Big Hat No Cattle-Recap of The Millionaire Next Door


Cover of The Millionaire Next Door


MTV Cribs & 30 for 30 Broke

This post is a recap of The Millionaire Next Door. When I was reading this book I couldn’t help but think about two shows that have impacted my thoughts in money. One is ESPN’s classic “30 for 30.” Broke and my favorite stunting show of all time “MTV Cribs.” Imagine your favorite athlete or musician giving you a tour of their home and they show you their kid’s sleep on Egyptian Cotton worth $10K a count. However, the difference between the public figures shown on 30 for 30 or MTV cribs is they had Big Hats no Cattle. Meaning they had the flashy status materials but they quickly ran out of funds. This is no slight to them because that episode is prime time lack of financial literacy, they were just brave enough to share their trials and tribulations.

“My business does not look pretty. I don’t play the part… don’t act it. … When my British partners first met me, they thought I was one of our truck drivers. … They looked all over my office, looked at everyone but me. Then the senior guy of the group said, “Oh, we forgot we were in Texas!” I don’t own big hats, but I have a lot of cattle.” 

A Respondent surveyed in The Millionaire Next Door

Unfortunately, the flashy flaunting lifestyle in many cases has shown on the show won’t help any of us become wealthy because of the high consumerism on the show. So why do we chase this lifestyle? After reading this book and many hours of study and research I’d like to give you my takeaways from this book with a hint of how this relates to our financial debt crisis as a society. 

Living below their means

donald duck disney empty wallet gif

The book interviews thousands of millionaires, not professional athletes, musicians, nor do they interview entertainers. The respondents in large were entrepreneurs, professionals, college graduates, one in five did not have a college degree. Subsequently, many had graduate degrees but not all. The respondents aren’t limited to lawyers, doctors, or any mention corporate C-Suite executives but the average everyday worker that intentionally made decisions to live below their means to attain wealth. For example, you might live next to a millionaire and this isn’t out of reach. I’m learning the prodigious millionaires own a lot of big cattle and don’t wear big hats. “Most millionaires are not driving this year’s model.” On the other hand, what comes to mind when you think of a millionaire? Fancy cars? Italian suits?

In addition, these millionaires are frugal, not cheap. They’re more pragmatic and frugal with their money. They don’t live in often mentioned affluent neighborhoods because they’d save and invest 15% of their pre-taxed income. I hope you understand that it doesn’t matter what they look like, it’s what they focus on that matters. Not fancy suits, luxury cars, country clubs, or status symbols. I noticed many of their frugal peers did not care or try to keep up with the Joneses because we know they’re broke.


“Net worth is defined as the current value of one’s assets less liabilities. The book defined it as having net worth of $1million or more.”

The Millionaire Next Door -Thomas J. Stanley

The book discusses those who accumulate wealth under PAW and UAW synonyms. A PAW is a prodigious accumulator of wealth. A UAW is an under accumulator of wealth. The book is based on factual case studies. These are real situations with fake names to protect the respondent’s identities. Take Miller “Bubba Richards a 50-year-old mobile home dealer proprietor whose income in a single year was $90,200 His computed net worth was $451,000 but his actual net worth was PAW $1.1millionn Then take James Ford II same age to Bubba 50 years old but James is a lawyer who’s single year income was $92,330. Mr. Ford’s net worth was $226,511 while his calculated level f wealth was closer to $470,833 How could this be? Mr. Ford spends on his family’s upper-class lifestyle, expensive silverware, country clubs, and high-end luxury cars. With all that spending no wonder why it’s hard to accumulate wealth.

“It is very difficult for a married couple to accumulate wealth if one is a spendthrift. A household divided in its financial orientation is unlike to accumulate significant wealth.”

The Millionaire Next Door-Thomas J. Stanley

They Believe Financial Independence is More Important Than Social Status

Kenya Banks
I was going for poetry snaps but we’ll go with this.

Status and wealth are not synonymous. I think this is what is crippling us from acquiring wealth, looking the part. The “I deserve” mindset. We work hard, are often not thanked, and we want to enjoy life. We buy to keep up and look the part but why? Look up the #BowWow Challenge. Shad Moss whose rap name is Bow Wow is an actor whose music career was at its peak when he was kid rapper. Mr. 106& Park was on a commercial flight where he got caught cropping a photo of himself boarding a private jet. The photo caught fire and the #BowWowChallenge was born. This book delineates between high-income earners (UAWs) who are high spenders versus working class who live below their means and operate on an annual budget (PAWs). 

Quote from The Millionaire Next Door

The author narrates that we as Americans are a consumption-oriented society. I attribute this to credit and accessibility.  Millionaires save 15% of their pre-tax income. They attribute different values to financial independence. Are you willing to hold off on going to concerts, buying a nice car, financing a new wardrobe, or going out for drinks knowing you are already in the red? Other nations save and we consume. 

Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care

Many of the respondents did one of two things I love and admire. They gave their kids the gift of education and taught them to be frugal. They taught their kids how to fish. “Independent of college tuition, more than two-thirds of American millionaires received no economic gifts from their parents.” This isn’t that chronicles the wealthy who were born into financial success. Now that we’ve gotten that out the way, let’s get into it. Some might say college tuition is an unfair head start, I say give your kids that head start.

Tools that can help you

Free activities. I went to the library almost every Saturday and still do. A list of books that opened up the possibilities of investing and accumulating wealth. My favorite to this day, Tony Robbins Master the Game and Unshakeable Your Financial Freedom Playbook Creating Peace of Mind In A World of Volatility I opened up a Robinhood account that allows for free trades. Having an accountability partner and participating in Financial Peace University in at a Church near you.

Using tools like Ibotta consistently certainly helps. Don’t let the highlight reels of social media or the “sale” at your favorite department get you caught up. Ask yourself, do I want or do I need this? If you don’t have the cash in the bank and if it doesn’t disrupt your money goals don’t even bother buying it. “Money should never change one’s values.” In my country we say money isn’t everything, we stumbled upon it here on earth and when we die we’ll leave it behind. While all of that is true we need to be good stewards of it. I got my copy of this book for $6.86 at Half Price Books in Decatur, GA I highly recommend The Millionaire Next Door.

Millionaire Next Door – It’s a Mindset

In conclusion money, in my opinion, is 80% culture and habit and 20% finance. However, our behavior can be especially hard since we see people around us enjoying life on social media driving their nice cars. Think about the future, retirement, generational wealth, wealth in your life-time like before 50, or even having enough to give without looking back. Having enough money to walk away from your job for two to three years without sneezing.  We can change our habits and grow, first we have to assess our relationship with money and status.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. read more

    Excellent article! We will be linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    1. Kofi Gyebi

      Thanks for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed it!

Leave a Reply