7 things that poor people do that rich people don't

Megan Holstein


Most people want to have more money.

Those of us interested in self-improvement want to know “what is it about rich people that makes them rich?”

And, “how can I get more of that for myself?”

So we learn more about the habits of rich people.

And when you take a look at the habits of the rich versus the habits of the poor, one of the first things you learn is there are certain things most poor people do that most rich people just… don’t.

Lots of common ways of spending your time, from watching TV to lazing in bed in the morning, are just not things rich people do.

There are, of course, a lot of things rich people do that the poor don’t. Spend a lot of time managing investment accounts, for example. But if we only look at what the rich do in comparison to the poor, we miss out on what the poor do that the rich don’t, a valuable mine of information for those looking to be more wealthy themselves.

Intelligent readers may already be thinking “but some things the poor do only because they have to!”, such as spend a long time on public transit and work long shifts at food service positions. That’s absolutely true. However, this list doesn’t focus on that which the poor do because they have to, but only on that which they do because they choose to.

Many people hate articles that talk about the mental differences between the rich and the poor because they feel these kinds of articles are basically telling people they would be rich if they just learn to think the right way or do the right kinds of things.

While that’s obviously not completely true (one cannot just “start thinking differently” and check their bank account again), it does have a grain of truth.

Not everything in life is within our direct control, but much of it is. And we don’t need to control all of life to become wealthy. We only need to be smart with what we can control.

This article, then, is about what we do have control over.

7 Things Poor People Do That Rich People Don’t

1. Poor people watch TV. Rich people take a walk.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

When a poor person wants to unwind, they collapse in on the couch and watch some Netflix. Or they play some video games. Or they scroll through social media. They collapse into the nearest cushioned seat and allow an electronic device to stimulate them.

Rich people don’t. When successful people want to unwind, they take a walk. Or they listen to soothing music and perhaps write in their journal.They pick an activity that is truly mentally restorative instead of one that’s merely distracting.

To do what rich people do, take some time to truly relax. Take a bath. Read a book you enjoy. Take a walk. Get some exercise. Do something truly healthful for you instead of something merely distracting.

2. Poor people watch YouTube. Rich people read nonfiction.

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
― Groucho Marx

When poor people want to know more about the world, they watch short YouTube videos. They scroll Facebook pages. They read Reddit. They find the shortest, most digestible source available. These sources usually aren’t authoritative. Many times, they’re not even accurate.

As a result, instead of learning about our beautiful and complex world, they’re merely cementing their own ignorance. They think they’re educated, but really, they’re just the pawn of people who manipulate information.

When rich people want to learn, they read nonfiction books. Instead of defaulting to whatever’s easiest to consume, they find the source that is the most authoritative. They do what it takes to understand the entire picture.

Then, when people with social media posts and fake news step in to try and convince them of superficial nonsense, all they do is laugh. They already know better.

To do what rich people do, stop using social media for your news and education. Go rent some books from your local library. You’ll learn one hundred times more reading books than you will watching YouTube videos.

3. Poor people wake up whenever. Rich people have morning routines.

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”
— Daniel Handler

When poor people wake up in the morning, they do whatever occurs to them first. Usually, they check their phone. Then, after scrolling on their phone for a half-hour to an hour, they meander out of bed to possibly eat, possibly watch TV, possibly text some friends.

Rich people don’t do this. They understand that if you structure your morning right, you can get more done in two hours than most people can in 24. So they have a morning routine.

The exact routine doesn’t matter. It’s different for everyone. Many rich people get up at 5 AM and go to the gym, while others get up at 10 AM and take a morning walk.

What their morning routines all have in common is that they take advantage of their natural rhythms to set them up for success.

To do what rich people do, decide what you’re going to do for the first hour of your day. Are you going to check your phone? Take a walk? Make some tea and breakfast? Write in your journal? Whatever you choose to do is fine, as long as you stick to it.

4. Poor people think in terms of hours worked. Rich people think in terms of value produced.

“The money you make is a symbol of the value you create.”
― Idowu Koyenikan, Wealth for All

When you ask a poor person if they’ve been productive today, their response is in terms of hours worked. “I worked for 7 hours at work today.” “I spent 3 hours on this project.” “I spent like 2 hours cleaning the house today.”

When you ask a rich person if they’ve been productive today, their response is in terms of value-added. “I shipped a final product today.” “I’ve cleaned the entire house.”

That’s because poor people are paid in terms of hours worked and rich people are paid in terms of value-added.

Poor people get hourly jobs. Rich people get salaries. The richest people get equity, and then they get paid based on the success or failure of a business venture.

The richer you get, the less your hours worked matters.

To do what rich people do, stop thinking in terms of hours worked. Start assessing your own productivity based on how much you get done. As your priorities shift, you’ll start getting more done per hour.

5. Poor people think their bodies are a distraction. Rich people think their bodies are a tool.

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
– Edward Stanley

Poor people treat their bodies like they’re a distraction from the rest of their lives. They eat fast food because it’s cheap to buy and quick to eat. They’re trying to get back to what they’re doing. They also don’t exercise because that takes a lot of time. They think their time is better spent otherwise.

Rich people understand their bodies are their most important tool. If their body is not working right, the rest of their life won’t work right either.

Instead of treating their bodies like an afterthought, rich people treat their bodies like a priority. They prepare and eat healthy foods. They exercise at the gym regularly, even on busy days when it seems like there is no time to do so.

To do what rich people do, treat your body as a priority, not an afterthought. Go to the gym a few times a week. Download an exercise app and do calisthenics at home. Go for a run. Eat something green. Eat something you prepared fresh, not something frozen or from a fast-food restaurant.

6. Poor people cram the day before things are due. Rich people do a little work every day.

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.”
― John Mayer

Poor people have a reactive attitude to work. They cram everything they need to do before the day it’s done. They wait until the last minute to study for a test, and deliver work products to their boss the day their boss expects them and no sooner. They are always reacting to the deadlines life imposes.

Rich people don’t react to the world around them, they control it.

When they have something they must finish by next week, they do a little every day. When they need to study for a test, they begin studying regularly the second they find out about the test. When their boss asks them for a work product, they deliver it early.

Fundamentally, poor people think success is the result of some kind of extraordinary effort when rich people know success is the result of consistent effort, day after day.

To do what rich people do, stop going all-out on new projects. Instead, start being consistent. Pick a small commitment and repeat it day after day. Practice Spanish for 30 minutes. Paint one small image. Write one short article. Practicing Spanish every day for 30 minutes will teach you a lot more Spanish than studying one day for six hours.

7. Poor people don’t control their money. Rich people do.

“Balancing your money is the key to having enough.”
― Elizabeth Warren Amelia Warren Tyagin

Poor people aren’t in charge of their money. They don’t have a money system that shows them where all their money is going and when. They may have a rough idea of how much they spend, and on what, but they are just guessing and reacting.

Rich people control their money. They have a dashboard, digital, or analog, where they can go to see where all of their money is at any given time. When they get paid, they immediately allocate money to their savings and spending accounts. They pay bills well before they are due.

Sometimes, rich people aren’t rich because of luck or circumstance. They are rich because when they were poor, they controlled where their money went, instead of letting life dictate their terms.

To do what rich people do, find out where all your money is going. Figure out exactly how much money you spend every month. Figure out exactly what you spent it on. Decide if that’s how you want to spend your money, or if you want to make some changes. Then stick to them.

Why These Habits Make You Rich

Whenever writing an article that makes an attempt to learn how to be rich by observing the habits of the rich, a writer has to be careful not to imply that one can become rich merely by following the steps laid out in their article.

So, obviously, there is no guarantee doing everything on this list will make you rich.

After all, plenty of rich people don’t do these things either. There are a great many trust fund kids who spend their time playing video games, drinking excessively expensive alcohol, buying designer shoes, and otherwise wasting valuable resources.

What binds these activities in common are not that they “make you rich,” but not doing them makes it more likely you’ll be successful.

Take reading. Reading alone won’t make you successful. But people who regularly learn by reading nonfiction know whenever they have a problem they can consult a well-researched nonfiction book. As a result, they’re much more likely to find a solution, and that solution is much more likely to be a good one than a person who spends their free time watching cat videos.

Or taking care of your body. People who exercise and eat right are much less likely to have health issues than people who don’t. It’s a lot easier to become successful at whatever you choose to do, including build wealth when you’re not constantly dealing with chronic health issues.

Here’s where these habits start to transform into wealth.

Multiply these risks together in your mind. Someone who reads nonfiction and takes care of their body is even likelier to be healthy and not suffer from chronic health issues.

Now imagine someone who takes walks, reads, exercises, eats well, and applies consistent effort. Imagine them compared to someone who doesn’t take walks, read, exercise, eat well, and apply consistent effort.

Imagine both of those people have a goal of becoming right.

Which one of these people do you think is more likely to make it?

Not everyone’s goal is to be rich, of course. But if you’re still reading this article, it’s probably one of yours.

If that’s the case, giving up these bad habits and replacing them with beneficial ones can only make it more likely you’ll succeed.

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Self-help writer with 3M+ views on Medium and Quora. Covering personal growth, relationship skills, and career growth.

Columbus, OH

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