Millionaire Mommy Next Door
-A self-made millionaire shares her recipe for success, happiness and financial freedom
Money was a constant source of tension and stress when I was growing up. My parents were intelligent, well-educated and hard-working, yet they lived paycheck to paycheck. When I was 13, they divorced. My mom struggled to raise three kids — we often survived on free lunch tickets and food stamps. Then I witnessed my mother approach retirement age riddled with anxiety over the fact that she hadn’t saved for her golden years. My father had always been (and continues to be) a workaholic. My siblings and I have always wished he’d work less and spend more time with us.
When we were 30, my husband and I decided we wanted to be parents. It was important to us that we didn’t repeat our parent’s experiences. Since we had always wanted to parent through adoption, we didn’t have to be concerned about my ticking biological clock– we could wait for the right time. Over the course of a couple years, I learned about personal finance and created a lifetime financial plan that would allow my husband and I to be free of our money worries by age 40. And it worked! By age 40, we were 100% debt free and had over a million dollars in the bank!
We are now proud and happy stay-at-home parents to our wonderful, young daughter. Financially free, our family hasn’t set an alarm clock in years. Whether it be work, parenting or play, we wake with the sun, eager to spend each new day doing whatever we choose.
We consider ourselves closet millionaires. Our family lives a typical middle-class lifestyle with one fantastic exception– we only work when we want to. Financial freedom affords us free time. Contrary to popular belief, most millionaire households do not live the extravagant lifestyles that many assume. In fact, a millionaire or two may be living inconspicuously next door to you. The authors of the bestseller, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, found the top reason for why some people manage to accumulate wealth is that they live below their means. Many millionaires have found that living in a status neighborhood is not only a poor value, but it makes one feel the need to keep buying status objects to keep up with the Joneses. (Would it surprise you to learn that my husband and I rent instead of own our home, share a car, and don’t have cable TV?)
Like most millionaires in their study, we live our lives and spend our money in ways that are in alignment with our values, interests and passions. We tend to be do-ers, not have-ers: we don’t care much for “stuff” (a McMansion home, new clothes, iPads or jewelry), but we spend generously on recreational pursuits, organic foods and long trips to faraway places. We make efforts to be environmentally green. By reducing our consumption, we save money in the process.
I want to share the story of our journey from minimum wage to financial freedom because I’m at a point where I’d like to give back. The financial industry is rarely focused on women – my intention is to offer a supportive community and a female perspective. But my blog isn’t just about sharing my story. I’ve pledged my blog’s profits (from paid advertisements placed in the sidebar) as no-interest microloans for small businesses operated by working, impoverished women in developing countries.