This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.
Entrepreneur, best-selling author, and famed life and business strategist Tony Robbins built his wealth by helping others succeed. As part of GOBankingRates’ Best Money Expert 2017 competition, we explore important lessons Robbins has taught over the years.
Through audio, video and live-training programs, he’s taught more than 50 million people around the world important lessons about personal and professional development. But, Robbins hasn’t always been an international success. He grew up in poverty and, over the years, built his wealth. If you want to become successful like Robbins, click through to see the best expert money tips.
1. Become an Investor
Robbins has said that if you want to reach financial goals faster, you have to make investing a habit. “You have to become an investor — no matter how small the amount—so you can tap into the power of compounding,” he wrote on LinkedIn.
In an interview with Inc. magazine, Robbins told the story of a UPS (UPS) driver who made $14,000 a year but retired with $71 million because he saved 20 percent a year. That habit of saving and the power of compounding interest created lasting wealth, Robbins said.
If you think you can’t afford to invest, Robbins recommends looking for expenses you can cut. Investing that money will “ensure you have more than enough when you need it most,” he wrote.
2. Be Proactive With Your Money
When it comes to saving and making money, it’s important to be proactive. Robbins told GOBankingRates that you need to “stop being the chess piece and start being the chess player. It’s time to master the game of money once and for all.”
Whether you’re learning to create a budget or taking control of your investments, don’t put your finances on the back burner. Most of all, don’t be afraid of a bit of failure. After all, as Robbins has said, failure is an important part of succeeding.
3. Take Small Risks for Big Rewards
Robbins doesn’t pretend that risk doesn’t exist. But there are ways to manage risk. “While there is no such thing as a riskless return, every money master in the world will tell you, without exception, one of the most vital components of your portfolio is to find investments with asymmetric risk and reward,” said Robbins in a 2015 article for Fortune.
To do that, you should use the five-to-one rule, he said. That means “for every dollar you risk, you have the potential to make five. You can be wrong four out of five times, but as long as you are right that fifth time, you will break even.” The principle is about taking small risks with the potential for big rewards.
4. Learn That What You Keep Matters More Than What You Earn
Robbins told GOBankingRates that too many people look at their investments and focus strictly on returns. “But it’s not what you earn that matters, it’s what you keep,” he said. “And if your portfolio isn’t tax-efficient, then you may not be keeping as much as you should be.”
In fact, he said taxes can dramatically erode your earnings over time if you haven’t structured your portfolio with tax-advantaged investments. You might consider working with a professional, such as a chartered financial analyst or certified financial planner, to do this.
5. Diversify to Reduce Risk and Maximize Returns
Most investors know that diversifying a portfolio helps reduce risk because you’re not putting all of your money into a single investment. But diversification doesn’t mean investing in a random selection of stocks and bonds, said Robbins.
One way to get the diversification you need is to invest in low-fee index funds. “With these types of funds, you will have the broadest exposure to the largest numbers of securities for the lowest cost,” he said.
6. Replace Expensive Mutual Funds With Low-Cost Index Funds
Robbins touts index funds not only because of the diversification, but also because they have lower fees than actively managed funds. Why do fees matter? Because they eat away at the returns in your retirement account and leave you with less money.
In an article for Business Insider, Robbins cited a 2011 Forbes finding that the average cost of owning a mutual fund is 3.17 percent per year. By contrast, Robbins said an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 can have a fee of less than 0.14 percent.
“By simply removing expensive mutual funds from your life and replacing them with low-cost index funds, you will have made a major step in recouping up to 70 percent of your potential future nest egg,” he wrote.
7. Stop Mindless Spending
Want to stretch the value of a dollar? Then “spend on things that dramatically enhance your quality of life, and stop mindless spending that doesn’t add any value to your life,” Robbins told GOBankingRates.
Spending on things you don’t need can quickly add up, he said. For example, spending $40 a week to go out to dinner instead of enjoying a low-cost gathering at home with friends can add up to more than $2,000 a year. If you invested that money instead and earned an annual 8 percent over 40 years, you’d have more than a half-million dollars, he said.
8. Focus on What You Can Control
Robbins has said that to succeed, you need to stop focusing on what you can’t control and focus on what you can. He wrote on LinkedIn that he learned he could control his future by improving himself. “I could find a way to serve, a way to do more, a way to become better, a way to add value to the marketplace,” he wrote.
9. Worry About Results Instead of To-Do Lists
When LinkedIn asked Robbins to share his secrets for being more productive, he said people should ditch their to-do lists. You’d think an authority on leadership and performance would advocate a method for keeping track of what needs to be done. But that’s not the case.
Instead, Robbins wrote, “The biggest problem with to-do lists is that focusing only on what you need to get done does not guarantee that you’re actually making any real progress.” Figure out what you want, then focus all of your activities on making progress toward that result, he said.
“To continue to manage your life by a to-do list only invites the continuing imbalance and frustration that comes from knowing you’re working hard, but that you’re not making progress in all the areas of your life that truly matter,” he wrote.
10. Realize That Execution Is Power
It’s important to always learn. Robbins does that for himself by seeking out people who break the norms and demonstrate what is possible. But you have to take what you’ve learned and put it into practice.
“Just make a little bit of progress each day or each week, and before you know it, your path to financial freedom will be realized,” he wrote in a 2015 opinion piece for MarketWatch.
11. Notice What Works — and What Doesn’t
As a business and life strategist, Robbins asks people to examine what they want in life. Part of the process of doing so involves noticing what is and isn’t working.
“Notice what’s working and what’s not working. And when it’s not working, change your approach. And keep changing until you finally achieve what it is you’re committed to,” he told Success magazine.
This can apply to all aspects of your life, including your finances. If your efforts to cut spending and save more aren’t working, try another approach. If your attempts to eliminate debt are backfiring, look for another strategy. The key is to learn from your mistakes.
12. Model Other Success Strategies
To achieve what you want in business or life, Robbins advocates modeling someone who has already achieved that goal.
“They’ve got a set of strategies that they apply and those strategies work,” he told Success magazine. “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You don’t need to reinvent a way to succeed.”
13. Raise Your Standards
The way you see yourself might be what’s holding you back from financial success. You might think you’re not the type of person who can succeed, get ahead and be rich. The way you live is based on these self-perceptions. Raise your standards, and you can change your life.
“Lasting change is different than a goal,” said Robbins. “You don’t always get your goals, but you always get your standards.” When you decide something is a must for you and raise the standard, you will find a way to achieve what you want, he said.
To raise your standards, take a look at your limitations and ask when you decided to accept those limitations. Then, identify yourself in a new way.
14. Be Resourceful
Most people who fail to achieve goals blame a lack of resources, Robbins once said. They might say they didn’t have the support, money or time to succeed. But that belief keeps them from being able to lead.
“What leaders do is they find a way to maximize whatever resources they have — as little as they may be,” said Robbins. Resourcefulness is the fuel that takes an idea in your head and turns it into something. Robbins called it “the ultimate resource.”
15. Don’t Self-Sabotage Your Finances
Self-sabotage is the No. 1 thing that keeps people from achieving financial goals, said Robbins. People sabotage their own financial success because on some level, they believe it will lead to more pain than pleasure. They focus on the negative aspects of money — worrying, for example, about the taxes they’ll have to pay as they earn more.
“Your finances will not change until your core beliefs change,” said Robbins in one of his instructional videos. He said you should think about the pain not having money has caused you. Write it down. Then, write down the positive things money offers. This will motivate you to change your mindset.
16. Use Fear to Move Yourself Forward
Everyone has something they’re afraid of doing. Robbins said you don’t have to get rid of that fear, but you do need to use it to move forward.
“The easiest way to deal with the fear of failure is to be more fearful of not taking action,” said Robbins in a video posted at Business Insider. Be afraid of settling for a life that’s far below what you deserve and desire, he said.
17. Create a Business Map, Not a Business Plan
If you have a business, you need more than a plan that can become obsolete in a few years as the market changes.
“The only true competitive advantage in today’s changing market and economy is not having a business plan, but having a business map that can take you from where you are to where you want to be,” Robbins wrote on LinkedIn.
Robbins noted that businesses such as Starbucks, Apple, Toms and Facebook all have redefined who they are to stay competitive and meet market opportunities. “In each case, the results they have generated have been spectacular,” he wrote.
18. Ask the Right Questions to Get Results
In his book “Money: Master the Game,” Robbins wrote that successful people ask the right questions. For example, Microsoft founder Bill Gates didn’t ask how he could build the best software, but rather how he could create the operating system that would control all computers.
“To get results, you can’t just ask the question once, you have to become obsessed with finding its greatest answer(s),” Robbins wrote.
Average people often ask questions that lead them to focus on roadblocks rather than solutions, such as “Why is this happening to me?” But Robbins wrote that he asks how he can make things better. “Are you aware of what you focus on most; your primary question in life?” he wrote. “Whatever it is, it will shape, mold, and direct your life.”
19. Don’t Expect Money to Give Life Meaning
Robbins has made a lot of money in life, but he doesn’t think it is what gives him—or any of us—meaning.
“People can equate their net worth with their self-worth,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “Their identity is married so deeply to their bank statements and quarterly portfolio reports that they’ve forgotten that money is simply a vehicle for trying to meet our needs, almost all of which are not financial.”
Robbins wrote that life is about creating meaning, which comes from what you give. “Money will always leave you empty unless it comes from a contribution you’ve made,” he wrote. “And if you’re looking for significance from money, it’s a high price to pay.”
20. Make Progress, and You’ll Be Happy
Progress equals happiness, Robbins said in a motivational video. “If we can make progress on a regular basis, we can feel alive,” he said.
You can’t just expect progress to happen. You have to look at life in a different way. “You have to say ‘I’ve got to take control of this process and not just hope it’s going to work out,'” Robbins said.