Shawn and Melinda didn't set out to be millionaires. But it didn't happen by accident either.
Early in their marriage, this Huntsville, Alabama, couple decided to save a portion of their paycheck every month. That's their big secret: consistently saving money. And that's just what they did for 25 years.
"We didn't do anything extravagant investing-wise," Shawn explains. "We just followed basic investing principles. It was really just a matter of making saving a priority."
Even though they didn't have a huge salary early on, the pair established their saving goals and then lived a modest, comfortable life year after year. In fact, their household income over the past two decades only averaged around $70,000.
But because they invested early and often, the power of compound interest began to seriously multiply their nest egg.
That's the thing about "normal" millionaires like Shawn and Melinda—they're just like us. But they have the mind-set that tomorrow is just as important as today. They don't waste money on new cars or posh vacations before they save for their future.
"I bought one new car in 1994," jokes Shawn, "but I turned around and sold it because I hated having a car payment."
Be confident about your retirement. Find an investing pro in your area today.
One of Shawn's favorite books is The Millionaire Next Door, which explains that most millionaires aren't flashy. Instead, they lead pretty normal lives—buying reliable used cars and living in modest neighborhoods below their means.
That's because most millionaires are less focused on status and more focused on stability. It's brilliantly simple. And yet so many people miss it!
Shawn and Melinda recognized this early on and knew they had to create a monthly budget to meet their money goals. "Going through Financial Peace University showed us how to develop a budget," Shawn says. "And when EveryDollar [Dave's free budget tool] came out, it really helped because we got away from the paper spreadsheets. It was a great thing in terms of getting our budget set and then following it every month."
Even when they were making less money, they stuck with their budget. That's what really sets millionaires apart from the pack: consistency over time.
"There's no big secret to building wealth. It just takes time, patience and wisdom."
"Sometimes, we worked more than one job," Shawn says. "We chose to live in places we could afford, but they were still comfortable and safe. We chose cars that were not new, but they were comfortable and good transportation. And after 25 years of doing that, we looked up and said: ‘Wow, this is really quite a nest egg that we've built.'"
No matter how old you are or how many times you've tried to save money, you can do this too. Simply make a plan and follow through! Becoming a millionaire doesn't take a silver spoon—it takes an iron will.
"You can build wealth," Shawn says. "It doesn't take a college education, and it doesn't take someone who has wealthy parents and inherits a lot of money. It's really about putting in the work, having a plan, and working together to make that a reality."