Want to Be an “Eventual Millionaire?” Do These Things

There’s some quote that a lot of us can dig out of the backs of our brains, about how all Americans view themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. (It’s one of those quotes that’s so ubiquitous that the internet automatically attributes it to multiple famous people.)

But if you hope someday to earn those millions that you’ve been temporarily denied, James Altucher has a list of 20 steps that’ll get you there.

His essay, The 20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires, includes a few general life tips — exercise, get enough sleep, practice gratitude — as well as a few items that were a little more specific:

– Warren Buffett’s 5/25 rule.

Make a list of the 25 things you want to do in life. Now do the top 5. And NEVER THINK ABOUT THE OTHER 20 EVERY AGAIN.

Else they will take time away from the 5 that are most important to you.

I like this. It resonates in a way that makes me want to avoid thinking about it more carefully. (What if your Top 5 Things exclude your responsibilities to other people, for example?) It also doesn’t specifically connect to money — your Top 5 Things could all be, for lack of a better term, “not profitable” — but since Warren Buffett is rich, maybe following his 5/25 rule will make you be rich too!

I also liked this one:

– Stand next to the smartest person in the room.

Harold Ramis did it (Bill Murray). Steve Jobs did it (Steve Wozniak). Craig Silverstein did it. (who? Larry Page.) Kanye West did it (Jay-Z).

I’ve done it repeatedly. (Yoda). I have a motto: “I am the dumbest person in the room”. Then it helps me to find the smartest person in each room.

The smartest person in the room is going to do something. Watch what they do. Something special. Just follow them without asking questions.

This is a fancy way of saying “network,” right? Becoming friends with successful people might open you up to opportunities that you couldn’t have gotten on your own. (It’s the Aaron Burr political strategy, although the part Burr never realizes is that he also needs to bring something to the room where it happens.)

It’s worth noting that Altucher doesn’t identify a real person as his “smartest person in the room.”

There’s also this tip:

– No excuses.

Blaming is draining. Complaining is draining. Explaining is draining.

People say, I don’t have enough time. I get that. For instance, I don’t have enough time to become a professional astronaut.

But even that excuse, which two seconds ago I thought was a truism, is false.

One day Virgin Galactic and SpaceX will send tourists into space for cheap. So one day I’ll be an astronaut.

I have enough time again. No excuses.

Like the “stand next to the smartest person in the room” tip, this is all about piggybacking on someone else’s work. What if SpaceX disappears? It seems like if you want to be a professional astronaut, you should make it one of your Top 5 Things. That’s no guarantee it’ll happen — even after putting in the work, you might not get picked — but at least you’re working towards your goal instead of waiting for someone else to develop a space tourism program.

The entire list of habits could, if thoughtfully applied, make you a better-rested, better-connected, slightly more ambitious person. But I don’t see how they’ll make you a millionaire — especially because none of them are related to the only way I’ve found to earn (and save) more money, which is track every penny coming in and work to make your earnings number and your savings number as high as possible.

Then again, I could be making excuses.

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