How To Be The Next Millionaire Next Door

When I was about 20 years old I came across the book The Millionaire Next Door. After years of struggling with dyslexia, I had developed a love of books and knowledge. On summer breaks from College, I spent many hours reading books at the Barnes & Noble near my childhood home. I would check out all kinds of different sections depending on what was of interest to me at the time including science, art, literature, comics, and finance! Let me be clear, I am not some braniac or anything, but I do enjoy learning about everything, it became a hobby. And I figured it would be a good idea to learn something about managing money.

I discovered The Millionaire Next Door

You see, I had grown up in the 80’s with shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” I thought that this caricature is what rich people looked like and acted like. They drove luxury cars, lived in mansions, partied, had gold toilets, etc. So naturally, when I saw someone drive by in a new Mercedes or knew a kid with the latest toys or gadgets, I assumed they must be rich. Boy were we all fooled and wrong. Two researchers opened my eyes to the truth!  


The research and work of the late Thomas Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. blew my mind. They described millionaires that lived in my solid middle class neighborhood. Drove Honda Accords, Toyota Camry’s and Fords. Never bought a fancy coffee drink. Were married to one person and not running around with a bunch of mistresses at their seaside resorts. Wore nice clean regular clothes, maybe even some shirts from Thrift Stores. Did not necessarily have what many consider fancy job titles like Lawyer or Doctor. All these people seemed like regular down to earth people, living, working hard, consistently investing modest sums into assets, raising their families, living with honor. This book perfectly explained a close family member of mine and I had that “I understand” moment that completely shifted my paradigm. What meant so much to me about this book is that it made living a “wealthy” life and building wealth highly attainable for a regular middle class kid that actually struggled in the early years of school. I did not have to come from a Rockefeller heritage, have a fancy job title or live in a very expensive zip code. In fact, most of us with solid middle class incomes and knowledge could become the next “Millionaire Next Door”. In many ways this is what our blog The Money Vikings is all about. We are trying to demystify wealth building, break down the actions and steps required, and apply them as needed.  


Recently I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Dr. Stanley’s daughter, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw, has picked up the research from her father with the new book, The Next Millionaire Next Door: Enduring Strategies For Building Wealth. She connected with our blog via the wonders of the modern social media age and I frankly felt honored. She also includes mention of the FIRE movement and its place in the evolution of millionaire habits. One thing that struck me from Dr. Fallaw’s new book is that the median millionaire today has a net worth of $3.5 million. Yes, this is a lot of money, but it is far more within people’s reach than they imagine. By applying consistent sound principles over many years this can be achieved by many people. And hey, perhaps we do not make it all the way, it is still better to land at $1-2 million!  


For years I had dreamed of writing and analyzing ways to better manage resources and invest. Launching The Money Vikings is our outlet for such exploration and research. The new Millionaire book discusses several “requirements for those who seek financial success” which include:

A. Ignoring the myths of wealth, including the confusion between income and net worth, and the barriers for creating self-made wealth. I have known folks that never had fancy job titles or made huge salaries, but still amassed large amounts of wealth through habits, frugality, consistently investing, etc.

B. Recognizing the influences others may have on financial attitudes and behaviors, and learning from those who are equally committed to financial success over and above appearing to be rich. I personally believe a large segment of our culture is committed to achieving the appearance of being rich above actually living a frugal life and building true wealth.

C. Making consistently good consumer decisions, starting with the neighborhood, understanding its potential effect on reaching financial goals. Trying to live in an upscale neighborhood can have the opposite effect in terms of building wealth. There will be more herd mentality to keep up with the other high spending neighbors, higher property taxes, more space in the house to air condition and maintain…

D. Assessing strengths and weaknesses related to finances to improve where possible . Focus areas include frugality, owning responsibility for financial outcomes, and confidence to make decisions based on knowledge and information. One of our main goals at The Money Vikings is to share our knowledge set with folks regarding ways to improve our finances in all areas possible. Both on the earning, savings and investing sides of the equation.

E. Establishing a philosophy for work and careers and not assuming that the traditional view of work, one that seems to dictate an 8 am to 6 pm existence from ages 25 to 67, is the only path. There are other ways to productively utilize time and investing.

F. Recognizing that successful investing behaviors can be learned and improved and that the fruits of effectively investing what is saved over time provide security for the more important aspects of life, such as family and personal pursuits, establishing a sense of inherent True Wealth. Investing is not necessarily something that comes naturally to people, but our culture and institutions for the most part fail to teach it. We mainly have to seek out our own learning on this subject. The thousands of personal finance blogs are trying to fill some of this need.


There are many ways over the years that we have tried to apply the information and knowledge presented in all these books: 1. BEWARE THE ILLUSION OF WEALTH ALL AROUND US!: Through my experience with my grandfather, I discovered that being wealthy was not about driving a flashy car, having a perfect “Instagram” life and generally having expensive habits.


2. FRUGALITY: “Being frugal is the cornerstone of wealth-building” and “Stop caring about keeping up with the Joneses”. The former is a carry-over from the first book and one that was a key to folks in my family becoming wealthy. Without frugality, there is nothing left over to invest, bottomline.

3. LIFELONG LEARNING: “Learning from those who are equally committed to financial success over and above appearing to be rich.” This is quite frankly why we blog, it is really a method and medium for learning and reinforcing good habits that lead to wealth.

4. YOUR HOUSE!: The biggest spending decision that can make or break anyone financially appears to be buying a home. The more spent on housing, the less likely one is able to accumulate wealth. The book acknowledges this as well (which was a key part of Dr. Stanley’s other books). The takeaway is to be very cautious about over extending on housing, which is the mantra of many realtors, “buy as much as you can afford!”, which leaves very little for saving and investing.

5. HABITS & DISCIPLINE: Millionaires self-report that “discipline” is a key factor in their success. I think of this in terms of our habits. We did an earlier post on ways to improve our habits. One idea is to focus on small changes and habits first that are easy to achieve. No matter what, it is never too late to improve in life, that is part of this epic journey.

6. STUDYING: Millionaires spend a lot of time studying investing. This makes a lot of sense now knowing some of them and now being part of the personal finance investing community, we spend a lot of time looking into various investment vehicles and doing research.

7. DIFFERENT PATHS: The book outlines that there are different paths to achieving a high net worth. “There isn’t an exclusive path to financial independence.” Check out the personal finance blogging community and there are literally hundred different ways that people are (in our words) conquering their own financial independence! We are Money Vikings after all.


In addition to the gold nuggets of information above, I will add some additional thoughts. I believe building wealth also involves a mindset of positivity. The ability to manage life, address problems, move forward with your plans. Life throws all of us curveballs, there really does not seem to be a way around that. But how we frame and address these seems to make a world of difference. I’m sure every millionaire interviewed had their share of major life disruptions, but somehow these people found the resiliency and fortitude to move forward and continue to build their wealth and live their life.  


As I alluded to earlier in the post, the true value of these books and this research for me was it gave me hope, an average guy. I did not have to strike gold, become a movie star and land on the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, No, that is not for me. I will go the way of the majority of millionaires and build through frugality, saving, investing prudently over many years. And regardless of where we are, I believe applying any number of the millionaire habits will improve our personal situation and make us more mindful of what True Wealth is. It is sure the quickest way to wealth! 😉 How will you become the “Next” millionaire next door?

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