The Joneses Just Pretend to Be Rich!

Relax!  Most of your rich-looking neighbours or the people who we think are wealthy are just pretending to be rich , according to Thomas Stanley.

They drive fancy cars, live in flashy houses and earn salaries that support their consumption habits. But the majority of high-salaried high-rollers aren’t rich at all.  If you’ve been looking at some of your neighbours and wondering how they live so extravagantly, Stanley reveals the truth in his latest book.

Thomas Stanley has been studying America’s wealthy for more than 30 years. Surveying wealthy and high salaried Americans has been his passion, leading to a variety of breakthrough book publications and television appearances. His revealing book, The Millionaire Next Door was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than three straight years, and his research unveiled the most comprehensive data on the wealthy that has ever been recorded.

From his books, Stop Acting Rich…and start living like a real millionaire (2009)and The Millionaire Next Door, I’ve presented some fascinating facts below—many of which might force you to re-think what it means to be wealthy and how to become financially secure.

  1. Toyotas are the most popular brand of car driven by millionaires.
  2. The recent median price paid for a car by millionaires was $31,367.
  3. The typical price paid for a car by millionaires with $10 million or more was $41,997.
  4. Seiko and Timex are the number one and number two most common watch brands among millionaires.
  5. Eighty percent of millionaires are “first generational” wealthy. This means that their wealth was not inherited. They earned their wealth.
  6. Only ten percent of millionaires live in homes worth $1 million or more.
  7. A full 70% of millionaires have never owned a yacht or a boat of any kind.
  8. Only 1% of millionaires typically serve their dinner guests wine that costs $52.50 or more.
  9. More than 90% of millionaires typically serve their friends wine costing in the $9 range.
  10.  Adults who receive “helpful” financial gifts from their parents (stocks, cash, real estate etc), typically end up with lower levels of wealth than people in the same income brackets who don’t receive financial assistance.

Note: When Thomas Stanley refers to “millionaires”, he’s including people who can sell investments amounting to $1 million or more. These investments include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, income producing real estate, equity shares in private businesses, annuities, net cash value of life insurance, gold and other precious metals, CDs, T-Bills, savings bonds, money market funds, checking accounts and cash.

Data source for numbers 1-4 and 4-9: Stop Acting Rich..and start living like a real millionaire, by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. (2009).

Data source for numbers 5 and 10: The Millionaire Next Door (1996).





Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I’m happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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