What does it take to build wealth over time? I was fortunate to work with Dr. John Grable and Michelle Kruger from the University of Georgia’s financial planning performance lab on a research paper examining that topic, and the research was featured in the January edition of the Journal of Financial Service Professionals. The study used DataPoints’ proprietary list of financial tasks, which is based in part on the behaviors and habits documented in the 40+ years of research that led to The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind.
The study examined the financial behaviors of three groups: prodigious accumulators of wealth, average accumulators of wealth, and under-accumulators of wealth–using survey data from two groups of respondents that DataPoints collected. The wealth-accumulator categories were defined using the same criteria and formula used in The Millionaire Next Door. The key findings from the paper were that those who were successful at accumulating wealth frequently exhibited the following behaviors:
- Spending less than they earned
- Having a long-term outlook on their financial future
- Maintaining sound financial records
- Keeping up with financial markets
- Saving regardless of income level
The prodigious accumulators of wealth also reported not carrying balances on credit cards–unlike the under-accumulators of wealth in the study, who also reported that they frequently engaged in less-than-helpful financial behaviors such as spending more than their budgeted amount when shopping.
The research provides support for the thesis that individuals who successfully accumulate wealth often engage in basic and identifiable productive financial management behaviors. That is good news for advisors and their clients that are working today to improve their financial behaviors as a means to build wealth in the future.
Grable, J. E., Kruger, M., & Fallaw, S. S. (2017). An Assessment of Wealth Accumulation Tasks and Behaviors. Journal of Financial Service Professionals, 71(1), 55-70.