Tom Stanley is the infamous expert on America’s millionaires. I’ve been “sitting at his feet” for several years now since I read The Millionaire Mind on the way to Sewanee in the backseat of my dad’s Cadillac. Carey and I went with my parents to celebrate my 32nd birthday. I’ve since become enamored with the affluent.
Growing up there were many affluent families we connected with from California to Florida, and to meet the ones we connected with you’d have no idea they were among America’s affluent. Whether it was the orthopedic surgeon, grape farmer or small business owner I’m thinking about they didn’t demand we be like them. They were comfortable in their own skin, and stuff really didn’t matter to them. Dr. Stanley writes that most of America’s wear a Timex and not a Rolex. If they have a Rolex they likely have multiple Rolex watches, and they are still living below their means. They also give a plethora of Rolex watches away because giving is a high priority for the truly affluent.
When I got married Carey and I lived in Evansville, Indiana for a year while I pastored a youth group and worked at the University of Evansville. We enjoyed the friendship of an affluent couple there. They were delightful, and like many other affluent friends I’ve had they impressed me, not for their net worth, but for their genuine candidness that made me a better man, pastor and now business man.
Millionaires are not at all who you think they are. Stanley writes more about that in The Millionaire Next Door. The typical millionaire might be your neighbor who mows lawns for a living, and there is never a new car or truck in the driveway. He doesn’t drive a clunker, but he doesn’t have to keep up with the Joneses by having a shiny new Beemer.
I live in Nashville, and our Beverly Hills is Belle Meade. Shortly before the Nashville Flood hit in 2010 I sent out a mass postcard mailer to about 1500 Belle Meade residents. I was already cleaning one lovely Belle Meade home, and the mailer got me some more business, including a long-term client. Yes, there are areas like 37205 that are targeted for the affluence they mirror, but as I got to know several Belle Meade families the more Dr. Stanley’s research made sense. There are those who look rich, but aren’t, and those that are really balance sheet affluent spend way below their means even if they have 5 top tier cars in the garage. The secret to building wealth that is liquid is so simple my first grader gets it. Spend less than you make, and I’ll add my 40-year-old wisdom, diversify your IRA’s. And look at your IRA’s every 10 years. Stop pulling them up every day!
Dr. Stanley has taught me no one cares if you live in a 1,000 square foot apartment or a 10,000 square foot estate. If they do that’s their loss. It doesn’t matter if you wear a Brooks Brothers or a JCP. And equally so whether or not you drive a BMW or Toyota. Incidentally, the car of choice for a high percentage of millionaires is the Toyota Avalon. Just so you know.
If you want to become a millionaire along with me in the coming decades then spend less than you make, love what you do and give to your church and community.
Did I mention I scrub toilets for a living? I love it!