Knowing one secret could make the difference

Delayed Gratification Could Make You a Millionaire

by Debra Karplus

Becoming a millionaire is only something that will happen to those very lucky people, who unlike you, have won the state lottery or inherited Uncle Joe's fortune or are the CEO of a very large publicly traded corporation, or possibly someone with a long history of making crooked business deals and somehow not getting caught by the law. Right? Wrong! Have you read The Millionaire Next Door: Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko? This book was first published in 1998 with a more recent publication in 2010. The bestseller shows how regular folks like you, living on Main Street USA and working hard at their eight to five jobs are able to amass a fortune using good common sense and living by the principles of delayed gratification.

The book begins by sharing information collected from a variety of millionaires at an initial social gathering. Caviar and champagne are served, but these millionaires don't touch the stuff. When questioned, their response is something like, "How do you think we got to be millionaires?" Unlike how Hollywood portrays persons of great wealth, your average everyday millionaire living in America may have acquired their fortune by living frugally and putting off big and even small purchases. Becoming a millionaire may seem like a mirage to you, something that you envision far ahead that you will never be able to reach, but it may really be attainable.

What kind of wealth accumulator are you?

Stanley and Danko define essentially two types of people. There are the Under Accumulators of Wealth (UAWs) and the Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth (PAWs). The UAWs are folks who seem to have relatively little net wealth in relation to their income. You may know some people like that, and possibly you even fall into that category. But don't be embarrassed. There are many more UAWs in the world than PAWs. And always remember that spending habits can be changed, so there is hope for you and the many UAWs in this world.

The people headed to becoming millionaires are the PAWs. They are essentially the opposite of the UAWs and live well beneath their means. They spend far less than they earn and tend to avoid status objects or leading a status-driven life. You might initially feel sorry for these people because they look like "poor folks." Maybe they give their children haircuts at home to save $15 a month per child at the salon. Possibly they eat food out of their own garden. Maybe they share garbage service with another neighbor.

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Delayed gratification typically distinguishes the PAWs from the UAWs.

The focus of The Millionaire Next Door is delayed gratification, particularly when it comes to large purchases. That neighbor you have who is still driving around in his 2000 Honda Accord may know something important about delayed gratification worth sharing. And what about the family living down the street in the only house they ever owned. They married, had a bunch of kids, and now their kids are grown. But, they are still residing in that house. The house looks fabulous on the outside and the inside because these people know what smart improvements to make on the house and how and when to perform basic maintenance. They know a few things that other millionaires know, too.

Related: What Are You Willing to Give Up to Win Financially?

So, never let yourself think like a victim, even though you know you may be worth more than what you are paid at your job. And never allow yourself to believe that the acquisition of wealth is just for other people. You can create a lifestyle based on frugality and delayed gratification and save or invest wisely the money that is the reward of your new, more sensible lifestyle. That's a promise!

Reviewed March 2018

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Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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