5 Ways Financially Successful People Think Differently

by | BiggerPockets.com

Those accomplishing high levels of success think differently. Successful, wealthy people have distinctly different beliefs that separate them and their finances from everyone else. What are some of those mindsets and beliefs? Here’s a few I have picked up from studying these individuals.

How to Purchase Real Estate With No (or Low) Money!

One of the biggest struggles that many new investors have is in coming up with the money to purchase their first real estate properties. Well, BiggerPockets can help with that too. The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down can give you the tools you need to get started in real estate, even if you don’t have tons of cash lying around.

Click Here to Download

5 Ways Financially Successful People Think Differently

1. They see challenges as problems to be solved.

One of the most distinguishing characteristics and mindsets of the successful is how they perceive challenges. The winners simply ask how they can overcome them and get what they want. The poverty mindset just says, “I can’t afford it” or gets stuck in the victim mentality. That negative mindset is often self-fulfilling and leads to being stuck or starting on a downward spiral. If your  goal is to acquire 1,000 multifamily units by 2019, then your job is to simply enough solve problems in order to achieve it.


Related: The Simple Everyday Habit That’s Changing My Business, Relationships & Life

2. They don’t wait for luck, but work consistently instead.

Most unsuccessful people believe only a select few can be wealthy or that all wealthy and successful people are just lucky or were born rich or with the right connections. The data shows that very few rich people are actually trust fund babies. They generally are self-made. Those who are wealthy and successful at what they do are that way because they believe they control their very own destiny. It is just a matter of putting in the work. They make their own luck through consistent work, day in and day out.

3. They have an abundance mindset.

The unsuccessful think there is not enough money to go around, while the wealthy believe there is an abundance of opportunity and money to go around. The poverty mindset is one of scarcity, where one believes that in order to get something, that something has to be taken from others. The wealthy and highly successful CEOs of great startups believe in creating value and filling gaps where there are needs or inefficiencies. This can be a huge factor in real estate. If an investor believes there are not enough deals in their market or that the market is too hot, then they will not put in the work to market to find deals and build their portfolio.  

4. They understand the difference between smart leverage and bad debt.

The successful don’t take on draining and burdensome personal debt that costs them every month. They do use smart leverage, non-recourse loans, and partnerships to accomplish more than they could alone. They use these tactics to invest first and then let their returns pay for their luxuries. The poor mentality is to chase instant gratification and ego by mounting up expensive personal borrowing, which makes things cost more and often leaves nothing to invest. Others refuse to use any type of leverage and find it almost impossible to get ahead financially or in business.


Related: 10 Habits to Adopt if You Want to Become a Real Estate Investing Legend

5. They understand the value of diversification.

Many are holding out for that winning lottery ticket that they believe is their only chance to get ahead. They blow every available dollar on lottery tickets and scratch-offs—all despite the measly odds of winning. They are almost ensuring they stay broke with these habits. Even if they win, that money is typically lost very quickly because the mindset is not there. Some even do this with business and investments. They bet it all on one hope. The wealthy understand the value in diversifying and steady growth. They put their money into more investments and take fewer risks.


We can change our trajectory, finances, and mindset. When we start applying more of these success principles and practices, things can really begin to change.

What mindsets would you add to this list?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Sterling White

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.


  1. Barry H.

    Good observations indeed. The probem-solving mentality as opposed to victimology / apathy mentality is very prevalent among successful people. I found myself magnetized to people who furrowed their brow whenever someone made an accusation about something not being fair / equitable or that a situation was hopeless.

    Successful people simply take such statements as data and then formulate a success strategy to overcome the situation or even profit from it (legally). Unfortunately, defeatists and victimologists then see such behavior as greedy, arrogant or not following the rules or customs (which are generally there to keep you enslaved). Trying to convert victims to achievers is difficult, but by modeling behavior and not preaching, it can be done.

  2. Andrew Syrios

    Very good list! I think, related to number one, is they don’t see themselves as victims. I mean, sometimes people are obviously victimized, but in general, instead of blaming bad luck of the system, successful people see what they face as a challenge to overcome.

  3. Nate Reed

    Good article. These are my blind spots at times, to be honest.

    “Many are holding out for that winning lottery ticket that they believe is their only chance to get ahead… Some even do this with business and investments. They bet it all on one hope. The wealthy understand the value in diversifying and steady growth. They put their money into more investments and take fewer risks.”

    Many base hits (more good investments) beats the elusive home run.

  4. Andrew Lee

    Thanks, Sterling. I always enjoy your articles. Your point about using the returns from investments to fund luxuries is very important, rather than blowing the capital to purchase consumer goods. This habit alone, in my opinion, is key to differentiating the middle class from the upper class and the wealthy.

  5. Quincy Lockett

    The reference that most financially successful people are not “trust fund babies” depends on what your definition of trust fund babies is. From listening to the Bigger Pockets podcast and anectodotal evidence it would appear that most successful investors had some outside financial assistance in order to start and/or scale their portfolios. It’s misleading to suggest that all it takes is determination. While I don’t align with a victimhood mentality (you can definitely achieve more than you currently have with hard work and persistence) the wealth lists are dominated by individuals who were blessed with benefactors and very few are relatively “self-made.” The truth of the matter is that many in certain demographics don’t have access to the type of capital or practical brain trust that most at the top have had the opportunity to exploit. This is a socioeconomic disconnect. Unless you think being gifted or even loaned 25k to 100k or more as a down payment to start is nothing.

  6. John Murray

    The success mentality that I noticed has a marked difference from those that are not. The poor mentality is “how much does it cost”. The success mentality is “how much can I make”. This attitude difference seem to dictate on a basic level. Success thinking looks to the future. Poor thinking seems to be in the present. This constant prisoner of the moment causes a very narrow band of thought. Success thinking focuses on what can be and initializes multiple avenues thought. Constant exchange of ideas is the key to successful outcomes. Limited scope of understanding clouds transparency and failure is soon to follow.

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here