The Millionaire Next Door

Even More Frugal: Millionaire Women

Several advertisements for the Allen Edmonds shoe company have appeared in The Wall Street Journal.  The advertisement mentioned that the company rebuilt over 60,000 pairs of customers shoes in 2010. 

I am not sure how many from the general public are repaired each year.  But most millionaires regularly have their shoes resoled or repaired.  It is not just the male members of the millionaire population who do this; the same is true for women.  

 I find that within the millionaire next door population women are even more frugal than their male counterparts.  Here are just a few examples of this:  having shoes resoled or repaired, women 70% (men-68%); having furniture reupholstered or refinished instead of buying new, 58% (48%);  having clothes mended or altered instead of buying new, 52% (37%), and searching for a home that was foreclosed, 56% (26%) [see Millionaire Women Next Door].

These patterns of behavior among affluent businesswomen rarely ever show up in the media.  Too often what they refer to as career women are depicted as overdressed, self centered, hyperspending beings who don’t seem to have any real interest in living below their means.  But in reality it is indeed a small minority of self made millionaire women who fits the above profile.  The most the typical millionaire woman ever spent for a suit of clothing for herself or anyone else was $400; a pair of shoes, $139 or for a motor vehicle, $31,315.

I asked more than 200 millionaire women nationwide who are self employed business owners to tell me about the benefits of being wealthy. Their responses indicate that they focus more the needs of others such as:   providing financial sercurity for my children and grandchildren, 74%; making significant contributions to charitable causes, 60%, and funding grandchildren’s private school education, 57%.  Only 20% said that a benefit of being wealthy was having the ability to purchase a more luxurious home;  to join a top notch country club,6%; to own high grade art or antiques, 16%;  to purchase a vacation/retirement home, 21%, and to purchase a top of the line automobile, 26%. 

6 thoughts on “Even More Frugal: Millionaire Women”

  1. I recall one of my mother’s friends allowing me to stay at her store when I was finished at the town library. Mrs. Jaffe always said that you could always buy something wholesale if you just looked hard enough. She started her dress shop in an old barn which she could afford. That barn became part of the company name before they went public. Dress Barn now has about 1000 stores. Ever frugal, they moved their company HQ out of Stamford, CT because the rents were too high. When her family move to a bigger house in Stamford, they rented a truck and moved themselves. Mrs. Jaffe has given millions to her alma mater, Simmons college to support scholarships for young women.

  2. Why is buying and repairing a pair of $139 (plus the cost of repair) shoes considered frugal, when a person can buy at least seven pairs of shoes for the same price at a discount store?

  3. It’s always curious when people say they are building wealth to pay for the kids’ college or for their grandchildren to have a private school education, when so many of them did not have those “gifts” from their own parents. I wonder if they find that it is helpful for their children in learning how to build wealth themselves, or if that even turns out to be a goal for their children and grandchildren.

  4. I was just reading some doctorate research recently on what motivates a serial entrepreneur to start new ventures. I spoke with the researcher, Margery Mayer, and one of the interesting findings was how different men entrepreneurs were than women. The women were found to be far more pragmatic in the early days of start-ups.

  5. I was astonished to read in the article about your research that was printed today in Bottom Line that the wealthy buy their clothes at Kohl’s, Target and J.C. Penney. As the wife of a multi-millionaire, I can tell you that I never buy clothes at Kohl’s or Target. They are certainly very good value for the very low prices, but in the long run, these clothes wear out quickly, don’t clean well, don’t fit well, tend to lose buttons or tear at seams. Those who can afford more find better quality at higher-end stores like Macy’s or Dillard’s. Yes, often the high cost is only for the name, but the sale price of a Liz Claiborne or a Ralph Lauren retail garment gives many years of wear. This is in the long run a much better value. It’s similar to the comment you made about the high quality of shoe brands purchased by millionaires.

  6. In response to Lisa, there was a good line in the MND that said, “you don’t wear cheap shoes; they wear you.” This, I remember, and I have worn some very very cheap shoes that made me realize they would ruin my health if I kept it up.

    Also, $139 is not expensive for a pair of shoes if you make at least $50k because you’ll either wear them every day for a year or more, or you’ll have them for many years if you don’t wear them very often.

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