The richest person you know probably isn’t your boss. It’s likely that it’s the guy in the used Honda behind you in the McDonald’s drive-thru. The fact remains that many Americans’ (and other countries’) stereotype of the wealthy are usually completely mistaken, at least for a large percentage of the general percentage of those who are wealthy.
Before I read The Millionaire Next Door (Amazon affiliate link), I had the same view of who wealthy people were that everyone else has. They are the ones who:
- Drive Cadillacs, BMWs, and Lexus
- Attend black tie galas and always dress in designer clothing
- Hate fast food or any restaurant that isn’t 4 or 5 star
- Have their shit together
My entire childhood and adolescence, I had this thought that once I made a certain amount of money, these types of behaviors would suddenly start to make sense. It was as if I thought everyone who makes it big in the stock market suddenly develops a taste for caviar. I just assumed that’s how it was because I didn’t know any different.
However, reading Millionaire Next Door last year was a turning point for me. Thomas J. Stanley speaks about a multi-year study he did on millionaires. Like me, he assumed that at the first live focus group, they’d want the best food, so his team spent thousands on fancy fare, like caviar and crudités. He was appalled to find that at the event, not one millionaire touched any of the food.
This began his journey into the behaviors of actual millionaires. He was surprised to find that only a portion had luxury cars or thousand dollar watches. Instead, the majority drove used cars (owned outright), lived in the same homes they had for years, and ate the same type of food that most of us enjoy on a regular basis.
This shattered my skull. It made making money become more accessible to me. I realized I could make money and still be who I was. I didn’t have to suddenly start buying Gucci or wearing white pants (unless I wanted to, of course). These actual millionaires were just working hard and living their life.
This went hand in hand with Stanley’s other assertion: that the stereotypes we think of when we think of wealthy people are, many times, done by people who are living paycheck to paycheck and aren’t millionaires at all.
That new Lexus? Leased.
That huge house? Mortgaged Twice.
Trips around the world? Done on credit.
While obviously I knew that some people did this, I had no idea it was more normal than you would think.
The Paradigm Shift
While I’m on the journey to becoming a millionaire, this paradigm shift as to who millionaires really were has fundamentally changed the way I look at money. It all comes down to the fact that, as Paula Pant from AffordAnything.com puts it on her site,
This movement is based on one radical idea: You can afford anything. You can’t afford everything. But you can afford anything — traveling to Rome, buying your dream home, quitting your job to launch your own business.
You could lease a Lexus. Or go to Greece. Or quit your job and start your own business. Anyone can. Those things aren’t reserved for the actually rich or the pretending rich. They are reserved for anyone who wants to work hard enough to get them.
Images via Pixabay.