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The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy [Mass Market Paperback]

T.J. & Danko, W.D. Stanley
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (574 customer reviews)

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From Amazon

How can you join the ranks of America's wealthy (defined as people whose net worth is over one million dollars)? It's easy, say doctors Stanley and Danko, who have spent the last 20 years interviewing members of this elite club: you just have to follow seven simple rules. The first rule is, always live well below your means. The last rule is, choose your occupation wisely. You'll have to buy the book to find out the other five. It's only fair. The authors' conclusions are commonsensical. But, as they point out, their prescription often flies in the face of what we think wealthy people should do. There are no pop stars or athletes in this book, but plenty of wall-board manufacturers--particularly ones who take cheap, infrequent vacations! Stanley and Danko mercilessly show how wealth takes sacrifice, discipline, and hard work, qualities that are positively discouraged by our high-consumption society. "You aren't what you drive," admonish the authors. Somewhere, Benjamin Franklin is smiling. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In The Millionaire Next Door, read by Cotter Smith, Stanley (Marketing to the Affluent) and Danko (marketing, SUNY at Albany) summarize findings from their research into the key characteristics that explain how the elite club of millionaires have become "wealthy." Focusing on those with a net worth of at least $1 million, their surprising results reveal fundamental qualities of this group that are diametrically opposed to today's earn-and-consume culture, including living below their means, allocating funds efficiently in ways that build wealth, ignoring conspicuous consumption, being proficient in targeting marketing opportunities, and choosing the "right" occupation. It's evident that anyone can accumulate wealth, if they are disciplined enough, determined to persevere, and have the merest of luck. In The Millionaire Mind, an excellent follow-up to the highly successful first analysis of how ordinary folks can accumulate wealth, Stanley interviews many more participants in a much more comprehensive study of the characteristics of those in this economic situation. The author structures these deeper details into categories that include the key success factors that define this group, the relationship of education to their success, their approach to balancing risk, how they located themselves in their work, their choice of spouse, how they live their daily lives, and the significant differences in the truth about this group vs. the misplaced image of high spenders. Narrator Smith's solid, dead-on reading never fails to heighten the importance of these principles that most twentysomethings should be forced to listen to in toto. Highly recommended for all public libraries. Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Forbes

The implication of The Millionaire Next Door...is that nearly anybody with a steady job can amass a tidy fortune.

About the Author

Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D., is an author, lecturer and researcher who has studied the affluent since 1973. Dr. Stanley has written several bestselling books including The Millionaire Mind and Marketing to the Affluent. Dr. Stanley holds a doctorate in business administration from the University of Georgia in Athens and was formerly a professor of marketing at Georgia State University where he was named Omicron Delta Kappa Outstanding Professor. He lives in Atlanta, GA.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One: MEET THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR

These people cannot be millionaires! They don't look like millionaires, they don't dress like millionaires, they don't eat like millionaires, they don't act like millionaires -- they don't even have millionaire names. Where are the millionaires who look like millionaires?

The person who said this was a vice president of a trust department. He made these comments following a focus group interview and dinner that we hosted for ten first-generation millionaires. His view of millionaires is shared by most people who are not wealthy. They think millionaires own expensive clothes, watches, and other status artifacts. We have found this is not the case.

As a matter of fact, our trust officer friend spends significantly more for his suits than the typical American millionaire. He also wears a $5,000 watch. We know from our surveys that the majority of millionaires never spent even one-tenth of $5,000 for a watch. Our friend also drives a current-model imported luxury car. Most millionaires are not driving this year's model. Only a minority drive a foreign motor vehicle. An even smaller minority drive foreign luxury cars. Our trust officer leases, while only a minority of millionaires ever lease their motor vehicles.

But ask the typical American adult this question: Who looks more like a millionaire? Would it be our friend, the trust officer, or one of the people who participated in our interview? We would wager that most people by a wide margin would pick the trust officer. But looks can be deceiving.

This concept is perhaps best expressed by those wise and wealthy Texans who refer to our trust officer's type as

Big Hat No Cattle

We first heard this expression from a thirty-five-year-old Texan. He owned a very successful business that rebuilt large diesel engines. But he drove a ten-year-old car and wore jeans and a buckskin shirt. He lived in a modest house in a lower-middle-class area. His neighbors were postal clerks, firemen, and mechanics.

After he substantiated his financial success with actual numbers, this Texan told us:

[My] business does not look pretty. I don't play the part...don't act it....When my British partners first met me, they thought I was one of our truck drivers....They looked all over my office, looked at everyone but me. Then the senior guy of the group said, "Oh, we forgot we were in Texas!" I don't own big hats, but I have a lot of cattle.

PORTRAIT OF A MILLIONAIRE

Who is the prototypical American millionaire? What would he tell you about himself?



  • I am a fifty-seven-year-old male, married with three children. About 70 percent of us earn 80 percent or more of our household's income.

  • About one in five of us is retired. About two-thirds of us who are working are self-employed. Interestingly, self-employed people make up less than 20 percent of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires. Also, three out of four of us who are self-employed consider ourselves to be entrepreneurs. Most of the others are self-employed professionals, such as doctors and accountants.

  • Many of the types of businesses we are in could be classified as dull-normal. We are welding contractors, auctioneers, rice farmers, owners of mobile-home parks, pest controllers, coin and stamp dealers, and paving contractors.

  • About half of our wives do not work outside the home. The number-one occupation for those wives who do work is teacher.

  • Our household's total annual realized (taxable) income is $131,000 (median, or 50th percentile), while our average income is $247,000. Note that those of us who have incomes in the $500,000 to $999,999 category (8 percent) and the $1 million or more category (5 percent) skew the average upward.

  • We have an average household net worth of $3.7 million. Of course, some of our cohorts have accumulated much more. Nearly 6 percent have a net worth of over $10 million. Again, these people skew our average upward. The typical (median, or 50th percentile) millionaire household has a net worth of $1.6 million.

  • On average, our total annual realized income is less than 7 percent of our wealth. In other words, we live on less than 7 percent of our wealth.

  • Most of us (97 percent) are homeowners. We live in homes currently valued at an average of $320,000. About half of us have occupied the same home for more than twenty years. Thus, we have enjoyed significant increases in the value of our homes.

  • Most of us have never felt at a disadvantage because we did not receive any inheritance. About 80 percent of us are first-generation affluent.

  • We live well below our means. We wear inexpensive suits and drive American-made cars. Only a minority of us drive the current-model-year automobile. Only a minority ever lease our motor vehicles.

  • Most of our wives are planners and meticulous budgeters. In fact, only 18 percent of us disagreed with the statement "Charity begins at home." Most of us will tell you that our wives are a lot more conservative with money than we are.

  • We have a "go-to-hell fund." In other words, we have accumulated enough wealth to live without working for ten or more years. Thus, those of us with a net worth of $1.6 million could live comfortably for more than twelve years. Actually, we could live longer than that, since we save at least 15 percent of our earned income.

  • We have more than six and one-half times the level of wealth of our nonmillionaire neighbors, but, in our neighborhood, these nonmillionaires outnumber us better than three to one. Could it be that they have chosen to trade wealth for acquiring high-status material possessions?

  • As a group, we are fairly well educated. Only about one in five are not college graduates. Many of us hold advanced degrees. Eighteen percent have master's degrees, 8 percent law degrees, 6 percent medical degrees, and 6 percent Ph.D.s.

  • Only 17 percent of us or our spouses ever attended a private elementary or private high school. But 55 percent of our children are currently attending or have attended private schools.

  • As a group, we believe that education is extremely important for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. We spend heavily for the educations of our offspring.

  • About two-thirds of us work between forty-five and fifty-five hours per week.

  • We are fastidious investors. On average, we invest nearly 20 percent of our household realized income each year. Most of us invest at least 15 percent. Seventy-nine percent of us have at least one account with a brokerage company. But we make our own investment decisions.

  • We hold nearly 20 percent of our household's wealth in transaction securities such as publicly traded stocks and mutual funds. But we rarely sell our equity investments. We hold even more in our pension plans. On average, 21 percent of our household's wealth is in our private businesses.

  • As a group, we feel that our daughters are financially handicapped in comparison to our sons. Men seem to make much more money even within the same occupational categories. That is why most of us would not hesitate to share some of our wealth with our daughters. Our sons, and men in general, have the deck of economic cards stacked in their favor. They should not need subsidies from their parents.

  • What would be the ideal occupations for our sons and daughters? There are about 3.5 millionaire households like ours. Our numbers are growing much faster than the general population. Our kids should consider providing affluent people with some valuable service. Overall, our most trusted financial advisors are our accountants. Our attorneys are also very important. So we recommend accounting and law to our children. Tax advisors and estate-planning experts will be in big demand over the next fifteen years.

  • I am a tightwad. That's one of the main reasons I completed a long questionnaire for a crispy $1 bill. Why else would I spend two or three hours being personally interviewed by these authors? They paid me $100, $200, or $250. Oh, they made me another offer -- to donate in my name the money I earned for my interview to my favorite charity. But I told them, "I am my favorite charity."



"WEALTHY" DEFINED

Ask the average American to define the term wealthy. Most would give the same definition found in Webster's. Wealthy to them refers to people who have an abundance of material possessions.

We define wealthy differently. We do not define wealthy, affluent, or rich in terms of material possessions. Many people who display a high-consumption lifestyle have little or no investments, appreciable assets,
income-producing assets, common stocks, bonds, private businesses, oil/gas rights, or timber land. Conversely, those people whom we define as being wealthy get much more pleasure from owning substantial amounts of appreciable assets than from displaying a high-consumption lifestyle.

THE NOMINAL DEFINITION OF WEALTHY

One way we determine whether someone is wealthy or not is based on net worth -- "cattle," not "chattel." Net worth is defined as the current value of one's assets less liabilities (exclude the principle in trust accounts). In this book we define the threshold level of being wealthy as having a net worth of $1 million or more. Based on this definition, only 3.5 million (3.5 percent) of the 100 million households in America are considered wealthy. About 95 percent of millionaires in America have a net worth of between $1 million and $10 million. Much of the discussion in this book centers on this segment of the population. Why the focus on this group? Because this level of wealth can be attained in one generation. It can be attained by many Americans.

HOW WEALTHY SHOULD YOU BE?

Another way of defining whether or not a person, household, or family is wealthy... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

[Editor's note: The following is a combined review with THE MILLIONAIRE MIND.] -- Just what does it take to become a millionaire in one generation? As anyone might figure, hard work and some luck play a big part. Inheritance, interestingly, does not. But there are many other factors, and Stanley and Danko spent years interviewing people with a net worth over $1 million to find them out. Stanley takes the research further in his follow-up program. Surprisingly, many people may possess at least some of these traits. The trick is that few people possess the right combination of traits or have the courage and self-discipline to use them effectively. Cotter Smith brings a relaxed but compelling style to these programs. The combination of the reading and the excellent abridgment makes for interesting and informative listening. Stellar audio production is a welcome bonus. T.F. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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