Ten Habits to Make You Rich

Coins dropping on to a table
Build habits which will give you more of this

Over the life time of this blog I have been making my way through Tom Corley’s thirty habits in his book, Rich Habits Poor Habits. So far I have looked at ten of them, so I thought that it would be a good point to take a breath, remind myself of what they were and have a look at how I’m getting on with trying out some of his ideas. If you’ve missed any of the posts I’ll link back to each one for you below so you can check out the full details. I will also let you know other resources that I’ve come across recently which may help you if you want to work on a certain area.

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So here we go…

Number One – I will adopt good daily habits and follow these good daily habits every day

I’ve been doing some reading about habits recently as I am re-reading James Clear’s book ‘Atomic Habits’ and making some notes. I was going to write a post about it, but Latestarterfire beat me to it, so I would just suggest that you read her post. You can also listen to James Clear talk about his book on the Afford Anything podcast.

During another, more recent episode of Afford Anything, Paula Pant’s interviewee, Kristen Berman, claimed that habits are overrated and you should foster one time decisions that force behaviour change e.g. if you want to save, set up a direct debit to your savings account from your current account on pay day or if you want to walk more, get a dog as it will force you to go out twice a day no matter what the weather. (By the way, if you are thinking of getting a dog, then I would strongly recommend reading Chrissy’s post on her recent decision to give a home to a four-legged friend). Although Kristen almost dismissed habits, much of her advice about cultivating behaviour change was similar to that of James Clear so it is worth a listen to both of the episodes.

Number Two – I will define my dreams and then create goals around each dream. I will focus on my dream-goals every day

This is such an important area. Many of us plan for our weekends and our holidays, but we don’t plan for our lives, we don’t think about where we want to end up. We just follow the same route as everyone else, school, maybe university, job, long term relationship, children, grandchildren, retirement, death.

A lot of that may be very enjoyable (except for the death part, obviously), but there are other possibilities, other realities, you just have to be brave enough to be different. For me this is a constant work in progress as I am still working out what my dreams and goals are. How about you? Is your life going to way to you want it to? Are you just doing what is expected of you by others rather than making a conscientious choice? If you want some help setting goals then listen to this podcast by Natalie Bacon.

Number Three – I will devote at least thirty minutes each day to increasing my knowledge and improving my skills. I will invest in myself every day

I have certainly improved my knowledge over the past few months through reading and listening to podcasts, but my skills are probably much the same. In a bid to invest in myself and this blog I have recently purchased the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit, an amazing package of courses, which should help me to develop ‘A Simple Life’ over the next six months. So watch this space!

How are you increasing your knowledge and skills? There is so much free information available these days. Whether it’s online or from real books from the library don’t let yourself stagnate. Learning shouldn’t just be something that you did at school.

A salad in a bowl
Eat plenty of this to keep you healthy

Number Four – I will devote thirty minutes to exercise every day. I will eat healthy food every day

I manage the healthy eating part of this most days, but it is the exercise portion which I am still struggling with. I have been doing a small amount of jogging a couple of times a week and when we had a trainee assistance dog recently I did do a lot more walking, but on many days I won’t even do 2000 steps. Basically, I could do much better and it is definitely an area I need to work on, probably like most of us.

Number Five – I will seek to build strong relationships with other success-minded people

I have been making an effort to keep some notes on other professionals who I meet through work; details they tell me about themselves so that I can refer to them if we are going to meet again and ask them questions, showing that I have remembered what they told me before. Okay, I haven’t remembered, I’ve written it down, but I’m only human and the more I chat to someone about their lives the more details that I retain. I am hoping this will help build relationships at work. One difficulty is that I don’t actually want more success in my job. I am content with my role and plan to do this until I retire.

As for in my personal life I struggle to find anyone who is interested in personal development or FI/RE in real life and just rely on my virtual ‘friends’. I am trying to make an effort to join in with local events e.g. there was a community cinema event last week and recently I went to see a play in the village hall.

How do you connect with likeminded people and where do you find them? Are your friends interested in personal development?

Number Six – I will live every day in a state of moderation

In many ways I am a moderate person. I am calm and not subject to extremes of emotion, but my savings rate is not moderate, it is extreme and so should yours be. How else can we achieve our financial goals otherwise? This month we are living out of the freezer in a bid to save money on food and so far it is going well. I’ll let you know how we get on in my usual monthly review.

Number Seven – I will take action on my goals every day

This is hard as my goals are personal rather than work ones and I don’t always seem to find the time or I am too tired to work on them. If I take the week as a whole I do feel as though I make progress, but finding the time to work on the blog is hard. I have been helping Mr Simple with some DIY for a couple of evenings this week and last week I had social engagements on several evenings. When I come home at 10pm I just want to go to bed rather than turn on my computer and write an article. Basically, this is a work in progress.

What are your goals? How do you manage to make progress on them? Have you tried writing a monthly review to reflect on your progress? I think this is such a good way of seeing how far you’ve come.

Someone writing in a journal
Write down every day what you are grateful for

Number Eight – I will engage in rich thinking every day

The practice of gratitude is one which I used to do, but it has fallen by the wayside. I have just started reading ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod and one of his six activities for the morning is ‘scribing’, which can just be writing about what you are grateful for. Whether or not I will be adopting his advice for how to structure the beginning of my day is yet to be seen, but I do feel that often we look on the bad side and are prone to moaning, so a focus on what we are grateful for can only be a good thing.

Number Nine – I will save ten per cent of my income and live off the remaining 90%

This is an area in which as you know I am ahead of Mr Corley as I save 16% as well as paying double our mortgage payment. If you don’t currently save anything though it would be a good starting point.

Number Ten – I will control my words and emotions every day

I’ve already mentioned Natalie Bacon, who is one of my favourite podcasters. She is rather an over-excited and very ‘American’ presenter (sorry to any of you from across the water who might be reading this), for whom everything is ‘awesome’, but nevertheless her advice about modifying your thought processes is amazing. I continue to meditate most days and look forward to her weekly advice which is always interesting and gives a new perspective on life. I cannot recommend her work enough as she is fascinating and her shows are usually fairly short, 20-25 minutes.

So that’s all the habits that we have looked at so far. Each one could be a book in itself. I don’t hear Rich Habits Poor Habits mentioned often, but it is such a fascinating and useful piece of work as it is not just his views on how to get rich, but written after he carried out a study of people who grew rich. If you are interested to find out more check out his book or stay tuned as I will be considering the rest of his habits over the coming months. And if you’ve made any progress in these areas or have any questions just let me know. Or, just fill in the blank: I will work on Tom Corley’s habit number ___ over the next month.

Rich Habit Number One

Are you aware of your daily habits? Are they the habits of a rich person or a poor person?

In his book Rich Habits Poor Habits, Tom Corley describes how before you begin to develop good habits you need to assess the habits that you already have, good or bad.

Keep a record of your daily habits

He recommends that for three days you carry around a notepad or make notes on your phone, of every activity, thought or decision, that is a daily habit. You will know that something is a habit as you will find yourself repeating it every day.

Once you have your list decide whether each one is a positive or a negative habit. When you have done this, take your list of negative habits and invert them i.e. turn them into good habits that you can foster.

For example, ‘I watch too much TV’ becomes ‘I limit myself to one hour of TV per day’.

For 30 days try to follow your new good daily habits. Review them in the morning, at lunch time and at bedtime in order to remind yourself of them and assess how you are doing.

I would suggest setting up a habit tracker, i.e. a calendar with the habits listed and then each day you can tick off the ones that you have achieved. It’s good to look back over the tracker at the end of the month to review your progress. If you manage to do something every day for a month it will probably have become a habit by then.

So what are my poor habits?

The first one is watching too much TV with Mr Simple. He will sit in front of the box for over three hours every evening. Often I slope off to my study to plan or write for the blog (which he doesn’t know about). I think he wonders what I spend time doing. If I did tell him at least he would know why I like to sit in front of my computer most weekday evening, but I am afraid that he will think that it is a waste of time.

Consuming too many carbs on the weekend e.g. toast and marmalade, crisps, drinking lager (albeit it alcohol-free). In the week I am much more disciplined with my diet.

We probably all spend too much time on one of these

Getting lost on the internet – don’t we all do that sometimes? The trouble is when I spend too much time on the computer, added on top of my work, I get problems with my shoulder.

So how could I invert these poor habits into rich habits?

Watch only one hour of TV per day Monday to Thursday. I must admit that on the weekend I quite like to watch a film together after dinner.

I am not overweight, so at the moment I am getting away with eating more carbs at the weekend. I am not sure that I want to change it.

Do my physio exercises every day to strengthen the muscles in my shoulders. According to my physio this will stop them getting so tight. This is one that I definitely need to work on. It has been on my habit tracker in past months, but has fallen off. I will certainly get richer if I do it as physio appointments are currently costing me a pretty penny.

I’m sure that I’ve got lots more bad habits, but I need to put Tom Corley’s recommendation into practice and spend time assessing them.

How about you? What are your poor habits?

Are you brave enough to share them? How could you change them into rich habits?

Rich Habit Number Four

I will devote 30 minutes to exercise every day. I will eat healthy food every day.

In the week that the Lancet published a study saying that in 2017 there were 11 million deaths attributable to dietary risk factors it seems pertinent to focus on this habit for my series on Tom Corley’s book ‘Rich Habits Poor Habits’.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

According to Tom Corley successful people have a system or routine for weight management i.e. they monitor the amount of food that they eat every day and they engage in a daily exercise regime. In contrast, unsuccessful people have no consistent day to day control over their health. They are always in search of the latest quick fix diet.

Tom Corley found that rich people have an internal motivation to be able to manage their weight and eating, whereas unsuccessful people required an external motivator and when this disappeared they fell back into bad habits.

Be Well Enough to Enjoy ‘Retirement’

Avoid too many of these and use nature’s larder to keep you healthy

If, by the time you reach FIRE, you aren’t well enough to enjoy it, then one has to ask what was the point of all that hard work getting there. The Lancet study found that cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of diet-related deaths, followed by cancers deaths and type 2 diabetes. The findings showed that a suboptimal diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking, highlighting the urgent need for improving the human diet. Their assessment showed that the leading dietary risk factors for mortality are diets high in sodium, low in whole grains, low in fruit, low in nuts and seeds, low in vegetables, and low in omega-3 fatty acids.

Schedule Exercise and Make it Easy

In our busy lives fitting in 30 minutes of exercise every day can be hard and I must say I struggle with this. For me it is probably just three times a week. I find that doing exercise shortly after I get up is the best time. By the end of the day I am just too tired to feel like jogging.

I used the NHS ‘Couch to 5K’ programme in order to start jogging. It is a great and free resource which trains you to run 5k even if, at the moment, you feel that you couldn’t run to the end of your garden. If you have ever wanted to start jogging I would strongly encourage you to check it out.

Now, going out for a jog on a bright summer’s morning, with the sun warming your skin and the birds singing in the trees is a wonderful thing. It may not be so great in January when it is cold, wet and dark. During the first winter after I learnt to jog I have to admit that I gave up. I just wasn’t determined enough to drag myself out of bed when it was miserable.

My Tesco treadmill – cheap, but it does the job

When spring came around I had to go back to the beginning of the programme and build up my fitness again. In the autumn as the mornings started getting dark and cold I decided that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. I know myself well enough to realise that I didn’t have the determination to go out on those awful mornings and so I bought a treadmill. I didn’t spend a fortune, as I was worried that it may just collect dust, but it didn’t and I now use it several times a week. When the weather is better I will go outside, but the great thing about jogging on the treadmill is that I can watch all those finance YouTube videos whilst I am jogging – getting exercise and educating myself at the same time.

Apart from a good pair of trainers, jogging is a fairly frugal pursuit. You don’t have to join an expensive gym and wherever you live I am sure that there is somewhere nice to run. If you don’t fancy jogging maybe try walking. Download an interesting FIRE podcast to your phone and take a stroll a few times a week.

Eat Well and Cheaply

Roast veggies ready for weekday lunches

I have written about diet before in my series about ‘The Longevity Plan’ by Dr John Day. Therefore I thought that I would just suggest a way of getting more of those much-needed vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. An oft-quoted frugal activity is to take your lunch to work every day instead of buying it. As a believer in reducing the amount of carbohydrates I eat, instead of a sandwich, I take some vegetables and fish in my lunch box. Every Sunday I roast and steam some veggies. Simple and cheap things like carrots and broccoli, are great and at the moment I also include courgettes and peppers. Obviously it takes time to do this; chopping the veg is the most time-consuming thing and then shove them in the oven with some olive oil and herbs.

A good source of omega – 3

In the morning I fill my lunchbox with a few of the veg, adding some lettuce, avocado and a tin of fish – mackerel is my favourite. So cheap – 70p a tin in Tesco’s at the moment. Tomorrow I will also be taking some butterbeans that I have soaked and cooked and mixed with nettle pesto. I found a recipe in a book by Dan Stevens of River Cottage fame. It was a bit fiddly washing the leaves with rubber gloves on and then blanching them, but after that it was fairly easy. When you’re out on that walk of an evening maybe you could pick some nettles and make yourself a tasty and cheap pesto sauce to go with some pasta.

So do you have rich habits or poor habits when it comes to eating and exercise? What poor habits would you like to change? Have you tried walking or jogging as exercise? How did you get on?

How Ten Minutes Quiet a Day Could Make You Richer

Find ten minutes in your day to sit quietly

You may remember that last month I had some money left over and I bought four books, with the promise that I may review some of them. One of the books was Rich Habits Poor Habits by Tom Corley and Michael Yardney. I first came across Tom Corley on the Afford Anything podcast. He undertook a study looking at the differences between rich people and poor people. This involved observing and documenting the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people. The book, which summarises his findings, outlines 30 habits of successful people.

Tom Corley’s tenth habit of rich people says that successful people are masters of their words and emotions. They do not fall prey to anger, jealousy, excitability, sadness or other petty emotions. They understand that negative emotions cause them to make bad decisions that result in bad consequences. They replace these bad emotions with positive emotions. When faced with a difficult situation they think, evaluate the situation and then react. On the other hand, unsuccessful people let their emotions rule their behaviour. They easily become depressed and feel as if they have no control over their lives. They react before thinking. 

The tenth habit reminded me of Brooke Castillo’s teaching. If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you will know that one of the things that I enjoy doing is listening to podcasts. As well as those about financial independence I have also started listening to personal development podcasts, including Brooke Castillo’s ‘The Life Coach School’. One of the very first episodes talked about the impact of our thoughts on our feelings. Her theory, which is not her creation apparently, but which she has taken from elsewhere, is the following:

  • Circumstances are neutral
  • Your thoughts about the circumstances create your:
  • Feelings, which determine your:
  • Actions, which influence your:
  • Results

A somewhat silly example, which shows how reacting before thinking can cost you money, is that one of my colleagues told me that when a bolt on his wheel snapped as he was trying to change the tyre he threw the spanner in anger and smashed one of the car windows. Obviously this meant that he had to pay to get it mended. His inability to control his frustration caused him to act rashly which led to even more expense than a snapped bolt.

I was then reminded of some of the teachings of the late Stephen Covey who wrote ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. This was one of the first self-help books that I read. It is a book that requires in-depth consideration and repeated reading. There is so much to learn from his teachings.

His first ‘habit’ is to ‘Be Proactive’. He says that between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose. According to Covey, it’s not what happens to us that matters most, but it is how we respond to what we experience in life. He believes that highly proactive people do not blame circumstances, conditions or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feelings.

Each of these authors leads me to the same conclusion, which is that in order to be more successful and happy in life we need to gain control of our emotions rather than just have a ‘stimulus-response’ reaction.

One of the ways in which you could achieve this is, I believe, through the practice of meditation. In my experience it is not the act of meditation itself, but the impact that it has upon the rest of your life. I believe that it creates a calmness and increases your ability not to follow your gut reaction in circumstances which face you each day. This can help on a financial level as you don’t automatically resort to buying yourself something when you have a bad day.

By reframing what has happened and controlling your emotions you can take charge of your life instead of being pulled this way and that by whatever happens to you. When I started meditating I used ‘Headspace’, but it eventually just became paying a subscription to listen to silence for ten minutes. I then read ‘Bliss More’ by Light Watkins, who I had heard interviewed by Dr Chatterjee and now I just set my phone timer and sit quietly for ten minutes. I don’t chant or do anything special. I try to take some deep breaths and concentrate on different parts of my body, attempting to relax. Often my mind wanders and thoughts about the day ahead interrupt my concentration, but according to Light Watkins that is completely normal.

It may feel a bit weird at first, just sitting with your eyes closed for ten minutes trying to focus on nothing, but what have you got to lose? It’s free and you might just feel the benefit. Maybe start with five minutes, or even two and then gradually increase the time.

So how about giving it a try? I would love to know how you get on and if you feel any benefit from it.

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