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The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

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millionaire-next-doorDo you have what it takes to be a millionaire? That’s the question authors Stanley and Danko examine in this classic of financial literacy. It turns out there are seven key traits to becoming a millionaire, and they aren’t the ones you would expect.

The first time we interviewed a group of people worth at least $10 million (decamillionaires) the session turned out differently than we had planned. […] To make sure our decamillionaire respondents felt comfortable during the interview, we rented a posh penthouse on Manhattan’s fashionable East Side. We also hired two gourmet food designers. […] We wanted to make Mr. Bud feel that we fully understood the food and drink expectations of America’s decamillionaires. So after we introduced ourselves, one of us asked, “Mr. Bud, may I pour you a glass of 1970 Bordeaux?”

Mr. Bud looked at us with a puzzled expression on his face and then said: “I drink scotch and two kinds of beer-free and BUDWEISER!”

I have a personal connection to this book. About 15 years ago, I had the horrifying realization that if I wanted to be able to retire before death, I needed to begin planning immediately. After reading every financial book I could get my hands on, this was the book that made the biggest impression on me. Those people who wear flashy clothes and drive flashy cars? They probably aren’t millionaires. The true millionaires are the ones who drive older cars and never spent more than $400 on a suit. Absolutely fascinating and, for me, life changing!

In addition, if you’d like to jump start your personal search for wealth, don’t forget that for Money Smart week we have a program coming up on “Building and Preserving Wealth” with Elizabeth Shamir, Investment Adviser Representative with ING Financial Partners. Thursday, 4/23, 7-8 pm.

A note: if you are younger than about 40, take the wealth formula in the “Millionaire Next Door” with a grain of salt. As both my husband and I figured out after an evening of angst, it only works if you’re older and have had time for the miracle of compound interest to occur.