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Dennis Bakke
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Personal Finance


Portrait of a Millionaire

By Bill G. Page Let’s take a brief look at some of the characteristics of prodigious savers, typical millionaires. This exercise is not for the purpose of accumulating treasures to be stored on earth, its purpose is to discover some of the techniques proven successful by others that should be useful to you in achieving your savings goal.

Tom Stanley and William D. Danko spent more than 20 years interviewing thousands of millionaires concerning their lifestyle habits and wrote the book titled The Millionaire Next Door. They dispel the myth that the typical millionaire drives a Rolls-Royce automobile, lives in a multi-million dollar mansion, owns a Rolex watch, and wears tailor made suits. The typical millionaire is more likely to drive a second-hand General Motors car, live in a house with an average property value of $320,000, wear a watch costing less than $100, and buy their suits off the rack for between $200-$300—the suit was probably on sale.

The single biggest characteristic typical millionaires exhibit is living within their means. They are prodigious savers, not prodigious spenders. The typical millionaire is frugal and saves or invests much of their income. On average, the typical millionaire saves and invests 20 percent of their income, versus the average American savings of less than five percent. They are debt-free and have no mortgage or automobile notes.

Most millionaires have made their own fortunes in one generation—they did not win the lottery, win money on a TV game show, or pick the next Microsoft on the stock market. Many are self-employed in small businesses working in “dull-normal” areas like pest control, paving contract work, or welding. Most millionaires work 45 to 55 hours per week. Most marry once and are still married. Most typical millionaires do not score well on their SATs for college and were not voted most likely to succeed while in high school. Most millionaires are self-made, receiving no inheritance and little financial aid from relatives.

The typical millionaire does spend generously on services that can help them plan their finances better like estate planners, accountants, and lawyers who specialize in guarding property and wealth. They invest in education. They typically have a broker, but they make their own investment decisions. The typical millionaire achieved their results over time through discipline, hard work, and focus on their goals. The typical millionaire lives in a neighborhood where 75 percent of the residents are non-millionaires. They generally do not stand out.

The Millionaire Next Door book makes an important point—two people with the same income, similar positions in life, living literally next door to each other could differ to this extent: the first could be three paychecks from losing the house and the other could be financially self-sufficient enough to live 10 years or more without any additional income. The difference between the two is their spending and saving habits.

The ministry of Jesus Christ is certainly not about materialism or accumulating excessive wealth. Christ’s ministry is about loving God and serving your neighbor. Making Money Work: A Christian Guide For Personal Finance is not about trying to help you become a “millionaire” who leaves excessive funds after your death. The first century Romans had a proverb: “Money is like seawater; the more a man drinks, the thirstier he becomes.” Making Money Work hopes to help you achieve a degree of financial independence and security (savings) while serving your fellow man through effective use of your time, talent, and offering (tithing/giving).

Jesus told this parable: “There was a rich man whose land yielded heavy crops. He debated with himself: ‘What am I to do? I have not the space to store my produce. This is what I will do,’ said he: ‘I will pull down my storehouses and build them bigger. I will collect in them all my corn and other goods, and then say to myself, ‘Man, you have plenty of good things laid by, enough for many years: take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’  But God said to him, ‘You fool, this very night you must surrender your life; you have made your money--who will get it now?’ That is how it is with the man who amasses wealth for himself and remains a pauper in the sight of God” (Luke 12:16-21).

I have a new book/CD ROM called Making Money Work: A Christian Guide For Personal Finance that can be ordered online at It includes lots of suggestions on savings plans along with information on many other financial concepts. The book comes with a CD ROM that has calculators to help you analyze, plan, and achieve your financial goals.



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