I recently finished the time-honored best seller, The Millionaire Next Door. It was an interesting read, that I'd happily recommend to people interested in personal finance or social science. It was a good combination of both with lots of data to backup the research.
The book had more to say than its obvious tagline: millionaires aren't necessarily the high spending people you see driving leased BMW's. Millionaires are often frugal, self employed, driving a modest car about 4 years old, and choose financial freedom over aggressive consumption.
The authors also spent a lot of time discussing "Economic Outpatient Care" in which a millionaire parent provides financial assistance to his/her adult children. The results of such care generally are not good. The gifts, more likely than not, encourage consumption, not investment, and recipients of these gifts tend to think of this gift income as "theirs" thus increasing their disposable income budget disproportionate to their actual earnings. The best thing for millionaires with fortunates to pass on - teach your children to be Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth, ie. savers, encourage an emphasis on achievement over material accumulation and save the gifting for investments/education and try to withhold much of it until they've demonstrated a level of personal maturity and self realization. To do this, is to have the best chance at raising independent, happy adults.
For those of us less concerned with how to distribute our millions to future heirs, there were other interesting topics. Courage is not absence of fear, but it is the ability to face fear. It can be applied to business risk or life, in general. Be mindful of the consumption treadmill. It is a trap. Consider, instead, the price of your financial freedom and live within, or below, your means. Most millionaires are first generation rich. Meaning, they did it themselves. Rid yourself of the tired excuse that "everyone" else has an advantage. We all have the advantage when we were born in a country that supports economic freedom and personal choice. Millionaires are budgeters and planners. That made me happy :)
In short, the book was reassuring and fun to read. It reminded me to be careful of excess consumption. Status purchases, in general, do not equate to more happiness - the data proves this to be true. Don't be so quick to judge. Remember, income does not equal wealth. Lastly, It reinforced the importance of financial budgeting and planning. Budgeting, for me, has allowed me to stick to a plan and to weather uncertain times because I knew I was making personal progress towards personal goals. It gives me ownership of my life.