December 06, 2006
Does the idea of a millionaire's lifestyle appeal to you? Ocean cruises around the world, vacations abroad, sailing on a yacht, shopping in Paris . . . all might be your idea of how a millionaire lives, but that is not reality according to Dr. Thomas Stanley who has made a career out of studying millionaires.
Stanley, in his latest book, The Millionaire Mind, explores the world and minds of millionaires who made it the old fashioned way . . . no dot.com stock options, lotto tickets or inherited wealth . . . rather, hard work, creativity, willingness to take risks, self-discipline and a high dose of personal values.
According to Stanley, all of the above lifestyle activities rank very low on the list of how his millionaires spend their time. Millionaire activities are more likely to include visiting a tax advisor, involvement in community activities, raising funds for charity or watching children/grandchildren's sporting events.
Stanley's study group was selected using survey techniques that produced 733 true millionaire respondents from over 1000 completed questionnaires sent to a random sample of 5063 households in 2487 affluent neighborhoods around the country. These neighborhoods were selected for the likelihood that the residents would be Balance Sheet Affluent rather than Income Affluent.
He discovered in his research that while many households have high incomes and live in expensive houses, they have correspondingly low accumulations of real wealth and high mortgages. These are the Income Affluent.
The Balance Sheet Affluent are the real millionaires. They tend to live in older, yet expensive homes, bought years ago for a fraction of today's market value. They have low mortgages and no debt. They focus on accumulating wealth, not spending it.
His study led him to explore the factors that were the most influential in creating personal success. The top five success factors most often mentioned by the study group included:
Integrity — being honest with all people
Discipline — applying self-control
Social skills — getting along with people
A supportive spouse
Hard work — more than most people
Interestingly, most respondents ranked luck at the bottom of the list of success factors. Stanley found an inverse relationship between level of wealth and the purchase of Lotto tickets!
While millionaires are extraordinarily successful at producing wealth, and spend a good deal of time on activities directly related to these goals, Stanley notes that they lead remarkably well balanced lives.
They like to spend time socializing with their children and/or grandchildren. They value time spent with friends higher than time spent on things.
They are likely to be participants in individual sports such as tennis or golf. He found that Decamillionaires are nearly twice as likely to play golf than high-income-producing non-millionaires are. Part of this comes from a strong motivation to be physically fit and engage in competitive activities.
Again, Dr. Stanley, following up on his successful book, The Millionaire Next Door, has given us a useful insight into the real world of wealth.