Saturday, May 29, 2004

Self-made millionaires share thrifty habits


'Next Door' author now profiles self-made women

By Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press

EARLY RISERS, GENEROUS DONORS

A look at the median self-made millionaire woman:

• She's 49 years old, typically married with children.

• She wakes up at 5:58 a.m. Only one in 20 rises after 7:25 a.m. She sleeps 71/2 hours a night.

• She works on average 49 hours and 18 minutes a week.

• She exercises 31/2 hours a week.

• She earns 71 percent of her household's income.

• One-half of self-made millionaire women have been divorced at least once. Eighteen percent are currently divorced.

• Nearly all (98 percent) are homeowners. More than a third (34 percent) have paid off their mortgages.

• More than half (58 percent) have furniture reupholstered instead of buying new. More than half (52 percent) mend their clothes.

• They donate nearly 7 percent of their annual incomes to charity, a rate more than three times higher than the average American family.

Source: "Millionaire Women Next Door: The Many Journeys of Successful American Businesswomen"

ATLANTA - When you've sold more than $100 million worth of cars over a 30-year career, what might you choose to drive in retirement?

For Beverly Bishop, it's a well-worn 1995 Chevy Blazer, although these days she prefers a golf cart because of high gas prices.

Bishop's thrift made her a perfect candidate for the latest book by Thomas J. Stanley, the best-selling author of The Millionaire Next Door. Stanley's 1996 study of the thrifty, unassuming habits of self-made millionaires sold more than 2.5 million copies.

The author returns to the world of monstrous paychecks and modest spending habits with the recent release of Millionaire Women Next Door. Andrews McMeel Publishing has given the new book a print run of 300,000.

Living simple lives

The suburban Atlanta marketing expert has struck gold by writing about the surprising lives of people who live far below their means.

Stanley wrote about frugal millionaires in academic papers while teaching at Georgia State University, then decided to make his own fortune with mass-market exploration of this interesting demographic.

Through surveys and interviews, he found that people who make their own millions, rather than inheriting or winning them, live relatively simple lives. They often drive used cars, clip grocery store coupons and stay in middle-class homes

"I'm most interested in people who don't care to appear wealthy, don't care about the trappings of wealth," Stanley said.

During his research, he noticed a marked difference between self-made men and women. And his idea for a book about the habits of millionaire women took off.

The author queried 1,165 affluent women. He found that they're more generous, more frugal and harder-working than men in similar positions.

The women donated an average of about 7 percent of their annual incomes to charity, more than three times more than average families. They tended to mend their own clothes instead of buy new ones, and searched for foreclosed homes to save money.

Nearly all of these millionaire women had husbands and children, saying they never felt they had to give up family to strike it rich.

Bishop, the car saleswoman, said she wasn't surprised that most self-made women live like her, snipping an occasional coupon and spending on charities, not luxury items. The reason, she said, is that flashy possessions weren't what drove her to succeed. It was the desire to compete in a man's world and become independent.

369 cars a year

Bishop walked into a car dealership in old-guard Atlanta in 1972 and demanded a job selling Toyotas. They gave her a trial only because her male friend, a salesman they wanted to hire, insisted they were a package deal.

She tells her story in Stanley's book, how the bosses wanted her to get coffee and said men would never buy from her. Then she sold 369 cars in a single year. That shut them up.

"I hate male chauvinist pigs, and they're still out there," Bishop said in an interview from her home in The Villages, Fla. "But I earned their respect. I didn't try to change their world. I just fit in. Except I could outsell any one of 'em with my eyes closed."




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