The Millionaire Next Door: A Gift That Changed My Life

by Lance Gunkel, CFP®, CFA, Managing Director | October 3, 2021

 nullIt was the day after my high school graduation party, and I opened many cards wishing me well in college and giving me $20 to help along the way.
 
The final gift I opened was a book from my Grandpa Bill and Grandma Lollie. My grandparents were very generous to me, but I didn’t anticipate getting a book to celebrate graduation. This was not the standard graduation copy of Dr. Suess’ Oh, The Places You’ll  Go!; it was The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley.
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The book was inscribed: "You can learn from this – enjoy."  It opened my eyes to the idea of planning for a comfortable future and providing security. Once I was secure, I could use my resources to help others.
 
It turns out that this book was incredibly influential in my daily life and my career, as I decided to get a degree in finance and business economics. Now, I’m using those skills to help many households meet their needs and give to others.
 
My grandparents likely had no idea that this gift would cause such a ripple in my life. They passed along much more than the ideas in the book; the love and kindness shown to others was something I felt every time I visited them.
 
I now have the responsibility to help form the values and ideas passed along to my two boys. I sometimes worry about whether I’m doing too little (or too much). I try to remember that going about my daily life and living out the values I want to teach is the most important thing I can do for them.
 
I may not luck out and find a book that shapes their careers, but I still have much I want to give to them, and for them to give to others.