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The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

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The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's WealthyReview by Eric R. Severson, Esq., Wellington, Florida

Book by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D.

“Whatever your income, always live below your means.” Stanley & Danko, The Millionaire Next Door at 161. This simple rule is very hard to live by in our high consumption society. My wife and I have three young children and are very concerned with our society’s desire to display high social status (e.g., big houses in fancy neighborhoods, luxury cars and clothing, etc.) and our children’s perception of that. This book reinforces the idea of saving for our own good and instilling those ideas in our children.

The authors of The Millionaire Next Door have spent over twenty years studying how people become wealthy. Their research uncovered the following seven common denominators among those who successfully build wealth:

  1. They live well below their means.
  2. They allocate their time, energy, and money efficiently, in ways
    conducive to building wealth.
  3. They believe that financial independence is more important than
    displaying high social status.
  4. Their parents did not provide them economic outpatient care.
  5. Their adult children are economically self-sufficient.
  6. They are proficient in targeting market opportunities.
  7. They chose the right occupation.

Stanley & Danko, The Millionaire Next Door at 3 – 4.

The authors came up with a formula to determine whether one is wealthy or not:

“Multiply your age times your realized pretax annual household income from all sources except inheritance. Divide by ten. This, less any inherited wealth, is what your net worth should be.” Stanley & Danko, The Millionaire Next Door at 13. From this equation, the authors have classified the two extremes as prodigious accumulators of wealth (“PAW”) or under accumulators of wealth (“UAW”). Boiled down to its essence, the over arching rule to follow to become a PAW is to live below your means. The authors spend time explaining the correlation between living below one’s means and being a PAW through case studies, giving examples of how PAWs live below their means, explaining how one becomes a PAW, and teaching how best to pass this lifestyle down to their descendants.

I would recommend this book to everyone from young adults just starting their careers to grandparents desiring to teach their children and grandchildren the importance of self-control and saving. My only criticism would be that the numbers used in the tables are outdated. For example, Appendix 2 provides estimated price per pound for 1996 motor vehicles. I also question Table 2-2 on page 44 detailing the credit cards held by millionaire household members.  I would think that today’s millionaires are holding different credit cards than they were in 1996 taking into consideration discounts various businesses use to entice customers to shop at their stores and use their credit services (e.g., Macy’s and Target). However, the lessons imparted are even more important now than they were when the book was first published.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.