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The Next Foreign Service Millionaire Next Door

July 1, 2019

In 1996 as young Special Ops MH-53J helicopter pilot in the Air Force I remember really enjoying reading Thomas J. Stanley’s book, The Millionaire Next Door. Fast forward 23 years later: I just finished reading The Next Millionaire Next Door written by Thomas Stanley’s daughter, Sarah Stanley Fallaw.  Who knew then that in 2019 I would be running my own financial planning and investment management firm?  Let’s take a look at some of the wisdom found in this book in order to create the next generation of Foreign Service millionaires next door.


Income vs. Wealth

“Income continues to be confused with wealth.”

“Income is what you bring home today.  Wealth is what you have for tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next day.”

There is an important difference become those who have high incomes and those than have high net worth.



“High levels of social indifference have better opportunity to build wealth.”

“Living a frugal lifestyle allows an individual to comfortably afford the level of consumption in their household.”

“The typical millionaire is “a cheap date.”

“A lifestyle that is dictate by what others do, drive, and wear cannot be sustained by most without a steady fire hose of incoming cash flow.”

“Buying a car is a major financial decision that can have a significant long-term impact on wealth.” 

“Income statement affluent consumers are especially prone to leasing during periods of economic prosperity – only 14% of millionaires leased their cars.”

Don’t ignore the math that you know to be true.  To get ahead and take care of your future self, you have to spend less than you make, no matter how high your current income. (PS – think about Johnny Depp and others.)


Ignore Money Myths

“You have to understand and dispel the myths related to wealth and how it is accumulated.  Avoid blaming those who have achieved economic success and instead examine how you can succeed based on your own unique background and talents.  Recognize the level of influence those around you are having on your financial behaviors and make conscious decisions as to whether or not you will allow those influences to persist.  Consider your consumer behavior.  Are your purchases conducive to your overall financial goals or are they being made to emulate the glittering rich or those who pretend to have great wealth?”

“Ignore the myths: you are your group; income equals wealth; you can judge a person’s wealth by what he drives, buys and wears; the “rich” don’t pay their fair share; if I can’t make it, I can blame the rich; I cannot get ahead on my own: the rich are evil.”

“Economically sensitive people know how to leverage adversity; they do not dwell on unfortunate situation; they direct their emotional energy into succeeding rather than resenting.  Believing that our own actions impact our ultimate financial standing is related to net worth.”
“Disdain for the rich is emotional energy not well spent.”

“Hate is a significant substitute for-not a complement to-wealth-building.”

“What is left if we ignore the myths of how wealth is built in America?  The answer is our own behaviors, choices and lifestyles.”

“Our financial future is up to us, not to our employer, government or even family members.”
 Innocence, pain and blame around money will block your success and happiness so take charge of your own life.  (PS – read George Kinder’s The Seven Stages of Money Maturity.)


Financial Independence Defined

“What does being financially independent (not being beholden to debt repayments, an employer, or a paycheck) allow you to do? It grants you freedom.  You are fee to solve problems the way you see fit; free to volunteer or spend time with family; free to take a job that perhaps pays less but gives you more satisfaction; free to create your own economic opportunities.”

“Deciding early on a philosophy for work and career and not assuming that the traditional view of work is the only path.”

Define your own version of success early on your career so you can make decisions around bidding, assignments, LWOP, leaving the service, etc. that are in-keeping with your priorities and values.  Make it personal, rather than focusing on what others are striving for.


Recruiting Your Team Members

“Hire based on one personality only–conscientiousness. This includes aspects of industriousness (working hard, confidence) virtue (doing what’s right morally or socially), self-control (being cautious, delaying gratification), order (the detail-orientation component), responsibility (doing what’s right for others, community), traditionalism (adhering to authority and rules)."

“Another psychological characteristic tied intimately with conscientiousness is integrity: being honest and truthful with others, doing what you say you’re going to do, and generally acting in a manner that is beyond reproach.”

“GPA does not measure discipline, integrity, initiative, risk-taking, ability to judge others, vision, tenacity, empathy, perseverance and social skills (in essence-excellent leadership skills).”

Selecting the right employees for our missions overseas or the next Americans for your team is paramount for all leaders and managers and will ultimately lead to your own success.  Use these same qualities to bolster your own “corridor rep”.


Corridor Rep” & Human Capital

"In the same way that we approach managing our finances, building work-related resources in the forms of experience and reputation are critical.”

“Obtain and save not only the income from your employer, but the skills, opportunities and experiences that will allow you flexibility and resources in the future.”

“Transportable skills and experiences set up a good defense against job elimination, economic woes and even geopolitical upheavals.”

One millionaire summed it up this way, “the best thing I have done is to be my own business and to be as good as I can in that. That’s the mother lode that supports everything else."

“Reputation for work, that was the reason he was sought out.” 

Build your skills, seek out opportunities for personal growth, develop your network year after year and treat your colleagues and team members right – it really is that simple.


Putting It All Together

“Building wealth requires a combination of our ability and willingness to live below our means, to be confident in our financial decisions and to ultimately take responsibility for the economic outcomes of our households.”

“High-potential wealth accumulators are largely made, not born.”

“Millionaires' three themes to remove yourself from the trap of working to live:  creating margin in their lifestyle to allow for career moves, particularly significant ones (living off savings while starting a business); exploring career opportunities while generating revenue from a traditional job (moonlighting) and making a move to self-employment.”

Be ready for an unexpected career move.  Don’t overinvest in your career to the detriment of enduring and intimate relationships with those you love.  Explore paid and non-paid career encore careers that will fill you with energy and passion for the next stage of your life.

If some of these ideas resonant with you, I highly recommend reading The Next Millionaire Next Door.  Who knows what you can accomplish before the next version in 23 years? Wishing you continued success in your federal government careers!


As a former Foreign Service Officer and Air Force pilot, I’m passionate about continuing to serve those in government and the military. Our services and publications are designed for individuals and families in these communities.  Follow me – Chris Cortese- on LinkedIn  or like our page on Facebook so you can continue to benefit from our daily commentary and content.


 Chris Cortese, CFP®

Logbook Financial Planning, LLC



 “Investment advisory services are offered through Logbook Financial Planning, LLC, a Licensed Investment Adviser in the state of Maine and Registered Investment Adviser in the state of Virginia” “All written content is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide any tax or legal advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions.” “Logbook Financial Planning, LLC is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

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