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6 signs you’re wealthier than you think, according to a wealth consultant for millionaires

  • Not all millionaires drive Lamborghinis and live in mansions.
  • If you carry little to no new debt, have long-term investments, and are a hard worker who is resourceful and aware, you might be richer than you think.
  • That’s according to Bill Van Sant, senior vice president and managing director at Univest Wealth Management, which has $3.4 billion in assets under management.
  • Below, Van Sant outlines six common traits of millionaires.

You know the saying, “not all heroes wear capes”? Well, similarly, not all millionaires drive Lamborghinis and live in mansions. In fact, they might live right next door to you.

I’m talking about those who live comfortably, and while they may be wealthier than you, they don’t necessarily live like they are. In the financial planning industry we call these folks the “millionaires next door.”

I’ve met a handful of these financially-savvy individuals throughout my years working as a wealth adviser and there is a lot to be learned from them. I’d like to highlight some of the characteristics and traits of the millionaire next door to shed some light on how they got there. Who knows, you might not be far away from becoming one yourself.

If you carry little to no new debt, have market appreciation, and are a hard worker who is resourceful and aware, you might be richer than you think. When all of these things come together, most people are surprised that on paper they’re considered a millionaire.

Here are six of the most common traits my millionaire next door clients possess:

1. They live within their means.

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Veuve Clicquot

Millionaires next door drive modest vehicles and live in modest homes. They’re not living below their means by any standard, but they also aren’t purchasing lavish cars and living in oversized houses with Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Both their car and their home purchases were smart, calculated and based on reliability. They’ve lived in their home for 20 to 25 years and it is paid off or close to being paid off. Also, they are not looking to upgrade or move any time soon.

2. They focus on what’s important.

Harry Metcalfe/Flickr

Family well-being is far more important than wealth. Sure, they have wealth, but when I’m in a financial planning meeting with a millionaire next door, they talk about their wealth and their financial goals in a way that always circles back to family.

They say things like, “I want to retire earlier so I can spend more time with my grandchildren.” They understand that building savings and having more money is the contributor to reach their goals and not the end goal.

3. They were never CEO.

Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

The millionaire next door never had the highest paying job. They held a wide range of jobs where they worked hard and manufactured a decent income, but you would never know it by looking at their net worth and assets. They always have stability in their career which allowed them to build their wealth over time.

4. They are very resourceful.

Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

The DIY mindset is a common trait among millionaires next door. They are careful and resourceful in the allocation of their money. Just because they can afford a lawn service, doesn’t mean they pay for it. They try to fix problems around the home themselves before calling in a professional because they are cognizant of that cost.

However, they do know when it is appropriate and beneficial to hire an expert. Most of the time when I begin working with a millionaire next door, I find they’ve been navigating a lot of the planning themselves for some time, and this is the first time they’ve asked for help.


5. They are diligent savers and have been since the beginning of their work history.

Most millionaires next door have been working since age 16 or 18 and have been saving from the get go. They didn’t start off putting money right into a 401(k) as an 18-year-old, but they understood the power of saving and put money away in a drawer. These aren’t folks that started saving late in life, they started early and remained consistent through the years.

6. They don’t focus on tweaking investments.

Most millionaires next door are not actively trying to time the market; rather, they are committing a good portion of their income to a well-diversified investment plan and regular intervals. This steady nature helps them in the long run.

Instead of diligently watching the markets and trying to score that one home run, their money is in smart investments steadily growing over time and being reviewed, periodically, to ensure the allocation of their investments is in line with their goals.

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