The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley

The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley

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The book I chose to review for this course is titled, “The Millionaire Next Door”, by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D., and William D. Danko, Ph.D. After learning that it was published in 1996, prior to the widespread availability of the internet, and subsequent e­business boom, I was slightly sceptical that the information held within might not be relevant for someone like myself trying to thrive in today’s chaotic economy. Fortunately, I was wrong. The Millionaire Next Door is full of concepts and principles that put into perspective how we view money and status in our society, and also debunks the myth that America’s wealthy are the ones doing most of the spending while living elaborate and carefree lives. There are several ‘takeaway’ principles that are presented to the reader. I will be focusing on the five concepts and ideas that impacted me the most.
“A Millionaire in Blue Jeans?” One of the most valuable principles is found in the very first chapter. Our authors do a wonderful job at dispelling any delusions we have regarding what a Millionaire looks like. I had long assumed, like many others, that the Millionaires of America were the hyper­consumers and elaborate spenders. In fact, we learn that just the opposite is true. I came to understand that, “Wealth is not the same as income”. (The Millionaire Next Door, p. 1, Stanley & Danko) In many cases, income is not at the forefront of relevancy when determining whether someone will become wealthy. There are several factors involved, but ultimately, if a person spends their entire income, the number value of said income simply doesn’t matter. The old age adage regarding spending less than you make is of much more importance. In the Church, this is referred to as ‘living below our means’. We have often been counseled to exercise restraint regarding our spending habits, and have also been commanded to obtain a level of financially secure by building up our savings, staying out of debt, and living within our means. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006), 114­23) It seems rather silly that a large percentage of our population would be under the assumption that living a large lifestyle, along with the accumulation of fancy things, would somehow equate to wealth. After reading the book, I have come to understand that many of us have an extremely distorted relationship with money, in the assumption that money is to get and spend, while those who are authentic accumulators of wealth understand that money should be invested and stored up as a measure of safety and peace.

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“Being a Millionaire is such hard work” (insert sigh here). It almost sounds sarcastic. And yet, it is one of the foundational principles in the accumulation of wealth. It was fascinating to learn that one does not become wealthy based solely on choice of vocation, nor does it occur by dumb luck or sheer chance. Millionaires are deliberate. They invest a significant amount of time into budgeting, planning, and setting financial goals. In Chapter two, we learn that, “PAWs (prodigious accumulators of wealth) allocate nearly twice the number of hours per month to planning their financial investments as UAWs (under accumulators of wealth) do.” (p. 71). This teaches us that if we anticipate becoming wealthy, we must set goals and work hard to obtain them. This principle is directly in accordance with what the Gospel teaches us. In “For the Strength of Youth”, we read, “Set high goals for yourself, and be willing to work hard to achieve them. (”For the Strength of Youth”, Work and Self­Reliance.). This idea brought to mind the analogy of the athlete. None of us, by coincidence, suddenly becomes strong, muscular and lean with the wave of a wand. These are attributes and benefits obtained only through setting goals to become so, and then following through with hard work and evaluation. Why then, did I assume that Millionaire’s were magically wealthy? What I learned is that they make a conscious choice, devise a plan, then work as hard as they can to obtain and retain their wealth. They follow a budget, are frugal, and do not make significant purchases prior to ample research of the product they intentionally mean to acquire.
“Climbing the invisible ladder to Nowhere’sville.” Okay, I may have made this one up. While this principle wasn’t exactly in bold letters or making flashing headlines, it was certainly an ever­present theme throughout the book, and one that seemed to me to be a massive barrier between one’s ability to obtain wealth versus one’s ability to retain it. This is where the “Big Hat, No Cattle” concept comes into play. This phrase was first presented to the Authors when they interviewed a Texan business man (p. 8) . He used it to describe many of the want­to­be millionaires in our society. They are perceived as being very wealthy, living in massive homes and driving luxurious vehicles, but at the end of the day, they have nothing. They are spenders, and not savers. This man was a down and dirty business man. A millionaire, yes. But he did not look the part and certainly did not play the game. Our society is huge on appearances. In fact, I know many people that work harder and invest more of their time and energy on making something look a certain way, than actually taking the time to be the very thing they are trying to falsely perceive. We are all so worried about having more than, or being more than, and as a direct result we invest our time and money in the creation of a facade so that others will view us as being at the top of the invisible ladder. The Gospel teaches us that this behavior is a direct result of placing the importance of Man over God. In otherwards, misaligned priorities. In Doctrine and Covenants, Chapter 3, the Lord is rebuking Joseph for the lost manuscripts. In verse 7, he states, “For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God...”. Those who place God before Man will have the ability to see through the facade and recognize that the invisible ladder doesn’t even exist. We made it up (Shhh.. don’t tell the UAW’s. They keep the economy running!). If we can position our priorities in conjunction with the teachings of the Savior and our Modern Day Prophets, we will have the courage to fend off the Great and Spacious building and follow our own course. We will no longer be worried about what others do or do not have, and will attain peace of mind, and perhaps a semi­substantial money market.
“Hey Mom, can I borrow five bucks?”. One of the most intriguing principles in the book was one that the authors dubbed as, “EOC” (Economic Outpatient Care) (p.141). This is the act of supporting one’s children in a financial manner, regardless of age. An alarming point that resurfaces throughout the EOC chapter is that parents who support their children in a substantial financial manner inadvertently handicap their children by stripping them of the courage and self esteem necessary to produce a self­reliant individual in today’s society. By financially coddling our children, both young and old, we rob from them, the ability to develop attributes necessary for personal growth and development in mortality. This leads to a cycle of oppression and entitlement that is in stark contrast to the teachings of the Gospel. Elder L. Tom Perry said that, “Teaching children the joy of honest labor is one of the greatest of all gifts you can bestow upon them.” (The Joy of Honest Labor, L. Tom Perry). Based on the research presented in this book, this quote echo’s great truth. When asked what gift was given most by Millionaire parents to their offspring, tuition was the clear winner. (p.165). Education is a vital tool in a person’s navigation and successful presence in today’s world. Parents who

recognized this as a step in the process towards self sufficient behavior, were more than willing to provide the monetary means that would ultimately allow their children to work hard and provide for themselves. Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish. We’ve heard it many times before. Memo to self: Don’t cripple your children.
Speaking of Fish, “I can sell them water!”. The last principle I want to present from the book is that of choosing an occupation which is congruent to your personal interests and talents, and one that has projected growth and/or opportunities in upcoming decades. This is one of the key factors in many Millionaire’s success stories. They
found something they were good at, and they stuck with it. It is interesting to know that only 1 in 5 millionaire business owners ever turn their business over to their children. (p. 232) They do this because they know just how difficult owning and maintaining a business can be. Instead they generally encourage their children to obtain Education in a professional field of study where they will most likely achieve stability and above average success. I find the principle of doing what you love and being marketable immensely important, especially in an ever competitive world. We must be competent in our professions and equipped with enough ambition and drive in order to thrive within.
In the February 1999 Edition of the Ensign, President Gordon B. Hinkley said, “Choose a vocation where you will be happy. You will spend eight and more hours a day at it through all the foreseeable future. Choose something that you enjoy doing. Income is important, but you do not need to be a multimillionaire to be happy. In fact, you are more likely to be unhappy if wealth becomes your only objective... Choose a field in which you can grow... Get all the schooling you can to qualify yourselves in your chosen vocations...”. (Gordon B. Hinkley, Ensign, February 1999, “Life’s Obligations”.) I think it is

wonderful that President Hinkley lends so much value to our personal Happiness in seeking out a vocation that we can ultimately be successful in. After all, as he pointed out, it is there that a substantial amount of our Earthy time will be invested. If we have to pedal the bike, we might as well enjoy the ride!
The Millionaire Next Door is full of foundationally sound principles regarding money and wealth, and exposes the reader to a direct correlation between self­reliance and financial success. The information within it’s pages are in harmony with the teachings of the Gospel. ‘Millionaire’ is a wonderful resource for those seeking to understand how to accumulate wealth and enjoy financial security, stability, and peace of mind. From a literary standpoint, it may be viewed as a clunky read, and at times, principles are certainly overstated (If I had a horse and something to beat it with, I’d produce an example), but it’s a fair trade­off in exchange for the enlightenment and understanding gained by the reader.
References:
Kimball, Spencer W. “Teachings of Presidents of the Church.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (2006), 114­23). Print.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “For the Strength of Youth.” Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 2011 (10th, current ed.) Print.
Smith, Joseph. “The Doctrine & Covenants.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 1921. Print.
Perry, L. Tom. “The Joy of Honest Labor.” https://www.lds.org/general­conference/1986/10/the­joy­of­honest­labor?lang=eng. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Oct. 1986. Web.
Hinkley, Gordon B. “Life’s Obligations.” https://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/02/lifes­obligations?lang=eng. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Feb. 1999. Web.

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