FOUR BASIC VIRTUES THAT SEPARATE FINANCIAL WINNERS FROM FINANCIAL STRUGGLERS

by BrijBrand Contributor, Dr. Chris Hawkins

When speaking to both high school and college students, Warren Buffett regularly challenges his audience to individually identify one student they think will be the most successful.

He then asks them to consider which characteristics they would look for in identifying that person.

Buffett suggests they wouldn’t look for the smartest but rather the one who exhibits positive character traits such as initiative, generosity, honesty, and integrity.

He then says if you want to become successful, you must model the character traits of the classmate you chose.

I want to piggyback on this theme by encouraging you to practice a few character traits that I believe will set you apart from those around you.

I have taught over a thousand high school students and worked with hundreds of struggling adults as their financial coach.

My experiences as a financial teacher and coach have taught me there are four basic virtues that separate those who win financially from those who struggle.

As I discuss each of these virtues, I believe a natural voice inside you will agree with me. Listen to that voice.

As soon as you do, a second voice will enter your mind. That voice will tell you to ignore what you have just read. Don’t listen to that voice.

Modeling the behaviors I am about to share will help you become financially independent regardless of how much you make or which career path you choose.


1) Our society has always rewarded those who bring value to others.

Before you start screaming at me, let me say I realize this isn’t always the case and sometimes people are paid much greater than the value they deliver. Recognizing these irregularities doesn’t change the fact that as a general principle, the more you focus on bringing value to others, the better you will be in the long-run.

To accomplish this means you must be a life-long learner. When your formal enducation ends, learning doesn’t.

Continue to read, ask questions, learn from mentors, research, and seek out new skills.

You don’t have to focus on just your career. Mix in topics or skills you are interested in learning more about. You control what you learn as an adult. People who are static in life are those who will eventually be obsolete.

  • To bring value means to always put forth your best at everything you do.
  • Use your time and talents efficiently and to the best of your abilities.
  • Make sure to provide your employer with your best.
  • Don’t be the employee that has to be told what to do.
  • Look for things that need to be done and do them.
  • Be the person who is always looking for ways to go above and beyond with customers.
  • Don’t be the employee who constantly says they don’t’ get paid enough to do that. If that is your attitude, you will never become the successful person you want to be. If that is the way you feel about your work, find something else to do.
  • Finally, you might be able to bring value to more people by starting your own business. Don’t be afraid to chase after those good ideas that come to your mind

2) Many people mistakenly believe that being frugal means being cheap.

They have a tendency to improperly define the word and mistakenly substitute the word frugal with the word thrift. People today have a negative connotation with both of these words.

Frugal means managing your money in a way so as not to overspend, pay too much for an item, or buy things we really don’t need when we don’t have the money.

Thrift means to thrive. It means to get the most from your time, talents, and financial resources.

Who wouldn’t agree with these two principles?

  • Frugal means having a plan for your money before you get it.
  • It means living below your means.
  • It means to save for purchases, emergencies, and building wealth. It means spending more if necessary to get better quality.
  • Frugality says we should reuse and repurpose things. As an example, buying good quality furniture allows one to have it reupholstered down the road instead of buying new furniture.
  • Being frugal means buying used if possible. When you are finished with an item, try selling it if possible.
  • Being frugal keeps more money in your pocket that will allow you to save, build wealth, provide a means for your children to go to college debt free, etc.

3) In our busy society where everyone expects instant results, the most important behavior you can implement is to have contentment.

Contentment means being happy with where you are in life but it does not imply that you have to settle for where you are now.

We should always strive to be better at everything we do but we can’t pretend that life will be better or we will be happy when some future event happens. Happiness isn’t something we chase but rather something we experience.

Thinking your life will be better if you get a raise, or a new car, or even have children, will leave you always looking for the next thing. You need to enjoy each day by being more content. Stop thinking that more money, or more stuff, will make you happy.

Let me encourage you to be true to yourself and stop being what others want you to be.

This means you must stop comparing yourself to those you live around, those you work with, and those you interact with through social media. Always wanting what others have will not bring happiness. Being content will.


4) The last virtue is to be a giver.

In addition to bringing value to other people through your work or business, you should strive to help people out by giving of your time, talents, and financial resources.

Those who only focus on themselves miss out on the opportunity to serve others.

Think about the most pleasant people you have been around. I bet you will find they were givers. Great parents and awesome bosses are one’s who give. People who give focus on others, not themselves. This gives them an aura that makes others want to be around them.

Nobody likes being around someone who looks for all the glory, takes credit for something they didn’t do, or who portrays a level of arrogance that suggests they believe they are better than others.

I hear people say they won’t be able to build wealth if they give. Others say they can’t afford to.

My advice to them is to give it a try and see how little they miss what they give.

In the short term it might appear to be counterproductive but in the long-run it pays great dividends.

If giving monetarily isn’t possible, donate your time to help out those in need. Doing so will give you a joy inside that will leave you feeling peaceful.

My challenge to you today is to find a way to give before the day is over. I promise you it will feel good.


As a financial coach and teacher, I’ve studied what financially successful people do and I believe these four characteristics will help you become wealthy over the long-run.

These characteristics aren’t going to make you wealthy overnight but when done over your lifetime, will bring both joy and riches that you never thought possible.

Doing these might make you the person everyone wants to be like when Warren Buffett issues that challenge to your classmates.


chris hawkins small avatar.fw

Dr. Chris Hawkins is a financial writer, speaker, podcaster and coach who is passionate about helping people of all ages live a financially prosperous life. After turning his financial life around, he began teaching both students and adults how to send their financial problems on a permanent vacation. He is the face behind the brand Dr. Thrift, which focuses on providing both knowledge and hope for those looking to improve their financial situation.

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