Anybody can get rich.

It doesn’t take genius. Nor are special talents required. You don’t need to be lucky. And you certainly don’t need to be privileged. As “The Millionaire Next Door” (the best-selling book by Thomas Stanley and William Danko) and many studies have shown, most self-made millionaires are very normal in their circumstances. What separates them from the pack are their habits.

Becoming rich is a matter of making certain decisions and practicing certain skills, none of which is difficult or complicated. Viewed from this perspective, becoming rich is simple.

You can acquire a multimillion-dollar net worth by doing just five things:

1. Get to work an hour early.

2. Make an above-average income.

3. Practice a financially valuable skill.

4. Invest a big part of your savings in a side business.

5. Invest the rest safely.

There are plenty of other ways to get rich, but the four above are proven. I’ve done them myself, and I’ve taught them to others who have become rich by doing them. Let’s take a quick look at these five “requirements.”

Secret #1. Get to work an hour early.

Most people want to be rich, but few succeed. The reason is not how much or how little they desire but what they actually do each day. Despite what the self-help books say, you won’t get wealthy by just wishing – or by positive thinking, imaging, visualization, and other mental tricks that promise overnight magic.

A good mental attitude will make you a happy person, but it won’t put any money in your pocket. To get rich, you have to give yourself an edge over everybody else. And the best way I know to do that is to get to work early. By getting to work early, you can do all the little things that put you ahead of the pack. You can make extra contacts, learn useful skills, take time to write an impressive memo, polish off a report, etc.

Early to Rise is designed to help you get rich (and successful) one day at a time. **Remember to subscribe to our daily email at the top to receive these actionable features.

You start with a set of life goals and reduce them down to five-year goals, then one-year goals, then one-month goals, then one-week goals, and finally to one-day goals. In ETR’s daily messages, I ask you to do something, review something, remember something, or learn something that will get you one step closer to your ultimate goals.

Each thing I ask is relatively simple and small. It can be done easily and most often quickly. If you get into the habit of using ETR actively – not just reading it, but practicing its advice — you will make progress. I know this works, because I know dozens of people it is working for. And because it’s working for me.

But the things that I ask you to do are extra things that go beyond what you are doing right now. That’s why you need to get up an hour early each morning – so you have time to read ETR, plan your day, and get at least one positive thing done before you start doing all the regular things. The regular things will give you a regular life. The extra things will give you all the extras – including the extra millions.

SUGGESTED: Should I Be Waking Up At 5 a.m.?

Secret #2. Make an above-average income.

You don’t have to earn a ton of money to become a millionaire, but you do need a higher-than-average income. It’s possible to become financially independent on an annual income of $50,000, but you’ll do so only if you scrimp and save for a long time. To get wealthy while you’re young enough to enjoy it, you need to make about $75,000 or more. When your income exceeds $50,000 (after taxes), you can save most of it without compromising your lifestyle. Since I can’t scrimp and save, I can’t ask you to.

It takes some effort to get your income above $50,000 but it can be done. (See Secret #3.) And when you break through that level, a very nice thing happens: Increasing your income to the next level becomes a little bit easier. And when you hit the next level – say, $75,000 – you can bump yourself up again with even less effort.

SUGGESTED: How to Think Like a Billionaire

There is truth to the saying that the rich get richer. It’s not the truth most people take from it though. We’ll talk more about this and review ETR’s ideas for boosting income and living rich on Wednesday.

Secret #3. Practice a financially valuable skill.

A financially valuable skill is one that contributes to (and is recognized as contributing to) the profits of a business. By this definition, not all business skills are financially valuable. You need to help create profits, and you need to be sure that the powers that be see you as a profit maker. We’ve talked about this before, and we’ll talk about it again.

Start learning one today by taking a quick Early to Rise University course.

Secret #4. Invest in a side business.

If you earn an above-average income and don’t go crazy buying things, you’ll have money left over for investing. Investing is the best way to get rich – and investing in your own side business is the best way I know to get a higher-than-average return on investment (ROI).

I’m not an advocate of quitting your job, mortgaging the house, and jumping into a business. Although you may read stories about people doing that the odds are very much stacked against you if you try. You just don’t know enough – or have enough – when you start off that way.

I believe in “chicken entrepreneurship” – starting out slowly and learning about a side business while you have the safe and steady income of your main job.

Even if you own your own business, you should invest a large percentage of your savings in a side business. It’s simply the only way you can ever expect to earn 20% or more on your money with relative safety. By a “side business,” I mean something you can run on weekends or weekday evenings. It is something that won’t take your attention away from your full-time job. It should be something you enjoy and are willing to stick with.

There are all kinds of side businesses you can get into, from consulting to freelance writing to real estate. We’ll be talking about those opportunities on Friday – and I’ll give you specific examples of how to make money in real estate, something I’ve been doing pretty successfully for more than 20 years.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about real-estate investing and how you can gradually and easily put together a “portfolio” that can give you a very substantial yearly income – enough to retire on if you so choose.

Secret # 5. Invest the rest safely.

If you take advantage of Secrets #1, #2, and #3, you’ll eventually (sooner rather than later) have money left over that you won’t need for your side business. You should invest that money conventionally but safely. You want to keep the money you have worked hard for safe and secure, but you also want to earn the highest possible ROI on it. The difference between earning 2% on your money and 22% can be the difference between having a net worth of $100,000 and $10 million at retirement.

I’ll give you my specific recommendations for stocks, bonds, and other passive investments on Thursday. And I’ll tell you how to get the highest possible yields safely.

Then, next week, I’ll tell you how you can make really good money (and have fun) by buying things you care about. The secrets of real-estate investing are mostly the same secrets that make hobby investing – collecting art, antiques, beer cans, etc. – profitable.

Related Posts

Mark Morgan Ford

Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Wealth Builders Club. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.