For most people around the world, earning a million dollars makes you rich. In America, it just makes you middle class.
A new book, The Middle-Class Millionaire: The Rise of The New Rich And How They Are Changing America ($24, Currency Doubleday), finds that 8.4 million U.S. households have a net worth of between $1 million and $10 million of money they did not inherit.
While these middle-class millionaires live in regular neighborhoods and send their kids to public schools, they behave very differently from their less-wealthy neighbors.
Middle-class millionaires exhibit four qualities that have a lot to do with why they are so successful and influential, Lewis Schiff, who wrote the book with Russ Alan Prince, told Reuters.
-- Hard work. They put in a 70-hour work week compared to 40 hours a week for other middle-class Americans.
-- Networking. They use information as if it were capital, Schiff said.
-- Perseverance. They typically fail professionally twice as often as other middle-class Americans, but they do not give up.
-- Risk. They choose jobs with greater risks and bigger pay whereas middle-class Americans tend to avoid risk and try to work in jobs they love.
Schiff and Prince, who owns a market research firm, interviewed 3,714 middle-class households, including 586 middle-class millionaires.
Their findings also show how their behaviors influence larger society. If the middle-class millionaire likes something, it is a high likelihood that the rest of the middle class will be interested in it, Schiff said.
But while most Americans might want millions, many wonder if working 70 hours a week is too high a price to pay.
Some people say, 'I'm not interested in living my life that way,' Schiff said, noting a major feature in American life is middle-class anxiety over neighbors doing much better. If you don't want to live that life, that's OK, but don't be confused anymore about the two different paths you are on.
Another middle-class millionaire behavior is choosing a house in the best public school district. Regular middle-class people say three things, almost equally, influence where they live -- schools, convenience to work and convenience to shopping.
The book also reveals that studying for a post-graduate degree, unless it's an MBA, is unlikely to make you richer.
Once you get you bachelor's degree it is these four qualities, which we describe as Millionaire Intelligence, that have a lot more to do with where you go, he said.
The book is not alone among new titles in offering clues on how to get rich. Among others are Robert Shemin's How Come THAT Idiot's Rich And I'm Not ($25, Crown) and Douglas Andrew's Millionaire by Thirty: The Quickest Path to Early Financial Independence, to be published in May by Business Plus.
But one thing seems certain -- a million dollars ain't what it used to be. Prince and Schiff reveal that, on average, people believe it takes $13.4 million to feel wealthy. Middle-class millionaires put the figure even higher, at about $24 million.