In 1996 two professors studied a sample of millionaires in the United States to understand the path that took them to a million dollar net worth. The results were very surprising as their path and lifestyle was very unexpected. They did not find millionaires who inherited their wealth but earned it their self.
They weren’t living in huge houses or driving luxury cars. Most were self made millionaires through a combination of owning a business, investing consistently, and living within their means. This book showed for the first time that most of the high paid educated professionals had a high income and lived a rich lifestyle but many times had a low net worth. I read this when it was originally published and it was shocking to learn. Most the real millionaires were living a middle class lifestyle, that is why they had money, they didn’t spend it all on their lifestyle.
The formula for becoming a millionaire is: Build a business + Invest wisely + Live within your means = Million dollar net worth.
Here is what that study found that worked for the millionaires they surveyed:
- Income is not the same as wealth. The income you save and invest is what creates wealth.
- The majority of millionaires have self control over their spending. They have either written budgets or simply spend less than they earn naturally.
- Millionaires tend to track their spending very closely and play great financial defense.
- Millionaires tended to have goals for their career, business, and finances. They decided what they wanted to accomplish and made decisions through that filter.
- The millionaires on average spent approximately twice as much time on financial planning than lower net worth individuals. They put in the time on business, investing, and budgeting to create success in those areas.
- Millionaires generally live in modest homes that are usually less than three times their annual income. This enables them to invest money in stocks or their own business since they are not burdened by a huge mortgage payment each month.
- Most of the millionaires were married to the same person their whole life. Their spouse also shared their financial goals and were also frugal and intelligent with their spending habits.
- A third of the millionaires surveyed owned used cars. They drove affordable cars and avoided having large car payments. Large monthly car payments can destroy your ability to build wealth.
- Millionaires were happy with their lifestyle, financial peace, and freedom of choices. They did not feel deprived they felt empowered.
- The key to their path to one million dollars in net worth was minimizing their bills and debt and maximizing their investing.
“Multiply your age times your realized pretax annual household income from all sources except inheritances. Divide by 10. This, less any inherited wealth, is what your net worth should be.” – The Millionaire Next Door
There is a new 21st century book published by the author’s daughter called “The Next Millionaire Next Door” with updated information. I also wrote a personal finance book this year “The Working Dead” that takes a deep dive into the principles I used to create my own net worth and financial freedom.