You see him at the coffee shop. He orders an americano, using his own mug to save the ten cents. He pulls a few bills from his worn wallet and passes them to the barista, taking several coins from his pocket for the tip. Getting the change, he counts it quickly out of habit, and replaces it in his wallet. He is wearing a Kirkland short-sleeved collared shirt from Costco that his wife had purchased four years ago. His jeans are also from Costco, from the same shopping trip as the shirt. His shoes are from Fred Meyer, purchased during a sale with coupons, along with his socks from the Black Friday sale. He wears a Timex watch that he bought in Colorado when his old one got shattered…in 1982. The battery has been replaced six times, he recalled when getting it replaced last week. (Yes, I made some assumptions; just go with me here.)
His americano comes and he walks to the counter for a splash of cream. He sits at a table and begins reading a book on the leadership practices of Abraham Lincoln.
Soon after, the door of the coffee shop opens and in comes a gentlemen of great class. His cut blazer fits perfectly, silver cufflinks showing just enough for you to see. He deftly steps to the counter and orders a latte, passing over his exclusive credit card made from a carbon fiber composite. He waits for his drink and leaves the coffee shop, getting into his BMW Z4.
If I’m honest, I see the second fellow and I want to be him. He has class, he has confidence (I suppose), he has the car, and I rather miss my exclusive credit card. However, I’ve been re-reading The Millionaire Next Door, and am once again reminded about what true wealth looks like. It’s a generalization, but I would be willing to put money on the first guy, the guy with the Costco wardrobe, as being a millionaire many times over what the second guy is (or could be). He probably owns his house, his Acura, his rental in Lincoln City and the other in Florence. The other fellow, if he owns, might even be upside-down on his house in Timberhill.
I look at fellows like Jason Harris, with their simple living, and think that I can be cooler and have more luxuries or the latest devices, but, as Jason will remind me regularly, Live like nobody else so that I can live like nobody else. The fellow with the BMW was living like everybody else, but when he is forty, he will be living like everyone else -trying to get out of debt and maybe planning for retirement. The first fellow, I could say with great certainty, lived frugally through his entire life (like Jason Harris), and, by forty, was well set to be comfortable. He lived like nobody else, to live like nobody else.
Habits are hard to break. Spending above my income is so easy for me because I started out with a great income from my contractor work and didn’t budget (because I felt like I really didn’t need to). If there is one thing that I have seen in all the millionaires that I know, it would be that they all keep budgets. Even if their income is well into the six digits, they budget (at least) monthly. The Millionaire Next Door talks on how families that have wealth have another thing in common- the wife is the frugal one. Why is that? They are usually the ones doing the day-to-day spending. The first fellow probably did not buy the clothes he was wearing. How could this not be more proof that it is the little things in our spending that seem to contribute the most to our financial success?
I highly doubt that this post will put any new facts into your head as the reader, but hopefully it might remind us (yeah-I need to be reminded of this regularly) that we don’t need to always be living like everybody else. …and, to make Jason happy, I shall end with his favorite quote:
Live like nobody else, so one day, you may live like nobody else.