Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stop Acting Rich: The Paradox Of This Book

By Dan Danford

Review of Stop Acting Rich: And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire.

I’m a big fan of Tom Stanley’s research and books. I first encountered Stanley at a trust conference many years ago, and I’ve read and recommended his books to dozens of clients and prospects. His insights are helpful and entertaining.

His newest book, Stop Acting Rich: And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire, reveals the differences between what we say and what we do. He chronicles the spending patterns of genuinely rich people, and the lifestyles they enjoy. It’s interesting, because there are two groups of people with serious money; the glittering rich (think Donald Trump or Bill Gates) and the millionaires next door. And, as you’d guess, they consume differently.

Spending by the glittering rich, well, glitters. These are the few folks with so much money that spending really doesn’t matter. They own multiple cars, multiple timepieces, and they tend to entertain lavishly. We all know who they are and they set a remarkable standard for living.

Other rich people are remarkable for differing reasons. As Stanley has recorded previously, they stand out for their modesty and good sense. These millionaires drive Toyotas, wear Seiko watches, and surround themselves with value-oriented merchandise. We know who these neighbors are, too, but we probably don’t realize how financially successful they truly are. They set a different kind of standard.

Here’s the paradox of this book. Almost everyone else (and that’s a huge chunk of our society) dwells in yet another culture. This is the culture of false wealth. Where looking rich is more important than being rich. It’s the world of luxury goods sold to high-income buyers. But, sadly, that spending pattern yields no genuine wealth. The simple act of buying those goods, by itself, is financially counterproductive.

These are residents of mini-mansion neighborhoods. And owners of luxury automobiles and Rolex watches. They send their children to private schools and belong to expensive country clubs. They buy Brooks Brothers suits and shop at exclusive department stores. They are glittering rich wannabes, and they spend most of their income on a prestige lifestyle. There’s nothing left for saving.

The depressing truth is this book won’t change much. Most of us would rather look rich than be rich. We like those luxury goods and that luxury lifestyle, even if we can’t afford them. We can see how sensible living might bring stability and success. We know Tom’s right, but we don’t want to live in sensible neighborhoods or drive sensible cars or wear sensible clothes.

That’s the paradox of Stop Acting Rich. We don’t want to.

Want to buy it? Purchase it from your local bookstore or from Amazon by clicking here.

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