Are you bemoaning your ability to buy flashy gifts for your friends and family, wishing you'd hit the jackpot already so you can spend like a millionaire?

You may be surprised to learn that not all wealthy people are the big spenders that you might imagine. According to a survey by the consulting firm Spectrem Group, households with a net worth of $5 million or more saved or invested 23% of their annual gross income.

According to an Associated Press report on the survey, these households reported having some economical habits over the past year. They're not walking around flaunting their status. About one-quarter of them spent nothing on jewelry. Three-quarters spent less than $10,000 on clothing.

They're not necessarily traveling in high style, either. Only 2% spent anything on private aircraft. Boats were a little more popular, and 12% reported spending money on their own little vessels to paradise. About 86% spent less than $50,000 on cars.

If you're wondering how you get into the enviable category of households with $5 million or greater net worth, it might help to know that almost a third owned private businesses and 18% owned professional practices.

To anyone who has ever read The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, this profile will sound strangely familiar. In the book, the authors summarize years of research that conclude the wealthy get there through hard work, planning, and financial discipline.

The average millionaire, according to their findings, is typically well-educated, drives an older-model car, and is often self-employed. They live well below their means (perhaps saving or investing 23% of their income, as the Spectrem Group survey found). They spend their time, energy, and money on pursuits that lead to wealth. They care much less about social status than financial independence.

How can you join the ranks of these much-studied millionaires? Try thinking rich by saving and investing like a millionaire. Before you laugh at the very idea, consider that the wealthy didn't start saving after they got rich, they got rich by saving.

It may seem daunting to consider putting away $0.23 out of every dollar that crosses your path. Even if that seems too lofty a goal, there's probably no reason you can't afford to live below your means and save a little more.

If you don't already have a stash of savings set aside for emergencies, that's the perfect place to start. Aim to have three to six months of expenses stored up in case calamity strikes out of the blue. That's pursuing financial independence over status. Get some help figuring out your optimal emergency savings target at the Savings Center.

If your emergency coffers appear to be in good shape, direct a little more toward your retirement accounts. You don't even have to make complicated investments to start building the nest egg of a high net-worth household. Consider a low-cost index fund that tracks the average gains of the stock market. Or, study up on some of the stocks chosen by the Motley Fool CAPS community to be the best blue chip stocks for 2007.

They picked 3M (NYSE:MMM) for its innovative culture, competitive advantage, strong leadership, and very strong financials. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) made the list for its product originality and tremendous growth. A long history of success and market dominance won Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) its slot.

Who knows? A little research and you may start spending your time like a millionaire, planning your financial goals and finding ways to cut costs. Maybe saving 23% percent of your income isn't impossible after all.

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3M is a Motley Fool Inside Valuerecommendation, and Bank of America is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. You can check out any of our newsletters without cost or risk by taking afree trial.

Fool contributor Mary Dalrymple does not own stock in any company mentioned in this article, and she welcomes your feedback. The Fool has a disclosure policy.