So you don't feel as rich as you did two years ago. And you're not retiring anytime soon. It's time to take stock of the role of money in your life, the road to financial security, and the price of success. Edited by Lucy McCauley

John C. Bogle (r)
Founder and former chairman
The Vanguard Group Inc.
Malvern, Pennsylvania

Successful investing is less about doing things right than it is about not doing things wrong. And, hard as it is to believe, it's a nice, even road - if you avoid the potholes.

One of the biggest potholes is letting emotions get in the way of economics. The tech bubble was one of the great manias of all time. We saw how easy it is to hype a stock - and how hard it is to increase the value of a company.

That doesn't mean you should stop investing. Sure, there will be more scandals. But the biggest financial risk is not taking any risk at all. Be patient. Be more modest in your expectations. Maybe you got caught up in the bubble and made mistakes. You don't have to keep making them.

John C. Bogle created the Vanguard Group in 1974 and served as chairman through 1997 and as senior chairman through 1999. His fourth book, Character Counts: The Creation and Building of the Vanguard Group (McGraw-Hill), was published this year.

Barbara Ehrenreich
Nickel and Dimed: ON (Not) Getting By n America
Key Wet, Florida

I'm baffled by failed executives who demand huge severance packages to "maintain their lifestyle." They should try to get by on $7 an hour. I did - and I learned a lot.

The biggest surprise: It's expensive to be poor. Without a bank account, you have to pay to get your checks cashed. Without extra cash, you can't buy in bulk to save money. And it's almost impossible to find a place to live, even if you can make the rent, because you can't make the security deposit.

Stock options and 401(k)s? I had a co-worker at Wal-Mart for whom buying a polo shirt on sale for $7 - a required part of the uniform - was out of the question. I drove in carpools to housecleaning jobs where a tollbooth presented a crisis: Would the boss reimburse us?

What struck me when I returned to my real life was how easy it felt. With money, things just happen. Need to get across town quickly? Take a cab. Don't feel like cooking? Order takeout. The ease of it is miraculous. Maybe that's why it's so easy to ignore people who aren't part of the miracle.

Barbara Ehrenreich writes for Time, Harper's, and The Nation and is the author of 12 books.

Thomas J. Stanley
The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind
Marietta, Georgia

The past few years have shown everyone that fast money goes as quickly as it comes. That doesn't mean you should be despondent. It's still possible to become wealthy - especially if you avoid classic mistakes.

The first is to confuse wealth with income. Wealth is what you accumulate in assets, not what you make or spend. People who accumulate great wealth often live frugally. They don't care about status. They care about being independent. If your goal in becoming rich is to look rich, your chances of success are remote.

Another big mistake is to choose the wrong job. Making lots of money at a job that you hate doesn't work. People who accumulate wealth love what they do. Why? Because if you don't, you'll spend all kinds of money to compensate.

Which leads to one final mistake: to have a job in the first place. The average self-employed person has a net worth five times that of people with jobs. Most people who love what they do work in
businesses they started.

Thomas J. Stanley's The Millionaire Next Door (Longstreet Press, 1996), co-authored with William D. Danko, spent 200 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.