While most of us would love to be in a position of great wealth, a large sect of our society, unfortunately, has misconceptions about who millionaires are and what it takes to become one.
Personally, I’ve had the experience of meeting some very wealthy people over my 27 years around the sun and let’s just say, the beliefs don’t line up with what’s true. Here are the misconceptions I have run across:
1. Millionaires aren’t generous, they always hoard their money.
Many assume that wealth is accompanied with stinginess, that to be rich, one must also be selfish. Fortunately, history reveals something different. In fact, if you look at the history of Christianity, behind great movements of God stand a few generous men and women called “gospel patrons.” Whether it was church plants, disciple sending, or bible translations, there has always been a major financial contributor behind the whole operation. If you’d like to read more about this topic, consider reading John Rinehart’s book, Gospel Patrons: People Whose Generosity Changed the World.
1. Being a millionaire is sinful.
Matthew 19:16-69, 1 Timothy 6:10, and Hebrews 13:5 are important passages for Christian stewardship. However, none of these passages make the claim that money, on its own, is bad or that being rich is sinful. What these verses all have in common is the simple truth that (1) money can be dangerous when abused, (2) money should never be idolized, and ultimately, (3) money is not our salvation.
The reality is that many of us who live in the United States are wealthy. God has likely blessed you with significant resource when compared to the rest of the world’s population. According to CNN Money, it only takes $34,000 a year, after taxes, to be among the richest 1% in the world. If that’s the case, a vast majority of us are considered the richest in the world! Our perspective changes when the 1% is closer to us than we think.
1. I could never be a millionaire.
Whether we like to admit it or not, what we believe about ourselves plays a crucial role in what we end up accomplishing in our lifetime. Henry Ford said it best when he said, “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Many people are simply unaware of the wealth that awaits them if they are intentional about getting out of debt, building appropriate savings, and investing in the wealth building tools we have today (401k, 403b, 457, IRA, Roth IRA, etc.). In fact, here are some surprising statistics about millionaires:
79% of millionaires didn’t inherit a dime.
The top five careers for millionaires include engineer, accountant, teacher, management, and attorney.
Eight out of ten millionaires invested in their company’s 401(k) plan.
There are over 11 million millionaires in the USA alone.
1/3 of millionaires never earned a six-figure salary in their life.
2/3 of millionaires graduated from public state schools, not prestigious private schools.
Most millionaires spend less than $200 a month on restaurants.
The average millionaire drives a 4-year-old car with 41,000 miles on it.
Becoming a millionaire is far more attainable than most realize but getting there takes discipline and patience. Assume you make $59,000 per year. If you invested 15% of that $59,000, you would put away $8,850 a year (around $737 a month). According to recent numbers, if this amount was invested over the course of 30 years, the investment could grow to $1.6 million (assuming a 10% return). And if you waited just five more years, you’d be sitting on over $2.3 million. That’s is not bad for making $59,000 per year.
These are just a few misconceptions that we have about millionaires and while I understand that some wealthy people out there don’t model generosity like we’re supposed to, the truth is that this isn’t representative of the majority. If you’d like to look at some additional resources on habits of millionaires, check out The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy as well as Ramsey Solutions’ National Study of Millionaires.