I've completed 22 interviews with millionaires (here's the millionaire category in case you want to read them) and after the third one there were already patterns in their answers. So with all the responses we have now, I thought I would summarize what we've learned from this group with very high net worths.
Here are some common denominators:
Millionaires have high incomes. As a sample, here are the annual incomes of the last five millionaires I've interviewed (the ones who have shared a clear income number): $258k, $260k, $215k, $180k, and $230k. Yes, it's easier to have a high net worth when you have a high income. Haven't I been saying that since day 1 here at FMF? Millionaires know that their career is their greatest financial asset and they treat it as such, taking steps to grow and develop it much more than others.
Millionaires spend a fraction of their incomes. Here are the annual spending numbers for the five millionaires above (these numbers include giving, but not savings): $150k, $85k, $146k, $70k, and $85k. Notice anything? Yep, their spending is SIGNIFICANTLY below what they earn. It's no wonder they are wealthy, they are saving a TON of money every year! Also note that they are still spending a good amount each year, so they have a decent lifestyle. The lowest spender still spends $70k a year, which is a pretty decent standard of living.
Most have well over $1 million. While the cutoff to be interviewed by me is $1 million in net worth, many have $2 million or more. It's kind of what you'd expect given the income/spending numbers above.
They don't have exciting portfolios. Most invest in stocks/mutual funds and some have real estate. For the most part they are "boring" investors. This is likely what makes them successful -- they save a ton, put it away, and simply let it grow.
They have little to no debt. If they do have debt, it's a mortgage, but many don't have a dollar of debt. They save/earn money, they don't pay interest.
They are professionals. Business people, engineers, software developers, lawyers, and the like. Not many doctors though. Perhaps doctors don't read FMF. :)
They are self-made. None of them inherited a gazillion dollars. They simply grew their careers, spent a fraction of it, saved/invested the rest, and became wealthy. Again, it's the sort of thing I've been talking about here since this blog started.
Did I miss anything? Does anyone have anything else to add?