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Millionaires: Firefighter, School Bus Driver, Engineer. . .

By Thomas J. Stanley on Oct 26th, 2010 in Studying the Wealthy

Not all of the interesting information in the Forbes 400 issue deals with billionaires.  For example, in Matthew Schifrin’s article, he profiles several amatuer investors who became millionaires by significantly outperforming the market.  One of these investors, not surprisingly, is a civil engineer and is pictured standing next to his no frills Ford 150 pickup truck.  Remember that Ford was the #1 make and the F150 pickup truck the #1 model among the millionaires profiled in The Millionaire Next Door

The characteristics of the investors profiled in the article are certainly congruent with those that I have found among self made millionaires who grew their portfolios via their own research and intellect.  In The Millionaire Next Door I discussed Mr. Martin whom I interviewed twice as part of a study of investors with portfolios of over $5M.  Mr. Martin never had an earned annual income of over $75,000.  He started out as a history teacher, then quit and became a firefighter.  He did so because, as a firefighter, he had much more time to study and manage his investments! He would work one week and be off the next.  During his “off” week he worked on his investments.  The average millionaire next door allocates about 10 hours per month to studying and planning his investments.  It was not unusual for Mr. Martin to spend 50 hours or more on this task. 

I included Mr. Benjamin in The Millionaire Mind; he retired as a school bus driver with a portfolio of over $3M.  This is quite an accomplishment since he funded his childrens’ private school tuition all the way through medical school.    As Mr. Benjamin’s daughter told me, “my father had plenty of time to read investment literature every school day between his bus routes.” 

According to Mr. Schifrin the only real requirement for becoming a good investor is committing the time.  But not all of those who spend an inordinate amount of time studying investments become wealthy.  Keep in mind that Mr. Martin and Mr. Benjamin allocated more hours in studying and planning their investments than it would have taken each of them to earn multiple law degrees or MBAs! 

3 responses to “Millionaires: Firefighter, School Bus Driver, Engineer. . .”

  1. Gerard says:

    I like this post, but I am also very skeptical. The author seems to try to convey the message that if you just spend enough time learning about investing that will automatically pick the right investments.
    It does make sense that spending more time on it could produce better results. That does leave the question of why not everyone who is spending a lot of time on studying investments, like fund managers, produce good results.

    What would make this post more useful if there were tips on how these people invested. Now it reads more like a fairy tale than actual personal finance advice.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It would be nice for Dr. Stanley to ask his millionaires how they go about studying investments — provide the nuts and bolts. Perhaps an idea for a future book on Millionaires: How They Invest.

  3. John says:

    I was not sure which article to put this under, but then again I believe it could have been under quite a few of these great articles!
    Back in the late 50’s The Leave It To Beaver show had a “mind sticking” episode aptly called “The Grass Is Always Greener”.
    Since I was almost 5 years old, it was one of my business lessons during my kindergarten years.
    I never have judged a book by it’s cover.
    Whether it was the carpenter with a MAXWELL HOUSE COFFEE can 401k. He was disciplined enough to stuff 50’s and 100’s in it until he got enough for another acre.
    The junk man in the episode, to me, would be an exemplary
    figure, or the fireman etc.
    If you don’t trust the coffee can, find a safety box or a simple money market, etc.

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