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Millionaires With Marine Corps Discipline

By Thomas J. Stanley on Mar 18th, 2014 in Mentor's Corner

The national sample of 733 millionaires, the base for my book The Millionaire Mind,  is representative of a fraction of the top 1% of wealth holders in America. Out of the 30 success factors they rated, integrity and discipline ranked in a tie for first place.  

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of discipline in accounting for variations in economic success.  If you lack discipline, the chances of you ever accumulating wealth are very, very small.  Yes, you can win the lotto. But in most cases, you have a better chance of contracting leprosy.

Interestingly the three success components that come under the heading of intellectual orientation are nowhere near as important as discipline in explaining one’s socioeconomic success.  Having a high IQ/superior intellect ranked 21st; graduating from a top college ranked 23rd, and graduating near/at top of my class ranked 30th. 
Congruent with these findings is a recent case study I received from a lawyer who had benefited greatly from his Marine Corps training.  Keep in mind that enhancing discipline is a major component of the Marine Corps experience.
Dr. Stanley, I’ve read The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind and I loved them both. I just finished The Millionaire Mind. The book spoke to me because although I am not a Millionaire . . . I plan to be. I am like your main character, the Millionaire next door . . . I went to Officer Candidate School in the Marine Corps; I went to college; I went to law school. I am not highly intelligent and I am not “gifted” with a high IQ. I am disciplined and I work hard. I also happen to have a twin brother and we are identical in every way. We both opened a law firm about five years ago; we practice real estate. We are social; we get along with people; we have a high degree of basic common sense. Also, we practice in real estate so we are not competing with the prototypical high IQ people. We are doing well . . . last year both of us made over $250k. As far as personal consumption, I follow the “Dave Ramsey” plan and maintain a cash budget. I drive a 98 Honda Accord with 247,000 miles on it. Every time I get behind the wheel, I smile as I drive the beast as a badge of honor. All my friends are buying big homes they cannot afford and luxury cars that they lease or purchase with loans. They are Income Statement Affluent. They earn fairly large salaries and they spend it all. One of my best friends says that he takes out loans to buy things because it puts pressure on him to earn more money. I cannot think of a more flawed logic. My intention is to do the exact opposite. I am 37 and I have no debt. My goal is to invest as much as possible in mutual funds and to accumulate commercial and residential real estate over my lifetime. I will do this without ever having taken out a mortgage! I love reading your books so if you keep writing them, I will keep reading them. All the best. Semper Fi–S.

5 responses to “Millionaires With Marine Corps Discipline”

  1. T says:

    I love your books, but its hard for me to get excited about glamorizing a lifestyle of driving a beater around, when you make 250k a year. Just seems like fugulity is some kind of contest.

    How about making 250k a year, but spending a reasonable amount on yourself and your car…

  2. Robert says:

    It’s about short-term sacrifice vs. long-term gain, T. Make $250k/year, drive a beater, and in five years you can have a million dollars saved and buy whatever flashy status symbol car you want. But it’s also about value. A car I buy once and drive the wheels off is a better value than buying a new car once every two, three, five years. Even when you include the benefits of “status”.

  3. Tony Schuman says:

    About 15 years ago, former Georgia governor and US Senator Zell Miller wrote a book titled “Corps Values; lessons I learned as a US Marine”. Miller goes over his personal history of being thrown into the county drunk tank and given a choice by his sentencing judge; jail or the military. His book is an inspiration for anyone wanting to learn more about what makes a US Marine. Also, in my 30+ years in the investment business, I have noticed many top performing CEOs were Marine Corps officers early in their careers. The lack of integrity of many of our recent corporate failures shows that they could never had made it as a Marine.

  4. Nick says:

    Regarding “T”‘s comment

    its hard for me to get excited about glamorizing a lifestyle of driving a beater around, when you make 250k a year.

    I have been following Mr. Stanley’s book for 12 plus years now. At that time, our take home income was around 90k, at present, our take home income (salary+business) will reach 400k+. 12 years back, I was driving Honda Accord (2000). Till last year, I drove same car till it reached around 245k and gave it to my son. When deciding new car, I look around and tested both luxury as well as Honda/Toyota. I ended up purchasing Toyota Camry (hybrid) as it fitted the bill of basic transportation. I don’t need to show anyone that our net worth will reach half way to eight figure mark in next one to two years.
    For me, financial independence including paying full tuition to kids’ education, helping others are more important than driving expensive piece of steel from one place to another.

  5. T says:

    But guys, there is a middle ground here. Not saying you need to spend 100k on your car. I said reasonable amount. And I think that comes down to preference. Just saying that, it shouldn’t be a goal to deprive yourself – just for the sake of deprivation.

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