It's easy to look at wealthy people and think to yourself, "They must be really lucky." And while there are certainly instances of people who "lucked" into wealth, they are few and far between. In most cases, these individuals become rich through hard work and smart decisions.

4 Things Rich People Do Differently

The truth of the matter is that rich people do things differently. Some of these are big picture things, but it's mostly the result of lots of small, consistent choices and habits.

Let's take a look at a few smart actions wealthy people take:

1. They Read Lots of Books

Look at a list of the most successful and wealthy people in the world and almost every one of them is an avid reader. Bill Gates reads more than 50 books per year. Mark Zuckerberg reads multiple books per month. Mark Cuban sets aside three hours per day for reading. Elon Musk attributes much of his knowledge about building rockets to reading books. If you think this is coincidental, think again.

2. They Aren't Afraid of DIY

If you keep up with the Kardashians, then you probably assume that wealthy people are lazy and hire others to do everything for them. These folks are outliers, though. While wealthy people value their time and enlist help when it makes sense, most wealthy people don't get anywhere without contributing a little elbow grease.

Let's say, for example, that a wealthy person is having a problem with moths or insects in their home. Instead of spending an outrageous amount of money to have someone perform a treatment that may or may not work, a wealthy individual will save his money and handle the problem on his own.

"Paying a professional service to come out to your house is going to cost you hundreds of dollars per visit," says Adam Smith of Moth-Prevention. "A DIY moth control product is going to cost you less than $100 and provide months of protection. It's a no-brainer."

Another example would be lawn care. While many people spend hundreds of dollars per month on lawn care, many wealthy people actually get out in their yard and work. Not only does this save money, but it helps them learn and hone new skills.

3. They Buy Things That Last

When comparing two items at the store, most people select the one that is cheaper. After all, saving money is a good thing, right? Well, sometimes. When wealthy people purchase things, they rarely select the cheapest option. This isn't because they have more money, but rather because they understand the principle of buying quality products that last.

"For things that vary greatly in quality, I tend to come down on buying the quality item instead," personal finance expert Peter Anderson says. "After all, just because something is cheap, doesn't necessarily mean that it's frugal. If the cheaper item wears out before it's time you're going to be spending more money to replace it."

4. They Sacrifice Now to Enjoy Later

How is it that someone who wins $10 million in the lottery today can be bankrupt in 10 years, while someone who makes $50,000 per year can be exceptionally wealthy when they enter retirement? It's because the lottery winner spends everything he has on consumable products that disappear, while the hard worker sacrifices now to enjoy the fruits of her labor later.

In a survey of 2,400 wealthy individuals, the data shows that most rich people make big sacrifices to get ahead in the future.

"The No. 1 sacrifice they made? Driving an older car," says Catey Hill of Moneyish. "Indeed, 47% of these so-called super savers say they drive an older car in order to help them build up their coffers. That's followed by owning a modest home (45%) and not traveling as much as they'd like to (42%) as the top sacrifices."

Putting it All Together

At the end of the day, building wealth has very little to do with money and everything to do with mindset. It's all about the decisions you make over time. Are you setting yourself up for wealth, or are you burning through your money like newspaper in a bonfire?

Published on: Jan 24, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.