When did you first realize you were wealthy? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Dandan Zhu, NYC-based entrepreneur and headhunter, on Quora:

As a 30 year-old millionaire and entrepreneur, here are some examples of when I realized I was actually wealthy:

#1. I no longer keep tabs on the money people owe me.

As a kid, I grew up in poverty. I wore hand-me-downs from strangers, donated clothing, and and lived as the babysitter's daughter the first 5 years of my childhood after I came to America. As I went to middle school and high school, I had no money because my mom didn't want us (my cousin and I) to. She preferred us to go home straight after school to study and she used money as a way to restrict us.

My dad would give us some cash to buy some food, which we eagerly used to eat at Burger King or buy some food from the truck parked in front of our high school. In college, similarly, I had to work a ton of jobs to pay for my expenses. If people wanted to borrow money from me, I'd count every dollar and cent. If I wanted to buy something, every expense would be acutely felt.

Nowadays, I realize money doesn't cross my mind; I have no idea what I gave to whom or who owes me what.

#2. I try to hold as little cash as possible.

Because I am an asset-owner of multiple real estate properties, I now realize cash for what it is: a fiat currency. I no longer give a crap how much active cash sits in my account. I just want to see my assets column grow.

Despite society's obsession about emergency funds, which I complain about here, I absolutely maintain my own system that leverages all my tools: debt, cash, assets (businesses and real property), and tax knowledge. I focus my efforts on the whole game, not just the obsessive hoarding advice people provide to the middle class about how much cash to save.

You can't get rich off of saving. You can create TRUE wealth if you learn how to convert your earned income into investment income. This is why the rich always get richer.

#3. Debt is my new BFF.

As a wealthy person, the name of the game is cash, tax, and debt gymnastics! How do you leverage as much as you can off of others and their money?! If you can crack that code, you win in the game of wealth accumulation.

If you can optimize capital (debt), other people (your employees), and the system (tax strategy) with just the right amount of revolving cash you need to keep the whole system running, you'll start to see your net wealth increase. Of course, you can't escape the fact that you must be a REVENUE-generator, NOT a scam artist. If you try to defraud others, you'll lose in the game of life.

The wealthy love and know how to use debt to fuel their business growth and asset accumulation. You start to view interest as being a cheap price to pay in exchange for faster business and asset growth.

#4. My time is the most concerning fixed resource.

When you become wealthy, it's no longer about money anymore. You'll start to realize certain activities and behaviors are not worth your time or efforts. Since you're diverging from "normal" people due to your abnormal status as being wealthy, you'll start to look at your time as money.

That phrase actually becomes real! I never understood this concept in my youth; now I acutely feel the pain of having not enough time in my day. As I get wealthier, I must utilize time more efficiently. Instead of watching 8 hours of TV a week, I need those 8 hours to run my businesses and my real estate properties. Now, I have to constantly restrict myself to do more high-value tasks instead of non-productive activities.

Wealthy people value their time above all else. They'll be very selfish and self-disciplined on how they use their time.

#5. In addition, I am more selective with whom I spend my time.

Whether it's my schoolmates or past colleagues, or random people I have met throughout the years, I have always been happy to exchange old thoughts, ideas, and networks for new ones that benefit me more. I am not married to people simply because I knew them for a moment in my life in the past.

I change my views, mindsets, and attitudes based on what best suits my future. As a high schooler and college student, even as an employee, I'd waste my time with people to complain, gossip, and party. None of which truly benefited me in any way. Those relationships were relatively superficial. Thus, I no longer place much value on meaningless socializing with people I encounter randomly.

I am now very selective who I let into my life. There has to be more substance to maintain and grow a true friendship than just pure companionship.

#6. I don't agree with most people.

As you read through this list, it's likely that you're shaking your head. You may see my views as judgmental, limiting, heartless, and arrogant. You may think I am miserable. The reality is, I have a really awesome life. I don't ever have to truly worry about money or my future. I'm pretty much set for life.

I can travel when I want to. I can build my business and work the way I want to. I can date who I want and socialize however I choose to. I have a lot of freedom. Other than the stress of running my real estate assets, ensuring my family's health and happiness, and growing my business operations, I have very little else to worry about.

I look forward to life everyday. I am excited and happy to be alive, to create my businesses which give my customers and employees economic opportunities they didn't have before, to meet and grow my circle of friends who will help each other in our journeys to access an even more exciting and wealthy future.

All wealthy people (especially the young ones) had to learn how to rebel against mainstream advice and "knowledge". That's how I went from being the babysitter's daughter to retired by 28 from corporate life.

In Conclusion

The reality is: wealthy people ARE different. They act, think, and behave differently. This is precisely why their reality is different! They are wealthy as opposed to the majority of the population that lives on the verge of bankruptcy everyday.

I am constantly changing because success and wealth are never guaranteed to last. If you're not careful, all of your wealth could be taken away from you. One bad lawsuit, one mistake on your part, one accident, everything could be lost. I never lose that fear.

Only your constant perseverance, creativity, and resourcefulness will protect your wealth and therefore create the reality of your future.

Change yourself and you'll never lose in the game of life.

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Published on: Jul 11, 2018