Everyone knows that when you have a million dollars, give or take a few, that you live high. Right?
Wrong. In some instances, people with a lot of money continue to live modestly. For instance, in 1958, Warren Buffet, whose net worth today is pegged in excess of $75 million, bought a home in a quiet Omaha neighborhood for $31,500. He still lives there, although its value now is more than $800,000. That’s still pretty tony, but not what you’d expect for one of the richest men in the world.
Actually, according to financial guru Dave Ramsey, more than 80 percent of America’s millionaires are ordinary people who have accumulated their wealth in one generation. Their stories are told in a book by Thomas Stanley, “The Millionaire Next Door.”
Among the lessons Stanley draws from his study of the ultra-rich:
They read. On average, they read at least one non-fiction book a month. Quoting late-President Harry S Truman, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” A constant desire to learn is a hallmark of the successful. They spend more time in books, particularly biographies and leadership how-tos than with the latest reality show. When they have free time, they use it wisely.
They understand the principle of delayed gratification. Many of those with money have spent a lifetime of sacrificing immediate gratification for long-term gain. They aren’t afraid to own a used car, live in a modest neighborhood and wear inexpensive clothing. They don’t waste time and resources in the elusive race with “the Joneses.” They tend to save for the things that they want, including education, a down payment for a home, retirement.
The popular concept of “debt as a tool” evades them. They avoid debt and prefer to save for what they want. Car payments, student loans and same-as-cash financing are things they avoid. They end up with more of their own cash to do with what they want.
Budgets are important to them. Ending up with a million or more dollars doesn’t just happen to the majority of the wealthy. They plan and they budget to reach their goals. On a monthly (or more frequent) basis, they assess where they are visa vie their money. Even those with plenty of money to spend, such as Ramsey, track it down to the penny.
They share. The majority of those with money to spare share it with those less fortunate. They tithe at their churches, contribute to charities, give to more needy persons in their circles of family and friends. They plan ahead to look after loved ones through sufficient inheritances, instead of spending it all on too-much house, $500-per-pair jeans and other unnecessary items.
You may never have to deal with money on the level of a millionaire, but the same principles can work for you.