Every spring, the Gallup Organization asks American adults this simple question: “What is the best long-term investment?” And for the fifth year in a row, the top response was real estate.
Have you read our post about the Importance of Car-Buying Decisions? If you haven’t, you should.
The average new car purchase price in America today is more than $36,000. That is an astonishing number, considering the financial situation of the average American today.
Some blog posts are more important than others. If I could shout through the screen to you, I would say: “This post is really important!” It’s not important in the sense that “Mike and Austin think this is important”; it’s important because the math shows us it’s crucial.
The second-largest annual expenditure for Americans is transportation (second to housing). If it’s the second-largest annual expenditure, it’s appropriate to say this category of spending should be a big deal in the world of financial planning.
What is Wealth? Appreciable assets or conspicuous consumption?
From The Millionaire Next Door:
“Ask the average American to define the term wealthy. Wealthy to them refers to people who have an abundance of material possessions.
We define wealthy differently. We do not define wealthy, affluent, or rich in terms of material possessions. Many people who display a high-consumption lifestyle have little or no investments, appreciable assets, income-producing assets, or common stocks.. Conversely, those people whom we define as being wealthy get much more pleasure from owning substantial amounts of appreciable assets than from displaying a high-consumption lifestyle” (pp. 11-12).
"There are three times more millionaires living in homes that have a market value of under $300,000 than there are living in homes valued at $1 million or more."
- Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, in his 2009 book Stop Acting Rich
Stop Acting Rich...and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire was published in 2009 by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley. Stanley wrote this book as a follow-up to The Millionaire Next Door, a personal finance classic that was originally published in 1996.
Before his tragic death at age 71 in 2015, Stanley had long been recognized as the foremost expert on the lifestyles and behaviors of the affluent. He began studying America's wealthy back in 1973 and continued that research until his death.
Lest you think the quote above is outdated, recall that housing prices nationally are just a sliver higher today than they were when Stanley was researching this book back in 2005 and 2006.
Perhaps the most foundational finding in Stanley's decades of research is that America's wealthy tend not to be conspicuous consumers. Their comparatively modest homes, vehicles, and vacations do not provide any clues as to how wealthy they really are.