Sue Ganz Schmitt lives in a coastal canyon in Southern California with her husband, two daughters and an Irish setter named Everest. She and her husband, Martin, drive a 2006 Honda minivan and an old Volkswagen van, and have historically been hard-working, frugal savers. About three years ago, they sold interests in their two companies in the same week.
The payoff for their years of discipline, mixed in with a little bit of good luck? More than $10 million.
More intriguing than their good fortune, however, is what the Schmitts chose to do with their newfound wealth. They continued to drive the same old cars, live in the same 2,000-square-foot house and eat at the same restaurants. They had no interest in bling or in flaunting their considerable means. So they set up a small family foundation to fund charitable activities and invested the rest.
Sue and Martin are predominantly driven by the money archetype that I call the "Saver." As I explain in my book, "It's Not About the Money," Savers are the kind of people who tend to buy used cars or purchase products only when they go on sale.
But their cautious habits sometimes come with a negative emotional side: These Savers recoil when others flaunt their wealth -- or waste it on luxury purchases -- and derive great pain from watching hard-earned savings decline in a bad stock market.
Whether consciously or not, Savers are almost always afraid that their money might run out one day and leave them poor, alone or dependent on others. They deal with this profound anxiety by saving, which serves to temporarily dull the intensity of their worry.
You're probably a Saver if you:
Save more than 20% of your earned income each year.
Spend and give away less than 3% of your total net worth each year.
Increase your net worth by more than 5% from year to year.
"I grew up in postwar Germany, where you never let anything go to waste," Martin Schmitt told me. "I'm probably the one who gets most upset if the girls leave food on their plates or something goes rotten in the refrigerator."
The Depression and World War II created an entire generation of Savers, who had seen very hard times and knew that if you squandered food, money or other precious resources, you could end up losing everything. "I grew up in a Depression-era family, and my mother was the queen of garage sales," says Sue Ganz Schmitt.