5 Habits That Help Average People Make Millions

by | BiggerPockets.com

I moved to the United States five years ago, and I truly believe it is the best country in the world. I always tell everyone that what I did here I would not be able to do anywhere else.

Five steps have helped me achieve the success that I have today, and I’m hoping that they will do the same for you.

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5 Habits That Help Average People Make Millions

1. Aim continually to leave your 9-5 job behind.

So the first thing you need to do is quit your job. It’s called a J-O-B, which means “just over broke.” You’re working a 9-5, you’re getting someone else richer, you’ve got an hourly rate, you’re limited to how much money you can make, and you can’t really go beyond the industry average there, right?

Most multi-millionaires and billionaires own businesses because there is no limit to how much you can earn in a business. You can flip one, 10, or 100 properties. But for the person with a job, there are only 24 hours in a day—and many of those hours are taken up while you’re only getting paid an hourly rate.

2. Don’t get into debt.

This country has so much debt, it’s mind-boggling—student loans, mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Only spend what you can afford to spend, which means the money that you have in your account should be the money that you are spending. Simple.

On top of that, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you should strongly weigh your decision on whether to go to college. I know, I’m sorry mom and dad, but college is going to cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. And you’re going to learn how to be good at a job and how to make your boss richer. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I think that the world will start going in a different direction when it comes to that. We’ve got a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t have college degrees; they don’t even have high school diplomas but they’ve got businesses that are achieving amazing success. So that piece of paper, that document, that diploma doesn’t really mean as much today as it did back in the day.

3. Stay frugal.

When I started my journey as an entrepreneur and a business owner, I was told by some of my mentors that I had to keep costs to a minimum and drive revenue. That means don’t buy a new phone, don’t buy a new suit, and don’t buy a swanky new couch. There is no need to spend money on things that do not give you a return on investment. Instead, spend one dollar and get two back. 

To do this, you have to keep costs to a minimum. Don’t be like everyone else, buying the new phone when it comes out. Unless it’s helping you get more money, do not spend it. Stay frugal. When I was broke, I could only afford to buy dollar gas station coffees, and I was eating teaspoons of peanut butter to survive. Guess what? If that is what you have to do, do it. Even to this day, we have a system in place where we check any $2 unrecognized charges on our cards. 

Related: How I Went From Broke Poker Player at 25 to Millionaire at 31

4. Learn to sacrifice everything and anything.

That is probably that hardest step out of all of it. There aren’t any walks in the park, and there aren’t any vacations. I personally left everything and everyone behind, and I moved into the unknown. I had a great paying job in Australia, familiarity, family, friends, and memories. I left it all. I made a huge sacrifice and moved here with nothing. I worked my freaking butt off, and I still do to this day work 16, 17, or 18-hour days. Every dollar that I have I invest back in my business. Nothing comes easy in life. You have to work hard, you have to sacrifice, and you have to do whatever it takes. You have to put everything on the line. If you want to succeed, there aren’t any excuses and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. I don’t believe in talent. I believe in hard work.

5. Methodically invest in property.

I’m not sure what the statistics are out there, but the majority of multi-millionaires and billionaires all have very large property portfolios. There are many ways that you can invest in real estate, as you guys know. Regardless of the niche you use, you want to get to a certain level of financial status where you can buy and hold. Long-term wealth, in my opinion, is built by buying and holding properties. They hopefully will appreciate in value, which will hopefully continue to expand your multimillionaire status, and you will also receive residual income from them so you can achieve true financial freedom and enjoy your life. 

BONUS: Surround yourself with the right people.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Let me tell you something. I quit school at the age of 14. I’ve got no formal education whatsoever. But as Henry Ford once said, “I’m smart enough to have smarter people around me doing the things that I can’t do or don’t wish to do.” That statement changed my life. I always try to be the dumbest person in the room. I’ve realized my faults, and I aim to surround myself with the right people. I’m surround myself with attorneys, accountants, and other entrepreneurs running amazing businesses. I also surround myself with other real estate investors doing great things who pull me up with them.

They say you are who you are with. So make sure that you network. Throw yourself out there. Go to conferences, shake hands, kiss babies, talk to people, email them, cold call them. Network equals net worth. Surround yourself with the right people. If they’re worth $10 million, at least they will pull you up and you’ll be worth a couple million, if not more than that. You are who you are with. Have the right people around you.

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

Any questions?

Comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

About Author

Engelo Rumora

Engelo Rumora, a.k.a.”the Real Estate Dingo,” quit school at the age of 14 and played professional soccer at the age of 18. From there, he began to invest in real estate. He now owns real estate all over the world and has bought, renovated, and sold over 500 properties. He runs runs Ohio Cashflow, a turnkey real estate investment company in the country (Inc 5000 2017 & 2018) and is currently in the process of launching a real estate brokerage called List’n Sell Realty. He is also known for giving houses away to people in need and his crazy videos on YouTube. His mission in life is to be remembered as someone that gave it his all and gave it all away.


  1. Paul Leason

    Engelo, #2 you state not to get into debt and include mortgages in that paragraph. Are you suggesting all property purchased should be with Cash? Do you not believe in leveraging? If you can make 15% through leveraging with a Mortgage at 5%; isn’t that a good investment?

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Paul and Yes.

      I’ve been saying it for years now.

      Work hard, save money and when you have around $50,000 or so.

      Start your real estate journey with either wholesaling or flipping.

      I believe in hard work and sacrifice and once those to principles are mastered.

      Then, investors can get cute with various other real estate strategies along with using leverage.

      Most folks are lazy and after an “easy way”.

      There is no easy path to success

      Just my opinion.

      Much success

      • $50,000 won’t buy anything in Coastal Markets. $500K is a bottom of the barrel starter home. You can’t advise people not to go into debt. Unless they win the lottery they will never own real estate following your advice.

        • Geoffrey Pierce

          I believe his point is not to incur unnecessary debt, such as loading up credit cards with materialistic wants. Smart debt incurred in the process of investing is encouraged.

        • Engelo Rumora

          The answer is simple:

          Don’t buy in the coastal markets.

          Make a sacrifice, pack your family up and move to a market that makes better sense from a numbers standpoint.

          I moved from beautiful Sydney, Australia to Toledo, Ohio and am reaping rewards of that lifestyle change.

          It’s just “too hard” for many folks to follow mu advice.

          That’s why they won’t be in the top 1%

          Much success

        • California has been very very good to me. Perhaps I just lucked out having interest rates drop from 9% to 3-4% over the last 30 years. The strategy of using levaerage at these low rates has enabled me to acquire a number of properties in the million and above range, mortgaged at around 50% LTV.

          Engelo, with all due respect, your strategy wouldn\’t have worked here and I don\’t think that it\’s very responsible of you to promote a one size fits all methodology The thing about California, that has always been true is what looks expensive today will look unbelievably cheap in 10 years. With this in mind, leveraging makes a lot of sense.

        • Anthony Gayden


          Your strategy works great if you are already wealthy. Otherwise you will never be able to compete in California.

          The other way your strategy works is if you started 20+ years ago.

          If you make the median income even in a wealthy area like San Francisco in 2017/2018 and want to get started in real estate investing, you are fighting a losing battle.

          I started investing in 2014. I made around $75,000/yr back then. What kind of deals would I have been getting in LA or the Bay Area?

        • Hi Anthony, yes it’s tough, but as has been stated here by others, no pain no gain.

          The way you get started is with a starter home. That has the best financing terms and lowest barrier to entry. Perhaps you will need roommates to afford it. It’s a start. Once you get your foot in the door, you start building wealth.

          Good luck,


    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks for your comment Paul,

      I suggest that folks work hard, save and only use cash to start.

      Only use leverage when you know how to use it diligently.

      Everyone wants something for nothing and the world does work in that way.

      Becoming an expert takes time.

      Much success

  2. John Murray

    To become a multimillionaire is a hard road of sacrifice. I’m the son of a mail carrier and the grandson of beer delivery driver. Why am I a multimillionaire and not my Dad and grandfather? I’m not any smarter, nor do think I am. The difference is in my independence thinking. From the moment I could think for myself I wanted to be free and independent. I went in the military to learn self discipline, self sacrifice and selfless service. Once I went from a teen into a man I continued self education and learned how the world operated. Once I mastered all theses skills I worked hard, invested my money and time into profitable ventures. I stayed married, yup for 32 years now ( that is a major achievement in its self) worked hard in all aspects of life. There is the key work hard, work smart and succeed, money is the windfall. Stay an employee and you will not become a multimillionaire but maybe a good person or not.

    • George E.

      Clearly there is more to your story than you lead on. I believe working smart may have played a bigger role. Would you be so kind as to elaborate on the types of profitable ventures you participated in? Thank you for your time, George

      • John Murray

        Hi George,
        My story is very simple, I worked hard and lived a spartan lifestyle. I began investing in retirement accounts and moved when I had to to capitalize on real estate investments (many times). Flipped and subdivided beach properties, rental properties and in 2014 I launched my full time BRRRR biz with $500K. I’m a journey level electrician and own a bunch of SFH rentals in metro Portland Oregon. I am a multimillionaire which took me about 30 years. This includes many income streams but not earned income (that’s the big hint) I own a 2007 Ford F-150 and Wifey owns a 2010 Ford Escape. All my rental have air conditioning and I do not. I have a wiz wealth building CPA that I pay well and still work 50-60 hours a week. Ain’t that America! Best of luck in wealth building.

        • rob ross


          I am in Portland too and looking for a new CPA, since my long time and very sharp CPA sadly died expectedly. Are you willing to share your CPAs name with me. Thanks

        • Rosa Ramirez

          This is amazing. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and how you got there. It inspires me. But it also upsets me a bit that I went the “traditional” route. Got degrees from top universities but have little knowledge on how to make real wealth. I’m starting now at 40+ years. My husband and I are preparing to buy a 4 unit building. I feel scared that we may not be making the right decisions. But I ought to feel more afraid if we don’t move forward with building our futures outside our “salaried life.”

        • Engelo Rumora

          Thanks for your comment and kind words Rosa,

          Nothing beats hard work.

          It takes experience to make good decisions and it takes bad decisions to gain experience.

          Either way you win so just take action.

          I wish you much success

      • John Murray

        Hi Bola,
        The world operates on very basic principles. Legislatures and the courts instill worker insecurities which drives corporate profits to high levels. The military industrial complex is the first priority, corporate interests, infrastructure and finally social welfare. The tax system is set up so all these interests are financed by the workers who are insecure, the earned income workers pay the majority of the taxes. The individual can profit by riding the coattails of what Adam Smith described as the Masters of Mankind. They are the power brokers and purchase influence and expect a return on their investments. To sum up classifications, the working poor are under constant stress, working class want to know how much it costs, the middle class want to know how much they can borrow and the wealthy want to purchase influence. Now you know how the world of actuary scientists and a grunt views the world. Best of luck and Happy Holidays!

  3. william wagers on

    John I agree except you can’t become a millionaire being an employee. I know many people who have accomplished this through hard working and good investments while staying employed.

    • You can. Even a mid-level professional can stack up a million in 401Ks. I know plenty of people that have done it. I am not saying that’s a big deal, just calling you a false statement.

      High paid employees can become millionaires many times over. Sometimes through stock options, sometimes a partner in a law firm. Granted these are exceptions.

    • John Murray

      The operating word William is multimillionaire, I think if you work hard invest in a 401K or IRA you could become a millionaire. It’s a whole bunch easier to become a multimillionaire if you strike out on your own and a whole bunch easier. I hated being an employee.

  4. Engelo:
    Solid article. I always tell people it’s about the “burning in the belly” and about how bad do you really want it. Not everyone is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get there. Those poeple need the paycheck! Ironically, as the future is upon us and many, many jobs will be lost to technology, job security geneuinely exists in running your own successful business. Not an easy age to live in! …No free rides!!

  5. Dante Pirouz

    I don’t agree at all with your #2. Leverage is a very valuable tool that is maligned by folks who don’t understand sophisticated finance. Yes debt CAN be dangerous but it doesn’t have to be…if you work the numbers properly…leverage can protect assets from lawsuits, allow you to invest in more, faster, and get access to a great asset. These are principles taught in a basic finance course…Leverage is actually one of the great things about this country that not everybody in the world has access to!

  6. Bianca W.

    Thank you for the article. Respectfully, I also have a problem with the “no debt at all” statement. I read your bio and it’s a lot easier for a person who has been playing football (I’m assuming at least semi-professionally) since 18 then into TV etc, to say this than the person who has won neither lottery of nature. I’m sure none of what to you’ve done has been easy, but these are paths that are closed to the federal public.

    It is rather misleading as “advice”, and should come with a couple of caveats. Perhaps a more accessible statement could be: “as little debt as possible, manage it well and get rid of it as soon as possible”. I myself aim to use no more than say 65% debt in any purchase, whether that be for mortgages or other big ticket items. Not “advice”, but just a guide for myself.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Bianca,

      Not sure from where or how you think that I had a “leg up” up in life.

      I think your perception is wrong.

      Anyway, all investors should consider any debt as “bad”.

      When they actually figure out how to invest successfully with cash, then they can start utilizing debt to their advantage.

      I don’t like sugar coating my blogs and call things as I see them.

      The readers can make their own decisions and my voice stands as just 1 opinion out of many in the murky real estate waters

      Much success

  7. John Murray

    I like sharing how I became a multimillionaire and how others can obtain their dreams. My tale began in the Bay Area with 3 friends all the same age. Hunts, Norbert and myself became good friends and shared a common dream. We were all interested in all things mechanical, highly athletic and smart in a practical way. We had a work ethic that was incredible which propelled us to the next levels of wealth. We all invested in Bay Area real estate and when the timing was correct we moved on to other parts of the country with profits and worked even harder. Hunts was their first to become a multimillionaire at age 42 (he was single, go figure). Norbert was the the next at age 48 (paid off his first wife $250K, smart guy cut his losses) and me coming in third at age 56. I was the slow learner and placed third ( married and kids thing). Is it a coincidence that all 3 of us succeeded in this goal? We all keep in touch and found our fortunes in different parts of the country but all started in the same place, same employer and same dream. Employees think everything is about money, entrepreneurs know that time is everything. Employees dream their plans, entrepreneurs plan their dreams. Go plan your dreams, work hard, be flexible and find the right people to share your dreams with. Happy Holidays!

  8. One of my very successful friends shadows your thoughts. He told me about sacrifice, and added “Ramen noodles are 5/$1. I became a Ramen noodle gourmet chef!” Lol, it made the tough times feel better knowing that someone like him had struggled, too. Thank you for your advice and your time!!

  9. Everton Muirhead

    I think you make some really good points about not going in debt, living below your means and staying frugal. What i do not agree with you with is the part about going to school. I believe its just apart of our society and people in general have to go to school. I am sure your doctor went to school. Also if you do not go to school yourself you will need people around you who went to school. There is just no way around it, people have to go to school for life to function. Even Robert Kiyosaki went to college and have a Bachelors degree. I do agree that school is not for everyone but society cannot function without school. Some people just do not have the brains for learning somethings.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Everton,

      I definitely agree that the majority of folks should go to get a higher degrees but it isn’t a recipe for financial freedom or success in life.

      School makes you good in a certain profession and unfortunately that profession isn’t usually on how to be happy in relationships and free from financial instability.

      Life in general is the best “school” there is.

      So is experience.

      Much success

  10. Joe Scaparra

    Engelo, I love your enthusiasm and passion concerning your message. I also extremely like 4 of your 5 habits! Your message is clear and that to build wealth you should think of developing real estate to get you to being a millionaire in 5 years.

    I like your thought but you really give little break down as to how to achieve it in 5 years. You could’ve said 1 year or 20 years because you gave no guidance as it relates to 5 years.

    You lose your audience when you tell them to invest in real estate but specifically not to take on debt to do so. I would like to see your 5 year path to millionaire status without taking on debt! Not saying it can’t be done but thinking the vast majority can achieve it without debt is unrealistic.

    Lastly, you mention you hate house hacking…….my gosh that is one of the easiest ways to get started investing in real estate and you don’t like it…….unbelievable. So I guess you advocate renting until you can buy cash, sounds damm near impossible but to each their own.

    I do like your enthusiasm!

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks for your comment Joe,

      There is no one size fits all and “my way” doesn’t mean it’s the right way.

      It’s just how I did it.

      Also, I’m super busy running various companies and actually “doing it” so I don’t have the time to go into depth and a “line item by line item” approach on how to exactly do it.

      I leave the book writing to others that have more time on their hands 🙂

      Thanks again for your comment and I wish you much success with your endeavors.

  11. Lauren Brown

    This article is solid. I agree with the majority and am a huge supporter of the belief that people need to let go of thinking the 9-5 is our only option — its incredibly freeing when you realize this. However it struck a sad chord for me when there was an emphasis on sacrificing everything and anything inclusive of leaving loved ones or memory making experiences behind. Being a person that has moved all over the country, I surely do believe in sacrifice — you absolutely HAVE TO to chase any dream. However, I also highly prioritize those I love and the experiences we have together. These people and experiences are worth much more to me vs millions in the bank. For some reason these days our culture hyper-values “hustlers” and people who work 24 hours a day. I’m sorry, but I cannot be productive 24 hours a day. Work ethic, 100% a must… absolutely work your butt off. But it’s smarter to know yourself well enough to leverage your personal pattern of productivity, vs just spinning your wheels into the ground. I think discipline with downtime and learning to prioritize your relationships and manage all of these things is where it’s key, as opposed to just shutting the door. Because then you’re sadly just becoming a money making robot with no one to share it with when you’re finally ready.

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