Fans of the bestsellers The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind looking for more research to support the ideas presented in those books will be more than satisfied with Thomas Stanley’s most recent book, Stop Acting Rich: ...And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire. In it, Stanley identifies the most prevalent traits shared by millionaires and explains how anyone can emulate their behavior to achieve financially rewarding results. In addition, since he accepts the reality that many people have an intense desire to appear as if they are millionaires (even when they are not), he provides examples of what people can do to suggest that they have more money than they actually do.
Stanley’s most basic premise is that people who are the most likely to be perceived to be millionaires (i.e. those with the most expensive cars, the largest homes, and the most lavish jewelry) actually tend to have less money than those who live a more frugal life. For example, he found that millionaires often drink the less expensive brands of hard liquor and wine, while those with less money tend to always have an ample supply of the most expensive brands of alcohol readily available for themselves and their guests.
His research also illustrated that a small percentage of millionaires actually own the largest homes or yachts, while those who are less financially stable are more likely to indulge in those extravagances. Along these same lines, he found that people with second and third vacation homes tend to have less money than those people who have one home---because millionaires tend invest their money or invest in rental properties as a way of increasing their wealth, rather than saddling themselves with the sunken costs associated with a second home that might not be used on a regular basis.
He also explains the pressures associated with having an expensive home, because owners are inevitably saddled with the upkeep and the other lifestyle choices (such as eating in the finest restaurants and joining the most exclusive country clubs) that are common next steps taken by the buyers of those homes. Further, he suggests people tend to participate in the same activities as those with whom they associate – so owning a home in an upscale neighborhood means you will likely be socializing with other who spend at the same level (or at a higher level) and feel pressured to do the same.
Consistent with these themes, Stanley found that those who frequent the most expensive restaurants are perceived to be millionaires even though they usually do not have the most accumulated wealth. However, he stated that you can patronize those same establishments and limit your expenses by ordering an appetizer instead of an entrée, which is likely a fraction of the price. With respect to alcohol, he says you do not necessarily have to drink the most expensive brand but just convince others that you do. To support this point, he tells a story of a true millionaire who made the decision to purchase a liquor store so that during his celebrations, he could fill his home with cases of expensive libations—only to return them to his liquor store for sale after the conclusion of the party.
Stanley’s extensive research over a number of decades continues to support the same premises. Those who have the most money do not tend to spend it, while those who are less financially secure tend to spend money as if they have much more than they actually do. In Stop Acting Rich: ...And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire, Stanley masterfully states and substantiates his belief that you can be a millionaire or merely act like one---and encourages everyone to investigate both options to assess which one is more aligned with their long-term goals.