When Anne Scheiber died at 101 years of age she lived in a run-down $400 a month Manhattan apartment. Anne never received a promotion from her initial position at the IRS, and when she retired at 51, she was earning a mere $3,150 a year. For the next fifty years, her only income was a small pension and social security.

You can imagine everyone's surprise when, at the time of her passing, Anne left an estate valued at $22 million to a local university! While many people deplete their savings after retirement, Anne's wealth kept on growing. What was her secret? And what are the secrets of other wealthy people?

Although there are many different paths to wealth, three broad characteristics become prevalent when evaluating the lives of wealth builders.

Characteristic 1: The Wealthy Develop Consistency

The internet is teeming with get-rich-quick schemes and stories of overnight millionaires. The truth of the matter is, no one becomes wealthy in a day. Even the developers of million-dollar iPhone apps have spent countless hours learning how to program. Although one activity may be the visible tipping point for someone's success, there was far more effort exuded than you or I may ever realize.

If you observe the wealthy, you will notice that they maintain consistency in their activities, relationships, and personality. They develop routines of success – and follow these routines day after day, year after year. Rather than gambling in hopes of winning big, they invest a few dollars at a time.

What areas of your life could improve with more consistency? Do you skip work on a whim? Do you break promises to your friends or family? Do you break promises to yourself? Every aspect of life is connected – failure in one area is bound to lead to failure in others. By developing a life of consistency, wealth becomes a reality.

Characteristic 2: The Wealthy Make Their Money Work for Them

A prevalent theme in the  Rich Dad Poor Dad  books is: you can work for money, or you can make your money work for you. When you work for money, the only way to make more is to work more. However, when your money works for you, you keep earning – even when you sleep, eat, and play.

Of course, this requires money in the first place. And the only way to acquire these investable funds is to set aside as much as possible from the beginning. Anne Schieber lived by this principle. As do many other wealthy people – including Warren Buffet.

While most of us use a pay raise to purchase a larger home, or spend our tax return on a nice vacation, the wealthy pay “the future” first. The wealthy drive the old car a few years longer, live in a slightly smaller house, and wait a few more years before buying the boat. It's not that they don't enjoy life – it's that they recognize a little self-control today will lead to more peace-of-mind in the future.

The more money you have working for you, the less you will have to work.

Characteristic 3: The Wealthy Find Contentment through a Life Purpose

There is very little that we actually need to survive. Why then, is it so difficult to save on a salary of $50,000, or $300,000? Even Michael Jackson, with his various income streams, died $500 million in debt. Where does this need to spend come from?

In short, it comes from a lack of contentment. We constantly make purchases because we are unsatisfied with our lives and looking for fulfillment. A new toy gives us something to do – at least, for a while.

Meanwhile, the wealthy are satisfied with what they have. They are able to save more because they have decided to be content with less. While their peers are worried about “keeping up with the Kardashians”, the wealthy have developed a deeper life purpose.

Yes, for some wealthy people, acquiring more wealth is their sole life purpose. But most hope to provide for their families, contribute to society, and leave the world better than they found it. When you find a purpose to pour your life into, owning the latest gadget suddenly loses its significance.

Your Journey to Wealth

Remember, being wealthy is not the same as being rich. The rich have a lot, but are always one paycheck away from bankruptcy. The wealthy may live simply, but their lifestyle is sustainable – even if they never work another day of their lives.

If joining the league of the wealthy appeals to you, then remember to:

  1. Develop consistency in all aspects of your life.
  2. Make your money work for you – invest as much as possible.
  3. Find contentment through a life purpose that goes beyond making money.

A woman with a $3,150 salary saved $22 million over her lifetime. With a lot of hard-work, commitment, and patience, you and I can do the same.

From the historical archives of BankVibe.