The Millionaire Next Door

Frugality + hyperconsumerism can still yield the MND

Your book describes my parents in the 1980s except my dad was
frugal and my mom wasn’t. Obviously, they would have
accumulated more wealth had they both been frugal. To this day,
while my mom has continued to accumulate wealth through
investments, she gets her jollies by conspicuous consumption
(her parents were UAWs). And I have ended up “bipolar.” I can
just as readily clip newspaper coupons and sock away large sums
of money for my retirement as I can let loose in Neiman Marcus.
And, I have been a beneficiary of EOC, but have had to steer it
so as to not end up like some of your case studies. Mom: Want
me to buy you a new Mercedes? Me: No thanks. I’d be happy with
a Toyota. I have had the foresight to recognize that I could
end up in a financially unsustainable position if I allowed my
mother to live out her fantasies through me. My kids went to
private school courtesy of my mom, but they would have gone to
public school if I had been footing the bill (and they have
attended public school along the way). This can all be very
complicated and nuanced. And I have been the MND for many years
through a combination of saving and investing (since before I
was a teenager), inheritance and gifts, and despite relatively
low-paid (state) employment. I do live in the “high rent
district” of Austin, yet I’ll drive the same car for 12
years, eat out only occasionally, do my own yard work and small
house repairs, buy things on sale rather than at full price,
upgrade only when things are broken or sufficiently out of date
or worn out (I replaced a 30-year microwave that was still
functioning but low powered; I repaired my dryer myself some
years ago and it is still ticking after 24 years). I like to
think I can have my cake and eat it too. Probably our biggest
annual expenditure outside a mortgage (nearly paid off) and
property taxes is travel, which is a priority activity.

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