Take a close look at your circle of friends, and I bet you’ll find that the majority of them are pulling down an annual income pretty similar to yours. Thare are some obvious reasons for this. Many studies show that close groups of friends often have similar income levels. But we tend to reflect our friends, and this could be what’s keeping you back from that next income level.
Now, don’t freak out. I’m certainly not advocating that you un-friend your current crew—nothing of the sort. What I am suggesting is that you take a good, hard look at the habits, attitudes, and spending patterns of your squad, and decide if their behaviors are having a positive, or negative, effect on your financial habits.
According to Thomas Corley, whose recent book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life,” distinguishes between “rich habits” and “poor habits” from his years of study, 86% of “rich people,” which he defines as an annual income over $160,000 with high-net asset liquidity, made a habit of associating with success-minded people. Conversely, only about 4% of lower-income people, annual income less than $35,000 and low-net asset liquidity, did the same.
“Positive money habits can create personal wealth, while negative money habits will just lead to a cycle of overspending, debt, and financial stress.”
The conversations and perspective you could pick up from successful people can have a profound impact on your habits. This is true even in elementary school, where studies have found that mixed-income schools benefit lower-income students, in part because of the influence of their peers.
People who are success-minded have a more positive outlook on life, and often possess positive money habits. This collection of mindset and habits is contagious—on both sides of the spectrum. When you compare spending habits, which tend to vary inversely with income, you might further be picking up tendencies that are keeping you from financial greatness.
I define wealth as the difference between your income and your spending habits. If you make enough to cover your basic needs, then positive money habits can create personal wealth, while negative money habits will lead to a cycle of overspending, debt, and financial stress.
But instead of ghosting on your friends, set a goal to identify and cultivate a relationship with someone of a higher income whom you admire and whose money habits are woth emulating. This person’s contacts and habits could help advance your career and sharpen your ambition.
You don’t have to be Machiavellian about it, rather, simply see what you can learn. It’s not all that different than developing a relationship with a mentor at work. Again, the goal here is to find people who inspire positive habits and help you reach your goals—not simply to rub elbows with the Jordan Belforts of the world.
That would be gross.