Aerospace engineer Michael T. Miller doesn't regret buying his "most recent toy," a 1995 Ferrari F355 Spider, though he does wish it didn't cost him so much to maintain: "A major service cost me $13,000 and you are supposed to do this every three to five years," he grumbles.
Still, he can afford it.
After starting out $6,000 in debt and without ever making six figures until quite recently, the Navy vet was able to amass $1.85 million.
Miller did it by first paying off his student loans — he was debt-free by 30 and he stayed that way. He now makes $117,000 a year and puts away an astounding $6,000 a month. That's "in addition to the eight percent to the 401(k)," Miller, 64, tells CNBC, "as my mortgage is paid off and I have no bills other than property taxes, insurance and utilities."
Miller's life hasn't been one of unending sacrifice. In addition to a 2014 Mercedes E350, he says, "I have owned three Ferraris and am looking seriously at another F car." The first, a 1970 365GT 2+2, he bought too early: "One year of Ferrari ownership nearly bankrupted me," he says. But having to sell that vehicle made him start thinking seriously about personal finance. He "got educated," he says, read about a dozen books and started aiming to save 50 percent of his salary.
"I didn't get married until 58. Being single probably made it easier to save," he acknowledges. Still, he also made lots of canny decisions along the way.