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Pastor and His Wife, A Teacher, on Building Character and Wealth

By Thomas J. Stanley on Apr 1st, 2013 in Lessons Learned

My wife (public school teacher) and I (pastor) have become
millionaires (yes, without even figuring equity in our home) in
our mid-late 40s while being salaried workers and with her
taking nine years off from teaching/salary to stay at home with
kids. We’ve had no inheritance or windfall. Moreover, we have
consistently given about 20% of our income back to our church.
We have simply delayed gratification by consistently living on
less than we make while contributing heavily to our 403B. We
now have over $700,000 in those retirement accounts. We also
own a second home that is a lake house free of any debt. We’ve
also done this by avoiding consumer debt- always buying good
reliable used cars and paying cash for them, NEVER having
credit card debt, etc. One other decision helped us achieve a
level of financial freedom. Early in our marriage, when we
built our first home in the suburbs, we built it with a full
unfinished basement. After living in the home for two years we
finished the basement (with cash) making it what most would
term an in-law suite. We ONLY did this because we had decided
that we could live down there and rent out the upstairs. We did
that for several years (most of them were the years my wife
stopped teaching to stay home with the kids). The rent and
utilities that were paid to us basically allowed us to pay the
mortgage and live with very little housing cost during those
years. When we sold that house we reaped a large amount of
sweat equity, which we eventually used to buy the
aforementioned lake house without debt. We are currently cash
flowing our oldest child in a major university and will soon be
doing the same with the other. We continue to contribute about
15% to our retirement. After getting the first two kids through
college we will both be over 50 and able to increase our
contributions. We anticipate retiring with a 3-5 million
dollars in assets. We do not, however, consider this to define
who we are. If the value of our retirement accounts go down it
will not change our identity. No one around us has any idea
what our total net worth is, which is the way we like it!

4 responses to “Pastor and His Wife, A Teacher, on Building Character and Wealth”

  1. Steve MoneyPlanSOS Stewart says:

    It sounds too fantastic to be true but I can see how these two have become wealthy by living on less than they make for many years. It encourages me that my wife and I can also anticipate “retiring with a 3-5 million dollars in assets” one day.

    Thank you Pastor and Teacher for the testimony!

  2. Ingus says:

    Inspiring…

  3. Sandra says:

    Good for them. They have been frugal and saved and invested from the first day of their marriage, it sounds like.

  4. Elijah says:

    So you spent “several years” living in a basement? I’m all for frugality but this just isn’t worth it.

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