Thursday, May 8, 2008

Millionaires drive minivans

This article was inspired by Kristy over at Master Your Card and her post about how you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. She talked about how you can’t tell someone’s net worth by looking at them. A fancy car and expensive clothes don’t mean anything. I was just thinking today how if everyone had their net worth on the back window of their car it would really cut into the Hummer market. How embarrassing to have to display a negative net worth on your $50,000 vehicle.

Kristy’s article reminded me of my dad and his friends. My dad lives in a very ritzy town and has several successful businesses. He has a net worth of over a million but you would never know it by looking at him. He drives a rusty used minivan and dresses in jeans and sneakers.

One of his businesses is a lawn care company. One time he was mowing the grass of the local Albertson’s and a tourist stopped and said:

“Hey, I hear everyone around here is a millionaire. Are you a millionaire?”

“Yeah, actually, I am.” Replied my dad. The guy was just beside himself. Even the guy who is mowing the grass in front of Albertson’s is a millionaire! Amazing. Of course if the guy had asked how he became a millionaire it would have made more sense. My dad would have told him that he wasn’t an employee of the company. He was the owner.

One of my dad’s life long friends is even more a millionaire sleeper than my dad. He owns several apartment complexes in Los Angeles. This guy is very wealthy but the last time I saw him he had a piece of rope as a shoestring in his dirty old work boots. Not exactly something you would expect to see on a multi-millionaire.

There was another guy that my Dad used to work with who made good money. He was partner with my dad in one of his businesses. But this guy wasn’t interested in becoming wealthy, he was only interested in looking wealthy. He had drove a new BMW and spent every night after work at the bar buying rounds for everyone. He never had any money even though he lived in the back room of my Dad’s house for free. This guy had an opportunity to become truly wealthy but was too busy trying to impress people to spend the time and effort to take advantage of his situation. Too bad. My dad bought him out after a few years of watching him ruin his life and their business.

I definitely learned some of my money habits from my dad. I’m not interested in looking like I have money. I know that actual wealth is much more important than perceived wealth. I don’t need to have the best of everything. Good enough is… well… good enough.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like:

I deserve it

Getting off on the right foot (part 2)

Are hybrids cheaper?


Anonymous said...

LOVE it! Wrote something similar yesterday. I hate the whole perception of wealthy. Drives me bonkers.

It's refreshing to see others that want to be millionaire sleepers vs. millionaire show-offs.

Good on you!

Mom @ Wide Open Wallet said...

I know I saw your post this morning. I thought there must be something in the air today. millionaire sleepers vs. millionaire show-offs... hehe. I like that comparison.

Lynn - the piggy bank painter said...

I drive a 7 year old minivan. Does that make me a millionare????
Pleeeeease....well, at least I can look like one : )

"Future Millionaire" said...

Thanks for sharing. I love stories like this - its my personal philosophy - I want to be an understated millionaire. One of my absolute favorite books is Millionaire Next Door and it relates stories just like your dad and how living below your means and saving leads to millions.

Grace. said...

My "lawn guy" (yes, he's hispanic; and no, he's not here illegally)and I were discussing how expensive London is for tourists. He and his wife had just returned from a vacation to Britain. Why London? Because that's the place they promised each other they would visit when they managed to save their first million!!