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Do What Millionaires Do

 Mike Earl, CFP®, CPWA®

In his recent book Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth – and How You Can Too, author Chris Hogan sets out to prove “The American Dream is Alive and Available.” To write this book, Hogan’s team at Ramsey Solutions surveyed and/or interviewed more than 10,000 Americans over the past year.

His book follows the footsteps of one of The Wealth Group’s all-time favorite books, The Millionaire Next Door. Books like these are great at myth-busting the popular culture’s conceptions about millionaires in America. What most people think about millionaires in America is incorrect.

There is a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from his book. Here are some facts that stand out to us:

  • “Only 21% of millionaires received any inheritance at all, and only 16% inherited more than $100,000.” (p. 9)

  • Contrast those statistics with the views of millennials, 74% of whom believe millionaires inherited all their wealth. (p. 8)

  • “It took millionaires an average of 10.2 years to pay off their homes, and 67% of them live in homes with paid-off mortgages.” (p. 230-231) When The Wealth Group advocates for our clients to be in a 15-year (or less) mortgage, we are basing this on a core feature of the wealthy – that is, getting 100% debt-free as quickly as possible.

  • “97% of millionaires say, ‘I control my own destiny.’” (p. 231)

  • “68% of millionaires used a financial planner to help achieve their net worth.” (p. 231)

  • “79% of millionaires did not attend prestigious private schools. 62% graduated from public state schools, 8% attended community college, and 9% never graduated college at all.” (p. 63)

  • “68% of the millionaires with a college degree we studied never took out a penny in student loans, compared to 49% of the general population.” (p. 67)

  • “One-third of millionaires never had a six-figure household income in a single working year. Only 31% of them averaged $100,000 household income a year, and only 7% averaged over $200,000 household income over the course of their career.” (p. 73-74)

  • “Contrary to what you might expect, only 15% of millionaires are in senior leadership positions in their companies, and only 7% are C-suite executives. On top of that, only 18% own a business.” The top three professions of the millionaires surveyed were engineer, accountant, and teacher. (p. 73-74)

  • “The average millionaire lives in a 2,600-square-foot house that they’ve lived in for seventeen years.” Comparatively, the average square footage of all homes built in 2015 was 2,687. (p. 155)

  • “63% of millionaires are in a first marriage, compared to only 38% of the general population” (p. 191).

  • “79% of millionaires invest in a company retirement plan, and 74% invest outside of a company plan.” (p. 199) That is, most millionaires invest both inside and outside a company plan. Our truly wealthy clients often save(d) above and beyond their company plan. The best way to accomplish this feat? Get your mortgage paid off. Once you are 100% debt-free, you have ample cash-flow to contribute money into a non-retirement investment account. 

  • “70% of millionaires set some of their income aside every month to give to others.” (p. 231)

  • “The average millionaire hit the $1 million mark for the first time at 49 years old after years – decades, in fact – of hard work. Only 5% of millionaires got there in ten years or less.” (p. 232)

Becoming wealthy is the result of a set of behaviors. Wealth is usually not a gift of birth, nor is it derived from inherent extraordinary abilities. You can mimic these behaviors to build wealth yourself. 

Because The Wealth Group, Austin B. Colby & Associates is independent of Raymond James, the expressed written opinions above are our own and not necessarily reflective of Raymond James’ opinions.

Source: Hogan, Chris. Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth -- and How You Can Too. Ramsey Press, 2019.