The Millionaire Next Door

We Don’t Think of Ourselves as Wealthy

A Message from Bob:  

Your books are great!  Eight years ago I was browsing in a bookstore and picked up The Millionaire Next Door.  I began skimming through it and quickly said to myself – this guy is writing about me! I was early-fifties, owned my own business, had no credit card debt, paid cash for my cars, etc. and was worth somewhere north of $2 million. I came home, told my wife about the book and we got it from the library to read – we’re pretty frugal when buying books. Everything you say is so true – my wife and I are business partners in a consulting business and have been for over twenty years. We have invested in real estate, stocks and bonds and now are worth somewhere around $3 million, not counting our house. We both grew up in very modest households and have always lived by the belief that; other than real estate, if we can’t pay cash for it, we don’t need it. Credit cards are paid off every month in full. Credit cards are probably the greatest curse ever perpetrated on the American public, it’s so sad to see how badly people are taken advantage of by the credit card companies, it is really unconscionable. We don’t believe in buying new cars, we always buy 1 or 2 year old vehicles, I drive a Lexus, but paid cash as we did for my wife’s Nissan SUV. We’ve probably never paid more than $25 for a bottle of wine (usually about $9 – $12).

Our business has never paid us huge sums of money – maybe $200,000 in it’s best year, last year business was lousy so we’ll be lucky to make $60,000, but I suppose it all evens out. We differ from the profile insofar as we live on a farm worth about $1.25 million in today’s market (paid about $350,000, 12 years ago), so I guess our total net worth including our farm is somewhere north of $4m. We do go to Europe about once a year, usually on hiking or mountain climbing vacations. And, my personal splurges are a collection of classic cars, but I honestly feel they are a legitimate investment – at least they never depreciate; my other splurge is single malt scotch – which depreciates all too rapidly! We do enjoy very nice restaurants and staying in nice hotels, but usually as an event rather than a frequent occurrence. We don’t think of ourselves as wealthy. Never have. Maybe it’s just our mind-set. Your book was amazing and so incredibly accurate. Absolutely wonderful read.

Note to Bob:

Bob, thank you for your insightful case study and kind words.  Most of the millionaire next door types are like you, self employed business owners.  They don’t think they are wealthy so they don’t act rich.  Or as the original title of The Millionaire Next Door  was phrased “That’s Why They are Wealthy!” Also keep on farming.  If you review Table 2.4 in Stop Acting Rich, you will note that it takes the equivalent of only 53 high income farmers to produce 100 millionaires.  But in sharp contrast it takes 186 middle managers (corporate types) to produce the same number.  Sounds like we have a lot in common, ie self employed.  My made in Japan 2005 4-Runner sits next to my “antique” Z 28 Camaro.  I understand that the Camaro is appreciating every year! 

4 thoughts on “We Don’t Think of Ourselves as Wealthy”

  1. Christine | Money Funk

    Ah! I love true life stories such as this one. And I agree “credit cards are probably the greatest curse ever”. I learned that the hard way and am working very hard to reverse that mistake. 🙂

    I like how this true tale of living within your means allows you to spend on the things you truly value like Scotch and European vacations. How I envy. But one day, I hope to live a life such as yours (just starting it a bit later). Thank you for sharing!

  2. Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom

    Bob and his wife set a great example for many people!

    I must say that I disagree with Bob regarding what he said about credit card companies: “Credit cards are probably the greatest curse ever perpetrated on the American public, it’s so sad to see how badly people are taken advantage of by the credit card companies, it is really unconscionable.” I believe every person should take responsibility for themselves and their actions. If they chose to use credit cards, they need to understand that they’ll have to pay their balance at the end of the month. Too many people think of themselves as victims. Btw, I do not work for credit card companies.

  3. Credit cards are a curse, therefore I chose not to use them.

    Dr. Stanley, I just picked up Stop Acting Rich. Love the bood and love all the kudos to engineers. Not a millionaire yet but definitely on the path!

  4. Great story! About the use of credit cards…I use mine ALL the time. I NEVER use debit since that racks up service charges including the big one some folks pay each month for the “privilege” of unlimited transactions. Credit cards don’t cost anything (directly) to use as long as one ALWAYS pays off the balance in full each month. I enjoy the use of these “unlimited” transactions which cost me no extra and allow me, as a business owner, to track my expenses personally and for business. When business is slower like in the past couple of years, this built-in tracking mechanism permits me to see where cuts to my monthly budget may be made like dining out.

    By the way, the credit card I use collects air reward miles which I use in bulk to buy tangible gifts for myself like my digital camera and iPod. And it carries no annual fee. If you know your limits and pay off your balance each month, credit cards can be very useful. I find it easier for cash to be squandered and go unaccounted for.

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