Our greatest battles are with our own minds.

– Jameson Frank

If there’s one thing that this downturn has shown me, it’s that certain truths really are eternal.

As a tax and accounting professional, it’s true that I tend towards financial conservatism. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t make it a point to study *exactly* how money “works”, and that I simply default towards savings. No–even for one such as me–these are still learned behaviors.

And I’m hoping that I can contribute to YOUR learning a little this week by opening the closet doors of your millionaire neighbor…

15 Closed-Doors Truths From Your Suburban Millionaire Neighbor

That’s right.  Although having a million bucks isn’t as impressive as it once was, it’s still nothing to sneeze at. In fact, Reuters recently reported that in 2009, there were 7.8 million millionaires in the United States.

That’s a lot of people, people.  And the odds are one or two of them are living near you. Heck, one of them might even be your neighbor.  In fact, the odds are very good that it is your neighbor.

“But, Jon, you don’t know my neighbor.  That guy doesn’t look anything like a millionaire.”

Well, guess what?  Your suburban millionaire neighbor called (yes, we go way back) and the two of us had a nice little chat. And here are a few things he shared with me–but apparently doesn’t want to tell you.  (No offense, I’m sure.)

1. He always spends less than he earns. In fact his mantra is, over the long run, you’re better off if you strive to be anonymously rich rather than deceptively poor.

2. He knows that patience is truth. The odds are you won’t become a millionaire overnight.  If you’re like him, your wealth will be accumulated gradually by diligently saving your money over multiple decades.

3.  When you go to his modest three-bed two-bath house, you’re going to be drinking Folgers instead of Starbucks.  And if you need a lift, well, you’re going to get a ride in his ten-year-old economy sedan.  And if you think that makes him cheap, ask him if he cares. (He doesn’t.)

4. He pays off his credit cards in full every month.  He’s smart enough to understand that if he can’t afford to pay cash for something, then he can’t afford it.

5. He realized early on that money does not buy happiness. If you’re looking for nirvana, you need to focus on attaining financial freedom.

6. He understands that money is like a toddler; it is incapable of managing itself.  After all, you can’t expect your money to grow and mature as it should without some form of credible money management.

7. He’s a big believer in paying yourself first. It’s an essential tenet of personal finance and a great way to build your savings and instill financial discipline.

8. Although it’s possible to get rich if you spend your life making a living doing something you don’t enjoy, he wonders why you do.  Life is too short.

9. He also knows that the few millionaires that reached that milestone without a plan got there only because of dumb luck.  It’s not enough to simply declare that you want to be financially free. This is not a “Secret”.

10. When it came time to set his savings goals, he wasn’t afraid to think big.  Financial success demands that you have a vision that is significantly larger than you can currently deliver upon.

11. He realizes that stuff happens, that’s why you’re a fool if you don’t insure yourself against risk. Remember that the potential for bankruptcy is always just around the corner and can be triggered from multiple sources: the death of the family’s key bread winner, divorce, or disability that leads to a loss of work.

12. He understands that time is an ally of the young. He was fortunate enough to begin saving in his twenties so he could take maximum advantage of the power of compounding interest on his nest egg.

13. He’s not impressed that you drive an over-priced luxury car and live in a McMansion that’s two sizes too big for your family of four. Little about external “signals” of wealth actually matter to him.

14. After six months of asking, he finally quit waiting for you to return his pruning shears.  He broke down and bought himself a new pair last month.  There’s no hard feelings though; he can afford it.

15. He doesn’t pay taxes which could have been avoided with a simple phone call. He plans ahead before tax time. Oh, and here’s the number he calls (in the fall, every year, without fail): 414-325-2040

So that’s it.  Now you know what your millionaire neighbor won’t tell you.

Oh, and, um, would you be so kind to keep this just between you and me?  I’d hate to ruffle anyone’s feathers or cause of any kind of neighborly spat.

I’m personally dedicated to the success of your family–and in your neighborhood relationships, after all! Can other tax professionals say that?