The millennial generation is at the point now where they’re starting to think hard about how to build long-term wealth for themselves. When it comes to building personal wealth, often the best strategies are the simple habits that, when properly implemented, end up paying off big in the end.

The challenge, of course, is that financial responsibility is not always easy when bills are piling up and you feel as though you don’t have the ability to save. But part of building wealth is learning to discipline your spending habits so that you are always operating in the positive — instead of racking up debt.

So if building true wealth for yourself is something you’re interested in, these 9 steps will be your foundation for establishing positive financial habits that will move you closer toward your goal.

1. Don’t Operate At a Loss

The most simple step toward building wealth that people struggle with is spending less than they make. It might seem ridiculous, but it’s the absolute truth. Many people spend more than they make and use their credit cards for the rest. They assume they will make more in the future and that it will all “even itself out,” when in reality, the moment they start making more money, they simply start spending more. That bad habit carries on, and they continuously operate at a loss.

2. Make Sure To Place a Tax On Yourself

If the government suddenly increased taxes and forced you to pay an extra $100 each month, you’d find a way to pay it. You would have to. Yet when it comes to saving money, people constantly find ways to rationalize their inability to sock away $100 each month.

Try setting up an automatic bank transfer so that as soon as you receive your paycheck, a small portion of it immediately goes into your savings account. You should pretend it doesn’t even exist. And a few years from now, you’ll graciously thank yourself later.

3. Open an IRA Account As Soon As Possible

One of the best things a young person can do is open an IRA account, which can double as either a primary or secondary savings account. The intention here, however, is that money is not touched until much later in life. If you withdraw from it before the age of 65 you are penalized. The bonus, though, is that your money in an IRA account can grow tax free, which compounded over three or four decades ends up being a lot of money.

4. Do Build a Side Hustle

Even the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have side hustles. According to Warren Buffet, the average millionaire has seven sources of income. Having multiple income streams is just part of the process. The best thing you can do is figure out what you can provide or offer people that delivers true value. A perfect example is internet famous entrepreneur Sam Ovens, who has made millions selling online courses and consulting business owners.

5. Pay Off Your Credit Cards ASAP

No matter how entrepreneurial you are, maxing out your credit cards without reliable streams of income to pay them off in a timely manner is irresponsible. You always want to make financial decisions based on what you’re currently making, not what you think you’re going to make. Wait until you’ve got the money in the door before you go reinvest or spend it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself drowning in interest payments.

6. Set Financial Goals At The Start Of Each Quarter and The Start Of Each Year

When you have a goal, you tend to be more responsible with your money. It’s when you don’t have a goal that it’s much easier to rationalize spontaneous purchases. At the start of each year, set a big goal for yourself and then break that goal down into three-month increments (quarters) so that you can check on your progress as you go along. These smaller goals are what help the larger one seem more attainable, and will give you a sense as to whether you’re on the right track along the way.

7. Don’t Forget To Follow The 50-30-20 Rule

Summarized in a great article by Nerdwallet, many financial experts suggest that 50 percent of your income should be spent on needs (such as housing, car payments, food, etc.), 30 percent should be spent on what you want (clothes, nice dinners, etc.) and the remaining 20 percent should be saved. Especially when you’re young, you’re most likely going to operate closer to 70-20-10, living off 70 percent of your income, spending 20 and saving 10. If you can even follow that, you’re in good shape. But your goal should be to work toward following the 50-30-20 rule.

8. Surround Yourself With Financially Responsible People

Nothing breeds financial success like hanging out with people who have already attained it. This means finding people older than you that you can learn from and also making sure that your group of friends is comprised of people who share similar financial goals. It can be difficult to adhere to financial disciplines when you’re spending time with spontaneous spenders.

A great way to learn about the art of finances is to find a family friend who can mentor you throughout the process — someone who has achieved their own financial success. If you show an earnest interest in learning how to build the same for yourself, chances are someone will be happy to help. A willingness to learn goes a long way.

9. Judge Yourself Over The Course Of The Year, Not The Month

While it is important to keep a tab on how you’re doing month to month, it’s far more important to judge success over longer periods of time. A year is a good indication of your financial practices. Some months might not be great (things happen), others might be wonderful.

But what’s important is that, come the end of the year, you saved at least 10 percent of your income. Otherwise, if nothing is being saved, how do you expect to build true wealth for yourself?

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