Income vs. Wealth

income wealth“The average American millionaire realizes significantly less than 10 percent of his net worth in annual income.” – Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko

I’ve come to terms that most people think that once you become a millionaire, all your worries will be over.

Until I had the privilege to work with some of the wealthiest professionals in the country, I too used to think the exact same thing. It wasn’t until after sitting down with and having talks over coffee about what it means to have a sense of financial freedom that I realized it’s not about how much income someone has come in, it’s about having the wisdom to handle it. With that said, it reminds me of a talk from Randy Haugen where he said: “If you can’t manage your finances with 40k a year coming in, then you are going to be flat out dangerous if/when you have a million!”

Stanley and Danko, authors of the best selling business classic, The Millionaire Next Door, conducted a twenty-year study of how people become wealthy in America and found some surprising results. Annual income does not translate to net worth automatically. Smart entrepreneurs use their income to give their company the resources it needs to grow. The average millionaire then looks for ways to decrease income, pay lower taxes, and use what money is left over to increase net worth.

A story is related in their book about a Texan who had done so well in the business of rebuilding diesel engines that he was taking on British partners. The Brits flew to Texas to meet him and were rather taken aback by his ten-year-old car, his worn jeans, and his modest home in a lower-middle-class neighborhood. In fact, on meeting him, they thought he was one of the company’s truck drivers. Then he showed them his spreadsheets, and they were blown away!

Besides hard work, accumulating wealth requires discipline and sacrifice, and that might mean living below your means. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t be influenced by keeping up with the Joneses.

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