This past weekend, I spent some time channel surfing on my TV and I came across a program about lottery winners.

The show featured interviews with people who had gone from rags to riches...to rags again. Despite winning millions of dollars, many of these lottery winners found themselves broke again after just a few years of living the high life.

What went wrong? How can people who are multi-millionaires go back to being poor again? In some cases, they had made bad investments, gave a lot of their money away, got socked with lawsuits and started businesses which failed. More often than not, they simply spent it all.

The lottery winners showed off pictures of mansions, car collections, expensive vacations and jewelry they had purchased with their millions. It's no wonder they had burned through their money so quickly.

What they failed to realize is that most millionaires...people who EARNED all of their money, or simply were born into rich families...don't actually live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Most millionaires live below their means, and are frugal to a fault.

I personally know several millionaires, and with only one exception, you would never know they were millionaires unless they actually told you. They only told me because they know I will never ask them for money, and in other cases I know they own businesses which earn many millions of dollars.

Unlike the lottery millionaires, they don't buy car collections or live in mansions or wear Rolex watches. They look like the average Joe on the street. They buy used cars or trucks. They shop at Walmart. They live below their means.

That is how they STAY rich. They know that bad business moves can cost them money, and they hate to lose money. They don't spend money for the sake of spending money. They have to get value for their money, and they have to actually get something in return. They prefer to spend money on things which will in turn MAKE them even more money.

This was actually covered in a book called "The Millionaire Next Door". The average American millionaire...and there are many, many millionaires now living in the U.S., doesn't appear on the surface to look like what most Americans think a millionaire is. Our perception of millionaires has been warped by lottery winners, reality shows and Donald Trump.

Most millionaires are hard-working people who look for bargains and live frugally so they can keep more of their money. A good case in point is actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. Despite her success on the TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", Gellar admits to being a tightwad. She clips coupons, rides a bike instead of driving an expensive car and brings her own grocery bags to the Whole Foods market so she can get a discount on groceries. She probably has plenty of money to live a rather lavish lifestyle, but she knows the way to stay rich is to save her money, and live below her means.

We can all learn lessons from the Millionares Next Door, even though we aren't millionaires. Live below your means, and you can lead a richer lifestyle.

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