“The Millionaire Next Door”changed my life in many ways in the year 2000. I was a freshman in college, and in my business management class we had an unorthodox professor who taught for $1 a year salary. He made his millions buying stock in companies secretly, and then holding them ransom, or breaking them apart and selling them. You see the same thing in the movie “Pretty Woman.” He made us read “The Millionaire Next Door,” and I was taking notes over the spouse section. Thomas Stanley said,” I have asked thousands of millionaires, What can you tell me about your spouse? Among the first things they say include: down to earth, unselfish, has traditional values [frugal], my emotional backbone, patient, understanding.” I always had a dating policy that if I knew the girl wasn’t marriage material, then I break off the relationship and move on. So I added these millionaire standards to my list of marriage traits I was looking for, since I wanted to be a millionaire one day. It changed my life for the better.
Thomas Stanley also explained that most millionaires have never been divorced and invest in their relationship with their spouse. Of course, divorce means you split assets and that is never good for building wealth, and a terrible unsupportive spouse means, you will have trouble being motivated to take certain risks associated with making more money. Some of these risks can be stressful and a supportive loving spouse can help a future millionaire weather the storms of early poverty. People are stronger as a healthy team and are more successful over all if you have a team helping you along.
So, in 2002 I found the girl who had all the traits I was looking for. Smart, college
educated, debt free, good work ethic, athletic, did I mention super cute yet, unselfish, patient with me, down to earth, traditional values, even volunteered to insulated and sheet rocked a barn with me in the Texas summer smiling the entire time. I married her 10 months after I first saw her. When you know what you are looking for, and actually find it, you gotta act fast! We became a team at that point and still had a year left in college together.
We still dated after we were married. We would go out to our favorite Thai restaurant, or just walk the campus holding hands after eating for free in the athletic cafeteria. We vacationed together, camping and surfing on the beach, snow skied in Colorado, and tubed Texas hill country rivers a lot. We also did things that we didn’t want to do for one another, such as go dancing, watch basketball/ musicals, or eat way too much BBQ! We invested time into our early relationship and built a strong foundation.
Not every day was great, sometimes we decided we needed to get apart from one another, so we got a few hobbies apart, and that allowed us to branch out and be just us. (Sometimes being together 24/7 is too much.) We supported each other in our outside hobbies, and are each other’s biggest fans. I cheered for my wife at the Crossfit Games South Regionals, and she cheered for me coaching my basketball team into the playoffs. My blog is still a mystery to my wife, but I enjoy writing, and she supports me by allowing me to post to her Facebook page. (Sorry, if she is losing Facebook friends, but she supports me!) We support each other even if we don’t totally understand it all, and the support allows us to get better, try new things, and grow.
We also invest time and money into our relationship by going to workshops for couples, church functions, and furthering our education. I got my master’s degree, and she allowed me time to read and study by taking the kids out of the house for some quiet time. I supported her with her fitness training and later allowing her to get her teacher certification done by taking the kids off her hands. We both knew that in the long term our studies would strengthen our relationship, and allow for more opportunities for our family.
Our children still take up a lot of our time and we try to schedule our time away from them each evening to cuddle, watch a Netflix show holding hands, talk by our outdoor camp fire, or sometimes we just are too tired and fall asleep beside each other. We still date, but sometimes its a little quick date to Whataburger during a soccer practice, or a nice conversation at Starbucks before we have to rush off again to another child pick up or drop off. We try for once a month to go out for a good date with a dinner, movie, bowling, or a quick weekend trip down to Austin. As the kids get older we have more freedom, because they can watch themselves, and this is exciting because it means quiet grocery store dates, and only buying two Dairy Queen Blizzards!!
All the money over the years that we have spent could have been invested and grown over time, but the best investment for a family is in our relationship. Together we have built our wealth, our happiness, and a future together. So a week away from the kids to Germany is money well spent, since we are more fun without kids. We are best friends, our love grows for each other each day, and in the future our relationship will make us wealthy people. No matter what happens to our money or the economy our relationship is our best investment for personal happiness and overall success in every thing we do. Be sure you put this investment money in the budget each month, and the investment will pay off in something larger than dividends!