I’m an avid follower of Dave Ramsey. My light-bulb moment in personal finance came after I was introduced to one of his book by a friend. At that time, I had been in this country for a few years and had almost zero knowledge about personal finance. So I dived in and devoured his books and started listening to his podcasts. How to become a millionaire is one of the things he teaches consistently. I still listen to his podcasts, almost daily. They’re very uplifting and motivational.
I know I’m not alone. For quite a number of people on the Bogleheads forum have stated they got introduced to personal finance through Dave Ramsey. Of course I have since exposed myself to dozens of other Personal Finance gurus and outlets to broaden my views. However, I still very much like listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts or watching his YouTube videos. He recommends quite a number of books on his show and one of them is The Millionaire Next Door. This is a classic and a must read for those who want to understand about millionaires in America. I like reading up books on millionaires and have even blogged about becoming a millionaire here.
So I was excited when Dave Ramsey started hinting on his show that, one of his Ramsey personalities, Chris Hogan, and his team, were conducting a study on millionaires in America. So I pre-ordered the book, something I’d never done before. This post is my detailed review of the book, Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan.
The foreword was written by Dave Ramsey, no surprises there. This study was based on 10,000 millionaires, arguably the largest study of millionaires in America. 89% of those studied had a net worth between $1 million and $5 million, while 11% had a net worth of >$5 million. The book is divided into two halves: the first half talked about the 3 Millionaire Myths and the 2nd half of the book discussed the 5 Millionaire Attributes.
Scattered within the book (in every chapter) are stories from some of the millionaires studied, on how they did it. At the end of each chapter is a nice bullet-point summary of what millionaires do and what they don’t do. Chris Hogan starts off with a definition of net worth millionaires (you’d think everybody already knows this). According to the Spectren’s Groups’ 2017 Market Insight Report, there are almost 11 million millionaires in the US (probably closer to 12 million in 2019).
Hogan attempted to dispel some myths about millionaires in the book, based on some of the statistics gathered in the study. He grouped them under 3 broad categories
Millionaire Myth #1: The wealthy Didn’t Earn and Don’t Deserve Their Money
74% of millennials and 52% of baby boomers believe millionaires inherited all their wealth. From the study however, 79% of millionaires received zero inheritance. Only 16% of millionaires received more than $100,000 and only 3% received an inheritance over $1 million. From the study, most millionaires are first-generation rich. That means they worked hard, made sacrifices and lived on a plan. So the idea that the wealthy all inherited their money is nothing more than a cultural myth created to keep you from winning.
8 out of 10 millionaires surveyed come from families at or below the middle class income level. 76% of millionaires say that anyone in America can become a millionaire with discipline and hard work. They ranked Financial Discipline and Saving Consistently as the two top contributing factors to becoming wealthy.
Millionaire Myth #2: The Wealthy Take Big Risks With Their Money
The book notes that 79% of millionaires reached millionaire status through their employer-sponsored retirement plan. This is your 401(k)s and 403(b)s. And this is available to many Americans. Most millionaires studied do not engage in either extremes of investments; the commonest path was investing in growth stock mutual funds through their company plans.
97% of millionaires believe they control their own destinies. It is a myth that wealthy people take stupid risks to get rich quick. The truth however is that the average millionaire hit the $1 million mark at age 49. Only 5% of millionaires got there in 10 years or less of working, saving and investing. The study also showed that 90% have never taken out a business loan and 63% have never taken out a HELOC or home equity loan.
Millionaire Myth #3: The Wealthy Have A Leg Up in Education and Careers
79% of the millionaires did not attend prestigious private schools. 62% graduated from public state schools; 8% attended community college and 9% never graduated at all. 88% graduated with a bachelor’s degree, compared to only 33% of the general population and 52% have a graduate or terminal degree, compared to only 13% of the general population. So this certainly shows the importance of college education.
Almost half the millionaires studied (48%), had a B average or less in school. Like Thomas Stanley in “Millionaire Mind” discovered through his research, “In the real world, economic productivity is not defined by GPA”. 68% of millionaires with a college degree never took out student loans, compared to 49% of the population.
Interestingly, the book notes that 1/3rd of millionaires never had a 6-figure household income in a single working year. Only 31% of them averaged $100,000 household income a year, and only 7% averaged over $200,000 household income over the course of their career. The take home point from this statistic is that almost anyone in America can become a millionaire, and if you make 6-figures or more, there is really no reason for you not to become a millionaire in your working lifetime.
Only 15% of millionaires are in senior leadership positions in their companies, and only 7% are C-suite executives. Only 18% own a business. This last statistic stood out most to me in this study, because it almost contrasted with what Thomas Stanley noted in his book, “The Millionaire Next Door”. So the average millionaire is a regular man or woman in a regular job.
The top 3 jobs of the 10,000 millionaires studied were:
Notice that Doctor or Lawyer is not on the top 3 lists of jobs. Hogan goes ahead to make a bold statement that at $35,000 annual income, out of college, if you save and invest the recommended 15% (after living below your means), which comes up to $437 a month, from age 22 to age 65, you will have $3.5 million at retirement (at 10% rate of return). Anyone can do this. Granted, using 10% rate of return is a little rich, but you get the idea he was trying to convey.
Attribute #1: Millionaires Take Personal Responsibility
92% of the millionaires in the study agree with the statement, “I control my own destiny”. Their motivation drives their responsibility. 82% described themselves as optimists. 95% are willing to quickly admit when they are wrong. 86% actively get advice from mentors; this is someone who has done what you want to do.
98% say they actively integrate feedback from other people and 68% used an investment professional to achieve their high net worth. I’m sure Dave Ramsey will be happy with that last statistic as he routinely refers his listeners to a group of financial advisers he calls SmartVestor Pros to help them invest. Personally, I sincerely believe that the majority of people don’t need a financial adviser and you just need to learn a few concepts and keep your investing simple, like I discussed here.
Attribute #2: Millionaires Practice Intentionality
Hogan describes intentionality as deciding to do things. You’re happening to things instead of letting other things happen to you. 95% say they plan ahead and save in advance for big expenses, compared to 67% of the general population. 94% say they live on less than they make, compared to 55% of the general population.
93% stick to the budgets they create, compared to 77% of the general population. The typical millionaire spends $200 or less per month on restaurants. Only 7% felt pressure to keep up with their friends and families when it came to spending. The rest were were content with their older cars, modest homes, and average $35 pair of Jeans. 93% use coupons all or some of the time while shopping and 85% still use a shopping list when buying groceries.
96% never carry a balance on a credit card. 73% have never carried a credit card balance in their lives; they understand that debt will hold you back and prevent you from reaching your financial goals. The average millionaire drives a 4 year old car with 41,000 miles on it. 82% buy their cars with cash and have no car payments. Intentionality, according to Hogan, comes down to two things: sacrifice and choices.
Attribute #3: Millionaires Are Goal Oriented
The book notes that 92% of millionaires develop a long term plan for their money, compared to 60% of the general population and 97% say they almost always achieve the goals they set for themselves. 70% of these millionaires save >10% of their income throughout their working years; 30% saved >20% of their income.
The average millionaire has lived in the same 2,600 sq-ft house for the past 17 years. By the way, the average square footage of all homes built in 2015 in 2,687. It took these millionaires an average of 10.2 years to pay off the mortgage on their homes, and 67% of them live in homes with a paid-off mortgage.
On average, 1/3rd of a millionaire’s net worth comes from their primary residence. Freddie Mac reports that 90% of all home buyers choose a 30-year mortgage; only 6% of buyers select a 15-year loan. So, if you’d like to become a millionaire, it’s wiser to chose the 15-year mortgage and pay it off as fast as you can.
Attribute #4: Millionaires Are Hard Workers
99% say their friends and family members would describe them as hard workers. 93% say they got to millionaire status by hard work, rather than big salaries. 96% enjoyed what they did for a career, and 64% say they loved their jobs. 80% exercise 3 or more times a week, compared to 55% of the population. 70% are considered early risers, compared to 44% of the population.
Hogan says, “In total, the ability to work hard gives you an advantage, builds your confidence, allows you to experience gratitude, leads to self improvement, and makes you intentional in all other areas“. Hard work simply makes you better. 96% of the millionaires are always trying to learn new things and improve themselves and their skill set. 94% aren’t scared to try difficult things to get new results and 86% believe challenging themselves will make them smarter.
Attribute #5: Millionaires Are Consistent
This is perhaps my favorite attribute of the millionaires in this study.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle
Chris Hogan states in the book that consistency is the key that brings all these millionaire attributes together. You can take responsibility, you can be intentional, you can set goals, and you can work hard. But if you don’t do these things repeatedly- year after year, decade after decade- then you will never get the results you want.
Like previously noted above, 79% used their company-sponsored retirement plan to reach millionaire status. It was the number #1 way to build wealth. The current annual maximum for the 401(k) or 403(b) plan is $19,000. If you are able to max out this yearly for 20 years at 8% annual rate of return, you will have $1 million dollars in your account. It’s really not rocket science. The book also notes that 75% of millionaires make regular, consistent investing, part of of their ongoing personal finances.
74% invest outside outside a company retirement plan (your IRAs, Roth IRAs or taxable accounts). This suggests that many of the millionaires have multiple types of retirement accounts. 80% are married, compared to 49% of the general population; only 5% report being currently divorced, compared to 19% of the general population.
There are other interesting statistics from the study:
- 92% plan to pass their wealth to their families
- 70% say they set some of their income aside every month to give to others
- 55% give to others regularly, compared to 28% of the general population
- 98% say they always finish what they start; they never quit
Towards the end of the book, Hogan outlines six action steps to help you become an Everyday Millionaire:
#1. Know Where You Are (calculate your net worth)
#2. Dream Big
#3. Confirm Your Target
#4. Choose Intentionaility
#5. Set Goals For Your Money And Yourself
#6 Partner With An Investment Professional
My favorite Everyday Millionaire Story was this one:
“I have never earned >$38,000, and we didn’t inherit any money. We taught our children to be smart with money, and they all started saving for college at young ages. No one has any clue what we are worth. And we can’t wait to retire in about 4 years with a goal of $3 million!” – Janet, $2.5 million net worth
All in all, this is a very good book and a very good snapshot of what the typical millionaire in America looks like. It’s worth a read.
What are you thoughts on the book? Did any of the statistics surprise you? Comment below