Despite what you see in the media, financial success generally doesn’t come with a lot of glitz. The wealthiest people I know are the ones you’d least expect. They’ve built their wealth slowly — and quietly.

Certified financial planner Brett Wilder has observed the same thing, and has written about the phenomenon in his book, The Quiet Millionaire. Along the way, he shares real-life examples of quiet millionaires. These are the same sorts of people who were profiled in Stanley and Danko’s The Millionaire Next Door [my review]. They’re frugal, hard-working, and sensible.

From the introduction:

Being a millionaire is a realistic aspiration if you are knowledgeable and diligent about becoming one…

Financial miracles do happen, but the quiet millionaire does not wait for a miracle in order to become financially successful. Depending upon what and how much you want, you need to commit to taking action and to making some well-thought-out, informed choices regarding what is really important to you and your financial life. This may require you to throw in some willing sacrifices, steadfast perseverance, and rolled-up-sleeve hard work.

In other words: It is possible to get rich — slowly.

A textbook for financial independence
Wilder begins his book by asking readers to consider what is important to them about both life and money. He urges introspection. In many ways, Wilder’s approach reminds me of George Kinder’s three questions about life planning. Both men want us to look beyond money to find meaning.

Most of the book is about straight-up financial planning, though. Its content will be familiar to GRS readers. Wilder covers topics like:

  • How to have a positive cash flow
  • How to manage various types of debt (mortgage, credit card, etc.)
  • How to plan for taxes (a topic I don’t cover much at GRS)
  • How to choose the right insurance
  • How to make college affordable
  • How to deal with health insurance

The advantage of The Quiet Millionaire over a blog, however, is that all of the information is in one place. Plus it’s written by a trained professional.

Unlike most books of this sort, The Quiet Millionaire also features a chapter on entrepreneurship. “Most quiet millionaires are successful business owners,” Wilder writes. “While not all are, statistically, most of them used this path to become one.” You won’t learn how to run a business here, but you will be given a sort of rough guide to business ownership.

The book’s longest chapter explains “how to be an investment winner”, and stresses the importance of diversification, asset allocation, and risk tolerance. Wilder’s goal is to get his readers to take emotion out of their investment decisions.

The Quiet Millionaire is different from most of the other personal-finance books I review. Though Wilder includes behavioral finance and life planning concepts, this is a numbers book. If you’re put off by the psychological tomes I usually feature here, consider reading The Quiet Millionaire instead. As one Amazon reviewer noted, “It’s like a textbook for financial independence.”

All the same, I often felt like there wasn’t enough information about any one subject. It’s as if The Quiet Millionaire were the map of an entire country. By looking at it, you can see how major highways connect one city to another, but in order to get detailed directions, you need to pick up a street map. (In this case, the street maps would be other books on specific topics.)

Getting rich slowly — and quietly
The Quiet Millionaire isn’t really a book for beginners. It’s targeted at folks who, like me, have reached the third stage of personal finance — or beyond. It’s for readers who are out of debt and building wealth.

(I think the book is actually targeted at those with high incomes. For example, it touches on Roth IRAs only briefly because: “Unfortunately, the quiet millionaire typically cannot contribute to the Roth IRA because it has…earned income limitations.” In other words, Wilder’s target audience is the top 10% of income earners!)

The Quiet Millionaire is a quiet book. Wilder isn’t bombastic, and he doesn’t tout any gimmicks. In many ways, this book is boring.

But you know what? Smart personal finance is boring, too. Smart personal finance isn’t about being flashy or gambling in the stock market. Smart personal finance is about making the right choices day after day, year after year. The Quiet Millionaire may not make any best-seller lists, but I’ll bet it makes some of its readers rich.

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