On your journey to financial independence, you may decide to look at millionaires as your financial role models. Did you know that millionaires are often hard to spot? Many people tend to assume millionaires drive fancy cars, stay in the best of hotels, live in gated communities and dress in the finest of clothes. More often than not, these big spenders are in debt up to their eyeballs and more concerned about appearance than attaining financial independence.

While I won't deny that some big spenders can actually afford it, they only make up a tiny portion of America's millionaires. These are the millionaires you hear about who are sensationalized in the media. The average millionaire does not get to millionaire status by spending and spending some more, but they do it by being frugal. Don't be fooled - you most likely won't even spot a millionaire, who actually could be living right next door to you.

Years ago, I read The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, and I still find it interesting today. In studying the attributes and qualities of the wealthy for 20 years, this book describes the portrait of a millionaire. What's inspiring and real about this book is that anyone can mirror the ways of a millionaire. If you want to be a millionaire, do as a millionaire does as you seek your financial independence.

Maybe it's really not that important for you to be a millionaire, but instead, you might want to live comfortably in retirement, and to do this, it doesn't mean that you have to retire with a net worth of one million dollars. That's perfectly fine. Whether you want to be a millionaire or not, here are 4 things that millionaires do, and that you can do too, to achieve financial independence:

1. Live below your means: Millionaires don't wear the most expensive suits or clothing, and they don't drive the most expensive cars. They typically drive American-made cars that are two or three years old, and only a minority of millionaires ever lease a vehicle. After all, you aren't what you drive. Millionaires are diligent about budgeting and controlling expenses. They know where their money goes, spend time planning their financial future and make frugality a way of life. The belief is that if they overspend, they aren't accumulating wealth. People who overspend are referred to in the book as "UAW's" (under accumulators of wealth).

2. Get educated: In Stanley's research, only about one in five millionaires are not college educated. If you don't have a college degree, please don't let this discourage you-it's how you decide to educate yourself and the drive inside you that will get you to the financial success you desire. One of my very good friends, who started his own business years ago, is not college educated, but he has drive and passion and has taken the time to invest in educating himself. He has a successful business, lives frugally, invests heavily in his future, and one day, I have no doubt, will be a millionaire.

3. Focus on building wealth: Invest an average of 15-20% of your household income each year. The longer you have to build wealth the better, but if you need to catch up, create a plan to do so. Millionaires focus on wealth building. They pay no attention to the neighbor who pulls in the driveway in this year's flashy red BMW. Millionaires know that money spent on stuff means less for building wealth and achieving financial independence.

4. Spend time planning your finances: Operating a household without a money plan is like a business operating without a budget. Planning and controlling consumption are key factors to accumulating wealth. If you want to be a millionaire, do as a millionaire does-plan your household expenses and control your spending. Be sure you and your spouse are on the same team and working in unison to reach your financial goals. The millionaires next door were married to spouses who were good planners and had similar beliefs about living frugally and accumulating wealth.

Are you ready to start thinking like a millionaire? When you do, you'll be well on your way to financial independence.

Author's Bio: 

Financial Coach Cindy Parran Brochu helps the financially stressed to simplify their money lives. Want to discover money plan strategies that REALLY work? Visit http://www.ReduceYourMoneyStress.com for your free copy of Money Mastery 101: How to Reduce Your Money Stress and Simplify Your Life.