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How Liz Pulliam Weston Became a Millionaire

This article was written by in Wealth and Affluence. 5 comments.


Let’s face it: if she (and her husband) can, you can, too! While acknowledging that a million bucks ain’t what it used to be, Liz, a columnist for MSN Money, shared her secrets about how her family’s net worth climbed to $1,000,000.

There were no game shows or “reality” TV appearances. According to Liz, here are the elements of her strategy:

You’ve got to want it — and plan for it. “There are few accidental millionaires in the world. People who achieve financial independence, however they define it, make getting there a priority in their lives.” She started investing in her company’s 401(k) in her mid-twenties and chose cheaper trips rather than expensive vacations.

Live within your means. Spend less than you earn, pay yourself first, and set up automatic transfers and investments.

Invest regularly and don’t stop. If you react to market movements, you end up buying high and selling low.

Be smart about debt. Avoid high-rate debt and use low-rate debt to your advantage. “We chose an old-fashioned, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage because the low payments allowed us to invest more for retirement while still allowing us to gradually pay off our debt. I’m not saying it’s the best mortgage for everybody, but it’s working for us.”

Own a house — and don’t waste it. “There’s no question that owning a home in Southern California got us to the million-dollar mark a few years earlier than I’d projected.” Bingo. Most millionaires have reached that level due to home ownership. It’s one thing to be a millionaire “on paper,” and another to have $1,000,000 of cash at your disposal at any time. “Homeownership isn’t a no-brainer. You can always mess up by buying more home than you can afford, draining your wealth away with home-equity loans or trying to speculate in an unstable market.”

Invest in yourself. “We’ve discovered (duh) that it’s easier to meet your goals, and have money for fun, if your income is rising. So we’ve invested in education, launched our own businesses and looked for new ways to generate cash. In today’s ever-changing economy, you have to be ready to learn new skills and take new directions.” As you can see, income plays a very important role in building your net worth. Keep that in mind when someone tells you, “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend.” It’s both. It may be hard to change your income if you believe it is already maximized, but chances are, it’s not.

Updated April 8, 2009 and originally published April 3, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar erik

These are the kind of stories that give people like me hope! I agree with all of these things, except for using debt wiesely. Who needs it if have money in the bank! Anyway, I liked how she talked about investing in yourself. It is something that I need to start doing. I want to get my CFP designation, but the $400 a class is keeping me from doing it. I just need to suck it up and realize that the returns will be much greater later on in life.

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avatar Jerry Kindall

Low-interest-rate debt is free money and you should use it as much as possible even if you have money in the bank to buy what you want. That way you can continue to earn interest on YOUR money while using the bank’s money for the purchase.

Think of it this way — when you use cash for a purchase, it costs you the 4% (or more) you could have earned on that cash.

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avatar Herb

Exactly, it’s all about opportunity cost of money. If someone will loan you money at 1% and you can turn around and loan someone else that same money at 5%, you’d be crazy not to.

On the article though, she did mention she lives in CA and with the crazy housing market out there it certainly helps in increasing net worth. That’s essentially free money that might disappear as quickly as it appeared.

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avatar John

Why bail out people who are irresponsible and did not deserve to have a house in the first place. We have been waiting, patiently, for a house for over 2 years because of the over inflated house prices. We suffered for years in an apartment, because we knew that things were totally out of control and would have major readjustments. There were millions of people who wanted immediate gratification and did not do their home work, now my family has to suffer not having a house (because they were overpriced and still are) and pay more taxes for these irresponsible maniacs who want everyone to fit the bill. Let them suffer and lose big time, maybe next time they will have enough strength to wait and do their homework before embarking on the biggest purchase of their lives.

We live in a society where the controlled get punished and the wild and unruly get a break, it is not fair to the people who were responsible.

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avatar Solver Nodebt

Liz:
I was born in a poor country where the notion of money is vague. Look I made a poor choice to go to an industrial engineering school from a country without a philosophy of industry. I have three children now and trying to have another student loan and can’t since one of my Perkins student loan at Michigan States University is in collection. It’s been a while I tried your various perspectives to manage my finance as I am reading or watching you talking but I always faced so many walls! Could you help me by being that Life changer in my finances as I woke up daily hoping to change kid lives? I teach math at Calallen ISD- high school in Texas and my work number is [removed by editor].
With the best of my gratitude
Mr. A

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