Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, author of “Stop Acting Rich… And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire,” on how to live like a millionaire and become a millionaire in the process.
His tips include:
Own a modest home, and use the money you save to invest wisely. Three times more millionaires live in homes valued at less than $300,000 than more than $1 million.
What’s wrong with living in a big, fancy house? Though many Americans believe luxury real estate is a great long-term investment — recent years aside — a big home is far more likely to prevent you from becoming a millionaire than to help you become one. While it’s true that real estate tends to increase in value, big homes also have big costs — including big mortgage payments, property taxes, heating and cooling bills, and insurance and maintenance bills.
Also, expensive homes tend to be surrounded by other expensive homes that are owned by people who buy expensive things. That creates social pressure to spend to fit in. It’s better to buy a modest home that you can easily afford in a neighborhood where you are more successful than most of your neighbors, minimizing the pressure to overspend.
Invest the money that you save in the stock market. Stocks, not real estate, are the true investment path to wealth — despite big pullbacks in stock prices from time to time.
Drive a modest car. When I conducted my research, I found that about 11% of vehicle purchases by US millionaires were Toyotas. Although that’s less than the roughly 17% market share that Toyota has had among US car buyers overall, it still makes Toyota the most popular of all brands among millionaires. Toyotas and a few other brands, such as Ford, Chevrolet and Honda, provide reliability at reasonable prices (although Toyota’s recent safety-related recalls have tarnished its image).
Fully 86% of people who drive luxury brands (BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Jaguar and the like) are not millionaires. These brands tend to attract high earners who also are status-conscious overspenders, which prevents them from ever accumulating significant assets.