Financial advisors share 4 habits that their most successful clients have that helped them build wealth

Financial advisors say that living below their means, using their HSA, and making actionable plans helped clients build wealth this year.

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I’m fascinated by how wealthy people continue to grow their net worth, and wonder about their money habits.
I talked to advisors about what successful strategies they saw clients use to build wealth in 2021.
Using an HSA, living below their means, and setting clear money goals were some of their responses.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

I’m fascinated with how millionaires and billionaires continue to grow their net worth. That’s why I started off this year with the goal of sharply increasing my savings on a monthly basis and quitting my habit of overspending. 

As I reflect on this year, I was curious to hear the successful strategies others used to build their wealth. That’s why I asked four financial advisors for a recap of what their clients did in 2021 to increase their net worth.

1. They kept a close eye on expenses 

While so many of us are eager to grow our finances, financial planner Ronit Rogoszinski said that her clients are always advised to know their current numbers if they want to continue to build their wealth. 

“Client’s expenses were tracked closely to understand the first step in organizing their cash flow,” said Rogoszinski. “What did it cost them to live their life? Once those monthly expenses were clearly defined, they could move on from there.”

2. They set clear goals for the future 

Financial planner Jay Zigmont said that his clients who were successful in 2021 set actionable goals for the year. 

“Wanting to build wealth is not enough,” said Zigmont. “The bigger question is, what would you do with that wealth? What do you want for yourself and your family? What are those big goals you have always wanted?”

Asking yourself these things and making measurable goals from them will help you get there, said Zigmont.

3. They lived below their means 

As your wealth grows, the key to maintaining that money is to know when to use it and when to save it. Financial advisor Andrew Lokenauth said that a common thing he sees with successful clients is that they are living below their means.

“Many millionaires are wealthy because they know how to keep and invest their money, and not spend it on unnecessary things,” says Lokenauth. “You can get started by creating a budget, which will help you visualize where you can cut back spending and where you can save money.”

4. They maximized their Health Savings Account (HSA)

Health care in the United States can be very expensive. That’s why financial advisor Brian Berkenhoff said that many his successful clients took advantage of their health savings account, which offers more tax benefits than an IRA. 

“Deposits made to a HSA are tax-deductible. Withdrawals are also tax-free at any time if used for medical costs,” said Berkenhoff. “At age 65 you can take penalty-free distributions from the HSA for any reason although you would owe income tax on the withdrawal.”

So how did his client utilize this to grow their wealth? 

He said that the first thing they did was contribute the maximum amount to their HSA, which is $3,600 for an individual (or $4,600 if you’re over 55) or $7,200 for a family in 2021.

“Many employers will contribute some amount to an HSA on their behalf,” said Berkenhoff. “In low medical expense years, they allowed the funds in the HSA to compound and grow by not touching the funds except for larger emergencies.”

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