15 Smart Strategies Wealthy Investors Use To Get Ahead (And You Can Too)

Learn how the wealthy stay steps ahead in the financial game.

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Updated July 18, 2024
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Investing can feel intimidating, especially if you're new to the game. The good news is, you don't need to be a Wall Street wizard to succeed.

By adopting the habits of successful investors, you can navigate the market with confidence and achieve your financial goals.

Here are 15 essential traits that will help you build wealth and set you on the right path.

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They think in terms of marathons, not sprints

Hanjin/Adobe male broker analyzing stocks on computer

Successful investing is a long-term game. You won’t get ahead financially by panicking and withdrawing your funds at the first sign of trouble. 

Instead, remember investing is a decades-long marathon, not a short-term sprint. Focus on long-term gains over time rather than temporary losses.

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They put every dollar to good use

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When it comes to investing, financial wizards make sure they know where every dollar goes. Why? They know that when it comes to compound interest, every dollar matters. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking one dollar won’t make a difference. That dollar can multiply exponentially depending on where you put it.

They take calculated risks

Maria Vitkovska/Adobe senior business woman working on laptop

Risk is a necessary aspect of investing, but the best investors don’t take random, unnecessary risks. Instead, they carefully weigh the pros and cons of investing in high-risk, high-reward stocks.

They also know that making risky investments is a better bet when you’re young and have time to recoup any losses — they play it safer and opt for slow, steady rewards when they’re older and have less time to spare.

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They pay attention to investment fees

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Small fees might not seem like a big deal, but since every dollar matters when it comes to investing, the best investors take care to lose as little money to fees as possible. 

You’ll want to keep an eye on potential brokerage fees, hidden markups on fixed-income bonds, and easy-to-overlook management fees.

They see the opportunities in every crash

Artofinnovation/Adobe female trader analyzing stocks at work

It’s hard to keep a cool head when the stock market starts to fall, especially during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. But staying the course when the economy shudders is one of the defining differences between successful investors and the rest of us.

Rather than pulling all your cash out of the market at the first sign of trouble, stick to your investment plan while searching for unique opportunities that only come along with a crisis.

They aren’t necessarily smarter than the rest of us — and they know it

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Believing you’re uniquely gifted in finances is a great way to lose everything in a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime gamble.

Instead of thinking they’re innately smarter than everyone else, investors like Warren Buffett are uniquely aware of their faults. 

According to Buffett, being rational rather than reacting emotionally is more important than touting your investing intelligence.

They make credit cards work for them

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Smart investors don’t use credit cards to invest, but they understand how credit card rewards work and use them to their advantage. 

For instance, they also use credit cards that automatically invest rewards on the user’s behalf to grow their financial gains at every possible turn.

They aren’t afraid of boring investments

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Investing in the next big thing (from NFTs to bitcoin) might earn you an impressive profit, but it can just as easily sink your investing and retirement dreams for good. 

Rather than take high-risk gambles, successful investors don’t mind staying the course with “boring” investments that all but ensure they earn a profit.

They don’t overlook taxes

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Knowing how your investments will be taxed is an essential part of maximizing your profits. Successful investors never forget the importance of placing some investments in tax-deferred accounts. 

They also place others in taxable accounts so their tax burden doesn’t get out of hand. Nor are they afraid to hire the best accountants their money can buy.

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They never put all their eggs in one basket

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Having a diversified portfolio is arguably the most crucial component of investing wisely. A portfolio that balances bonds, stocks, and other investments helps ensure you’re never at risk of losing everything in an economic downturn.

They do their homework

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Successful investors don’t just spring into being. Instead, they set aside time to actively study the stock market, read books, and take courses to keep their investment knowledge current.

They follow trusted financial advisors

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Investors rarely make it big based solely on their own merits. Instead, they work with trusted financial strategists and teams of advisors, taking advantage of others’ expertise to ensure their investment strategy stays strong.

They don’t get emotional about their investments

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When investing, you’re better off keeping your emotions out of it entirely. An emotional investment is a hindrance. No matter what you see in the movies, maintaining a level-headed and rational approach is the best way to make it big in the stock market.

They don’t bow to peer pressure

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While top earners are comfortable working with financial advisors, they don’t follow the crowd into investments without doing their due diligence. 

Instead, they know that rationality and strategic thinking are vital to finding stock market success, so following the crowd is rarely a good call.

They always keep some cash available

BillionPhotos.com/Adobe hands typing on laptop investment concept

Tying up every last cent into investments is a great way to rack up debt when a financial emergency occurs, and you don’t have any cash to fall back on.

The best investors carefully divide their money between long-term investments, short-term investments that offer a good source of ready cash, and cash on hand (or, better, in the best high-yield savings accounts).

Bottom line

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Once you understand the secrets to high-net-worth investors’ success, it’s easy to follow in their footsteps.

If you’re new to investing, consider meeting with a financial advisor who understands these principles and can help you make smart money moves to help you build your net worth.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.