As we progress through this election cycle I am having a bout of deja vu. We’ve been here before. Back in 1996 we were watching another election cycle that involved the Clintons–Bill Clinton versus Bob Dole versus Ross Perot. We were also seeing increased technology addiction (chatting on dial-up ISPs), and feeling as if threats to our security seemed eerily close to home after the bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
That same year, in October, The Millionaire Next Door was first published. As the value of dot-com stocks were rising along with everyone’s income and prospects for the future, the book focused on two different groups: those who had high incomes and little saved versus those with high net worth and (for the most part) somewhat modest incomes.
As I had the bittersweet task of writing the foreword for the 20th anniversary book, several reporters have asked me whether anyone could still become a millionaire next door in 2016. I have consistently responded: Yes, it’s possible. We know there are certain behaviors– behaviors that we can change— that impact an individual’s ability to build wealth over time. But certain environmental factors have changed, and today it may take even more discipline to stay on the path to financial success. The right choices–the choices that lead to financial independence–are even more obscured today than in 1996 by social media and the influence of of our peers that suffer from the debilitating disease of affluenza. Rising healthcare and education costs make it a financial imperative to ensure a healthy lifestyle and to be impervious to the influence of where the Joneses vacation or send their kids to school.
DataPoints’ research has determined that the core competencies of wealth building remains the same today as in 1996: being disciplined and focused even in the face of fear. Back in 2011 on the 15th anniversary of the book my father wrote on his blog:
Fear is something that those in all competitive environments need to deal with. Many people opt out of self employment, for instance, because they are fearful and believe that only those who succeed are fearless…generating wealth [takes] much discipline and focus.
We are free to decide if we’re going to be fearful or not. We are free to be afraid of not following the crowd and taking a different path, of voting our conscience (or not voting based on our conscience), of not taking the leap of faith into a new job or new business. But we are also free to boldly move forward in spite of our fears, knowing that we have to stay focused and disciplined.
Here’s to boldly moving forward in spite of our fears. And to you, Dad.