I drive a 2006 Chrysler 300C, the one with the Hemi engine. I bought it in January 2007 – not just at the end of the model year, but deep into the next one. Got one heck of a deal, and invested the savings. I still drive it, because I have no reason not to: it’s a terrific car, it runs like a top, and – most important – because I don’t care what anyone else thinks about what I drive.

I learned to think and act that way forevermore in 1996, when – along with just about everyone else in our industry, it seemed – I read a new book called The Millionaire Next Door by Dr. Tom Stanley, who was killed by a reckless driver on February 28 of this year.

TMNS changed my life. Tom’s (and Bill Danko’s) groundbreaking research into the modesty, frugality and sheer, cussed inner-directedness of the self-made millionaire was just what I needed, at a moment when my career had been vaulted to a new level, with earnings to match.

He had me at hello: literally from page one, where Tom had written, “Wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend” – very much not a widely-held perception in those roaring ‘90s! But then he went on to prove it, in page after page of delightful stories laced with conclusive (but never obtrusive) statistics.

As noted, I well and truly got my bell rung by the chapter “You Aren’t What You Drive.” But the real heart-stopper for me was the finding that the men who were Tom’s PAWs – Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth – were overwhelmingly married to their first wives, who were even more frugal than they were. On page 37 of the edition I own – I’m looking right at it now – he quoted a PAW who lamented, “I can’t get my wife to spend any money!” Dear reader, until the very moment I read those words, I was the only person whom I’d ever heard say that! I’ve always had to drag my beautiful bride around to stores and make her buy things for herself.

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