15 Money Habits That Are Making You Rich (Without Realizing It)

Uncover the secret money rituals silently building your wealth day by day.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Forget the flashy cars and champagne wishes – building wealth is actually a down-to-earth, everyday thing. 

It's about smart choices, consistent habits, and letting time be your ally. Think steady growth, not overnight miracles. And the good news? You might already be further along than you think. 

Here are 15 signs you're quietly building a comfortable future, one sensible decision at a time.

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You understand that money is a tool

C Malambo/peopleimages.com/Adobe female african american broker reviewing stocks

Understanding that money is a tool that can be used to make more money sets apart those who know that you can build wealth quietly. 

Once you see it as something that can be utilized and leveraged, you’ll start increasing your wealth without constantly thinking or worrying about it.

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You have a plan to reach your financial goals

Donson/peopleimages.com/Adobe couple reviewing finances on couch

Having big financial goals is great. Knowing your ideal retirement number, setting up college funds, or putting down a 20% down payment on a house are all good places to start.

But these aren’t realistic without a plan. If you have a plan in place, you will have a better chance of staying on track, even if you don’t think about it every day.

You’ve stopped checking your bank account daily

Flamingo Images/Adobe happy senior couple using laptop together

One of the first signs that you’re building wealth without even noticing is that you’ve stopped checking your bank account daily. 

At first, you’re probably paying attention to each transaction. As you become more confident that you have the money you need, you won’t feel as obsessive about checking it.

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Your emergency fund is fully funded

Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe emergency fund glass jar with money

One of the most significant ways to realize you’ve built wealth without even noticing is that your emergency fund is fully funded. 

Whether it’s a car repair, a new roof, or a donation to a cause you feel strongly about, you feel confident withdrawing the money. That’s a sense of success that can’t be understated.

You’ve eliminated consumer debt

chartphoto/Adobe frustrated man cutting cards with scissors

The average credit card APR is 17%. This often means consumers get stuck in a cycle of paying off interest without ever making a dent in the money they actually owe. 

That’s why consumer debt is the enemy of building wealth. If you’ve put away the credit cards or figured out how to pay them off each month, you’re probably on track to building wealth.

You’re not falling for lifestyle creep

Monkey Business/Adobe happy woman preparing healthy meal portions

The easiest way to build wealth is to keep increasing the money coming in. If your income continues to rise year after year, that’s a step in the right direction.

But that turns into actual wealth building when you increase your income and keep your spending the same. That means not falling for lifestyle creep and the big purchases that become attractive when there’s more money in your account.

You hit your savings goal every month

ArLawKa/Adobe man dividing expenses on table

After you’ve put away money for retirement and paid your fixed expenses, the rest is for discretionary spending and savings. 

If you hit your savings goal month after month, then you’re building wealth and padding your accounts without even noticing.

You purposefully live below your means

MeganBetteridge/Adobe woman reading novel on stylish chair

If you try to keep your housing expenses below 30% of your pay, don’t take vacations just to keep up with the Joneses, and stick to a reasonable budget, you’re probably living within or below your means. This is one of the biggest keys to building wealth quietly and steadily.

You don’t worry about a quick, small purchase

Liubomir/Adobe woman in hijab doing self checkout

When you get to the point where you can buy the $15 olive oil without stressing or spring for lunch out with colleagues without adapting your budget for the rest of the week, you know you’ve been successful at building at least some wealth.

It’s that first time you say, yes, I’d like the guacamole at your favorite taco place that you know you’ve reached a comfortable place financially, even if you hadn’t realized it yet.

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You’re maxing out your retirement accounts

ariya j/Adobe money bundle for retirement on table

Saving for retirement in an account like a 401(k) or IRA is one of the simplest ways to build wealth. Many people have access to a retirement account through their employer, and this money comes straight out of their paycheck. 

If an employer matches it? Even better. You’re truly growing your wealth without even thinking about it.

You’ve stopped keeping significant cash on hand

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe male customer using card for payment

Cash in your wallet or checking account is just sitting there. It’s not earning interest or working for you. If you’ve learned to start putting that cash in high-yield savings accounts or CDs, you’re building wealth quietly without ever missing the money.

You’re focused on big decisions, not little ones

chayathon2000/Adobe barista doing latte art at cafe

You’ve heard of the latte effect — the $5 daily purchases that chisel away at your wealth. Those little purchases matter over time but aren’t game-changers to your wealth.

You’ve reached the stage of building wealth without even noticing when you start focusing on the big investment decisions or paying down significant debt rather than worrying over fast food choices.

You’re paying some attention to your investments

vinnstock/Adobe woman reviewing investment graph on tablet

Investments are one of those things that should be mostly a set-it-and-forget-it situation. But pay too little attention, and you may not build wealth most effectively.

If you’re paying some attention to the market, where your money is invested, and whether you’re paying unnecessary fees, then you’re probably putting yourself on track for a comfortable lifestyle without putting in significant effort or thought.

You have money to spend on hobbies

Allen.G/Adobe golfer wearing straw hat playing golf

When you’re first building your nest egg, every extra dollar may go toward your savings or investment goals.

But, as you grow your wealth, you have money to spend on the things you love, whether that’s a nice dinner out on the weekends, a new set of golf clubs, or a trip you’ve been dreaming of. 

And you feel comfortable spending that money, not worried it will deplete your savings.

You feel a sense of calm

fizkes/Adobe relaxed african american remote worker meditating

Perhaps the most critical piece of knowing that you’re on the right track is that you have a general sense of calm around money. 

You feel good about what’s in the bank, and your decisions lower your financial stress, even if you have goals yet to hit. 

Bottom line

Allistair/peopleimages.com/Adobe happy multi ethnic couple scrolling smartphone

Building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint, but that doesn't mean you can't set milestones and celebrate achievements along the way. 

So, take a moment to acknowledge your progress, then use it as fuel to keep moving forward. 

Research, learn, plan, and start investing in your financial future. Every step, however small, brings you closer to your goals.

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Author Details

Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.