The way most people build wealth is no secret - Save, invest, repeat. How average people keep their wealth, though, gets a lot less attention.
It boils down to how they handle risk. It's hard to accumulate wealth without taking some risks, but there are perils that "next-door millionaires" seem to avoid.
Next-door millionaires weren't born into wealth. They haven't invented killer apps or won the lottery, exercised a pile of stock options or played professional sports.
They're the majority of millionaires, and they include teachers, small business owners and professionals who accumulate wealth gradually over time.
They're often in their 50s or 60s before their net worth ticks over to seven digits.
Research into how they think and act can give other regular folks some good insights. Here are some rules of thumb you might consider applying to your own finances.
FOLLOW THE 'ONE HOUSE, ONE SPOUSE' RULE
Marriage can really benefit your financial life. People who get and stay married tend to be much wealthier than never-married singles, according to research by the Ohio State University. By retirement age, married people have nearly 10 times the financial assets of singles, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
But divorce can dramatically shrink your wealth. People who split up experience an average wealth drop of 77 per cent. So while the uber-rich may be able to divorce and remarry with relative impunity, dividing assets can be wickedly costly for everyone else.
Sticking with one house can pay off, too. Every time you sell a house and buy another, you're giving up a chunk of your wealth to commissions and moving costs. Trading up also means staying in debt longer if you take on a new, 30-year mortgage with each purchase.
If your home has appreciated substantially, you also may owe capital gains taxes on the sale.
TAKE RISKS, BUT DON'T GAMBLE
"Safe" investments don't get you anywhere. The returns on Treasury bills and bank accounts insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp don't even keep up with inflation, so you're actually losing wealth over time. But next-door millionaires aren't speculators, either.
Millionaire portfolios tend to be widely diversified, with investments in stock funds, bonds, cash and real estate.
The most popular investment choice? Low-cost Vanguard index funds, according to the 2014 CNBC Millionaire Survey.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL
Some people question the value of a college education, but in wealthy families, it's usually a given, says Myra Salzer, an inheritance coach and founder of the Wealth Conservancy. Nine out of 10 millionaires surveyed by BMO Private Bank in 2013 had a college degree and over half had a professional or graduate degree.
Eight out of 10 millionaires told the 2014 CNBC Millionaire Survey that wealth inequality was due at least in part to wealthier families' greater access to education.
Encouraging your kids to go to college, and helping to pay for it if possible, could help your kids get on the right side of the have versus have not divide.
DON'T DIY YOUR MONEY
Seven out of 10 millionaires surveyed by the Spectrem Group in 2014 used financial advisers. Many said the primary benefits were improving their knowledge of investing, having access to a wider range of investment opportunities and boosting their returns. Also on the list - peace of mind and being able to delegate to experts.
You don't necessarily need a fleet of advisers, attorneys and tax pros, especially if you don't have a lot of money. But expert guidance is available in many forms.
A BIG TAX BILL MEANS YOU'RE WINNING
In fact, a tax bill of any size means you're doing better than a lot of Americans. A large chunk of US households - 45 per cent, according to the latest Tax Policy Center estimate - don't pay federal income tax because they don't have enough taxable income.
The loathing some people have for taxes can lead them to do pretty stupid things with their money. They might buy variable annuities to defer taxes, not realising that excessive fees can erode their returns and that they could pay more in taxes in the long run.
Or they keep a mortgage just for the tax deduction, which is like giving someone a dollar just to get a quarter or two back in change.
It's OK to consider strategies to reduce your taxes, but tax considerations shouldn't drive your investment and financial decisions.
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