The Millionaire Next Door was Tom Stanley’s runaway bestseller, revealing to the world a most unexpected picture of America’s millionaires. The Millionaire Mind is the more thoughtful and insightful look into the psychology of millionaires, the ‘soft’ factors in terms of attitudes and beliefs that have made these people so successful.
The key question asked: is it possible to have a very enjoyable, balanced life but still achieve millionaire status? Stanley’s surprising answer is that while money can’t buy happiness, millionaires are perhaps more aware than most that the best things in life are free. Rather than, as you might expect, spending their non-working time visiting glamour spots or engaging in expensive hobbies, the great majority of millionaires prefer to spend time with family and friends. If they are not doing this they are involved in community activities or playing a round of golf. As the author suggests, most millionaires are a ‘cheap date’ – but are not miserly personalities.
‘Vocation vocation vocation’
The way to sustainable wealth and a enjoyable life is simple: do work that you love to do. The more you love your work the more likely you will excel in it, and the more rewards accrue to you. You are also much more likely to create a profitable niche through the process of deepening your skills, knowledge and contacts in your chosen area. Millionaires are happy to make a life out of truck spare parts or car washes if they see opportunities – no matter what others think. Above all, millionaires ‘think differently from the crowd’ – they spend a lot of their time looking for things that others have overlooked, overturning assumptions and creating profitable niches within generic industries.
Risk, reward and self-belief
Stanley notes the strong correlation between the willingness to take financial risk and financial success. While most of us would see starting a business as a great risk, the financially successful see working 9 to 5 for someone else risky. You are dependent upon your employer for your livelihood, and your income is related to how much time you spend working. But millionaires tend to choose a career in which there is no ceiling on how much money they can make if they are successful at it.
A good proportion of self-made millionaires worked hard in school but were not the top students. What they learned most in school was how to judge people well and get along with them, and that hard work could bring a surprising level of success. It turns out here that great grades aren’t necessarily the key to success, but tenacity and leadership skills are. In other words, if you work hard and are involved in extracurricular activities (particularly in leadership roles) but are a B student, you’re in much better shape to succeed than an A student who coasts and isn’t involved in said activities. In fact, the chapter largely indicates that the B student is preferable here. In other words, don’t be ashamed of your grades – only be ashamed if you’re not willing to work for it.
Nine out of ten married millionaires say their marriage has been a major factor in their success. A spouse provides on tap psychological support and advice which is likely to be honest. If your relationship is about physical attraction above all, it won’t be rock solid when you need it to be because the bedrock of a reliable marriage is compatible values. If you have appropriate values for becoming a millionaire, then you’ll just undermine all of it by having a spouse that doesn’t share those values.
Another big clue appears here when it’s shown that millionaires on the whole do not buy houses that are ostentatious, but instead are functional for what the needs of the people are. They generally take their time looking for homes, search out bargains, and clearly define their needs before they buy, including factors such as good public schooling and so forth. They also buy modestly – the average millionaire owns a home with a median value only slightly above the median value for all homes; in fact, many of the most ostentatious homes are owned by non-millionaires.
What is the millionaire mind? Not living a spartan lifestyle and making money your god, but freedom from reliance on credit and being in control of your finances. The great self-discipline of the average millionaire means that they can’t help piling up wealth long after their modest needs have been satisfied. The millionaire mind evokes the famous biblical saying, “To them that hath, more will be given.” Not only do these people have money, they love their work. Most people will think ‘of course they love their work, they can do what they want’ – but few appreciate that it was their love of their vocation that helped to make them wealthy in the first place.