10 Rules to Get Rich and Build Wealth

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Robert FarringtonDo you want to get rich? To build real, lasting wealth that can change your family’s circumstances for generations?

Prepare to be disappointed because there are no get-rich-quick shortcuts or overnight secrets.

Building wealth takes time, discipline, and sustained effort.

But the good news is you can absolutely do it, no matter your current situation or starting point. All it takes is following some proven rules and principles to put you on the path.

I’m talking about 10 fundamental rules to help turn your financial dreams into reality. Joining me for this one is Robert Farrington, founder of the famous personal finance site The College Investor and a longtime guest on The Side Hustle Show.

This conversation is based on his article 10 Rules to Get Rich and Grow Wealth.


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1. You Have To Earn It (Your Money, Your Wealth)

No one’s gonna hand you a fortune on a silver platter. If you want to get rich, you gotta earn it yourself.

This is the whole reason Side Hustle Nation exists—to help you increase that income.

There are two ways to build wealth: make more or spend less.

  • Spend less – Finite. You’ll never spend less than $0, but you still to cover some basic costs, no matter how much you cut.
  • Make more – Infinite. There’s no limit to how much you can earn, so it makes way more sense to focus on that side of the equation.

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Plus, it’s more fun to figure out ways to earn more than trying to cut an extra $100 out of your budget.

An entrepreneurial side hustle isn’t just about trading hours for dollars—it’s about building equity in something you own. That ownership stake can really accelerate your wealth-building journey.

And remember, wealth takes time. Your time frame matters. So if you want to be a millionaire by 35, it will involve more aggressive growth, risk, and developing an ownership mentality in a business venture.

But if you’ve got a longer runway, saving and investing steadily can still get you there, even if it takes longer. Getting started and keeping at it is what matters.

2. You Need To Save Until It Hurts

Your savings rate is the single biggest lever that you can pull to accelerate your path to financial independence.

The more you can sock away, the faster that money can compound and grow.

However, as a (recovering!) frugal person, I’m not entirely sold on the “until it hurts” approach. We’ve never really budgeted but kind of instinctively lived below our means.

There were and are certain purchases we’ve foregone, but I don’t know if I would say it hurts, or maybe we need to flip this to say save until “it feels good now” — by not buying the thing today, you’re helping your future self.

The old adage “mind the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves” has merit, but you also don’t want to sweat every little purchase.

So, what’s the magic number?

There isn’t one. The nationwide average savings rate is around 3.8%, but that’s obviously not the target for everyone. Your ideal savings rate should be aggressive enough to move you towards your goals but sustainable enough that you don’t feel constantly deprived.

Build the habit of holding onto your money, even if it’s just an extra $5 or $10 per paycheck to start.

Robert’s Tip: Find the best deal on purchases, using services like Rakuten or Cashback Monitor, and combining them with credit card rewards and coupons to save money.

3. You Need To Optimize Your Spending

There is no need to give up all fun things just because you want to “optimize your spending.” It is about spending money intentionally on what really matters to you.

Look at the services you’re already paying for and ask if there’s a better, faster, or cheaper alternative out there. We’ve done this with cell phone plans, cable/streaming packages, and more.

But you can also be strategic about spending on things that verifiably improve your happiness and life satisfaction. According to my brother’s site, BecomingBetter.org, there are five key areas to focus on:

  1. Helping others – Support causes you care about
  2. Eliminating a pain point – Solve those nagging problems that drain your time or energy
  3. Experiences – Plan trips and events that create lasting memories
  4. Buying back your time – Outsource chores to give yourself more room to focus on what you love
  5. Self-development – Invest in yourself with therapy, coaching, or lessons

So spend on what matters! Maybe it’s hiring a cleaning service to buy back time for your side hustle. Or taking tennis lessons as part of your self-improvement journey.

Remember, optimizing your spending is about making conscious choices that align with your values and bring you the most happiness.

4. You Must Put Your Money To Work For You

Get paid over and over again for work you do once.

The classic way is through investing in the stock market and real estate.

But here’s my beef with a lot of the personal finance influencers out there: most people telling you to build wealth through low-cost index funds didn’t build their wealth through low-cost index funds!

A lot built their fortunes through entrepreneurship, business, and other alternative investments.

That’s why I’m intrigued by the concept of Coast FI.

Then you get to that point where your future is set, so you can take your foot off the gas a bit and actually enjoy your money along the way. In other words, they’ll be able to “coast” into retirement.

The key is putting your money to work in productive assets that can earn you income streams, rather than just letting it sit stagnant in a savings account.

5. You Need To Marry Smart

Divorce is devastating, and not just emotionally. It’s a financial wrecking ball. 

Studies show it can wipe out 75% of a family’s wealth—factor in legal fees, splitting assets, increased housing/transportation costs, and the list goes on.

That’s why it’s so important to find a partner who shares your financial values and goals. It’s a team sport.

Robert and his wife combined incomes early on—living off one while investing the other. They didn’t have a prenup (they were young and broke), but it all worked out in the end.

He has a riskier entrepreneurial income while she had a steady job.

As parents, it’s natural to want to give our kids everything, but you run the risk of turning them into helpless, entitled brats.

That’s why I loved Shaq telling his kids “We’re not rich, I’m rich.”

6. You Always Need To Minimize Your Taxes

Taxes are probably your single biggest annual expense. 

No matter where you live, the less the government takes, the more you get to keep and build that wealth!

So let’s talk strategies:

Defer, Defer, Defer with Investments – accounts like a 401(k), 403(b), IRAs, or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) aren’t just about future savings. Money you contribute goes in before the taxman gets his cut, lowering how much you owe right now. Plus, that money grows tax-deferred, meaning a bigger nest egg down the line.

LLC taxed as an S-corporation – with an S-corp, you pay yourself a “reasonable” salary and avoid paying self-employment taxes on remaining profits. It’s a totally legit hack, but listen to your tax pro on setting it up right.

Get a tax advisor – people mix up tax preparation (filing those returns every year) with tax strategy. Not the same thing! A tax pro can advise you throughout the year. They know the rules, spot deductions, and can help you make smart moves so the following April isn’t a nasty surprise.

Taxes may be unavoidable, but there’s no need to give the government more than their fair share.

7. Insure Yourself and Protect Your Family

This rule isn’t sexy, but it’s absolutely important. It’s about peace of mind.

A little planning today can prevent a financial disaster tomorrow.

Accidents, illnesses, and even a rogue rock bouncing out from under a truck (a lesson I learned the hard way) can wreak havoc on your finances. Disability insurance and car insurance are there to catch you when things go sideways.

Term life insurance can be shockingly affordable (can be as low as $20 a month), offering millions of dollars in coverage for a price tag that might be less than your monthly phone bill.

For Robert’s family, they pay $1,500 per month for a high-deductible plan from Covered California.

So don’t let all your hard work get wiped out by an unexpected event you could have prepared for.

8. You Need To Take Care of Yourself First

Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. You can’t show up as your best self for your business, family, or wealth-building goals if you’re running on fumes physically or mentally.

You know that safety speech they give on airplanes about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others (i.e., your kids)? The same logic applies to taking care of yourself.

It was a harsh reminder that if you don’t feel well, you simply can’t perform at your best.

If you don’t have your own life in order—financially, emotionally, physically—you might just burden your loved ones. You won’t be able to work and provide. It’s a slippery slope once you start neglecting yourself.

The key is getting right back on track if you slip up like James Clear says: don’t miss two days in a row of your good habits.

Here are ways to take care of yourself through simple habits:

  • Prioritizing that morning workout to start my day right
  • Hitting my daily step goal through walking habits
  • Trying to eat well 80% of the time through meal prep (80% healthy food, 20% indulgence)

Invest in your health and well-being first, then let the other dominoes fall into place.

9. Surround Yourself With People Better Than You

They say you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Cliché? Maybe. But there’s undeniable truth to the idea that your environment shapes you.

The people you surround yourself with, whether it’s friends, family, coworkers, or communities you’re part of, they all rub off on you. Their habits, mindsets, and behaviors start shaping your own over time.

So if you want to level up, it’s time to take a hard look at your inner circle.

Find your growth tribe with these methods:

  • Events: Conferences (like FinCon), meetups, and masterminds put you face-to-face with potential mentors, partners, and cheerleaders.
  • Coaching + Communities: You can get the help you need from a coaching program or paid community. Find programs that match your goals.

You might have to upgrade your peer group along the way. But having people around you who inspire you to aim higher makes such a difference.

10. It’s Okay To Go Slow

I get it, the wealth-building journey can be painstakingly slow at times. You wish you could wave a magic wand and achieve all your financial goals overnight. But that’s just not how it works.

It’s perfectly fine to go at a slower, more sustainable pace. After all, you’ve got a long life ahead of you.

The average millionaire in the U.S. doesn’t hit that milestone until age 62! So don’t get caught up in trying to achieve all your goals by 30 or rushing from one accomplishment to the next.

Learn to enjoy the season you’re in rather than constantly chasing the next milestone. There’s no finish line for happiness or fulfillment.

Focus on getting just 1% better every day through small, consistent habits and actions. That’s how the biggest transformations happen—not through random spurts of motivation, but through never-ending small refinements.

What’s Next for Robert?

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster with all the recent Google algorithm updates. Robert’s site wasn’t affected, but it also hasn’t seen major growth either.

So where is he finding traction these days?

Facebook groups are absolutely crushing it lately. All the great discussions and engagement seem to be happening in those community spaces now.

Reddit has been another consistent traffic source, though you have to be careful about self-promotion over there. Don’t be a spammer.

Short-form video content is also continuing to pop across TikTok and YouTube Shorts.

If people aren’t finding what they need from regular Google searches anymore, you’ve got to meet them where they’re actually consuming content.

The College Investor site and brand are still going strong at the center of it all. But Robert understands he has to adapt to how people are gathering information in today’s fragmented media landscape.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

Usually Hustling, Occasionally Social

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