What if you could retire early, travel the world, or fund that brilliant business idea you've had tucked away in the corner of your mind?

Well, it certainly won't happen by accident, and despite your best efforts, you might just be standing in your own way.

See if you're doing any of these things that could keep you from achieving your millionaire dreams (and how to fix them):

1. Anything left after paying the bills is disposable income.

The wealthy pay their future selves first, whereas a large portion of the population tends to live far beyond their means, spending more than they earn. To end your financial struggles, you need to come up with a sensible budget and make a habit of saving.

A good rule of thumb is to live on 80 percent of your income, while putting 20 percent away, to pay your future self first.

2. You just don't understand how wealth building works.

...and that's okay, because it's not something they teach in public schools. Unfortunately, a lot of families simply aren't equipped to share this knowledge with their children either.

In fact, The 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) found that in 2014, only about two in five U.S. adults (39 percent) said they have a budget and keep close track of their spending. When it comes to retirement savings, one in three U.S. adults (32 percent) still don't save any of their household's annual income at all.

Clearly, many lack financial knowledge, but it's never too late to learn! A few good books to help you get started include:

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, Sharon Lechter
  • The Wealthy Barber: Everyone's Commonsense Guide to Becoming Financially Independent by David Chilton
  • The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley
  • The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt

3. You stopped learning after graduation.

We're all busy with work, family, friends, social obligations, and the many daily tasks we all have to deal with. But never stop making time for learning!

Simply taking the time to read information that will increase your knowledge about your business or career will make you more valuable to colleagues, customers, or clients. Trade magazines, blogs, YouTube videos, books, e-books, and audiobooks-these are all ways to stay current on topics you find interesting, or that might benefit you in future.

You don't have to start your master's degree today; try learning a new skill, like coding. Take a course on creative writing, or maybe a night course in an important business discipline. The possibilities are endless, but the point is that you continue flexing your intellectual muscle and better pave your path to financial freedom.

To borrow a few wise words from Benjamin Franklin, "If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

4. You spend your money on "things" with no value.

Awesome furniture. The nicest car you could get with the maximum loan the bank would give you. A crazy summer vacation with friends and family. These are all nice things, but they depreciate in value.

Millionaires collect assets, not things. They collect real estate, art, stocks and bonds, etc.

To adopt this mindset, cut back the spending on disposable crap and start investing in assets that may appreciate over time. Your money needs to make money for you!

5. You bought Into the diversification myth.

Not only is the importance of diversification in investing largely based on sketchy "conventional wisdom" and flat-out myths, the idea of investing in a wide swath of companies can leave lesser-experienced investors exposed to even more risk. As Mark Cuban so bluntly said, "Diversification is for idiots."

I mean, it sure works out well for Wall Street for you to scatter your money across various industries and sectors, but can you really be knowledgeable and informed in each one?

To put it simply, invest in what you know and understand. Billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett says it best: "Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing."

Published on: Jul 16, 2015
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