While the pandemic may be viewed as a one-of-a-kind disruption, studies indicate that before its outbreak in 2019, many Americans were already having a hard time. The economy will fluctuate over time, no matter where you live. And with recent uncertainty, it’s hard to tell how our fortunes may fare in the next few years and when will we get better financial outcomes.

According to Pew Research, the middle-income tier has annual incomes of two-thirds to double the national median. They are an estimated 46% of the population. Below that line are the lower-income families, 31% in total.

better financial outcomes

It’s certainly no secret that being wealthy helps to insulate you from the distress of poverty and economic volatility. But why are so few of us in the upper-income bracket? If you’re already practicing some aspects of solid financial management, the answer may lie in what’s missing.

New practices are needed

Personal finance is a complex subject with many determinants. Even though one of the most influential factors in our outcomes is financial knowledge, it’s also influenced by other variables. Family background, ethnicity, age, and education aren’t things that the average wage-earner can change.

Most people are taught that if you budget your expenses and save money, you’ll weather difficult times. Certainly, those who’ve earned their wealth don’t go overboard in spending. They scout for deals, especially big ones, such as buying a house and working with mortgage companies for the best loan rate.

However, thinking only in terms of these aspects of money will not help build wealth by itself. As success coach Marshall Goldsmith says in the realm of career advice, “what got you here won’t get you there.” In other words, the wealthy are doing something more on top of these common best practices.

What the rich do differently

In the succinctly-titled book How Rich People Think, author Steve Siebold summarizes nearly three decades’ worth of research on the subject. Having interviewed over a thousand of the world’s richest people during this timeframe, he’s well-positioned to put forth a few key points on what the rich are doing differently.

The answer may disappoint those who are in search of a quick solution to turn their fortunes around. There’s no single factor that you can pinpoint and improve upon in isolation. Rather, wealthy people have a collective mindset about money that’s far removed from the way middle-class or lower-income people think.

Instead of focusing on saving, they emphasize how they can earn. Specifically, they don’t think in terms of linear outcomes but exponential ones. They don’t just work hard; they deliberately build leverage and utilize its power. Throughout this effort, they work with a team, not as individuals, maximizing the effects of creative thinking and specific knowledge.

Find what’s missing

Becoming financially stable is a significant accomplishment in the modern world. But even that may not be enough to see you through difficult economic times and the gradual hollowing-out of the middle class.

Of all the many components of a wealth-building mindset, which ones are you missing? What can you change immediately to set yourself on the right track towards the top?

A lack of education isn’t a barrier. People with degrees tend to earn more than those without, but that’s mostly because they make good employees. They still end up working for the truly wealthy.

A financial plan is a document that includes every detail of a person’s savings, debts, cash flow, investments and all the other elements of his/her financial life. Having a solid financial plan will help you to handle your money properly, organize your life and bring the balance between income and expenses. It will also help you to fight against all of your financial struggles and allow you to achieve success.

As we face increasingly uncertain times, settling for financial stability may not be enough. But the mindset it takes to build wealth is different. What factors could you be missing? You will need a debt pay-off strategy and patience to get rid of your debt and lead a free life.

Aspire to be that person who owns businesses. That entails embracing a greater level of risk and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Have an appetite for endeavors that push you into the ‘stretch zone,’ and be intentional about learning, becoming creative, and applying that to serve others and generate value.