The Beatles famously sang, "Money can't buy me love," and we're certainly not arguing with that realization. Still, it's hard to deny the enviable perks of being rich, including owning a beautiful home, traveling the world and enjoying financial freedom. Unfortunately, while many of us fantasize about acquiring wealth, few of us ever achieve great prosperity. It doesn't have to be that way, though. Wealth is within reach for all of us if we're willing to take risks, learn from our mistakes and change the way we think about money. Here are 10 reasons that might help explain why you're still not rich.
You're Afraid to Invest
The ups and downs of the market might have scared you away from investing your hard-earned cash, but it's time to get over that fear. With interest rates for savings accounts and certificates of deposit pretty pathetic these days, you'll have a better shot at seeing your money grow if you invest some of it in the market, where returns can be much higher.
"One of the reasons many people delay beginning to invest is because they don't fully understand the power of compound interest, which Albert Einstein coined 'the eighth wonder of the world,'" says Matt Cosgriff, a certified financial planner for Lifewise in Minneapolis.
Compound interest means that as your principal investment earns interest, that interest will be added to the principal, which will in turn earn interest on itself. This "interest on interest" creates a snowball effect that can mean big bucks over time—especially if you start investing at a young age.
Need more convincing? Robert R. Johnson, president and CEO of The American College of Financial Services, suggests considering this example: if an individual is 25 years old and starts saving $200 per month, investing it at 10% interest compounded monthly, she will have an impressive $1,275,556 at age 65. On the other hand, if the individual waits until age 35 to start this same investment strategy, she will only have $456,065 at age 65.
There are several online calculators available that can help you figure out how much money you could make on your investments over time.
"The power of starting early allows your money to compound over years and decades to the ultimate benefit of your future self," says Cosgriff.
You Don't Think You're Smart Enough
You might think that it takes above-average intelligence to become rich, but that's often not the case.
"In my experience, the people that achieve wealth are typically not the smartest or even the most talented person in the room—they are the person most determined," says Monty Campbell, founder of MontyCampbell.com, a blog about achieving financial freedom.
Billionaire Warren Buffett also believes that intelligence is often overrated when it comes to achieving monetary success, and has said: "The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect."
You're Too Focused on Budgets
Make no mistake, budgeting is an important way to manage your finances and can prevent you from wasting money on things you really don't need. But if you're overly focused on saving instead of earning, you won't ever generate enough income to get rich.
"People spend most of their time budgeting money rather than creating a plan to create money," says author and international sales training expert Grant Cardone. "I spend 95% of my time looking at ways to create income and only 5% of my time on where I can cut."
Asking for a raise at work, switching jobs for a more lucrative position and investing in the stock market are just a few ways to help generate more money.
You're Full of Excuses
When it comes to getting a better job, starting that business you've always dreamed about or finally paying off your credit card debt, do you have a million excuses why today isn't the day to make it happen?
"It's a well-known fact that the lazy person works the hardest—in other words, finding excuses to avoid the steps necessary to become rich takes way more effort than the actual steps needed," says Campbell.
If you really want to achieve wealth, you have to stop procrastinating and start taking action. Even if you're only able to start small in the beginning—for instance, investing just a little bit each month or launching a biz right from your living room—you've got to be motivated enough to make your dream a reality.
You Don't Think You Deserve to Be Rich
Being rich is a privilege only for the lucky few, right? That couldn't be farther from the truth. If you don't feel that you deserve to be rich, your negative thinking will ensure that you'll always be an average Joe (or Jane).
"Anyone in America, regardless of social class, has the opportunity to get rich," says self-made multimillionaire Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think (London House Press, 2010). "Many of the richest entrepreneurs come from lower-class upbringings because they were hungry to break out."
Instead of worrying about not being born a blue blood, focus on creating a product or service that provides immense value to people.
"Deserving to be rich isn't a philosophy, it's a measurable outcome," Siebold explains. "If you serve enough people, they will gladly make you rich, and therefore, you will deserve it."
You Equate Wealth With Greed
Have you been taught that it's morally wrong to seek wealth? Although many of us were brought up to believe that a desire to become rich is greedy and selfish, it's time to realize that success (if achieved through honest means) is nothing to feel ashamed of and can improve our lives for the better.
"The first step is to accept the fact that you've been programmed to believe things that do not serve your best interests," says Siebold. "The next step is to erase the limiting philosophies and replace them with empowering philosophies, which include not feeling guilty for pursuing your own self interests."
You're Terrified of Failure
Whether it's starting your own business, investing your money or buying and selling real estate, there are always risks involved when building wealth. But as the saying goes, no risk, no reward. If you're terrified of failure, you'll never experience the sweet taste of success.
It's also important to keep in mind that many millionaires and billionaires have endured failures on their road to success. However, instead of giving up, they learned from their mistakes and persevered. One's psychological response to failure is a big factor that separates the rich from the masses.
"Very few people hit a home run their first time at bat," says Siebold. "Most people who fail retreat back to their comfort zone, never to be heard from again. Meanwhile, the rich are failing just as often but continue to push their personal boundaries until they succeed."
You Don't Hang Around Rich People
Be honest: are most of your friends financially challenged? It may sound politically incorrect, but if you want to become rich, it's time to surround yourself with people with money.
Siebold says spending time with rich people will allow you to "expose yourself to their level of consciousness around money" and learn from how they think and behave. He equates this philosophy to wanting to lose weight—if that was your goal, you'd join a gym and start hanging out with fit people.
When you're chilling with your new rich posse, just be sure you don't appear as though you're using them for opportunities.
"The fastest way to get kicked out of the inner circle of the wealthy is to ask them for favors, connections or business," Siebold warns.
You Think All Debt Is Bad Debt
We've been programmed to see "debt" as a dirty word, but the truth is that not all debt should be avoided. It's important to make the distinction between "good debt" and "bad debt," and realize that "good debt" can actually help improve your financial situation.
"'Good debt' is considered to be debt that will help generate income, increase your capacity to earn income, and/or increase your net worth, such as student loans, a mortgage and a small business loan," says Cosgriff. "'Bad debt' is largely any debt that is used to purchase a depreciating asset, such as credit card debt."
However, Cosgriff warns that sometimes "good debt" can become "bad" if used improperly.
"For example, if you finance a home that's far too costly for what your income can support, that is not 'good debt,'" he says.
You're Banking on Luck
It's staggering how many people buy lottery tickets each week, even though the chances of actually winning are incredibly minute. Gambling is also a popular but often ill-fated strategy for achieving wealth.
"Waiting for your proverbial ship to come in is not a wealth-building strategy," says certified financial planner George S. Urist, president and owner of Urist Financial and Retirement Planning, Inc. in East Syracuse, N.Y. "Discipline, patience and having a plan are much better ways to build wealth."