If you’ve ever wondered how multi-millionaires live, you’d likely be surprised to learn how much like the rest of us most of them are. They drive old cars, live in modest homes and they don’t like to spend money.
The book The Millionaire Next Door is a thoroughly researched book about the lives of actual multi-millionaires. The insights of the book are astounding. By and large, millionaires live more like the rest of us and less like the billionaires we see in Forbes.
Becoming a billionaire takes extraordinary risk combined with extraordinary luck — and some would add talent to that equation. Becoming a millionaire requires principally patience and discipline.
The following are some observations from The Millionaire Next Door:
Millionaires are frugal
Of course there are exceptions, but most millionaires are frugal. They accumulated their wealth by not spending the money they earned rather than by earning vastly more than other people.
Millionaires drive frugally
Most millionaires drive cars for a long time. A very long time in some cases. Though they don’t necessarily scrimp on the cars they drive, they don’t typically buy a new car every year or two. More commonly, they drive their cars for ten years or more.
Millionaires live frugally
Typical millionaires live in homes that represent less than ten percent of their net worth. Most do not live in homes that would be described as luxury homes. By living in modest homes, they put themselves in a position to compare their spending to people who generally have much less money and thus feel less social pressure to spend extravagantly on their clothes, cars and vacations.
Millionaires tend to have a discipline to save unusual amounts of their earned income, sometimes as much as 40 percent. Most Americans save less than 4 percent of their earned income.
Millionaires aren’t lawyers
Surely there are lawyers who are millionaires, but not many millionaires are lawyers or other professionals who work in shiny, tall buildings in major city centers. Such people, the book found, often feel so much pressure to consume their lavish incomes that they fail to accumulate significant wealth. Simply not working with or around high consuming people helps people to save and invest rather than consume.
Millionaires are entrepreneurs
Most millionaires own a business. They may not derive huge incomes from their businesses, but the business itself becomes a valuable asset over time. When millionaires retire, they not only have the benefit of savings invested like most of the rest of us, but also have valuable businesses that can be sold to help fund their retirements.
So, if you already live frugally, you already live like a millionaire. If you are young and you are consistently saving and investing your earned income, you can accumulate $1 million or more by the time you retire. Don’t fool yourself, however; you can’t easily turn a measly $1,000 savings account into $1 million even over forty years. Accumulating wealth, as the wealthy have shown us, requires discipline, living frugally and saving consistently.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.