Millionaire Myth Busters

Millionaires just inherited the money. All they do is drive their brand-new cars to the golf course while the rest of us slave away. Those evil rich people.

Sound like someone who is bitter? Maybe. It also sounds like someone who is wrong. Most people with a seven-figure net worth have common-sense habits when it comes to money. Those habits are what led to being rich. Since they can do it, so can you.

Check out some of the other myths that are lumped onto millionaires:

Millionaires just inherited their wealth.

This one might be the most common. Many people want to think of the rich as just a bunch of spoiled jerks who haven't worked a day in their lives because they got their money from relatives.

But Dr. Tom Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door, found through his research that about 20% of millionaires became that way through inheritance. The other 80% are first-generation rich. That means they started from nothing and piled up money. It's very doable.

Millionaires don't pay their taxes.

Riiiiiiight. The best way to build wealth and not raise any suspicion from the authorities while doing it is to ... jip the IRS and have a total lack of integrity. How desperate is someone who believes this? Hate to burst their bubble, but the top 1% of earners in this country pays 40% of the taxes. That number could go even higher with certain tax legislation about to expire. Rich people pay, and then some.

Millionaires all drive fancy cars.

The purpose of a car is not to make you look good, but to safely get you from A to B. And the average millionaire has figured that out; Ford is tops on the list of preferred cars of the average millionaire (9.4%).Don't get us wrong. You can certainly own a nice car once you are rich, but not having money and taking out a car payment on a nice set of wheels means the car owns you.

Millionaires are all retired and living the good life.

This one sounds similar to the myth that millionaires just inherit their wealth. But the stats are similar, too. About two in 10 millionaires have their feet kicked up. The rest go to work each day and keep generating the income to save and build their wealth up.

They all have high-paying jobs.

Really? That's not what Donald, a My Total Money Makeover member, found out.

I was helping my dad pick up a new grill from Lowe's this morning. We got to talking with one of the employees who was unchaining the grill for us, about the retirement program, matched contributions, etc.

He mentioned two guys who just retired, one of them after 25 years. These everyday Lowe's employees just saved and saved and saved. The first retired with $1.1 million! The other guy was a manager for most of his 30 years and retired with $4.3 million! —Donald in Virginia

Tons of people are afraid to make the sacrifices it takes to become rich, like saving and living a smaller, budgeted lifestyle. So they just fill their minds with stereotypes about millionaires being spoiled, crooked or unhappy. But wealth gained with integrity brings peace with it. And fun!