Jim Trippon is a former senior PriceWaterhouse CPA who now operates a retirement planning firm in Houston. He specializes in working with accredited investors and is the author of the bestseller How Millionaires Stay Rich Forever (Bretton Woods Press). Trippon has studied the financial planning habits of the wealthy and discovered that rich people usually make certain moves with their money that many of us never consider or, if we do, we never act on it.

In other words, the wealthy know how to make money and keep it, and Trippon offers some insights in this regard.

First, he emphasizes that it is imperative to reduce the interest rate and fees on credit cards. He says that 56 percent of the people who ask for a lower interest rate will get it, generally from the first person they speak to at the credit card company. The advice is simple enough: call your credit card company's customer service and ask for a lower rate based on the fact that you have received an offer for a lower rate from a competitor. If you haven't been receiving such mail, then somebody has nailed your mailbox shut.

He points out that most companies will match any rate to keep your business.

Secondly, he says that in view of the recent financial and mutual funds scandals, it would be best to check out the background of any investment advisor you are dealing with. How to do so? Go to the Web site of the National Association of Securities Dealers (www.NASD.com) and list the name of the advisor and the name of the firm they are with. You can then obtain the entire career history including any customer complaints and fines---all for free.

Get a raise on your job without asking. What you do is use your company's 401(k) plan to get the absolute maximum. This can often increase your total compensation five to 10 percent. Also, check out the "cafeteria plan" that allows for pretax deductions for healthcare, childcare, and education. This program can cut your income taxes by as much as 10 percent.

Next, pay off your home as soon as possible. For most homeowners, it only costs an extra $100 to $150 a month to cut a 30-year mortgage into a 15-year one. Paying your mortgage bi-weekly, instead of monthly, matches most people's paychecks and also, typically, cuts 12 years off a 30-year mortgage. Savings are enormous.

Trippon says that many of the nation's seven million millionaires saved their way to wealth -- and lots of them didn't even realize what they did.

"Most millionaires will argue with you that they are not wealthy, because they look at their savings accounts instead of their net worth," concludes Trippon.

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