If your final answer is, "ME!" forget TV game shows or the big-bucks lottery. The best route to the Millionaire's Club (and the parking lot is filling up fast) is not luck, but a steady plan and good advice.
The number of households with net worth in excess of $1,000,000 keeps climbing. As of two years ago (the latest figures available), 7.2 million households in this country are worth $1 million or more. This is up from 3.4 million in 1994, and a mere 350,000 (0.5%) in 1975.("The Wealth Revolution," Barron's September 18, 2000)
What are these households like? How did they acquire their wealth? Thomas J. Stanley, researcher and author of The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind, compiled information on the characteristics of today's millionaires. (The Millionaire Mind, by Thomas J. Stanley, Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2000)
How they became affluent
Following are just some of the characteristics of today's millionaires. Go over them to see how much you have in common with our nation's affluent..and if you, too, could be on your way to becoming a millionaire:
- They are first-generation affluent. Forget that myth about inherited money. The vast majority of today's affluent earned it themselves.
- They focus on accumulating wealth, not spending it. They are not extravagant in their lifestyles and tend to live below their means. "Moderation in consumption and a healthy, disciplined lifestyle are the hallmarks of the affluent in America," writes Stanley, adding: "Millionaires, by definition, are accumulators of wealth. Not so for most people in America they spend all or most of their income. As a result, nearly three in ten American households have a negative net worth."
- They are not "credit dependent." They borrow money when necessary to achieve goals, but not to make routine purchases.
- They invested in their own educations. Fully 90% of millionaires surveyed by Stanley have college degrees, though few went to prestigious private schools or could be considered top students.
- They work hard and attribute self-discipline to much of their success. As one subject told Stanley: "The harder I work, the luckier I become." Stanley explains: "A disciplined person sets his or her sights on a lofty target, then figures out productive ways to reach the target.... If you lack discipline, the chances of ever accumulating wealth are very, very small."
- They are not workaholics. While millionaires work hard, the majority are married (often just once), and they lead balanced, fulfilling lives. Stanley found that the top social activities of millionaires are to enjoy the company of their families and their friends (not working 80-hour weeks followed by jetting off to Aruba).
- They believe in integrity, tend to have strong religious beliefs and conduct their affairs in an above-board manner. As one interviewee told Stanley, "Never tell one lie."
- They rarely, if ever, gamble or buy lottery tickets. While they may take investment or business risks, "not one millionaire I interviewed had anything nice to say about gambling," writes Stanley. "The higher a person's net worth the less likely he is to ever play the lottery."
- They enjoy what they do for a living. Many millionaires are self-employed or business owners. Others are professionals. As Stanley explains: "Total success usually requires that you enjoy your vocation.... In fact, there is a direct positive correlation between the love of one's vocation and level of net worth."
- They rely on professionals for advice. "There is a strong positive correlation between finding good advisers and wealth accumulation," Stanley writes," because having good advice reduces the risk involved in financial, career, and even personal decisions." Therefore, he advises readers, "work closely with tax advisers and tax-advantaged investment consultants."
How can you benefit from this information? There are many factors that will determine your eventual net worth. However, specific steps you can take to accumulate wealth include:
- Marshall your assets and take stock of your resources. Review how and why you spend money.
- Map out a wealth-accumulation strategy that includes putting money aside on a regular basis.
- Protect your income-earning ability by insuring your life and your health. Make sure you own adequate life and disability income insurance.
- Phone a friend. Your New York Life agent can provide insurance and financial products to help you fund your plan for wealth accumulation.
If you want to become a millionaire or just begin steadily accumulating assets for your future security, the time to begin is now. Talk to your New York Life agent regarding how New York Life's products and services can help you meet your wealth accumulation goals.
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