It is with true sadness that I read that Dr. Thomas Stanley, co-author of the Millionaire Next Door, was killed recently in an unfortunate car accident. Reuters wrote that “Stanley was killed Saturday afternoon when a car slammed into his vehicle near his home in Marietta, Georgia.”
Stanley researched the lives of American “high net worth individuals” – millionaires – and found that they often lived seemingly modest lifestyles. I included his book on my top five list of best personal finance books for people looking for inspiration to reach financial independence & retire early (FIRE).
The relatively plain lives of many millionaires is sharply in contrast to many Americans that wish to appear wealthy on the surface – borrowing money for expensive houses and automobiles – but who actually have very little wealth that is saved. This is what Texans call “Big Hat, No Cattle” – Stanley’s original title for the book.
I read Mr. Stanley’s book many years ago (it was published in 1996), when I was about 30 years old. I was captivated by the quiet success which enabled millionaires were to amass high net worths. They didn’t always have glamorous careers (many owned small businesses), many lived in their starter home, and they often drive late model (but high quality) used cars. Most important was that they lived significantly below their means and didn’t feel the need to impress anyone with their success.
His book helped frame my view on wealth and spending at a time when I started making significant gains in my income. He wrote other books studying millionaires including The Millionaire Mind and Stop Acting Rich. My wife and I have greatly benefited from the message of his work, so thank you, Dr. Stanley. Rest in peace knowing that you have touched and changed many lives.