3 big lessons from the millionaires in my life

According to The Telegraph citing a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Britain has more millionaires than any other country except for China, the USA and Japan. 

The study ignores property valuations altogether, but even after that around a million households in the UK have a net worth of £1m or more. Add property values back into the calculation and the number of millionaires walking Britain’s streets is a lot higher.

 There’s a good chance that you’ve bumped into one or two high-net-worth individuals yourself. I know several millionaires, and one thing they all seem to have in common is that you would never know unless they tell you — and there’s a good chance that they won’t drop the subject into the conversation!

Here are three big lessons I’ve taken away from my own brushes with some of Britain’s millionaires:

Millionaires don’t often look like millionaires

High consumption does not tend to go hand in hand with accumulating a million pounds worth of assets. Many households with a net worth of a million or more are found in ‘ordinary’ neighbourhoods. 

The millionaires I’ve come across tend to drive modest and ageing vehicles, they wear high street clothes, their homes are nice but not out of the ordinary. One millionaire acquaintance of mine who owns his own business took me for a working lunch once. He set the venue and we went to a well-known budget steakhouse that was part of a chain. When he settled the bill, I was impressed to see him retrieve his 2-4-1 vouchers from his wallet first.

My millionaire acquaintance didn’t need to wear a gold watch or a designer suit. He didn’t drive me to the venue in a high-end vehicle, just a modest family saloon. His attitude down-played consumption and emphasised wealth preservation and creation. He didn’t need to ‘fly a high kite’, as my father might have said. Instead, he invested as much money as he could save.

On the other hand, I know many people who do emphasise consumption, their kites fly very high, but they are not millionaires.

Millionaires tend to be planners and budgeters

The millionaires I’ve met are careful with money while at the same time spending enough to enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle. They are planners and budgeters, choosing holidays carefully for good value, and they take time to make sure they are getting the best household energy deals and interest rates for the money they save. 

Little savings on regular payments can add up to a lot over time. They have that message oozing from every pore.

Millionaires invest

According to BCG’s study, around 50% of British wealth was held in shares last year, 21% in bonds and 29% in cash or deposits. My millionaire acquaintances are loath to consume past a level that delivers a comfortable lifestyle but they are fanatic investors. My acquaintance with the 2-4-1 vouchers is a big investor in properties and I know others that put a lot of their wealth into shares.

The aim is the same whatever the investment vehicle — compounding returns. Millionaires are reluctant to overspend because they know that a pound spent is a pound gone, but a pound invested can compound into many more pounds over time.

You can do it, too

You can find millionaires ‘next door’ in many walks of life. Some are businessmen, some teachers, some managers, some accountants, some engineers or builders, so why not you, too? Act like the millionaires I know and you’ll soon have enough money to invest and build your wealth.

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Kevin Godbold has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.