You Want to Be a Millionaire – Start Not Acting Like it

You want to be a millionaire - start NOT acting like it

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Have you ever had the experience when something hilarious happens to you at some point throughout the day… And you just can’t wait to get back to your wife and tell her all about it?


Personally, there’s the combination of fear that I’ll forget the most important details and just lack of patience that both provide me with a sense of urgency.


Combine that with the fact that these Grade A+ stories just don’t land well over the phone – so you know that waiting is what’ll provide the best result.


Well, a Saturday morning exactly one year ago provided me with one of these exact moments.


All courtesy of my neighbor. You know… the one that wants to make sure you think he’s a millionaire…? Oh, you know him, too? Cool.



His subterranean sprinkler system popped up from beneath the grass when he started telling me about the invisible fence they had just purchased for their new dog


As he committed to the conversation and started walking toward me, I couldn’t help but notice the brand new Infiniti QX80 SUV in his driveway. Freshly washed and oh so shiny.
Infiniti QX80
(Photo via Motor Trend)


Just a measly $68k on the base model…


You see, I couldn’t hear this neighbor too well because we had some friends in town that had parked in our driveway, and their car was acting as a barrier.


As I walked down toward the sidewalk, I finally caught his question, “You guys finally moving up in the world, eh?”


“You know, I thought I finally nailed perfection with the lines from my most recent mowing session. Thanks for noticing!” He didn’t appreciate my obvious attempt at humor and just stared at me coldly… “I have no idea what you’re talking about??”


“The Beemer, man. It looks awesome!”


Confused, I turned around to see our friend’s car still in the driveway. A new-ish BMW X5 (~$52,000) – also shiny

(Photo via US News)

“You kidding? I’m not spending $50k on a car. Not our style.”


(When we buy new cars, they tend to be in the $26k range…We’ve purchased exactly 1 new car in the last 10 years).


The neighbor was a little disappointed. “Oh, I thought you guys took a couple steps up,” was his penultimate comment as he pointed over my shoulder and into our garage. There, our 9-year-old Camry and 11-year-old Buick hung out together in the shade… Just chillin’.
(Buick on the left, Camry in the distance, X5 on the right, adorable daughter in the middle)


“Maybe someday,” was his almost pitiful and hopeful closer


We exchanged pleasantries and I ultimately jogged back into the house before his facial expressions faded from my memory. (Monica is visual and I knew that me conveying the neighbor’s looks while delivering the story would go a long way toward earning a solid belly laugh).



Why was I so concerned with telling my wife the details of this story?


Well, it was because she had sent me this article a few days earlier: 19 Secrets Your Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You. And after reading through this together, the Mrs. and I had a pretty thorough discussion about the current state of our family’s finances – and the direction in which we currently traveled.


After having purchased our business and finally starting to get a handle on our debt situation, honestly – we were on the verge of financial complacency.


We had started perusing those really nice houses in a different part of town… You know, the ones that cost 1.5(x)-2(x) what our current awesome 4 bed, 2.5 bath house is worth. My 10-year-old Camry was getting “A little closer to unreliability,” is what I was telling myself.


After 7 years of frugality, we started making some decent money, relative to our expenses, and we were on the verge of letting that lifestyle creep kick in.


But then Monica forwarded this article my way and it was like we recalibrated instantaneously 


“I want freedom, not a bigger house. I’d rather be free than start making purchases that will ultimately delay that freedom.” – Monica


The quote above is how my thoughtful and incredibly intelligent wife punctuated our discussion of this post. I couldn’t help but nod my head and agree with her wholeheartedly. Who doesn’t want freedom?


The truth is that we’ve always aspired to financial freedom. It’s been the basis for our large-scale decision making and ultimately why we decided to be entrepreneurs in the first place. We had just veered off course slightly… Until we came across this article and recalibrated our process, that is.

You Want to Be a Millionaire? Then Stop Acting Like One #frugal #saving #goals #networth #spending


Here are my main takeaways from 19 Secrets Your Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You by Len Penzo


1- Millionaires (and people that generally win at life) don’t tell you they’re rich


Humility is a virtue and it should be practiced. These folks that have deceptively high net worths don’t tell you they’re rich because they don’t care. They got to this point in life not by keeping up with the Jones’ or by some grand display of wealth.


They put their head down and got to work. Then they woke up and did it again the next day. And the next. And because they had a plan, stuck to it, and learned along the way, they were financially successful.


2- The millionaire doesn’t pay for today’s stuff with tomorrow’s money


Rather than seeing the shiny new toy and buying it, the millionaire will sleep on the decision to purchase. And if it is a needed item, she will craft a plan to either pay cash for the item or buy it with a credit card and immediately pay it off (she loves tax free money in the form of credit card rewards).


3- Millionaires know the value of hard work


As opposed to complaining that there’s not enough room in the budget to _____ (get a gym membership, pay off extra debt, go on vacation, etc.), the millionaire will commonly seek opportunities for additional income. Whether that’s a second job or a side hustle, these folks always have the idea wheels churning.


4- Millionaires know the value of a well thought out plan


There’s a quote in the piece:


“…money is like a toddler; it is incapable of managing itself.”


There’s a plan for telling your money where to go, for where he sees himself in 5 years, and for how he’ll get there. All different aspects of life but with one constant – there’s a plan for that.


5- And finally, the millionaire doesn’t care about your kick @$$ car/house/status symbol


Oh, you mean that thing that takes you from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and now takes up 25% of your take-home pay? Yeah, that’s nice. I’ll be over here driving my solid reliable car that’s been paid off for 5 years. And it’s pretty good on gas. But if you’re interested in a weekend hike or taking the kayaks out on the water, the millionaire is likely all-in.




Well, there are a few takeaways from this one. First off, if you’re married or in a relationship, or it is vitally important that both are on the same page when it comes to money. Sure, there should be a varying point of view and discussions about process, but the overarching goals should be the same.


Without Monica steering the ship back to the correct course – that we had set for ourselves years earlier – we may have found ourselves taking a significant financial step backward.


Secondly, know your game, keep learning continually, and stay humble. These millionaires that Len Penzo talks about in the article above aren’t boastful. In fact, they’re perfectly content with you thinking they’re poor – because they know who and what they are and frankly, they don’t care much for your opinion. They’re too busy getting the most out of life.


And finally, I’ll close with the culmination of my story…


(Mike jogged back into the house, found Monica, and proceeded to relay all events of the past 5 minutes…)


Monica said, “Two things. 1) maybe he’s worth a ton of money and that car was a drop in the bucket and, if not, 2) you should tell him about the blog. Maybe he’ll get a few ideas.”


No belly laugh. No judgement of a fellow neighbor. Just perspective. Thank God I found this woman…



Reader’s Input


Do you practice any of these “millionaire habits” or is there anything that I left out? Let us know in the comments below!


Thanks for reading!


If you’re interested in discovering a better version of yourself – whether with fitness, finance, or family – then subscribe below to MikedUp Blog’s FREE newsletter and let’s improve together!


I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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  1. Wow! What a great partner & wife you have. It’s a good read to bring you right back to reality. So true, think about what you do today that will effect tomorrow.

    1. Shelia – Thanks so much for reading and for leaving your comments. I truly appreciate it! And you are 100% right on the quality and awesomeness of my teammate (luckiest guy in the world). More often than not, she’s the voice of reason in a turbulent time. We’ve got a pretty good thing going and we work every day to try and improve. Thanks again!

    1. Tim – Thank you thank you thank you so much for reading and for commenting – I really appreciate it! Seriously, I’m glad you enjoyed this one. It’s always good to know what folks enjoy and what they can do without – it helps me plan better moving forward.

  2. I’m with your wife; I think you should email this blog post to your neighbor. Passive aggressive, but effective 😛 I think we (somewhat unintentionally) practice #1, not telling people you have money. We aren’t millionaires, so maybe this doesn’t count. But it seems weird to me to boast about that kind of thing when it could all be taken away, or you didn’t earn it alone, etc. Am I the only one? It’s awkward to talk about usually and could make you the target of people wanting things from you constantly. So maybe I’ll become wealthy by being an awkward conversationalist?

    1. Ha – Well, first off: you’re probably wise to side with my wife. Good call there. With regards to the “talking about your money” I’m a bit of a hypocrite (I blog about money) but bear with me. Since we’ve opened the dental practice, I’ve had more than a few conversations with people automatically assuming that we’re made of money – but the truth is that we’re currently further in debt than we otherwise would’ve been. Sure, it’s a long game, but it’s still in the 1st quarter. Secondly, I believe that humility is so important in life – and that it can be one of your best allies. And I’m not saying I’m perfect, but every day I work to be more humble. So, I think that’s a long way of me saying that, “No. You’re not the only one.” Thanks so much for reading and commenting – it really means a lot.

  3. Great post Mike. It’s a real life situation that the millionaire Next Door book talks about. Of course your neighbor may have the net worth to get that stuff without batting an eye or he may be highly leveraged. That’s the thing with society. We never know who is all hat and no cattle as the book mentions

    1. Thanks so much, Xray! You know – I’ve heard so much about the book but I’ve never actually read it. It is now firmly on my list. Also – I should say that I really enjoy having this guy as a neighbor. He’s a great dude and I felt like a complete jack-wagon for coming away from the first impression the way I did. Probably need to recalibrate my own self on this one, regardless of his financial situation. Personally, I’m rooting for a huge net worth. Thanks again for the comment and have a great evening!

  4. Fun read. Lifestyle inflation is always there, lurking. Ready to snatch all our hard won gains while convincing us to keep playing this loosing game.

    It is good to have a mental reset every once in a while and remind ourselves why we are trying to Find FI.

    I’m glad you were able to recalibrate back to your “enough” and are content with it!!!

    1. Kpeds – Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your comments! It’s so true that the reset button needs hit on occasion. For me, it’s normally a shiny new object, then 48 hours of research/contemplation, then the pitch to my wife (my barometer for ridiculous ideas), and then we go from there.

      So important to make decisions with, “Is this moving us closer to our goals or further away?” in the back of your mind. Thanks again for stopping by and can’t agree more!

  5. There’s something immensely satisfying knowing we COULD be driving a Beemer if we wanted to, but we CHOOSE to drive our beat up 2000 Nissan Pathfinder instead. It’s a fabulously satisfying feeling to let “The Jone’s” think what they want.

    1. Joey – thanks so much for your comments and for stopping by! And kudos to you for having the discipline to make financially prudent decisions for your family/self. It’s a tricky situation that my wife was so keen to remind me of that we have no idea the situation of those Jones’ across the street – but I’ll error on the side of financial prudence while we climb out of our hole…

      Really appreciate the comment!

  6. Ironically most of my wealthy friends do live pretty large. Because of my old job I have a lot of eight and nine digit net worth friends even though I’m not in the same league financially. I drive used cars and still live in my one and only modest but nice country house with my frugal and only wife. But they have at least two humongous houses, some have more than two, and they and their wives drive cars as nice or nicer than either of the ones in this post. But they can all easily afford those costs as pocket change expenditures in their retirements and could argue they are far more frugal than you or me based on how much they spend compared to their wealth as a %. But point taken, there are people who are not wealthy that struggle to live like my rich friends when they would be smarter to live like me so they could achieve a level of wealth that gives me just as wonderful a life as my wealthiest buddy. I’d never criticize those one percenters for driving nice cars and living in mansions but it is crazy for the rest of us to live like that!

    1. Steveark – Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting! You make a great point – at first I was inclined to judge the purchase and the person but I really have no idea what their financial situation is. And even if they “can’t afford” the car – it’s not really my business anyhow. I also have friends (similar to yours) that wouldn’t bat an eye at that SUV. But also, like you said, for someone in a position like us, payments on a $68k car would turn our budget upside down.

      I admire the fact that you pay for what you value and that you stay true to those values (at least from what I can tell online). There’s a lot to be said about that practice these days.

      I really appreciate the thoughtful comments and the response. Thanks ‘a million’!

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