The Truth About Millionaires
By Steve Burns
The Truth About Millionaires
This article will challenge your preconceptions about the millionaires
in our society. When you think of millionaires, you may envision private
jets, opulent mansions, and extravagant lifestyles. However, the reality
is often far removed from these images peddled by popular media. What if
we told you that many millionaires live right next door, leading lives
not too dissimilar from your own?
Let’s unravel the truths and shatter the myths surrounding the lives of
self-made millionaires. Drawing from rigorous studies and insightful
research, we will explore the habits, career choices, educational
background, and investing practices of those who have reached the
If you’re intrigued to learn how these individuals amassed their wealth,
the sectors they work in, their investment strategies, and how they
manage their daily lives, then continue reading. This exploration may
change your perspective on wealth and equip you with the knowledge to
embark on your journey toward financial independence and prosperity.
The Real Millionaire Next Door
“The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy”
is a book by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko that was published
in 1996. It explores the common characteristics of millionaires in the
United States, dispelling many commonly-held stereotypes about the rich.
Here are some key findings from the book:
Living Below Their Means: Many millionaires live well below their means,
investing the surplus instead of spending it. They prioritize financial
independence over displaying high social status.
Self-Made Wealth: A significant proportion of millionaires are
first-generation rich. They did not inherit their wealth but accumulated
it through hard work, discipline, and financial planning.
Self-Employment or Owning Businesses: Many millionaires are
entrepreneurs or business owners. They created wealth by owning and
operating their businesses.
Frugality: Millionaires tend to be frugal, not ostentatious. They’re
careful with their money and often buy used cars, avoid luxury items,
and do not live in high-priced neighborhoods.
Investment Focus: They invest wisely, often in income-producing assets,
and they invest a significant proportion of their income. They also
avoid conspicuous consumption, which could reduce their investment capital.
Educational Attainment: Many millionaires value education and encourage
their children to pursue higher education. However, a college degree is
not always a guarantee of wealth.
Long-Term Marriages: A stable family life, often with a long-term spouse
who shares the same economic habits, is a common characteristic among
Targeted Marketing: Millionaires are often immune to targeted marketing,
encouraging people to spend lavishly. They make purchasing decisions
based on their needs and values rather than advertising.
Economic Opportunity: They are good at spotting economic opportunities
and using tax laws to grow and protect their wealth.
These findings help to debunk the image of the millionaire as someone
who lives a lavish lifestyle. Most millionaires are ordinary people who
practice good money management habits.
The National Study Of Millionaires
Dave Ramsey, the personal finance expert, and his team conducted a
large-scale study called “The National Study of Millionaires.” Ramsey
Solutions conducted the largest survey of millionaires ever, with 10,000
participants. The nationally representative sample was fielded from
November 17, 2017, to January 31, 2018. This research aims to debunk
myths about millionaires, providing insights into how these individuals
amassed their wealth.
Here are some highlights from their findings:
Self-Made Millionaires: Similar to the conclusions of “The Millionaire
Next Door,” Dave Ramsey’s research shows that most millionaires are
self-made, debunking the myth that most wealthy people inherit their money.
Education Matters: The study found that many millionaires graduated with
a four-year degree. Contrary to popular belief, they do not all attend
Ivy League schools.
Consistent Investing: The study found consistent investing, especially
in employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs, was common among
millionaires. Traditional 401ks are a considerable tax advantage for
compounding capital tax-free until withdrawal.
Frugal Living: Echoing “The Millionaire Next Door,” Dave Ramsey’s
research indicates that millionaires tend to live below their means,
emphasizing the importance of budgeting, avoiding debt, and saving.
Home Ownership: Most millionaires surveyed reported living in the same
home for over a decade. This suggests they value stability and long-term
investments over frequent and potentially risky moves or upgrades.
Here is a list of some of his most important findings.
Eight out of 10 millionaires invested in their company’s 401(k) plan.
The top five careers for millionaires include engineer, accountant,
teacher, management, and attorney.
79% of millionaires did not receive any inheritance from their parents
or other family members.
Three out of four millionaires said regular, consistent investing leads
Most millionaires graduated from public, state schools.
Most millionaires use a written grocery list when shopping.
Only 15% of millionaires were in senior leadership roles, such as vice
president or the C-suite (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.).
Ninety-three percent (93%) of millionaires said they got their wealth
because they worked hard, not because they had big salaries.
Only 31% averaged $100,000 a year throughout their career, and one-third
never made six figures in any single working year of their career.
You can read the full report here.
Most self-made millionaires invest in retirement savings plans such as
The primary occupations amongst the wealthy are roles such as engineers,
CPAs, educators, managers, and lawyers.
Inheritance isn’t the primary source of wealth for most rich
individuals; approximately 79% have amassed their wealth independently.
Consistent and disciplined investing is a common practice among the rich.
Pursuing higher education, especially at public and state schools, is a
common trait among millionaires.
Many wealthy individuals adhere to frugal practices such as using a
grocery list for shopping.
Breaking down the stereotypes around the wealthy, it becomes apparent
that millionaires are often self-made and achieve their seven-figure net
worths through long-term discipline, prudent financial habits, and
intelligent investing rather than through inheritance. Occupations like
engineering, accounting, teaching, management, and law are prominent
among this demographic, pointing to the value they place on education
and professional careers. Rather than indulging in conspicuous
consumption, they lean towards frugality and wise money management. They
emphasize investing highly, especially in retirement plans like 401(k)s,
demonstrating their long-term financial planning. Thus, the reality of
millionaires is less about extravagance and more about financial
diligence, strategic planning, and consistency.
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