Millionaire Traits

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We recently took a trip to celebrate my best friend from college at her 40th birthday party. It was a special occasion and I very much looked forward to spending time celebrating my gorgeous friend. I bought a new dress for the party, we bought our airline tickets and stayed with Mr. Moneyaire’s old roommate and wife (he and his wife are dear friends of ours). I brought along a favorite handbag of mine. You know, the millionaire traits. This handbag was a special gift from Baby Moneyaire’s godfather – a blue Tory Burch purse with a gold chain. I don’t have a lot of designer items (mostly by design). Most of the people attending this party were doctors, professionals or entrepreneurs. By all accounts, successful. This purse was going to help me keep up with the Joneses at this party.

So, in I stroll in with my Tory Burch and it seemed every lady in the room had an Yves Saint Laurent bag under her arm or casually dangling from a shoulder. I quickly googled this designer and was shocked by how much a clutch cost by this designer. Enough to buy 12 shares of Amazon (as of 8/6/2022). Over $1,000 more than my Tory Burch. Eeee gads.

Anyway, the people at the party were all brilliant and successful and happy. The party itself was just perfect. Everything about it. It was a wonderful night. And now I had an Yves Saint Laurent handbag in my electronic cart.

The iconic YSL clutch

The Millionaire Next Door

If you haven’t read the book, “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, you should. It’s like peeping into the lives of the millionaires in the US. You’ll have to excuse some of the overt sexism. The book categorizes men as the millionaires, even in married households. Big eye roll. This book was published nearly 30 years ago, so there is that. Still, a lot of the information in this book is really worth reading and relevant. It goes in the depth about the common millionaire traits, habits and behaviors. Who you think is a millionaire and who actually is, well that’s the astonishing thing this book uncovers. The book goes into great detail on these millionaire traits:

  • Living well below one’s means.
  • Allocating time, energy and money to the things that build wealth.
  • The belief that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status.
  • They don’t rely on their parent’s checkbook
  • Their adult children are economically self sufficient
  • They’re good at finding and capitalizing on opportunities
  • They’re in the right profession

What is also laid out in this book is that most millionaires in the US, about 80%, are self-made. They didn’t win the lottery or have an inheritance. They worked hard, saved, invested and took on calculated risks. Now how applicable is this?

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Millionaire Traits #1:

Living Below One’s Means

We the Moneyaires live well below our means. This is well documented and we routinely get an eye roll from family and friends when we do something miserly, in their eyes.

Clea and Joanna from The Home Edit
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I really really wanted matching and coordinating spice jars. I wanted my spice cabinet to look as if Clea and Joanna from The Home Edit had personally come to my home and organized that space. But do you know how much a large glass canister for spices is? Like $7.99 EACH at the Container Store. Eeeee gads. Want to know what I did instead? I happened across an attractive salsa jar at the grocery store. When I cook tacos we used this salsa. It was actually quite tasty. Each jar was about $2.35, and it came with salsa. I saved each of those jars after every taco meal and built a collection of similar jars. That was nearly 15 years ago. I still use them in my spice cabinet. I know this sounds silly, but those jars make me feel so proud.

Not that this one instance was the key moment, but over a decade of being frugal made a difference. Anyway, living below one’s means, check.

My spice cabinet. Its not keeping up with the Joneses chic, but it makes me happy and proud.
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Millionaire Traits #2:

Allocating Time, Money and Energy to the Things that Build Wealth

Before Baby Moneyaire arrived, Mr. Moneyaire and I would dedicate a lot of our time, money and energy to finding, buying, rehabbing and then renting out, managing and maintaining real estate. When the time was right we’d even sell. Real estate has certainly helped us build our wealth. It wasn’t easy though. We put in a lot of hard work. It was a lot of money and time. But it’s paying off now.

Another thing not directly stated here is that we kept learning. We made so many mistakes. We did things the hard way. However, we learned a lot. We surrounded ourselves with hardworking knowledgeable people and sought out help and information to do things better and we did.

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I also spend an inordinate amount of time learning about finances. In fact, this blog is a way to help me flesh out a lot of my personal finance ideas and force myself to learn about related things.

Millionaire Trait #3:

Don’t Rely on Parent’s Checkbook

Man, I wish I could. Or maybe it’s because Mr. Moneyaire and I can’t (and don’t) that forces us to work hard and be as strategic as we are. Because we have to be scrappy and strategic.

When I graduated college, I didn’t make enough money to live on my own, even with a roommate. I slept on the couch in my mom and dad’s family room. My old bed was being occupied by my grandmother who started to live with us full-time before I left for college. I had to make it on my own. There was no trust fund or starter money my parents could give me after college. There was no safety net. They had to pay for my sister’s education. They had to support my grandmother. My parents gave me what they could. The rest was up to me. If I wanted to stop sleeping on that couch and have a modicum of privacy, I had to figure it out on my own. And I did.

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Millionaire Traits #4:

Adult Children are Economically Self Sufficient

Baby Moneyaire is, well she’s a baby. Mr. Moneyaire and I have long discussions over how we want Baby Moneyaire to be as an adult and a primary thing is that she be independent, that she not need us. This is a hard pill for me to swallow because I need her to need me sometimes. It makes me feel special. Loved. Needed. But I have to suck it up and raise her to be a strong, strategic, self-sufficient and independent little lady.

We’re trying to do this, but there’s no manual on it. We’re by all accounts doing well, financially. We can afford to do a lot for Baby Moneyaire, including me quitting a 6 figure job to be her primary full time care taker. What we don’t do is buy her a lot of stuff. I limit the number of toys that are available to her at any given time. We love hand-me-downs. Love them. And we do not shy away from buying second (or third) hand.

There’s an episode of Baby Moneyaire’s favorite show Bluey that wraps up what I’m trying to do succinctly. It’s that if Baby Moneyaire gets everything she wants, then nothing is special. I am trying my best to make sure she’ll understand that material possessions are special. They cost time, energy and money to acquire. In the end, they are fleeting. I want her to realize, at a much younger age than me, that she should spend her time, energy and money on the things that build wealth instead of cost it.

Millionaire Traits #5 & #6:

They’re good at capitalizing on opportunities and are in the right profession

I went to college and majored in political science. I wanted to be a lawyer and political science was a great major for that. Spoiler alert. I did not become a lawyer. Aside from Mr. Moneyaire discouraging me from becoming one because he knew it wasn’t a good fit for me (he was right), the company I worked for at the time wouldn’t help pay for a legal degree but would help me pay for an MBA. Plus, I could much easier earn an MBA part-time than a legal degree. I could keep working, earning and getting some tuition assistance from my employer. It seemed like a no brainer.

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I LOVED my MBA education. I got so much out of it. Many of my classes were quant-heavy because I didn’t get that in undergrad. I used that education to my advantage and took a job as an analyst. I had an amazing boss who showed me how to work numbers and Excel. Later on, I took on a job as a Salesforce Admin and taught myself to become one. I took advantage of the opportunities before me and allowed my profession to be shaped by what was needed. People needed an analyst that could put together data models in Excel and run and manage a CRM system like Salesforce, so I molded myself to do those things and I got paid well to do them.

Millionaire Traits #7:

Not Keeping up with the Joneses…

I mean, financial independence is more important than displays of high social status. Years ago we took a touristy trip to Rodeo Drive. I had never been and it just seemed a bit exciting. Somehow we managed to get into a high end designer store. There were a pair of shoes that magically were on sale for $250. A pair of shoes that would otherwise cost several hundred more. They were my size. I was ecstatic.

Mr. Moneyaire asked where/when I’d ever wear such shoes. He was right; I’d never wear them. I hate heels. Plus, I would be too afraid to. I’d be afraid to tarnish them. I passed on the shoes. Good thing because my feet grew when I was pregnant with Baby Moneyaire and those shoes probably wouldn’t fit my feet anymore.

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Empty handed

As we walked away from that store empty handed, I commented to Mr. Moneyaire that I wouldn’t have any trouble buying another apartment for $100,000 but I got cold feet with a pair of shoes. A pair that cost the same as some random fee on a mortgage closing document I wouldn’t even blink at. It seemed silly.

Looking back on that, It makes sense. Those shoes would never make me money. They’d cost me it. Those shoes were a pricey status symbol that wouldn’t add value to my bottom line. In fact, we hardly ever buy anything fancy or designer. Which is why that Tory Burch bag is so special to me. Someone cared enough about me to get me something special and that’s worth more than a Saint Yves Laurent handbag I’d buy to have a “Joneses” moment. If you read this blog, you probably have a good idea with what I did with that YSL handbag in my electronic cart.

My Tory Burch.

The Millionaire Next Door

This book is pretty great. I love it and am glad I read it again after coming home from that trip. It reminded me of the discipline Mr. Moneyaire and I have had and that sometimes knowing that you could afford something is all you need.

We have a modest home, a modest car and a modest lifestyle. We put a lot of energy, time and money into the things that matter and those things don’t happen to be things at all. As sappy as it sounds, we feel our greatest wealth sharing our lives with friends and family. Especially over a good meal, a bottle to explore and a tale to tell.

Cheers!

Mrs. Moneyaire

If a certain godfather starts doing payroll at a certain luxury house, that starts with Y and ends in Laurent, forget I wrote this post! Haha

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