Have you ever driven past a gorgeous house and thought, “How did they get there?” One author decided to find out — by knocking on the doors of homes in the country’s 100 wealthiest neighborhoods and asking the homeowners directly. The result is the book Rich Like Them: My Door-to-Door Search for the Secrets of Wealth in America’s Richest Neighborhoods by Ryan D’Agostino.

D’Agostino starts with the basic premise that anyone can glean knowledge from those who have earned enough wealth to live in luxury. Did they inherit their money? Win big at the track? Or did they earn their money in more conventional (and perhaps patient) ways? The result is a cross-country road trip to meet the owners of big and beautiful homes.

Here are a few things D’Agostino discovered when he knocked on the door of some of the nicest homes in America:

Even When You Find a Sure Thing, Save Money for a Rainy Day
D’Agostino tells the story of one family who discovered that a major employer would be moving to their hometown. The husband wanted to invest the couple’s entire life savings into land adjacent to a proposed road. The wife was more prudent. She convinced her husband to scale back the real estate purchases. Good thing, too: The employer never materialized. However, this couple was rewarded. They had savings left over and they held onto the land long enough for another opportunity to arise.

Luck Doesn’t Exist

As D’Agostino writes, “With time comes free money - it’s the miracle of compounding interest.” Compounding interest is a basic personal finance concept. But, it is the wealthy who fully embrace and act upon it. D’Agostino tells the story of a woman who advised her children to get in the game early. The wealthy recognize that preparation (researching and then taking calculated risks) will often lead to compounding wealth over a long period of time. Sounds simple, right? But the wealthy woman who called time her key to success also referred to something more: patience. Getting “lucky” can take ten or more years of active preparation.

Find a Driver Other Than Money — It’s Frequently More Lucrative
There is an adage that if you do the work you love, the money will follow. Many of us know this isn’t always the situation. But, according to the interviews, if you can couple doing what you love with doing it on your own terms you can be successful. One man D’Agostino interviewed knew he would be better able to tailor work to fit his talents and interests if he ran a small company. After years of working for others, he did just that and was rewarded handsomely. His sage advice? Money cannot be the reason you enter a field in the first place. Place yourself where you can spread your wings.

Overall, the book is an interesting journey into the minds of people who can afford to live in fancy homes, and offers some insight for anyone looking to increase their net worth. Readers will enjoy imagining the homes and characters within and will come away from the book asking themselves what changes they can make to follow suit.

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