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Millionaires Who Are Frugal When They Don’t Have to Be

Well, I guess I can stop blogging today. This AMAZING New York Times article just about sums it all up. In case you don’t have time to read through the whole thing, I’ll summarize it a bit here. But if this sentiment rings true to you, I suggest you read the article: “It’s about paying attention to what makes you happy and not just doing what our society tells us to do.”

Baby steps and self-made millionaires

The article focuses on a few mid-life couples who are all millionaires to one degree or another. The common thread is that none of these couples has a job with an insanely high salary or received a giant family inheritance. These couples did it the old-fashioned way, by making small but smart choices each and every day in order to save money and invest it wisely. They live in older houses, drive older cars, shop at outlets, etc., all to save money even when they could afford much more.

The article points out that all of these couples “look upon money as a tool. It’s an important tool. They don’t neglect it, but they also don’t worship it.” These people are making personal decisions about what they value and spending in a way that aligns with that, not in a way that aligns with some perceived social status as a millionaire.

You can do this too!

The great thing about this article is that it presents a road to wealth in a way that almost anyone can achieve. I love seeing real-life examples of people who are probably like me – never going to earn a 7 figure yearly salary – but have still managed to accumulate substantial wealth and are able to live the life that makes them happy. This lifestyle doesn’t so much involve big wins but small, consistent choices.

Interestingly, the article also points out that people with more money are generally happier. The particular study cited rates “satisfaction” (which is not specifically defined), which increases in line with wealth.

The downside

There is one dark spot in this article. In the study mentioned above, many of the respondents had jobs that were high pressure with long hours. When asked what they would do if they knew they would die in five years, most respondents said they would act differently.

This is very concerning, and also seems inconsistent with the finding that people with greater wealth are more satisfied. The article suggests that  “part of this pressure to keep going is less about greed and more about insecurity that might be self-imposed,” a possible explanation for this seeming inconsistency.

Does this article resonate with you? Would you continue to live frugally even if you were a millionaire?


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