My mentor once told me, “Nannette, do what everyone does and you will get what they get. But do what few people do, and you will have everything that everyone has always wanted, but few people get.”

According to the federal department of health and human services, out of 100 65-year olds, only one is wealthy (can live off of the money saved and invested for at least 10 years without working); four are self-sufficient (have enough from their own resources to cover their monthly expenses) and 95 are dependent on the government, charity, or family for their cost of living, or are still working a job. Right now, in your life, are you doing what the 95 percent do, setting yourself up to be unable to survive on your own resources in your “golden” years? Or are you doing what the 5 percent do–setting yourself to be financially independent, for a comfortable retirement?

If you walk away from the 95 percent and think like the 5 percent, you will be setting yourself up for success. “But, how do you do that, Nannette?” you may ask. Think like a millionaire.

Thinking is the foundation for everything we have become up until this point, and everything we will ever become. For instance, why do you see lottery winners go broke three years after winning the jackpot? Most of the winners may have had jobs that paid them $30,000-$60,000 a year before this money came to them, for example.

Their “thermostats” were set to that $30,000-$60,000 a year lifestyle. What we know about a thermostat is that, if the conditions outside get hotter than the temperature set, the system will cool down. But if the conditions get cooler than that temperature set, the system will heat up. The same happens with our financial thermostat. If we receive an unexpected windfall of money, like a lottery, our thermostat will do everything to get us back to normal, in this case, back down to the $30,000-$60,000 a year. On the other hand, if we lose everything and have to start all over again, our thermostat will do everything to get us back up to that $30,000-$60,000 a year.

This is one of the reasons lottery winners go broke in little time. Their “thermostats” are not set for the millionaire lifestyles they have fallen into. In my own situation, I came into a windfall of money from my investments during the boom in real estate. I learned quickly that money was not the solution to all of my problems. How I thought about my money, though, was.

In your life, in order to become a millionaire and have your thermostat reset, you have to think like one, before you ever receive your first million.

“But Nannette, how do I do that?” you may ask again. In the next series of articles, I will go over the thought process of a millionaire based on my own mentors and the book “Millionaire Real Estate Investor” by Gary Keller and Dave Jenks. Because I will be one of the few people instead of the many, I will have a comfortable retirement and true “golden years.” Will you? To your financial freedom.

Nannette Atuahene-Barrie is a real estate consultant, educator and investor who specializes in helping you to become financially free when you buy a home, sell a home or invest in real estate. She holds financial literacy workshops regularly in the Antelope Valley.

DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of Our Weekly.