Avoid these 8 Rich Life Traps

The world wants you to be vanilla. It has a funny way of trying to make you conform, though. Nobody will come right out and say it. 

Instead, they’ll say things like:

  • “Are you really wearing THAT?”
  • “Start a business? You should just be happy to have a job”
  • “You need to buy a house. Why would you throw money away renting?”

If you’re an IWT reader, you’re probably going to make some unconventional choices in your life. Maybe you’ll rent instead of buying. Maybe you’ll start a business. Maybe you’ll spend an extravagant amount on a personal trainer.

As you build your Rich Life vision, there will be a number of obstacles that can delay, detour, and even dead-end it — like how other people think you should live your life. 

Look out for these 8 Rich Life Traps so you can avoid the most common mistakes people make. 


Thinking Rich has to mean luxurious

Rich doesn’t have to mean “fancy.” It can mean a lot of things:

  • More time with family
  • Greater safety and security
  • More fun and freedom
  • Less stress

You should decide what “Rich” means to you. Don’t fall into the trap of society’s loaded cliches about money.

How to avoid it: Write down what Rich means to you. Include it in your Rich Life vision, which we’ll show you how to create in our free How to Design Your Rich Life mini-course. Revisit your definition at least once a year and update it as your thinking changes.


It’s a tragedy to live a smaller life than you have to

What a tragedy to get to the later years of your life and realize that you lived a smaller life than you actually had to. 

  • You scrimped and pinched on your Target bill … but it made no difference. 
  • You worried about ordering a second appetizer … but you could have bought every appetizer you ever wanted

Do you want to end up 70 years old with $6 million in the bank, having agonized over your spending all along the way? Would you even know what to do with that kind of money at 70? 

Too many of my readers end up in a situation where they saved and saved … but never learned the skill of spending.

How to avoid it: Start learning how to spend your money. I know that sounds weird. We’re taught that spending is bad and saving is everything. But if you never learn how to spend your money well — without guilt or worry, in a way that drives your Rich Life — you’ll end up short-changing yourself in the long run. 

Want to build a business that enables you to live YOUR Rich Life? Get my FREE guide on finding your first profitable idea.


Most life advice begins with “no”

A Rich Life should begin with YES. Yet most life advice is based on restriction: 

  • “No, you can’t buy lattes”
  • “No, you can’t go on vacation”
  • “No, you shouldn’t want a new job (just be happy you have one)”

I believe that a Rich Life begins from saying YES: Yes, this is what I want to experience in my life. Yes, with some help, I can earn and invest enough to achieve it. Yes, I can be grateful for what I have now and work hard to achieve my Rich Life.

How to avoid it: Get the Big Wins right. If you do, you’ll almost never need to worry about minutiae like “Can I afford this appetizer?” or “Should I spend $3.50 on this mocha?”


Watch out for the “negativity vortex”

In my book, I ask new readers to send me an email telling me what their Rich Life looks like. Check out this email I got from one of those new readers:

What do you notice? 

  • “Doesn’t have to be anything special”
  • “By no means as lavish as them” 

I get dozens of emails like this each day. When I ask someone what their Rich Life is, they’ll usually start off with a few general things like freedom or travel. And then, they quickly start talking about all the things they don’t want. “It’s not like I need to drive a Porsche” or “I don’t want to have to become a slave to my desk.”  

That becomes an addictive vortex because talking about what we don’t want is much easier than figuring out what we actually do want. It gives us a feeling of being in control but actually just shuts down our progress. 

How to avoid it: Focus on what you do want. Then do more of that. The best way to do that is to learn your personal Money Dials and lean into them. Learn how to find your own Money Dials in the free How to Design Your Rich Life mini-course.


Beware of the endless search for “advanced” tips

So many people seek out high-level answers to avoid the real, hard work of improving step by step. It’s easier to dream about winning the Boston Marathon than to go out for a ten-minute jog every morning. 

Sometimes the most advanced thing you can do is get the basics right, consistently.

How to avoid it: Get started, aim for the 85% Solution, then move on and enjoy your life.


Over-focusing on one area of your life

Many people get stuck “heads down” on one area of their life — often work or saving — and ignore other areas of life. This misalignment can go on for years, even decades. 

The risk is that years later, after you’ve achieved success in that area, you won’t be able to shift your focus to other areas of your life. You won’t have developed the skills to be effective at other things. And the cognitive dissonance of realizing you missed so many opportunities will be too great for you to see and admit your mistake.

How to avoid it: Once you map out your Rich Life, which I’ll help you do in the free How to Design Your Rich Life mini-course, ask yourself: 

  • Are there areas that are notably lacking or missing in your life right now? 
  • How can you start exploring those areas now, even in small ways?


Not turning the page

Your Rich Life vision SHOULD change over time. 

As you grow, age, excel, and accomplish your goals, does your Rich Life vision evolve? For example, when I was in my 20s my idea of a Rich Life was being able to order a round of drinks guilt-free. Now it’s about more than that, like staying in beautiful hotels and tipping generously. 

Me, then and now

How to avoid it: Make time to review and update your Rich Life vision at least once per year. Ask yourself: 

  • How have my goals and vision changed over the past year? 
  • What am I excited to add? 
  • What do I no longer care about? 

Then change your goals, commitments, and schedules to match your new vision. And do it without guilt. (It’s actually quite freeing to let go of old goals that no longer appeal to you. And to make space for your new goals and interests.)


Surrounding yourself with the wrong people

Nobody achieves their Rich Life all alone. As Jim Rohn says, you’re the average of the five people you are closest to.

  • Who do you spend the most time with? 
  • Do they complain all the time? 
  • Do they brag about saving and frugality? 
  • Do they have a vision for their Rich Lives — and a plan to achieve it?

How to avoid it: Make a list of the five people you are closest with. Now ask yourself: Are they positive, encouraging forces in your life? 

If any aren’t, what would it look like to spend less time with them and more with someone else? You don’t have to “break up” with them or call them out. But picture what your life might be like if you just started by spending less time with negative people and more time with positive people.

Little changes like this can snowball over time and completely change your perspective — not to mention your energy levels, happiness, and your life.

Build your own Rich Life vision

To avoid these common Rich Life Traps and live your unique Rich Life, you need to start with a vision. What does it look like? Where will you go? Who will you take with you? 

I’ve designed a brand new free mini-course to help you do just that: How to Design Your Rich Life.

In 1 hour, you’ll create a vivid picture of your personal Rich Life so you can start living intentionally, focusing on the things you love, and ignoring the things you don’t. 

Along the way, you’ll learn:

  • What is and is not a Rich Life?
  • How to map your Rich Life.
  • How to dial up your happiness.

When you’re done, your vision will be yours to guide you through the rest of your life.

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Written by

Host of Netflix's "How to Get Rich", NYT Bestselling Author & host of the hit I Will Teach You To Be Rich Podcast. For over 20 years, Ramit has been sharing proven strategies to help people like you take control of their money and live a Rich Life.