I currently drive a Fit, he has the CR-Z” — and that they always lived in modest homes. “Smaller was better for us — we didn’t have a lot of interest in maintaining a large house or yard,” she says.
Some people go even further: Jacob Lumby, 27, who along with this wife saves 80% or more of their income each month, says he once bought a mobile home instead of a house to save money: “We were only in Lubbock, Texas for me to finish my PhD, so it didn’t make sense to risk buying a house,” he explains of the move to Moneyish. And Bryan Clayton, 35, the CEO of lawn care company GreenPal, tells Moneyish he always keeps his housing costs at less than 1/4th of his take-home pay, a move he admits has been one of “the hardest challenges in self-mastery that I know of.”
These rich sacrificers are no stranger to hard work either. Take Lyn Alden, 29, who currently saves “enough money to max out my 401(k), Roth IRA, and invest some extra into a taxable brokerage account each year.” Not only does she own her own financial firm, she writes freelance finance articles in her spare time. “This hobby has generated money, but perhaps more importantly keeps me interested in creating rather than consuming and spending money,” she tells Moneyish.
If that all sounds grim, don’t despair: Even sacrificing millionaires splurge sometimes. For Doyle, travel is a priority — the couple has “traveled extensively” seeing more than 30 countries and taking nine cruises, she says — as it is for Alden, who says she even stays in luxury hotels when she does abroad. And Doyle says she and her husband eat out when they want to and have hobbies they spend money on to.
So perhaps the most important advice on how to get rich is to think of it less as constant sacrifices and more as making choices on what you really want. “It isn’t that one Starbucks coffee is going to kill your savings goals, it is the fact that most people have the coffee, lunch, nice car [and a] nice apartment, etc.” says Clayton. Pick what’s important to you — be it travel, food or something else — and spend on that, scrimp on the rest.