The Millionaire Next Door

Pastor and His Wife, A Teacher: On Building Character and Wealth

My wife (public school teacher) and I (pastor) have become millionaires (yes, without even figuring equity in our home) in our mid-late 40s while being salaried workers and with her taking nine years off from teaching/salary to stay at home with kids. We’ve had no inheritance or windfall. Moreover, we have consistently given about 20% of our income back to our church. We have simply delayed gratification by consistently living on less than we make while contributing heavily to our 403B. We now have over $700,000 in those retirement accounts. We also own a second home that is a lake house free of any debt. We’ve also done this by avoiding consumer debt- always buying good reliable used cars and paying cash for them, NEVER having credit card debt, etc. One other decision helped us achieve a level of financial freedom. Early in our marriage, when we built our first home in the suburbs, we built it with a full unfinished basement. After living in the home for two years we finished the basement (with cash) making it what most would term an in-law suite. We ONLY did this because we had decided that we could live down there and rent out the upstairs. We did that for several years (most of them were the years my wife stopped teaching to stay home with the kids). The rent and utilities that were paid to us basically allowed us to pay the mortgage and live with very little housing cost during those years. When we sold that house we reaped a large amount of sweat equity, which we eventually used to buy the aforementioned lake house without debt. We are currently cash flowing our oldest child in a major university and will soon be doing the same with the other. We continue to contribute about 15% to our retirement. After getting the first two kids through college we will both be over 50 and able to increase our contributions. We anticipate retiring with a 3-5 million dollars in assets. We do not, however, consider this to define who we are. If the value of our retirement accounts go down it will not change our identity. No one around us has any idea what our total net worth is, which is the way we like it!

2 thoughts on “Pastor and His Wife, A Teacher: On Building Character and Wealth”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story which exemplifies so many of the principles which Tom Stanley describes based on his research. Your family is a good example of what can be done by planning, self discipline and generosity. May God continue to bless you abundantly.

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