The Millionaire Next Door

“Life Changing Experience”

Why do I write about rich people? It’s not for the benefit of rich people. What I write is designed to benefit those who are confused and misinformed about what it means to be rich.

Most Americans have no idea about the true interworkings of a wealthy household. The advertising industry and Hollywood have done a wonderful job conditioning us into believing that wealth and hyperconsumption go hand in hand. Yet, as I have said probably a million times, the large majority of the rich live well below their means. Unfortunately, most Americans think that they are emulating the rich by immediately consuming any upward swing in their cash flow.

What makes my job so rewarding is to hear from people who have become converts. They have changed their lifestyle from hyperconsuming income statement types to accumulators, aka balance sheet affluent types.  Let me share portions of a letter I received this week from Dallas, Texas that was entitled “Life changing experience.”

Dr. Stanley,

I just wanted to share my story with you and tell you how much your book changed me and my life. When I was in my late 20’s and completing my training in my profession, I was accumulating credit card debt rapidly and spending well beyond my means. Then three things happened that changed my life:

1) I maxed out two credit cards, and refused to get an additional card

2) My mother gave me a copy of The Millionaire Next Door 

3) I met my future wife

Reading your book could not have been more timely. I was approximately 18 months away from completing my training program, at which time I knew my income would increase substantially. I was already spending money based on what my anticipated future earnings would be, with my thought process being, “I’ll make up for it one day. Why deprive myself now?” Additionally, I was already making big plans for future purchases before the money was even earned.

After reading your book I realized how foolish I was. To quote your book, “For those who spend money in anticipation of being wealthy, that day never comes.” I started moonlighting and paid off my credit cards within a little over a year. By the time the bigger paychecks started coming in, I had already paid off additional loans and started saving some money away. I’ve never looked back.

I am not a millionaire yet—haven’t even earned my first million dollars and my big salary increase was less than three years ago. But I’m headed in the right direction and laying the groundwork to be a millionaire in the next 8-10 years if I can maintain the discipline I’ve developed in recent years. Thank you for dispelling so many myths for me, for giving me the insight to avoid the perpetual treadmill of consumption that so many IAs [income statement affluent] wind up sprinting on, as they never gain any ground and never find the happiness they believe awaits them with the next big purchase…..

Dallas, TX

2 thoughts on ““Life Changing Experience””

  1. “For those who spend money in anticipation of being wealthy, that day never comes.”

    YES, YES, YES!!! For 15 years I worked in the institutional money management industry, a good chunk of it as a portfolio manager for high net worth clients. The above statement sums up the difference between those who are truly wealthy and those who just look like they are. What fascinates me is that income really doesn’t have a lot to do with it… it’s your mindset. By that I mean I’ve met (sadly) a number of people with SEVEN DIGIT INCOMES who are living paycheck to paycheck because they figured more money was on the horizon and they’d… make it up then.

    Bravo, Tom, for all the wonderful work you’ve done pulling back the curtain on what it really takes to be “wealthy.” Your books should be required reading in modern America 🙂

  2. Aspiring Millionaire @


    I appreciate everything you write about. Your books have taught me more than I ever learned in college.

    I have created a plan to pay down debt and created a very frugal budget for 2010. You mentioned in the Millionaire Next Door that many of them plan out their families finances for the year.

    As I see people trying to act rich, I find it repulsive.

    Thanks for opening my eyes.

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