Want to get ahead financially? Then stop acting like you have money to burn! That’s the strategy of Dr. Thomas Stanley, who’s made a career out of researching and writing about America’s wealthy. Most of us think of millionaires as Hollywood celebrities or banking tycoons, but Stanley says that the majority of affluent people are in middle-of-the-road professions such as engineering, teaching and farming. The secret to their success is living below their means. So, here are a few tips for building your bank balance, from Stanley’s book Stop Acting Rich...and Start Living like a Real Millionaire:

  • Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Stanley says that almost nine out of 10 luxury cars are driven by people who don’t have a lot of money in the bank. He calls these folks “aspirationals.” Aspirationals buy expensive things, and then struggle to make the payments. While the wannabes are buying fancy rides, most millionaires are driving Toyotas and Chevrolets.
  • Don’t borrow money. By staying away from the credit cards, you’re allowing compound interest to help you, not hurt you. For example, if you charge a new thousand-dollar TV and make the $45r minimum payment, you’ll lose more than $400 in interest. However, if you put the same $45 a month into a savings account, you’d bank almost $4,000.
  • Don’t buy more house than you need. Millionaires who live in houses worth less than $300,000 outnumber those who live in swanky mansions by almost 4 to 1. Stanley says you shouldn’t spend more than twice your annual income on a home. In the long run, you’ll be happier and more fiscally fit. Plus, you can sock away the savings into a retirement account or 401(K).

Want to learn more? Check out Stop Acting Rich...and Start Living like a Real Millionaire, by Dr. Thomas Stanley.