It’s easy to think millionaires are just a select few, but you might be surprised to learn that there are many walking among us. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, the U.S. claims more than 24.5 million millionaires as of 2021 – about 9 percent of adults – and maybe one day, you could become one of them.

Becoming a millionaire might be easier than you once thought, especially if you begin to think like a millionaire. If you want to get to millionaire status, here are a few ways to invest so you can become one.

How to invest like a millionaire

1. Avoid a lot of debt

For most people, debt is a part of everyday life. But debt can hold you back from investing. The more money you have to put towards outstanding debt, the less you have to invest.

Try to pay off as much debt as you can. You can use different ways such as the debt snowball or debt avalanche methods to get started on paying off your debt. After paying down debt, any extra money you have after regular expenses can go towards investments.

Of course, it’s helpful to distinguish between debt that’s used for an investment, such as a house, and debt that’s used for just spending. Many of the wealthy strategically use debt to acquire appreciating assets such as houses, if they can comfortably afford it.

2. Have long-term goals in mind

Instead of mindlessly saving or investing, millionaires have goals set for both the short and long term. You might want to get into investing because someone told you it’s a good way to build wealth. But you might find that investing now helps you save for retirement, can cover a potential emergency or pay for a big purchase, like a home or car. By having specific goals in mind, it can become easier to focus on those goals and make them a realizable priority.

3. Stay focused on your purpose

Everyone’s long-term goals are different, so don’t get too stuck on comparing yourself to others. Rather, use other millionaires as guides and create your own rules that work best for you and your plans.

It’s easy to get distracted, whether it’s a shiny new product or other lavish spending. But focusing on your purpose can keep you in line when you think you’re veering off-track.

4. Invest when everyone is freaking out

No one wants to spend on an investment that loses value later. So when the stock market begins falling, many investors rush to the exits, hoping to avoid still-further losses in the short term. The thing is, that decline may be just when stocks offer a great long-term deal. If you notice strong stocks dropping in price, you might want to consider scooping them up.

Investors who cash out when prices are at record highs probably didn’t buy at record highs. They likely bought low, during bear markets when others might’ve been freaking out about declines. Take a fall in the market as a sign to consider putting more money into your investments, not less.

5. Don’t worry about looking the part

If you have an idea of what a millionaire looks like, you might want to think again. Millionaires don’t need to have flashy cars or mega homes. Millionaires can look just like you do, right now.

You don’t have to shop at expensive stores or buy name-brand goods to fit in with the crowd. Instead, put more time and effort into building your wealth through investments, not stuff. Millionaires aren’t wealthy because they spend money, but rather because they didn’t spend it.

6. Taking some risk may be necessary

Some investors might want to earn as much as possible as soon as possible, meaning they might put more money into stocks and securities that have the potential for a high return. Generally speaking, the higher the risk, the higher the potential return. But not everyone is cut out for high-risk investing, especially since high risk also means potentially high loss.

You can still get to millionaire status by going slow and steady. You can find lower-risk index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and make ongoing contributions to your investments. Add it to your monthly budget, so you treat it like a bill and not necessarily an afterthought. Not only is it the lower-risk way, it’s also the higher-probability way, too.

The S&P 500 index, a collection of hundreds of America’s top companies, has delivered about 10 percent annual gains over time. It’s a good place for beginning stock investors to start.

7. Diversify, diversify, diversify

If you’ve dumped all your money into the best stock that you believe is going to make you rich, think again. You’re putting a lot of financial weight on one asset, exposing yourself to a lot of risk. Millionaires think defensively, too, and they often get rich by diversifying their portfolios through a mix of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and various other securities. They reduce the risk that any one investment – especially a particularly large one – hurts them too much.

Avoid putting all your money into one type of investment. Instead, spread out your cash. In the event that one security tanks, you have your other investments to carry you through. You might also want to look to other investments, such as real estate, to increase diversity in your portfolio.

8. Get the help you need, when you need it

You don’t have to get into investing alone. If you’re starting from scratch, you might feel a little overwhelmed at how to proceed. Millionaires call in the experts when they need them.

While talking to a financial planner or advisor might be a great option, it’s not always the cheapest. If you don’t want to jump into paying for tailored financial advice just yet, consider this option to get started. Sign up with a robo-advisor, which invests for you based on your goals and needs. You can set up the account to automatically contribute, such as every month, and then the algorithm invests and manages your portfolio for you. Plus, the fees are low.

If you’ve plateaued and you feel like you could use extra help, talking with a financial pro might get you to the next level. Remember that not all financial experts are the same, so research which ones have your best interests in mind and know what they’re talking about when they share financial advice.

Bottom line

Investing might seem overwhelming and even daunting, but if you want to become a millionaire, it means you probably need to start thinking and investing like one. Avoid piling up debt and start investing for the long term in a diversified portfolio of investments. Focus on your own goals, rather than what the crowd is doing, and ask for help when you need it.