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Real American millionaires in the Piedmont Triad

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MOUNT AIRY, N.C. -- When it comes to millionaires, most people think of a big name performer or professional athlete but in reality celebrities make up a very small percentage of America's real millionaires. Research shows most millionaires in the United States are retirees who got that way by living well below their means and saving their money.

"People who have saved, who have worked, put their kids through school and they gave up a lot of things," are the traits of many millionaires, says John Woodard, of Woodard and Company, an asset management company in Bermuda Run. "If you save money out of every paycheck, put it in your retirement plan and over many years you save and invest - and you are careful with your money - then those are most of the millionaires."

The late Thomas Stanley's research pointed out the frugal habits of America's wealthy in his 1996 the book The Millionaire Next Door. Stanley's research shows that most millionaires work hard, live in modest homes, buy used vehicles, shop for bargains and saved their money. Stanley wrote that real millionaires cared more about financial independence than buying new cars to impress strangers at the stoplight.

Last year research from Phoenix Marketing International showed Mount Airy was becoming a hot spot for millionaires with 30 percent more moving to the Surry County town between 2014 and 2015. Most of those moving to the community, known for it's southern charm and Mayberry, are retirees.

When it comes to saving money Woodard says millionaires typically take their time, invest for the longer term and buy quality investments like stocks and no-load mutual funds in strong fields such as health care and energy. "There is a lot of personal sacrifice that you see," said Woodard. "You have to admire and respect what folks have done to get where they are."