Attributes Of The Millionaire Next Door

by Jacques Sprenger on 2012-05-3020

How does one end up with a million? It’s all in the mind.

My grandpa always told me that I would become rich if I learned from the rich. I’ve had the good fortune and opportunity to come across a few wealthy people in my life, and I learned one important fact: they can be just like you and me — nice, simple, arrogant, generous, tightfisted (avaricious is nicer, but I don’t like the sound of it), smart, elegant, sleazy and/or ruthless. Some inherited a fortune (does that count?); others became rich through their own effort. The “DIY wealthy” all have one thing in common, a factor that distinguishes them from the rest of us, ordinary citizens: they are driven.

Think Like A Millionaire! Start With The Right Attributes

What can we learn from the affluent crowd? Do the super rich have millionaire secrets that we just don’t know about? On the contrary — based on the book “The Millionaire Next Door” and its sequel “The Millionaire Mind”, you’ll find that having a million dollars is within the reach of any regular person. But I’d love to expound on this topic a little more.

how to be a millionaire

Based on my own observations, I’d like to make a list of desirable factors that can make any of us rich (assuming that you, like me, do not necessarily have an extraordinary skill or talent, or have exceptional intelligence). What kind of attributes do millionaires normally possess? If you have most of these characteristics, you could very well be on your way to success:

1. Passion

You may have many goals in your life, but one stands out — and that is to make your first million. Every million starts with a single dollar, but many people dream of making it in a very short time with minimal effort. Not that you can’t get to a million quickly with little work, but luck would seriously have to be on your side for this to happen. If you want to achieve your goals, then you’d have to be highly determined and focused about making it.

2. Patience and Discipline

Building your net worth can take time. It takes discipline along with patience to work on a business that eventually becomes successful, or to climb up the ladder to an executive position that pays good money. It also takes a while to build your investment assets over time before you reach critical mass with your investments. Patient people who make calculated decisions and are confident with the strategies they’ve implemented know that the rewards are close by.

3. Guts

Are you a risk taker? You don’t get rich by playing it safe; those who became wealthy — the “kids” who invented Google for example — had every penny invested in an idea that at one point wasn’t exactly a sure thing (well nothing is ever a sure thing). Remember the saying: no risk, no rewards? Check out how some gutsy people found success with these business ideas that made it big, despite how dumb or far-fetched they seem to be at first glance.

4. Smarts and Intuition

You don’t need to be a genius. You don’t have to be like Warren Buffet. You simply need to be smart and shrewd (which I distinguish from highly intelligent). Smart people are able to instinctively make the right moves, which don’t necessarily require high intelligence or a sharp intellect to be achieved. I’ve observed that having a wealth building plan, a strategy and an organized mind can get you moving down the right path.

5. Luck and Good Fortune

Are you at the right place at the right time? OK, so that’s a bit outside of your control, but with a little patience and acumen, you might be able to come upon the right opportunities that end up changing your life. In other words, a little luck can speed your journey to success (e.g. does buying the first 5,000 shares of Google or Microsoft count?). If the right opportunities aren’t coming your way, don’t sit and wait for something to happen — go and actively look for those opportunities yourself.

6. Enthusiasm and High Energy

When you’ve got a lot of energy which you’re able to channel towards productive activities, you’ll certainly be a force to reckon with. Your enthusiasm and spirit can do a lot to affect, influence and inspire the people around you who may be helping and supporting you with your work. How excited are you about your ambitions?

7. Eagerness To Learn

Knowledge is power, and the more you learn and know, the better equipped you are with the million dollar ideas that you can execute and take to the bank. Building knowledge is the first step you take towards making things possible. The knowledge you build supports the natural talent or skill that you have that you can leverage financially. Once you become exceptional at something, you’ll have a better chance at becoming rich at what you’re doing.

8. Innovation and Creativity

Many of those who started with nothing began with a novel idea that nobody else had thought of. Take the case of the ever innovative Steve Jobs who continuously comes up with one new idea after another; without him, I’m guessing that we would have seen IBM or some other software company (Oracle?) eventually absorb a stagnant Apple to prevent it from biting the dust.

9. Diligence

The typical self-made millionaire is a hard worker who started their journey by working 15 hours a day, sometimes at two jobs. Does this imply that only people under 50 can reasonably expect to become wealthy? I think the younger generation certainly has the advantage, but there are always some exceptions. I’ve seen a lot of pretty hard working people doing well and succeeding, and they aren’t exactly spring chickens either.

10. Positive Attitude

I’ve noticed that if I succumb to negative thoughts, they tend to weigh me down and interfere with my productivity. A negative mentality and attitude can be distracting to your own self and to those around you. When you think positively, you’re able to better visualize your goals and you’re able to stay invested in your work, business and projects. Being positive makes it more likely for you to eventually succeed: it’s a mindset that allows you to forge on regardless of the challenges you face along the way.

Fulfilling Your Financial Dreams Will Entail Some Sacrifice

I could continue with this list but you get the gist. Unfortunately, not everybody makes it to the end for a variety of reasons; in some cases, people have poured all their hard work and focus on to one product that they thought would make it big, only to realize much later on and at great cost, that it’s something that nobody would ever buy. In this case, luck was missing from the equation.

Or for some people, their obstacle to success and millionaire status turns out to be fatigue, or the demands of a growing family. For those who’ve made the sacrifices, there are no guarantees; but if you’re willing to pay the price, you’ve got a great chance of making it. Having said that, I wonder just how many of us are willing to do what it takes to reach this level of success? Are you willing to make trade offs? Some of us may decide that it’s not for us, and that a simple life is enough. You may decide that enjoying your peace of mind and the company of your family and friends isn’t something you’re willing to give up. Well, there’s always the lottery!

Created June 15, 2009. Updated May 30, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristy @ Master Your Card June 15, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I love this post, SVB! I think Perseverance needs to be on this list, though. While we’re doing the whole sacrificing bit, there’s something we have to keep in mind with that. Sometimes we’re going to fall down. That’s ok. It’s the perseverance to get back up, dust yourself off, and try again that counts. Because, while getting to the goal of reaching our first million may be important, the path we take to get there defines us and makes us who we are as people. That’s pretty important, too.

Rob Bennett June 16, 2009 at 2:48 am

Lots of us are struggling to keep our heads above water on matters a lot more basic than becoming a millionaire until we are in our late 20s or early 30s. At that point, we’ve missed a lot of opportunities.

I’m not saying it’s not worth trying to become a millionaire and I’m not saying that it cannot be done. I think it is worth it and I believe that it can be done. I’m just pointing out that seeking millions is sort of an “extra” and a good number of us are too swamped by the non-extras ever to get around to that one.

I certainly wish good luck to those who are able to pursue the “extra” goal. And I do think it is a good idea to try to learn from them.


Savings Accounts Girl June 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm

This is a Great Article. It urges me to become more motivated – that’s for sure.

Quintin June 16, 2009 at 10:32 pm

This is a great list. Even though most of these you will see on any other lists about being a millionaire they are worth listing. Just because we know something does not mean we will use the information. As you stated, what seperates those who make it to a million and those who don’t is usually just taking action. Thanks for the motivation.

curvedms June 17, 2009 at 12:20 am

somebody told me that if we want to have much money then think “money, money and money…..think money over and over in our mind..!!”

Yeah.. success begins with motivation..

Mark Foo | June 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm


You’ve got a great list here. Thank you for sharing it. I have a similar list, which I’m sure you’re aware of since you’re participating in my eBook. 🙂

Thank you so much for your participation and I’m looking forward to your article.



Alex June 17, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I found Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers to be incredibly insightful in understanding why certain people hit it big with success and others don’t.

Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife June 20, 2009 at 5:41 am

I only know one self-made multimillionaire, and I wouldn’t want to be him. He’s all of the things you describe, but I don’t think those attributes or his money have made him happy. He’s so driven that he can’t slow down, not even for his kids while he’s in the middle of his second divorce. He’s a nice guy, and very pleasant to be around for short periods. But he’s always ON. He can’t sit still or settle in for a pleasant evening with friends, because he’s got to check his email every 45 minutes or so, and has multiple project ideas running through his mind at all times. He’s taken at least three concepts from idea to multi-million dollar sale already. Right now, he’s also spending more money *each month* to build his fourth or fifth home (I’ve lost count) in Colorado, than we owe on our mortgage (less than three years into a 30 year loan). I like him, and Ipity him, but I also think he’s really screwed up his kids’ lives in pursuit of his own goals.

belajar June 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm

I think the right vehicle also determines the success, maybe from stock, internet, business or anything..

Meaghan June 29, 2009 at 3:42 am

A positive attitude can go a long way in helping you reach your goals…whatever they may be!

Brandon August 13, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Yes, it is all in the mindset. You definitely need a determined, goal driven mindset to become rich.

Josh November 10, 2009 at 1:18 am

Once you start to know where your finances are going, you can track them down and start saving and investing. Having the personalities mentioned above is a must, and should also possess some finance knowledge because, well, becoming a millionaire is a number game.

Alexis March 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I’m poor, I’ve never had a chance to see what it’s like to be rich 🙂 But I’m a famous dancer.

Steve April 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Great article. Guts is a big one. How many people have great ideas but are too scared to go for them. I would also add belief – deep down they just know that what they are doing is going to work for them. It’s what helps them get out of bed each and every day to pursue their goals.

krantcents May 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Savings, discipline and tenacity are the most important attributes. It helped me achieve financial independence at 38 years old.

Derek May 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm

You can’t fear failure… not only do you have to have the guts to try it out, but you cannot be scared to fail. Failure is where most wealthy people gained their experience. Nice post!

Charlotte@EverythingFinance June 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Does winning the lottery count? We fantasize about winning the lottery every week. It’s fun and we enjoy dreaming about what it would be like to be millionaires.

luzzy June 2, 2012 at 2:12 am

I would also add “A hard work” to this list. You may be really good at something, but if you are too lazy and always have excuses, that won’t help you to succeed in life. All the great people were hard workers, always trying to do their best to achieve their goals.

Alinka @ Baby Web June 2, 2012 at 6:44 am

Excellent post! Thank you 🙂 I’d add another factor to the list: attractiveness in terms of how you flirt! Some people simply marry into fortune. I guess it’s somewhere close to inheriting money or winning the lottery — except you did work your way into it in a way 🙂 I also think that it’s great to be affluent and God bless all the rich, but it’s equally, if not more important to be happy and not so consumed by increasing your bank account that you end up miserable and with nothing more than the cash.

Jenny June 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I really enjoyed this post. There are many factors that go into becoming a millionaire and certainly determination is one of them. It does also involve a bit of luck, your ability to deal with risk and a great deal of creativity. But there is also balance with enjoying a happy life and the rewards that come from building positive relationships with your loved ones. It certainly is a tough balance to strike.

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