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I was excited to read Chris Hogan’s newly released Everyday Millionaires, particularly since I heard it described as a followup to Thomas Stanley and William Danko’s classic Millionaire Next Door, published back in 1996. But Everyday Millionaires’ premise sounded even bigger: interviewing 10,000 millionaires (versus the 1,115 in Next Door’s most recent research) and getting details about how they got there? With new and updated metrics for a new generation and a data nerd like me? Sign me up!
About half-way through, though, I realized that I needed to adjust my expectations. Everyday Millionaires is not the same type of book. There is nary a chart or graph to be found (granted, popular reading will probably be more interested in the book because of that). Instead, it is primarily a motivational book which uses sound bites from the gold-mine of research behind it to support its message. With chapter titles like “You’ve Been Lied to,” “Stop Making Excuses and Start Believing,” “Do What It Takes,” and “The Decision Is Up to You,” the message hits over and over again: take control of your destiny now. Get out of debt now. Start investing now. Here, look, at all these normal, average people who became millionaires doing this. It also slides in two pieces of data that seem to signal a fundamental shift in how modern millionaires are being made. I think these are significant enough that I wrote a separate post about it.
NOT THE SAME BOOK
Whereas Millionaire Next Door presented the data of their surveys and mostly let it speak for itself, Everyday Millionaires presents the summarized results of their surveys (usually in a one-line phrase) and then tells you what it means. I could see this being helpful for people looking for more of a “you can do it!” pep talk who might be turned off by the more scholarly approach of Next Door. I can think of a number of people that would fall asleep before getting into the meat of Next Door but might be motivated to take their finances seriously after reading Everyday. Everyday is a much simpler read.
On the other hand, I can also think of a number of people that would be suspicious of how many times the data here is neatly summarized to perfectly argue each point. Particularly when they line up so perfectly with the overall message (and the standard Dave Ramsey talking points, for that matter). A more scholarly presentation of the data would have been helpful for the inevitable cynics who will read this.
THE BOOK’S PURPOSE AND STATS
Ramsey (who wrote the foreword) and Hogan make clear that one of the major reasons for writing the book is to “bust myths” such as the one which says: the wealthy didn’t earn and don’t deserve their money.
The research that is shared in Everyday Millionaires reaffirms that these cynical myths of wealth are overwhelmingly incorrect. Here’s a few of the particularly interesting one-liner insights that were discovered by the Ramsey team’s research:
My comments are in parenthesis.
One-third of the 10,000 interviewed millionaires never had a six-figure household income in a single working year. (that’s total household income, so it includes spouses)
One-third of millionaires live in a zip code where home values are below national average: $205k.
51% of millionaires live in neighborhoods where average household income is less than $75k.
79% of millionaires did not receive any kind of inheritance whatsoever. (That is, their wealth is entirely self-made in their lifetime. This is consistent with Stanley’s Millionaire Next Door findings, who came to a similar conclusion at 80 percent).
Most of the other statistics shared in Everyday Millionaires continue Millionaire Next Door‘s narrative of the early-rising, hard-working, coupon-using, cheap-car-driving, reasonable-sized house owning, consistently-investing, “boring” individual focused on delayed gratification who slowly becomes a millionaire over time. The book also mentions some other interesting statistics that get into correlation vs causation territory, like exercise (80% of millionaires exercise three times or more per week, compared to 55% of the general population), and marriage (91% of millionaires classified their marriage as good or great). Regardless, the message and statistics in the book are clear: becoming a millionaire is within reach of anyone. It just takes time, focus, and dedication.
So, the question is: what is the best way to get there? Everyday Millionaires reports:
“The company-sponsored retirement plan is the number one way these millionaires built their wealth.”
While this statistic is probably a very motivating idea for the twenty or thirty year old just starting to make some money, it could be demotivating for those who started late and don’t have as many years to invest and allow compound interest to do its thing. The book doesn’t really address that audience, though there are still general principles to help them.
At this point I originally started to get into the two pieces of data that stuck out to me, but it quickly become much longer than it should be in the context of this review. You can check that side discussion out here.
In the meantime, Everyday Millionaires in summary:
- If you’ve never read or heard Ramsey or Hogan before, and you’re brand new to this whole personal finance thing, Everyday Millionaires is absolutely worth the read for the motivation alone. Simple and easy to get into, with no jargon.
- If you’re already in the Ramsey track or you’re already committed to frugal living and consistent investments, you probably won’t get much new here. Still, it would be a good book to be able to lend out to others to help them get motivated.
- If you don’t like Ramsey, this isn’t much different.
- This isn’t The Millionaire Next Door, 2.0. If you’re a data nerd looking for tables and stats and charts so that you can find correlations yourself or double-check the author’s conclusions, you’ll be disappointed.
You know how they hand out a book to the families on the Ramsey radio show when they visit for their “debt free screams”? This isn’t the book for them. They already know all this. Still, the book does work as long as you set the right expectations. Sometimes we forget that there’s a lot of people who haven’t yet committed to principles that will set them free financially. And because of that it’s got a spot on my shelf to lend out to those who will appreciate it.
What did you think of the book? Did it meet your expectations?
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