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It seems that some people will do anything for attention. They’ll embarrass themselves on television, develop a terrible reputation on social media, or even break the law — all in hopes of achieving fame and fortune. According to an insightful article in Medium, people crave fame because they want power, status, and wealth. No one wants to be treated like they’re unimportant, which helps explain why so many people spin their wheels trying to impress others.

With the average American spending just shy of three hours scrolling through social media a day, it’s no surprise that so many adults try to appear as though they’re wealthy. Even if it’s nowhere near the truth, they want to cash in on the personal status that comes along with being rich.

1. Ignoring reality

Once a person has accumulated more wealth than they could possibly spend in a lifetime, it’s natural to view their accomplishments through rose-colored glasses. It’s easy to forget about the challenges and failures a person faced as they clawed to become wealthy.

A person rarely wakes up one morning to vast wealth. According to Zippia, 88% of millionaires are entrepreneurs, meaning they’ve worked hard to get where they are.

Tip: Wanting to be rich is not enough. Unless a person is willing to work for wealth, it’s unlikely to land in their lap. Start with a specific goal.

2. Winging it

Magical thinking is great when writing children’s books, but it’s not a great way to approach personal or business finances.

A quick Amazon search brings up dozens of books written by the biggest names in business, and undoubtedly, each of the authors offers different advice. And that’s the point. Each has a story to tell based, in part, on their personal plan for success — a plan developed through years of trial and error.

Winging it in hopes of “hitting it big” is a lot like throwing random ingredients into a mixing bowl and hoping they’ll turn into chocolate chip cookies.

Tip: Most successful endeavors begin with a well-thought-out plan. Take your specific goal from above and sketch out a plan to achieve it.

3. Living (way too) large

Buying the flashiest car on the lot, spending $25,000 on a watch, and moving into the biggest house on the block all have one thing in common: They drain a person’s bank account without adding value to their life.

And yet, for many, outward displays of wealth are important. Even if it means they can’t build an emergency fund, save for retirement, or put money into a business, living large takes over.

When you consider that 88% of millionaires are businesspeople, it’s surprising to think how few of those who’ve adopted the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality are putting their money into something with the potential to help them build wealth, like a business or investments.

Tip: Attempting to impress others is ruinous for your budget. Avoid the temptation to keep up with the Joneses.

4. Trying to control every little thing

The scarcest resource on the planet is time. No matter how much money a person has, they can’t buy more of it. Fortunately, one way to free up more time is to release the need to control every detail of their personal life, business, or portfolio. If someone needs to get work done when the kids are home, they hire a child care provider. If they could earn more money by working instead of grocery shopping, they hire someone to shop for them. The same is true when they need an extra set of eyes to look over their portfolio or someone to help them design a new company logo. No one who’s laser-focused on a goal can do it all.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you have too much on your plate.

In an ideal world, humans would be chock-full of self-esteem and not depend on others to measure their worth. Until that day, though, people will feel compelled to “act wealthy,” even if it costs them money they don’t have. If that describes you, it may help to learn more about what the majority of millionaires have in common. You are likely to find that developing good financial habits is the best way to count yourself among the wealthy.

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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Dana George has positions in Amazon. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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