Saturday, December 17, 2005

Millionaire Next Door?

"Seeds are a lot like dollars. You can eat the seeds or sow them. But when you would see what seeds turned into...ten-foot-high don't want to waste them. Consume them or plant them. I always get a kick out of watching things grow." -- quote from Millionaire Next Door

Every so often I pull a book down from my library and skim through the pages just seeing what catches my eye. This morning I pulled down The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. This book uncovers some interesting statistics regarding millionaires in America. Here's just a few...
Self-employed people make up less than 20% of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires.

About half of the millionaire's wives do not work outside the home. The number-one occupation for those wives who do work is teacher.

About 80% of millionaires are first-generation affluent.

Have more than 6 1/2 times the level of wealth of their nonmillionaire neighbors, but, these nonmillionaire neighbors outnumber us better than 3 to 1.

How to determine if you're wealthy? Multiply your age times your gross annual income and divide that figure by 10. This figure is what your net worth should be. For example, if your gross annual income is $70,000 and age is 34...then you're net worth should be $238,000. If your well under that're an UAW (under accumulator of wealth). If well over that figure...a PAW (prodigious accumulator of wealth).

The reason why I enjoyed this book so much when I bought it 3 or 4 years ago is because of its contrarian tale. Millionaires aren't the figures you have conjured up in your mind that live lavishly, spend furiously, and never worry about money. They're the people you overlook in a crowded room. The tightwads...driving used non-descript cars, working in dull industries, and loving every minute of it.

In fact, one of the few I do know is a welder in the backwoods of East Texas. Had him weld a car part for me a few times. Owned a pet raccoon, several dogs, and cats. Lives in an 80 year-old home with no central air/heat. Wife is a stay-at-home mom. He's around 40 years of age. How do you imagine a welder in a very small town struck it rich? He has sucked every last drop of opportunity from his land and welding business. Created a parking lot for overnight truckers where he receives money for parking as well as working on their rigs. Sells ad space on his high-traffic (for East Texas) road signs. The list goes on. And let's face it...he lives extremely frugal. The words tightwad have been mentioned several times when his name is brought up.

Another millionaire I know started out as a commercial fisherman on the lake. Ran trot-lines for catfish. Did fairly well in a barely break-even business. Then began an auto-repair business. Something thousands of mechanics have done. But, this one through extremely frugal living has turned it into one heck of a profitable business. And unbeknownst to many, has turned the land behind his shop into a very lucrative Pecan farm. Again, sucking the blood out of every last drop in his assets and being frugal with the returns have turned this local genius into a millionaire.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite stories of all time in regard to millionaires. It's one I have told over and over to many of my friends and coworkers. And best of's from the Millionaire Next Door Book...

The first time we interviewed a group of people worth at least $10 million (decamillionaires), the session turned out differently than we had planned. To make sure our decamillionaire respondents felt comfortable during the interview, we rented a posh penthouse on Manhattan's fashionable East Side. We also hired two gourmet food designers. They put together a menu of four pates and three kinds of caviar. To accompany this, the designers suggested a case of high-quality 1970 Bordeaux plus a case of a "wonderful" 1973 cabernet sauvignon.

Armed with what we thought would be the ideal menu, we enthusiastically awaited the arrival of our decamillionaire respondents. The first to arrive was someone we nick-named Mr. Bud. Sixty-nine and a first-generation millionaire, Mr. Bud owned several valuable pieces of commercial real estate in New York metropolitan area. He also owned two businesses. You would never have figured out from his appearance that he was worth well over $10 million. His dress was what you might call dull-normal...a well-worn suit and overcoat.

Nevertheless, we wanted to make Mr. Bud feel that we fully understood the food and drink expectations of America's decamillionaires. So after we introduced ourselves, one of us asked, "Mr. Bud, may I pour you a glass of 1970 Bordeaux?"

Mr. Bud looked at us with a puzzled expression on his face and then said: "I drink scotch and two kinds of beer -- free and BUDWEISER!"

We hid our shock as the true meaning of our decamillionaire's message dawned upon us. During the subsequent two-hour interview, the nine decamillionaire respondents shifted constantly in their chairs. Occasionally they glanced at the buffet. But not one touched the pate or drank our vintage wines. We knew they were hungry, but all they ate were gourmet crackers.

When we interview millionaires these days, we offer a spread that is more congruent with their way of life. We provide them with coffee, soft drinks, beer, scotch, and club sandwiches. Of course, we also pay them between $100 and $250 apiece.

What are the three words that profile the affluent? FRUGAL FRUGAL FRUGAL.

Check out the book and more importantly, check out yourself and chosen lifestyle. Are you frugal enough?

Later Trades,


[Edit: Corrected the calculation of "how wealthy you are." I miscalculated ($70,000.00 * 34) / 10. Does not = $280,000.00 but $238,000.00. Sorry for the mistake. ]

No comments: