Several people forwarded a recent Reader’s Digest article about the secrets of self-made millionaires. It’s a quick and inspiring read.

“Many modern millionaires live in middle-class neighborhoods, work full-time and shop in discount stores like the rest of us,” writes author Kristyn Kusek Lewis. “What motivates them isn’t material possessions but the choices that money can bring.” She goes on to describe five millionaires and the lessons that can be learned from them:

  1. Set your sights on where you’re going. Have a vision. Think big. And remember that everyone has to start at the beginning. Even Warren Buffet had to invest $25 before he could make $25 billion. Set lofty goals, and then begin taking small steps to reach them.
  2. Educate yourself. Read books and magazines. If you don’t know how to do something, research the answer. I’m amazed how much of my financial success is attributable to simply reading personal finance books. Many of them say the same things. Once you’ve read enough of them, the advice begins to be burned on your brain. Remember: knowledge is power.
  3. Passion pays off. Love what you do. When you’re passionate about your work, you care about the consequences. “According to research by Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Mind, over 80 percent of millionaires say they never would have been successful if their vocation wasn’t something they cared about.”
  4. Grow your money. Pay yourself first. When you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, it can be difficult to look beyond your immediate needs. But it’s precisely by doing this that you’ll have the best chance for escaping your circumstances. Squirrel away money for your retirement, or for other investments in cd rates, savings accounts or even money market accounts.
  5. No guts, no glory. Take risks. I’ve often heard that successful people are the biggest failures of all. They’ve failed many times. But they pick themselves back up and try again. Most people never try because they’re afraid of the possible downsides. Successful people don’t worry about the downside — they’re focused on the possible payoff.

But the biggest secret of all, writes Lewis, is to stop spending. “Every millionaire we spoke to has one thing in common: Not a single one spends needlessly.” She cites a survey that indicates many wealthy people spend money “with a middle-class mindset”, clipping coupons and shopping at sales.

The more I learn, the more I believe this to be the case. Millionaires may have earned their money through a combination of discipline and dedication, but it’s their frugal habits that keep them rich.

[Reader's Digest: Secrets of self-made millionaires]