I’m obsessed with reading financial self-help books. Obsessed. From Suzie Orman to Wallace Wattles, I enjoy learning about ways to attract wealth and manage it. I am blessed in that I have little debt and some savings. My current goals are to increase my earning potential and secure my financial independence. So far so good.
I do have one little obstacle to this goal. Spending. As much as I like to save money… I rather enjoy spending it. Way more than saving. So I am always looking for books and articles to help me better understand my money habits and motivations and how to effectively change them. Somebody, please, make me save more of my money!
The book “Stop Acting Rich… And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire” by Thomas J. Stanley – the author of “The Millionaire Next Door” seemed like a very promising read. The book was not quite what I expected. Here is a blurb from the back cover:
Is a millionaire more likely to be seen around town in a Mercedes-Benz or a Toyota?
Are millionaires more likely to buy their suits from Brooks Brothers or Kohl’s?
If you asked a millionaire for the time, would the watch on her wrist be a Rolex or a Timex?
When you meet a millionaire at the bar, does he order a glass of Cristal or Cook’s?
And that, my friend, pretty much describes this book – it’s really just a bunch of statistics based on the spending habits of truly wealth folks versus those of the aspirational idiots that are not millionaires but are too busy blowing our cash on luxury cars, name-brand suits, exorbitantly priced watches and wine we know nothing about.
Sorry, my bias is showing – the book is a little redundant and preachy. My disappointment with the book is that the author doesn’t tell you how to take any active steps for you to change your habits, but just points out the glaringly obvious ways in which folks waste their money. And since he backs all of this with convincing tables, and statistics… he really makes the obvious… obvious.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some useful information in the book. For example, I enjoyed the definitions of High Income (produce a high income but perhaps spend the majority of it) vs. High Net Worth (build their net worth through diligent savings/investments/frugal living, etc and don’t necessarily earn a high income). He also discusses the differences between the “glittering rich” vs. the millionaire-next-door type vs. the aspirational. The glittering rich are so fabulously wealthy, that dropping $100k on a car makes absolutely no dent in their financial worth, they are billionaires. The author espouses that the majority of American millionaires are the second type, the ones who have built a business and spent 20+ years to get to their millionaire status. They have very low key spending habits and drive Fords and Toyota’s. The aspirational may or may not make a lot of money, but they are bleeding through the nose to afford that $40g entry-level BMW and spend the majority of their energy and effort trying to look like the glittering rich.
It is the repetitiveness of the chapters that focus on faulty spending habits that make the book pretty tedious. The aspirational are stupid for buying fine wine, luxury cars, McMansions, shoes and fancy foods. Great, we get it. Live in a rural area, drink $3 bottles of wine, eat rubbish, wear clothes from Kohl’s and become a millionaire.
Maybe I took umbrage with the book as I pretty much fall into the aspirational/high income category, I’m still marinating on that idea. However, I find that his other book, “The Millionaire Next Door“, which covers some of these frugal ideas, is way better than this. I guess the constructive information is to live on less than what you earn, but his manner of presentation was a little off-putting.
P.S. – I have absolutely nothing against Kohl’s and have been known to happily shop there.