What the rich do differently: Habits that foster wealth and success

What the rich do differently: Habits that foster wealth and success

I'm fascinated by the differences between rich people and poor people. Are the differences mostly a matter of class and economic mobility? Are people born to wealth and poverty and destined to remain there? Or are there observable differences in attitude and action that tend to lead people to specific levels of affluence?

From my experience, it's some of both.

I believe that there are absolutely systemic issues that contribute to wealth and poverty. But I also believe that there are attitudes and habits that foster wealth and success. These attitudes and habits can be learned. They can be applied to our own lives, allowing us to build better futures.

My Story

I grew up in a family that had always been poor, a family that had lived for nearly 100 years in rural Oregon, barely getting by. The things we had and said and did were “lower class”, even if I didn't know it at the time.

I was raised in this trailer house:

The house where I grew up

My father was a serial entrepreneur and the primary breadwinner for the family. Occasionally his businesses did well. Mostly, they didn't. But even when our family did have a decent income, Dad spent that money on boats and airplanes and computers. He didn't save. Then when hard times came — and hard times always came — he had to sell those toys to put food on the table.

The boom times were rare though. During the 1970s and 1980s, Mom and Dad spent most of the time living paycheck to paycheck. They fought about money. When Dad's businesses weren't doing well (which, again, was the norm), he worked as a salesman for various industrial companies. Or he was out of work. He spent long stints unemployed. We had to have help from extended family and from our church. (I can't recall that we were ever on government assistance, but it's certainly possible.)

Just before he died in 1995, Dad pulled me aside to apologize for how poor we were when I was a kid. “I remember that one Christmas when we didn't have enough money for presents,” he said, “You and your brothers wrapped your existing toys and gave them to each other. I felt so ashamed. I'm sorry I couldn't give you guys a better life.”

So, I've experienced poverty. Maybe not poverty as extreme as some others, but poverty.

I've also experienced wealth.

Today, my life is very different than it was when I was growing up. I'm fortunate (and grateful) to have a solid financial foundation. I achieved that financial success through a combination of hard work and luck. (And make no mistake: There was definitely good fortune required to get me where I am today.)

My brothers too have managed to work their way to a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. We have it better than our parents did. At the same time, it's clear that the three of us retain some of our old habits and attitudes. (So too, I think, do other members of our extended family who also grew up poor.)

From my experience, I believe that poor people have certain habits, attitudes, and expectations. I think that these habits, attitudes, and expectations differ from those of wealthy people. Sometimes these qualities are a result of being poor (or wealthy); sometimes these qualities lead to being poor (or wealthy). In other words, it's neither the “chicken” or the “egg” — it's both.

What do I mean? Let's take some time today to explore the types of habits that foster wealth and success.

Important note: Before we go any further, I'd like to acknowledge that this is a complex subject, one weighted with political, economic, and social issues. I don't expect for one blog post to be a definitive exploration of the topic. I do, however, hope that this article can highlight some insights from myself and others — including you. This piece is not meant as a takedown of the rich or a takedown of the poor. It's meant to highlight habits and attitudes that can improve the odds of success.

The Secret Language and Behaviors of Wealth

First up, here's Chelsea Fagan from The Financial Diet sharing eight things wealthy people do differently. Fagan breaks down what she calls “the secret language and behaviors of wealth”.

At first I thought this video would be cheesy. It's not. It's excellent — which is why I've placed it at the top of this article. Fagan's observations are astute, and she offers lots of practical advice for her intended audience: young women.

“Wealth isn't just about how much money you accumulate,” Fagan says. “Particularly in America, there's a whole different approach to life — not just the financial parts of it — when you're wealthy.”

She continues: “There are many specific behaviors that wealthy people tend to practice which are adapted to perpetuating their wealth. The good news is there are many of these habits ane techniques that you can adopt even if you're on a serious budget.”

According to Fagan, these are the eight things wealthy people do differently from the rest of us:

  • They don't wait for permission. From a young age, we're conditioned to get permission to do the things we want. As a result, most of us enter adulthood with the idea that we still need permission to pursue our desires. Wealthy people have shifted their mindset from permission to control. Echoing my friend Chris Guillebeau, Fagan tells her viewers, “It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” (This is one of CG's mottos. He lives by it.)
  • They know the landscape around them. In the U.S., for instance, we're taught that it's bad manners to talk about money. Most people don't. The wealthy, however, do talk about money — at least amongst themselves. (From my experience, this is very very true.) Talking about money helps wealthy people better understand the financial world around them so that they're able to make better decisions. Plus, wealthy people actively seek advice and information about money.
  • They ask for help with what they don't know. This one is huge. From my experience, when poor people don't know something, they tend to shrug their shoulders and go on with life, never seeking an answer. Wealthy people aren't satisfied to remain in ignorance. They have what I call a personal board of directors, a small group of trusted advisors to which they can turn for information and advice. I just emailed my accountant the other day, for instance, asking for help with a financial issue. This morning, I'm driving an hour to meet with my friend Michael, who has acted as both a friend and advisor for a decade now. Even if you can't afford to have an accountant, attorney, and/or financial advisor, much of the info you need is available for free online. You just have to take the time to search for it.
  • They put a specific (and growing) value on their time. “Wealthy people decide that every hour of their life has a value,” Fagan says, “and they stick to that value while constantly trying to raise it.” Wealthy people are aware time is money — and money is time. As a result, they try not to waste time. This is an area where I struggle. That's why I did a time inventory last year (and discovered I spent twice as much time playing videogames as I did writing about money). Fagan urges viewers to treat every hour of their lives as if it has value — because it does.
  • They speak the language of money. Wealthy people are more financially literate than the poor. They're better educated about personal finance. Because they know what they're talking about, they're better able to advocate for themselves. They're able to make better decisions.
  • They understand that money is a long game. Or, put another way, wealthy people recognize that there's no reliable way to get rich quickly but that almost anyone can get rich slowly. They keys are persistence and patience. Do the right things for a long time and you will achieve your financial goals. “The choice is not between this $5 Starbucks that will make me happy or this $5 sitting in a sad bank account making me feel bad,” Fagan says. “The choice is between this $5 Starbucks today or the hundreds of dollars it has the potential to be when it comes time for retirement.”
  • They outsource, outsource, outsource. Wealthy people are aware of where their skills and talents lie, and they play to those strengths. They know when it's better to delegate a task to somebody who's better at it. Or they know when to outsource because their time is better spent elsewhere. (This is another area where I suck. I've never really figured out how to outsource, so I often find myself doing things that I'm not good at or that I'd rather pay somebody else to do.)
  • They know the importance of recharging. While you might not have the ability to jet off to a beach house in Florida, we're all able to make time in our lives to “sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey put it in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Deliberately dedicate time to self-renewal in your physical life (exercise, proper nutrition), social life (spending time with friends), mental life (reading, education), and spiritual life (meditation, church).

This video is truly excellent. If I had a college-aged daughter (or a college-aged son), I'd urge her to watch it. But I think it contains good info for anyone at any stage of life.

The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals

Rich HabitsTom Corley is the author of a book called Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, which summarizes his research into the habits of the rich and poor. (He defines “rich” as those having an income over $160,000 per year and net liquid assets of more than $3.2 million. To him, poor means a gross income of $35,000 or less and no more than $50,000 in liquid assets.)

Corley's approach is unique because he took time to interview people from both ends of the financial spectrum. While I haven't yet read the book, I did manage to track down a piece he wrote for Success magazine that gives some insight into the results of his study. According to Corley:

  • Rich people live within their means. “Wealthy people avoid overspending by paying their future selves first. They save 20 percent of their net income and live on the remaining 80 percent.”
  • Rich people don't gamble. “Every week, 77 percent of those who struggle financially play the lottery.”
  • Rich people read every day. “Among wealthy people, 88 percent read 30 minutes or more every day.”
  • Rich people spend less time in front of screens. “Two-thirds of wealthy people watch less than an hour of TV a day and almost that many…spend less than an hour a day on the Internet.” On the other hand, “77 percent of those struggling financially spend an hour or more a day watching TV, and 74 percent spend an hour or more a day using the Internet recreationally.”
  • Rich people control their emotions. “Loose lips are a habit for 69 percent of those who struggle financially. Conversely, 94 percent of wealthy people filter their emotions.”
  • Rich people network and volunteer regularly. “Almost three-quarters of wealthy people network and volunteer a minimum of five hours a month. Among those struggling financially, only one in 10 does this.”
  • Rich people work harder. “Unsuccessful people have ‘it's not in my job description' syndrome…Successful people work hard to achieve the mutual goals of their employers or their businesses.”
  • Rich people set goals; poor people make wishes. “Every year, 70 percent of the wealthy pursue at least one major goal. Only 3 percent of those struggling to make ends meet do this.”
  • Rich people avoid procrastination. “Successful people understand that procrastination impairs quality; creates dissatisfied employers, customers or clients; and damages other nonbusiness relationships.”
  • Rich people talk less and listen more. “Wealthy people are good communicators because they are good listeners. They understand that you can learn and educate yourself only by listening to what other people have to say.”
  • Rich people avoid toxic relationships. “Of wealthy, successful people, 86 percent associate with other successful people. But 96 percent of those struggling financially stick with others struggling financially.”
  • Rich people don't give up. Wealth individuals “simply do not quit chasing their big goals. Those who struggle financially stop short.”
  • Rich people set aside limiting beliefs. “Almost four out of five wealthy people attribute their success in life to their beliefs.” They pursue personal development.
  • Rich people have mentors. “Finding such a teacher is one of the best and least painful ways to become rich.”
  • Rich people make their own luck. “Successful people create their own unique type of good luck. Their positive habits lead to opportunities such as promotions, bonuses, new business and good health.”
  • Rich people know their main purpose. “It’s the last Rich Habit, but it might be the most important. Those people who pursue a dream or a main purpose in life are by far the wealthiest and happiest among us.”

I'd love to see the raw data that led Corley to make these conclusions but I don't think his book includes that info. From what I can tell, it's written as a story, sort of like The Wealthy Barber. His website does give some background on his methodology, however.

I found other articles about Corley at Business Insider (some stats included) and Entrepreneur. Corley also appeared on an episode of the Afford Anything podcast. Finally, here's Corley's appearance on the Art of Charm podcast:

The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

Secrets of the Millionaire MindWhen I first decided to dig out of debt in 2004, I devoured every book about personal finance that I could find. One volume that had a profound influence on my future financial philosophy was The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker.

Eker believes that we each possess a “financial blueprint”, an internal script that dictates how we relate to money. Our blueprints are created through lifelong exposure to money messages from people around us, especially our family and friends, and from our country's culture and mass media. (I agree with Eker. See my recent article about money blueprints.)

Eker says the unfortunate truth is that most of us have faulty blueprints that prevent us from building wealth.

“Money is a result, wealth is a result, health is a result, illness is a result, your weight is a result. We live in a world of cause and effect,” writes Eker. “A lack of money is never, ever, ever a problem. A lack of money is merely a symptom of what is going on underneath.” (This echoes my advice that debt reduction is a side effect of doing the right things and ought not be a goal in and of itself.)

At the core of Millionaire Mind are Eker's “wealth files”, a list of seventeen ways in which the financial blueprints of the wealthy differ from those of the poor and the middle-class. According to Eker:

  • Rich people believe: “I create my life.” Poor people believe: “Life happens to me.”
  • Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
  • Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
  • Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
  • Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
  • Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
  • Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
  • Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
  • Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
  • Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
  • Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
  • Rich people think “both”. Poor people think “either/or”.
  • Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
  • Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
  • Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
  • Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
  • Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.

Eker says that most people are motivated to make money out of fear. People don't call it fear, though. They say they're motivated by security. Eker notes — correctly — that fear and security are essentially two sides of the same coin. The tough truth is that money doesn't dissolve fear.

Eker writes:

Fear is not just a problem, it's a habit. Therefore, making more money will only change the kind of fear we have. When we were broke, we were most likely afraid we'd never make it or never have enough. Once we make it, however, our fear usually changes to “What if I lose what I've made?”

“When the subconscious mind must choose between deeply rooted emotions and logic, emotions will almost always win,” writes Eker. Even if you know what you ought to do intellectually, it can be tough to do it because your money blueprint controls your thoughts and behavior. To change your habits, you have to work consciously and constantly to create a new plan. This takes time and practice.

Want to read more about how fear affects our decisions? Check out my article on how to build confidence and destroy fear.

Millionaires vs. the Middle Class

10 Distinctions between Millionaires and the Middle ClassIn The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class, Keith Cameron Smith also makes an attempt to delineate the difference between the rich and the rest of us.

His ten “distinctions” — in order of importance — are:

  • Millionaires think long-term. The middle class thinks short-term.
  • Millionaires talk about ideas. The middle class talks about things and people.
  • Millionaires embrace change. The middle class is threatened by change.
  • Millionaires take calculated risks. The middle class is afraid to take risks.
  • Millionaires continually learn and grow. The middle class thinks learning ended with school.
  • Millionaires work for profits. The middle class works for wages.
  • Millionaires believe they must be generous. The middle class believes it can't afford to give.
  • Millionaires have multiple sources of income. The middle class has only one or two.
  • Millionaires focus on increasing their wealth. The middle class focuses on increasing its paychecks.
  • Millionaires ask themselves empowering questions. Middle-class people ask themselves disempowering questions.

Some of the items on Smith's list seem to be derived from Eker's philosophy. But although there are similarities, Eker's list gives me warm fuzzies and Smith's list doesn't. I'm not sure why.

Maybe the difference is this: From my experience (and your experience may be different), Eker's many distinctions hold true (at least in the U.S.). I've seen the differences he describes in my own life. But I'm not convinced that the differences Smith lists do hold up.

For instance, I know lots of poor people who talk about ideas rather than things and people, and many of the same folks embrace change. A lot of my friends love learning but they're not millionaires. And haven't we seen statistics that show, based on a percentage of income, poor people give more than the rich do?

There are differences between the mindsets of the rich and the poor, of this I'm sure. But I think they're closer to Eker's list than to Smith's.

A Brief Rant
Without taking anything away from personal responsibility (which you all know I think is vital to success), I'd like to suggest that both Eker and Smith are too quick to dismiss systemic causes of poverty. Perhaps neither of them knows what it's like to be poor? Some of their observations make sense, but some seem to come from people who've lived lives of privilege.

“Rich people act in spite of fear,” Eker writes. “Poor people let fear stop them.” Why is that? Could it be that the rich can act in spite of fear because they have a safety net? Could it be that when you grow up poor, a scarcity mindset becomes so deeply ingrained that it's almost impossible to shake? (That's been my personal experience, by the way.)

There's no question that wealth brings opportunities, both in the U.S. and in other countries. Those with money have more choices. The rich can take risks, and they're often rewarded for taking them. (Thus, “the rich get richer”.) I have so many more options now than I ever did when I was a boy, when my family was poor. I think this element of “luck” is something ignored by both Eker and Smith (and many other people).

Ten Habits of Successful People

Instead of defining the differences between rich people and poor people, I think it's more constructive to look at what separates successful people from unsuccessful people. Maybe I'm picking nits, but in this case I think focusing on a financial scorecard misses the point. It's possible to be successful and poor, and it's possible to be rich and a fool.

I'll admit there seems to be a strong correlation between wealth and success, but the two qualities don't overlap precisely.

From looking at my own friends, and from thinking about the stories readers have sent me during the past decade — especially stories about how people have moved from debt to wealth — I've seen the following patterns.

  • Successful people surround themselves with positive people. They limit their exposure to negativity and naysayers, preferring to spend time with folks who have can-do attitudes. They don't have time to listen to the reasons something can't be done; they'd rather find ways to make it happen.
  • Successful people aren't flummoxed by failure. They know that mistakes are inevitable and should be treated as stepping stones to success rather than signs of weakness or reasons to stop trying. (This is why it's important not to praise achievement, but to praise effort. The former breeds fear of failure.)
  • Successful people manage their time effectively. They recognize that minutes and seconds are a precious non-renewable resource. So, they set priorities and pursue them with passion. My successful friends seem to watch less television (and play fewer videogames) than my unsuccessful friends, for instance. There's nothing inherently wrong with Game of Thrones or Hearthstone, but they suck up time that could be spent exercising or reading or taking a class.
  • Successful people ignore the opinions of others. They march to the beat of a different drum. They don't feel compelled to “keep up with the Joneses”. They limit their exposure to mass media not only because it allows them to be more productive, but also because it reduces the influence of advertising and the pressure of cultural norms. When investing, they don't follow the herd. The wealthy people I know all drive older cars (many of them bought used!), dress modestly, and avoid conspicuous consumption.
  • Successful people have direction. They act with purpose. They know why they're working hard and saving money. They have a mission, even if it's as simple as putting their kids through college, and their daily actions are aligned with their long-term goals. None of the folks I know who struggle with money have a clear idea of what they want to do with their lives.
  • Successful people focus on big wins. Sure, they develop smart habits and pay attention to the small stuff. But they also understand that if they're diligent with their dollars, then the pennies will take care of themselves. The average person economizes on the small things but isn't willing to make sacrifices when it comes to housing, transportation, or career. And the folks who are broke all of the time? Well, they fritter away their pennies and their dollars.
  • Successful people do what's difficult. They don't procrastinate. My friends with money work longer, harder, and smarter than my friends who have less. (This is an unpopular observation with some folks, but it's true.) They practice deferred gratification, sacrificing small comforts today in order to obtain greater rewards tomorrow.
  • Successful people make their own luck. They practice awareness so that they can recognize opportunities when they come along. Moreover, they act boldly, seizing these opportunities where others might hesitate to act.
  • Successful people believe they're responsible for their future. They're proactive. They have an internal locus of control. That is, they understand that although it might not be their fault they're in a given situation, it is their responsibility to change it.
  • Successful people grow and change over time. They adapt. They evolve. They're not afraid to entertain different points of view. Most importantly, they're not afraid to change their minds. They seek knowledge and experience, and they allow the things they learn to mold them.

None of these differences is absolute, of course. Most people (including me) follow a few of these rules but not others. Or we adhere to certain rules only part of the time. The most successful people I know do all of the things on this list; the least successful people do none of them.

The Bottom Line

That's a lot of words — almost 5000! — about how the mindsets of the wealthy and the poor differ. And while I do agree with these generalizations, I think it's important to note that they are generalizations. These principles aren't applicable to all people.

There are plenty of poor people who have the right mindset but struggle because of external factors. There are plenty of rich people who do not have these attitudes but have managed to obtain wealth anyhow.

For me, the real takeaway from discussions like this is that regardless your circumstances, you can increase the odds that you'll achieve your goals if you model your actions on those of the people you want to emulate. If you want to be rich, look for common themes in the lives of the wealthy. Do what you can to incorporate them into your own life. If you want to be successful, learn from the lives of successful people.

“If you don't change direction,” my father used to tell me, “you'll arrive where you're going.” I didn't really undersand what he meant when I was in high school. Now I do.

In life, there are often default options. If you don’t consciously and deliberately choose something different, you get the default. Most people live their lives in default mode. They accept the default without question.

My aim for myself — and for you, the readers of Get Rich Slowly — is to both be aware of the defaults and to question them. Sometimes they’re fine. A lot of times, however, there are better ways to live. By examining the habits of the wealthy and successful, I think we can all find ways to change direction so we reach a better future.

What do you think? From your experience, what are the differences between the rich and the poor? What qualities separate successful money managers from those who remain broke? Given roughly similar backgrounds, why do some folks build wealth and others struggle to make ends meet? How do the rich think differently? What behaviors to the poor and the middle-class have that the rich do not? Or is it even possible to create distinctions like this? Does it all just come down to luck? (Please keep conversation civil and respectful. No poor shaming — but no rich shaming either.)

More about...Money Mindset, Psychology

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Giacomo Balli
Giacomo Balli
8 years ago

Obnoxious.
I can’t believe people actually write these things in books.
Sure, in a context it might be somehow “explained” but it’s still idiotic.

What they call “poor people mindset” is caused by the pyramid of needs and wants. Unfortunate people need to focus on survival therefore obviously will not just take risks to make profit.
Regardless, many do, pushed by our society to “have” superfluous status goods and then find themselves in worse situations.

Sad.

Shaun
Shaun
8 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Balli

You’re missing a small point: poor people often get rich. What causes this? That’s what the lists are about.

If distinctions between what causes poverty and wealth offend you, then it’s not the list that’s wrong — it’s being easily offended.

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago
Reply to  Shaun

Often…really? Horatio Alger in hizzhouse…

Rhett
Rhett
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

I don’t think often is the right word in the sense that athletes don’t go pro often, bands don’t get signed often, and actors/actresses don’t make it big often. Some people try and fail, but some do make it. Such is life in this world regardless of where you live or where you are in the food chain. In the US you get a chance to try. As an example, I work for a man who’s family immigrated from Mexico. He worked in fields when he was a child, and now he owns a business that grosses 150 million a… Read more »

Shaun
Shaun
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Make excuses all you want, I’m a college dropout with an above average income, and I’m 22. I don’t know of anyone else close to my age who isn’t making just stupid choices. I know dozens of millionaires and hundreds of poor men. I swear to you: the general difference is attitude, character, and choices. Anyone who disagrees is ignorant, delusional or both. Those who know me know that I haven’t slept much in years, I make good money but reinvest just about every dime, and am obsessed with bettering myself every day without exception. It’s intense, but good behavior… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 year ago
Reply to  Shaun

Spot on. You will go far. You tell by reading these replies who will be rich and who won’t. Keep going!

Amanda B.
Amanda B.
8 years ago
Reply to  Shaun

When poor people get rich, it is as often as not a stroke of luck or circumstance, not due to any particular action of their own. Of course there are good choices and bad choices, and good choices can lead to financial stability even at very low income levels. However, they will often not make you rich. Someone could do everything right, arguably, and not become rich. Meanwhile, another person could have several slip-ups and still end up with more money than they know what to do with. Case in point: some people become millionaires because they win the lottery-… Read more »

KM
KM
8 years ago
Reply to  Amanda B.

I disagree with your assertion that poor people who get rich usually do so by luck. For example, I know several dirt poor immigrants who worked their way up to middle class once they came to the U.S.–through a mindset composed of exactly the qualities in the posted lists! I myself was born into a lower-middle/poor family, and now I’m in the upper 10%. It was not by chance–I worked really hard in school, I put off spending on much of anything until I was nearly 35 years old, I planned my career, I worked hard at it, I saved… Read more »

chris
chris
8 years ago
Reply to  Amanda B.

Do you have evidence behind your statement “*most* rich people (at least in the US) are rich because they come from good family circumstances. They are born into money, and given all the privileges they need to retain that status or improve upon it”? At least according to the research done in the Millionaire Next Door, about 80% of millionaires are first-generation millionaires. Based on that evidence, it would seem that most rich people in the US are self-made.

Alice
Alice
7 years ago
Reply to  Amanda B.

Hi Amanda, Well, belief that when poor people become rich only by a circumstance shows a limiting belief you hold, which is assertion in lack of control over your life. Instead on looking for opportunities for how to better yourself, you are focusing on systemic laws that are supposed to make it harder – thus you don’t even try. Not holding this view is very rare in poor people, which, bred in adverse circumstances rarely take charge over their lives and actually take steps to change them. This is why not many poor people get rich. Someone will say… beliefs… Read more »

Sue
Sue
8 years ago
Reply to  Shaun

Poor people do not often get rich; it’s an unusual occurrence, as the most recent social science research demonstrates. The Wall Street Journal, of all places, wrote about this in 2008: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2008/11/12/report-shows-stagnant-upward-mobility-in-us/

The LA Times wrote about this in the last year: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/02/opinion/la-oe-mcmanus-twous-20110102

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  Sue

Okay, Kris and I are finished with today’s touring in Cusco, Peru. That gives me some time to research the archives for the post i mentioned earlier. (I’ve also posted this comment in the main flow at like #186 or something.) In February 2008, I shared research from the Economic Mobility Project, which found: “Across every income group, Americans are more likely to surpass their parents’ income in absolute terms if they earn a college degree, reinforcing the conventional wisdom that higher education provides a means for opportunity.” You are four times more likely to move from poverty to wealth… Read more »

Mike
Mike
8 years ago
Reply to  Sue

2008, 2009 – interesting dates. 2012 & 2012 would be interesting reassessment dates. It would also be interesting to see what folks though about such ideas in 1929-1940.

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  Shaun

Ah, to be 22 again. 😛

HD
HD
1 year ago
Reply to  Shaun

I believe that lower class people get rich once they start to understand the concept of money. They learn that money is accumulated in one of three ways: working a job, investing in a business, or providing a service. Depending on the individuals circumstance and level of neccessary for wealth they will start thinking of ways to make more money. Thus, seeking greater knowledge and understanding that they didn’t have when they were broke.

Megan
Megan
8 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Balli

I believe that the underlying message of the lists is about gratitude. If we live from a place of gratitude no matter what the circumstances, than we may be able to rise avove the situations. We do create our lives, and how we handle our situations and what we focus our attention on in our situations makes the differences of our experience. As a single parent with no financial help I have struggled a great deal financially. However most of my crisis situations were self induced. I have belief systems that block my experience of abundance, it is changing,very slowly,… Read more »

Shane
Shane
8 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Balli

I don’t see anything wrong at all with Eker’s list. When I read the distinctions between the rich and poor, I took them each as a mindset in itself. For example, a poor mindset person wins the lottery. Although he has the huge windfall, he still ends up broke because he thinks like a poor person. He spent all his money instead of thinking like a rich person. There are also people who are physically poor, but have rich mentalities. They are the ones who dig out of the darkness to greater success. I don’t know why so many people… Read more »

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago
Reply to  Shane

If they had ‘nothing to do with money’ the terms used wouldn’t be ‘rich’ versus ‘poor’ ‘millionaires’ versus ‘middle-class’ – they would be something like ‘successful’ and ‘unsuccessful’.

Or happy/unhappy or some other combination that isn’t intrinsically tied to money.

And the words ‘wealth’ ‘net worth’ ‘income’ and ‘profits’ wouldn’t show up quite so much.

Shane
Shane
8 years ago
Reply to  Tracy

In my comment, I state that I only agree with Ekler’s observation, not the second list. So two of the terms in your comment don’t even apply to what I said. As for the terms rich and poor, they can relate to much more than just money. One of those relations being a person’s mentality.

KM
KM
8 years ago
Reply to  Shane

Perhaps there should be another item on the lists?

“Poor people are uncomfortable overall with thinking about money and planning on getting richer–they “put down” such thoughts as evil and grasping, and they often spend or give money away quickly when they do get it to demonstrate how much they dislike money (for example sports stars or lottery winners who go bankrupt despite their billions….)

In contrast, rich people acknowledge that money is in fact necessary and therefore they plan ahead so they have money when they need it and to do the things they want.

Romeo
Romeo
8 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Balli

I think these are a list of extremes that suggests that one is either “rich” or “poor.” There seems to be no in between. There are some commonalities that most of us CAN control (or could have controlled) that does give us a heads up to become rich no matter what our origin of social class is. However, most of us prevent ourselves from becoming rich or building wealth. How? Well, they are spelled out in detail in “How We Prevent Wealth: A personal finance reflection.” These barrers include setting ineffective goals, not educating ourselves, and getting caught in the… Read more »

GyrlWonder
GyrlWonder
6 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Balli

I think that’s the point…to stop focusing on the need to survive more than the need to get out of poverty. You are what you’re consumed with. Do what you have to do but at the same time create a strategic plan to overcome it. Every rich person was not born that way.

rod wargo
rod wargo
1 year ago
Reply to  Giacomo Balli

sad , absolutely , keep your money , not that interested , i have no desire to present myself as some well off dude that can buy whatever material things he wants ,i would rather be seen as a person with compassion , and integrity whom regardless of money would never put it ahead of any people . the stuff money can buy doesnt do all that for me , i would much rather invest in my personal relationships with my family and friends , this is my opinion of course but truly i believe this monetary system is horribly… Read more »

Becka
Becka
8 years ago

Well, I’m glad after you posted those – yes, glib and facile – lists, you pointed out that they were clearly missing a lot of The Point, because I was on the path of losing a LOT of respect for you. But damn, why post them at all? It’s one thing to say, “Here are some common mindsets associated with people who accrue wealth well – are you in that group? Should you change the way you think?” It’s another to say, “Here are the mindsets that make rich people rich, and here – remember, it’s all about mindset! –… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Why post these lists at all? Because the first is from a best-selling book and the second was suggested to me by a Get Rich Slowly reader. These ideas are out there, and though not all of us may agree with them, there are people who do. And even if we don’t agree with the lists, I’m sure there are some elements that we do agree with. As I said in the post, the relationship between wealth and poverty is complex. Trying to boil it down to these points (especially when ignoring global, historical origins of poverty) is crazy. But… Read more »

Kent@TheFinancialPhilosopher
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

JD: I’ve half-jokingly suggested you change the name of your site to “Get Rich Quickly,” assuming the meaning of “rich” is not defined in monetary terms. Many people who are financially rich today were already “rich” before they ever had the money. Many of the rich are self-actualized individuals who simply must be who they are; and because they are authentic, they attract financial wealth. There are also “rich” people who are perfectly content without money. I believe a large portion of your readers believe rich is a mindset or lifestyle filled with meaning, purpose, contentment and inner peace. Money,… Read more »

Melissa
Melissa
8 years ago

I LOVE this comment, which sumarizes (with much more eloquence) my thoughts while reading this post. I am certainly not rich, but I have enough that I don’t have to worry about paying for basic necessities. I can do and buy what I want but I usually have to plan and save to for it. I can afford to give (money AND time) to help others. I read this site to help me stretch and grow what I have. If a person is not rich or poor, and does not have the goal of becoming a millionaire, where does she… Read more »

@impulsesave
@impulsesave
8 years ago

I agree with [email protected] : I think that the idea here is that wealth is more of a state of mind. I think that part of the problem with our culture is that money is the basis of wealth, and I just don’t believe that’s true. You can have a “rich person’s” mindset with only a few dollars in your pocket (based on the hierarchy of needs, you will most likely spend those on needs, but you may be more willing to take risks, etc.). On the other hand, having money does not necessarily give you a “rich person’s” mentality:… Read more »

KM
KM
8 years ago

I find these comments strange. The lists, and this blog, are in fact actually about MONEY, not just mental richness or fulfillment. Money is something that a lot of people have trouble with and its hard to live a comfortable or fulfilling life without it. I think it’s strange that no matter what is posted on this blog, a lot of people always write in to say that they don’t care about money, not really, that they’re fulfilled in their life already without having much money & etc. Which makes me wonder why they are reading this blog? For many,… Read more »

Becka
Becka
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Well, I disagree; I don’t think they’re worth discussing. I think these lists are framed in insulting, dismissive ways that attribute poverty to shortcomings and wealth to being *~*AWESOME*~*, and while these authors may have some wisdom buried in them somewhere, I bet someone else has that wisdom too, and I’d rather get it from someone whose view of the world doesn’t make me queasy. And I’ll point this out: when you said “I think Eker and Smith are talking about the rich and the poor in the U.S. Globally, the differences between the rich and the poor are myriad… Read more »

Steve
Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

I think these lists are framed in insulting, dismissive ways that attribute poverty to shortcomings and wealth to being *~*AWESOME*~*

I think you’re hit the nail on the head, at least with T. Harv Eker. Remember that the “T” in T. Harv Eker stands for “The.” He gave himself that designation and it’s very much about being *~*AWESOME*~* and hanging out with *~*AWESOME*~* people.

xysea1971
xysea1971
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Althought I am not entirely offended by these ridiculous and specious lists, what I do find borderline disrespectful is the attempt to demonize, or in effect blame, the poor for their circumstances. If they only changed their mindset life would somehow magically become better. Sure, that’s true, but so is the axiom it takes money to make money. And it doesn’t certainly abrogate or belittle our responsibilty to those in need. We can’t just hand them a book with a list like thas and say ‘take it from here, okay?” It’s good to see where positive thinking and hard work… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Fair point, Becka. When I wrote that issues of poverty are complex outside the U.S., it was because I’d just taken a tour of Lima, Peru and my mindset was shifted. But you’re right. Even in the U.S., the issues are complex. But as an American, I have a better feel for them. And as somebody who has moved from poor to upper-middle class, I’ve seen that such class mobility is possible. (If I had a better connection, I’d research the post I made about class mobility a few years ago. If I remember right, the conclusion of the study… Read more »

Steve S
Steve S
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

J.D., Here is a link to another blog I read that recently presented some data on income mobility: http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2011/10/income-mobility-is-more-important-than.html The data is from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and tracks INDIVIDUALS over time to see what quintiles they are in starting in 2001 and going again in 2007. In each quintile, anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of the people move up or down in income in just a six year span. So when you hear that “wages are flat” or “inequality is increasing”, it’s instructive to note that you are not absolutely referring to the same people. Needless to… Read more »

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Steve S, that post attempts a positive spin on the data, largely by ignoring the data. He argues that rising inequality and stagnant wages by quintile do not matter because people start at lower wages but over time they will leap to higher income quintiles. But his data does not back that up. Using the data in his chart I see that 50% of people stay in their original income bracket, ~24% will move up income brackets, and ~27% will go down income brackets. As a whole people are more likely to end up making less money in the future… Read more »

Steve S
Steve S
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Barnetto: I respectfully disagree and argue that your stock rendition of the data (Business Insider link) is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The guy in the top 1% in 1917 is not the same guy as in 2008. You don’t take the same 100,000 guys and increase all of their incomes by 275% over 91 years. Same goes for the “bottom 90%”. What your data is telling us is that a smaller number of people are contributing a disproportionate amount of value to society than before. Which makes sense in the internet age. Everyone needs to… Read more »

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Perhaps I wasn’t clear. It would be pretty amazing if the guy from 1917 was the same guy as in 2008. No, what I meant is that I would like to see the same kind of chart you linked to, which had a data set from 2001-2007, replicated many times. For example: 1917-1922 1922-1927 1927-1932 and on until we get to the most current data. What I expect, given that social mobility decreases as income inequality increases, is that you will see there was far more social mobility in the preceding years as there are now. Also, you did not… Read more »

Megan
Megan
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I agree with you, it is neccesary to look at the lists, if we want change in our lives anyway. This is the first time I have replyed to an article because I feel like I can, from experience, participate. I have been financially challenged all my life, I have done many seminars trying to get past my blocks etc…but I have discovered over the years that gratitude and being willing to face my (stuff)has been what has moved me forward. It has taken a long time and I am no where near done, if I ever will be, but… Read more »

sasha
sasha
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Yes, all I could think of when reading this post was that I was very surprised that anyone could take it seriously.

It reminded me of the quote, “The plural of anecdote is NOT data”.

A lot of the commenters who are finding “value” in Eker’s writing don’t seem to understand that distinction.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

Not a post I would expect to see on GRS. I fear the comments.

imelda
imelda
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

247 comments later…. lol. You know, as a super-leftie socialist hippie from a poor family, I came into this list expecting to hate it. But I don’t (completely). One of the biggest distinctions between rich and poor (or black and white) is exactly this – that the poor are not raised these assumptions. Many of these beliefs come from a place of privilege, where people have the opportunity to take risks, where richer people have something useful to teach you. If lower-income kids were to learn some of these things and adopt them (on the rare occasions it was possible… Read more »

Dan @ Casual Kitchen
Dan @ Casual Kitchen
8 years ago
Reply to  imelda

Always? In what way do does it help you or your family to cling to a sweeping generalization like this? All it does is help you maintain an irrational feeling of loathing towards money.

Money is just a tool. It can be used for good or for evil. Why presume the latter only, and thus disempower your future self from potentially using it for good?

Kelly
Kelly
8 years ago
Reply to  imelda

Imelda, I agree with you. I thought I would hate it, too, but in fact I recognized myself in a lot of the “poor mindset.” While I don’t necessarily agree with the sweeping generalization of “this is the difference between rich people and poor people,” it did cause me to question things about my mindset and draw interesting parallels that I would not have done on my own.

So thank you, JD, for both posting the lists and directing reasonable skepticism towards them both. I got a lot of value out of it.

Jeff
Jeff
8 years ago

The attitudes expressed in the “distinctions” have issues. Too many to go into. I think we can agree that not worrying about when your next meal or doctor’s visit is going to be is a big difference.

I’d MUCH rather see a research based list of distinctions between poor people that stayed poor, and poor people who became middle class.

Shaun
Shaun
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

The distinctions are spot on. I’ve been poor, and yet I focused on long-term returns — it hurt in the short run, but now I’m doing fantastic.

Same for my father, and plenty of others. Poor people become rich. Why? Mentality and strategy.

If this offends you, maybe we should add something else to the list:

Rich people search for politically incorrect truths; poor people stay bitter.

Megan
Megan
8 years ago
Reply to  Shaun

Why do you say that rich people look for politically incorrect truths and poor people stay bitter? I know plenty of wealthy people who are bitter and plenty of “poor” people who experience a great deal more joy than the average person.
There is truth to the saying the rich get richer because of the political injustices that are in place, but … I refuse to let arrogant opportunists to keep me down so I may not experience wealth as well as abundance in every area in my life.

Carrie
Carrie
8 years ago
Reply to  Megan

Megan, while you are somewhat correct that the rich can remain rich by the way politics are, you must also remember that the poor very often are encouraged to remain poor by this same political system. Welfare recipients are taught to vote for the “welfare candidates”, not the “education or jobs” candidates. Once you are given *just* enough by the government to eke out a survival, you stop being encouraged to give up the welfare and look to be competent on your own anymore. (Obviously there are some cases where SOME peole wise up and get off the government welfare,… Read more »

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  Shaun

Should there be just as many, more, or less people in the US who have the mentality/strategy to change their social class as there are in other developed countries such as the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, etc? The OECD data shows that there is less social mobility in the US than in France, Denmark, Canada, and Australia but more social mobility than the UK. The US, of all developed countries, has the worst social mobility of just about any other country. The problem of why are poor people poor is not an either/or question of mentality vs circumstances. It… Read more »

Lynda
Lynda
8 years ago
Reply to  barnetto

Perhaps the UK needs to come off that list due to changes over the last year or so that will result in many people not getting opportunities others have had.

Emanuel Moura
Emanuel Moura
8 years ago

Now about European colonialism… well, I´m Brazilian. Things down here got pretty bad from the 60’s on, until at least the middle 90’s, due to American sponsorship to our military dictatorship. That put, Brazil is doing pretty well nowadays and consider America our ally. There are countries, on the other hand, who resent to this day wars that were waged in the middle 1800’s, and blame others for it. Some European countries were colonies of other European countries and yet, today are an amazing nest of wealth and welfare. Why that? My bet is that the countries that do well… Read more »

Coley
Coley
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel Moura

Excellent insight!

Tom
Tom
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel Moura

Blaming others… Brazil didn’t go through hard times in the 60’s because of US involvement. It went through hard times because those with power wanted to maintain what they had and exclude other Brazilians. They sought and obtained some US aid to fight “communists/socialists” (or people that just wanted a more equitable system). This is very different than the US causing the problem. If you were Chilean, from about anywhere in Central American, Cuban, or to a lesser degree Argentinian I would sympathize with you more. Don’t blame the US for Brazil’s 60s.

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago

I’ve seen those lists before, and like you, I found them trite and oversimplistic. That said, I do believe there are indeed fundamental differences in the mindsets between rich people and poor people. Poor people, in my experience, often tend to have a “victim” mentality, believing they are powerless to improve their circumstances, so they don’t even try. In many cases, there really are serious impediments to them making significant changes, such as being a single parent or battling addiction. But those circumstances are merely the consequences of earlier poor decisions. They could truly be stuck in a rut that… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

And rich people don’t make bad live decisions? I think the difference is they’re in a better situation to handle them. A friend of mine teaches in a private high school — you should hear her stories! Rich kids have many of the same problems that middle class and poor kids do — drinking, drugs, pregnancies, truancy, crime, etc. In middle or lower class kids, these behaviours could be life-altering because they don’t have wealth and powerful parents to fall back on. I agree we all have to take responsibility for our decisions (good and bad), but I also think… Read more »

David
David
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

This reminds me of the South Park where Cartman substitute teaches at an inner city school. One of the latina girls gets pregnant, so he tells her to get an abortion and that that’s one way white girls cheat in life and get ahead.

He basically spends the whole episode teaching minorities how to “cheat” in life like white people and not stay poor.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Exactly, Elizabeth. This is what I mean by a “safety net”. I’ve written before about how having an emergency fund gives us a buffer to deal with our mistakes. Now that I have more than just an emergency fund, now that I have real savings, I see that the bigger the safety net, the more risks I can take. If I were still in debt, if I were as poor as my family was when I was a boy, I couldn’t afford to take the risk of packing up and spending six weeks in South America, for instance. (For one,… Read more »

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Right – this list completely ignores the marginal value of money. For example – the rich and the poor both occasionally make mistakes while driving and get a speeding ticket or red light ticket. We’re human, it happens. For the rich person, a $100 ticket is miniscule in proportion to their wealth – they may even have that much in their wallet that they can pay without blinking. For the poor person, it represents a day’s worth of wages and maybe the difference between seeing a doctor or not, or paying the electric bill or not, etc.

Des
Des
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Elizabeth – you’re missing Kevin’s point. He is saying that these decisions were made *before* these folks were rich or stuck in a bad situation. I can only speak anecdotally, but I came from a poor family. Both of my parents were drug addicts, though my mother was high-functioning enough to hold down a steady (low-paying) job. My sister and I saw the life they led and wanted nothing to do with it, so we never touched drugs or alcohol and refused to have sex before marriage (to avoid pregnancy and disease, not for moral reasons). We both worked our… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Des

I think you and I interpreted his comment differently 😉 I can see your point, though. Sometimes it takes a life-changing mistake to prompt people to change — it could be someone’s direct choice or their parents.

I think people can change their mindset anytime, and “rich” people can see themselves as victims too.

skp
skp
8 years ago
Reply to  Des

You also have to be smart enough to become the progammer and the dental technicianand not everyone is that smart. I am a nurse. I was the good girl who made all the right decisions. But several of my coworkers were the bad girls- not drug addicts, but unwed mothers who supported their kids doing minimal wage jobs. They eventually got a clue and pulled themselves up because they were SMART bad girls. We do not all have the same abilities. Family background and good decisions help but I think ability is the most important factor.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Des

@SKP — I agree with you there! I’ve taught remedial level courses and know that some people just aren’t capable of being innovators or leaders. You can put kids in a classroom and they can work very hard, but sometimes things just don’t “click”. Not everyone can be a doctor, lawyer, executive, etc. even if they have all the financial advantages, the support of friends and family and the right mindset.

slug+|+sunkcostsareirrelevant.com
slug+|+sunkcostsareirrelevant.com
8 years ago

I remember reading Eker’s list years ago and thinking they were an over-simplification of the difference between rich and poor. However, there are most certainly some tenets hidden within that serve as useful ways to think about life and frame existence.

Kudos to you for re-visiting this during controversial times.

Jane
Jane
8 years ago

My initial reaction to your question, although itself facile is this:

The difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich have more money.

Full stop. I think you can find people with the positive and negative traits on those lists who are rich AND who are poor. Yes, I am oversimplifying the question, but it’s because I perhaps choose not to engage with a question that invariably will kick a bunch of people when they are already down.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

lol! That was my initial thought too!

Becka
Becka
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

This comment is most excellent. Thank you for making it.

Jason
Jason
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Obviously the lists are simplified, as has been acknowledged. But the responses to them actually serve as pretty great examples of how the lists hold some truth.

Some people read them and feel attacked or victimized. They get defensive and resistant to any wisdom at all the lists may hold.

Some people see the lists as a possible learning tool and seriously consider what they have to offer.

Of those two mindsets, which is most likely to make one successful?

Becka
Becka
8 years ago
Reply to  Jason

Some people are insulted by these lists and are doing quite well for themselves.

Anne Cross
Anne Cross
8 years ago
Reply to  Jason

Right on.

I’m so surprised to read people taking these lists as personal attacks. It seems to reinforce Eker’s first point — poor people think “life happens to me”.

I thought of his list as describing personality traits — you know like “introvert” or “extrovert.” I think a person can have natural tendencies one way or the other, but if the person wants to make a change it’s good to know how to do so.

Andy Hough
Andy Hough
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

That was my first thought as well. I agree with you completely.

Anne
Anne
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

No, it’s way more than that. How many stories have we read about lottery winners who suddenly have $20M, and 3 years later; nothing?

Trina
Trina
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

To me, these lists are typical of any self-help literature. You could substitute “thin and fat” or “well-liked and unliked” or “organized and unorganized” into these lists and they would work equally well. It’s just the same old self-help rhetoric.

malcom
malcom
8 years ago

I am reading Eker right now. This is my second time to read him. I think that there is a lot of truth in what he says. I do note that Eker is very clear at the begining of the book to say he is going to exagerate the differnce between the rich and poor so to make his examples clearer.

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago
Reply to  malcom

Which is basically a way of saying he’s going to lie in order to make his points.

malcom
malcom
8 years ago
Reply to  Tracy

I think one point is being missed. Ekers book is THINKING like a rich person and not a poor person. This book is similar to the Millionaire Next Door book that also has the core principal of teaching people to think differently

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago
Reply to  malcom

That’s completely illogical. If the values don’t actually match the person they’re being attached to on both sides, then it’s meaningless to say ‘this is how the rich think’

It’s the equivalent of saying ‘rich people wear green’

Some do, some don’t. And some who aren’t rich wear green. And wearing green doesn’t make you rich. And that’s just as accurate as their official list.

Ohplease
Ohplease
8 years ago

I went to one of those day-long “feel-good” seminars once and T Harv Ecker was one of the speakers. It was the tackiest presentation ever. He enumerated that list of his and at the end of every point he would ask the crowd: Am I right or am I right? Then, near the end, he started plugging his book. He said that there was a coupon inside for a free seminar on how to get rich quickly that he and others were hosting somewhere around my city. He said the coupon was only inside the books being sold at this… Read more »

Aubrey
Aubrey
8 years ago
Reply to  Ohplease

“What the heck is an empowering question anyway?”

I was wondering that, too.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

Well, this post will certain generate an interesting discussion! Especially since my guess would be that most of us reading this are not rich.

Perhaps these lists are remnants of the American Dream? We’d all love to believe that rags-to-riches is possible if you just believe in yourself and work hard enough. It’s a nice ideal, but I agree with J.D. and other commenters that these issues are very complex and can’t be distilled into nice little lists.

Rob+Ward
Rob+Ward
8 years ago

In regards to luck, that is part of becoming rich, but that isn’t everything. I heard the saying recently “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” I think that is one of the main ideas both authors are trying to get across with those points.

Also, check out this article by Jim Collins about Bill Gates, which talks about Gates’ “luck.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/business/luck-is-just-the-spark-for-business-giants.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  Rob+Ward

Rob, you’re right. There’s no question that hard work can separate one person from another if there’s a level playing field. And I don’t mean to downplay that. I’ve seen this over and over and over again in my life. Those that work hardest make the most happen.

That said, there are times when hard work isn’t enough because they playing field isn’t level.

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

“That said, there are times when hard work isn’t enough because they playing field isn’t level.” And despite what the media tries to portray, I believe THIS is the crux of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Kingston
Kingston
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Are we distinguishing between “self-made” rich people and those who have inherited wealth? Because I don’t see what hard work and a can-do mindset really has to do with possessing riches in the case of the second group.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
8 years ago
Reply to  Rob+Ward

Do check out the article on Gates. Take the simple question asked in the article – How many kids were in their basements playing with computers who didn’t become Bill Gates? The answer is quite a few, although Collins seems to assume the opposite. The real question is how many of those kids, having sent a letter to a company in Arizona offering to sell them a product they didn’t have (a BASIC programming language) would have received a positive response. The answer, of course, is not many. One can imagine that it helped a lot that Gates was a… Read more »

cs
cs
8 years ago

With both these books, these questions come to my mind. Both are more or less positioned as truths (but immediatly disclaimed by saying: my personal experience). They list differences between poor and rich. 1. they are not scientificly researched facts (objective, repeatable) And i promise they wont hold up if you were to do a study of them. They are mere intuitions of the writer from the interactions in his life, he claims. 2. For these differences to be ususefull at all in your life: wich of these (if they hold up to hard facts at all) are mere correlations… Read more »

David
David
8 years ago

Instead of picking on the whole list I’ll just pick one:

“Millionaires believe they must be generous.”

I actually find that the opposite of this is true. Rich people don’t get rich by giving their money away.

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago
Reply to  David

Well, if you believe Dave Ramsey, 2/3 of all charitable giving comes from the top 1%. I don’t know what his source is, but he’s cited this statistic repeatedly in his derision of the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Actually, most charitable giving goes to churches. My guess is that claim about charitable giving by the “top 1%” is based on a wild guess or careful/careless number crunching to prove a point. Given the context of its use, I would bet on the latter.

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

I’ll wait for the reference. It wouldn’t be the first time Dave Ramsey has cited a completely made-up statistic…

Jane
Jane
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Well, so what if the top 1% gives the most money to charity?

Newsflash: They give the most money to charity, because they have the most money to give!

It’s the same argument about taxes. OF COURSE the wealthiest pay the most in taxes. It’s because in last few decades they have made insane amounts of money.

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Sure, but fully half of US citizens pay no net federal income tax at all. And yet they keep calling on the “rich” to pay their “fair share.” If the so-called “rich” are the only ones paying taxes, how is it “fair” to ask them to pay MORE

Or, to put it another way, how “fair” is it that half the people in the US don’t pay any net federal income tax at all?

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Kevin – most of the people that don’t pay federal income taxes don’t have any taxable income after they subtract the standard deduction and personal exemptions. The same standard deduction and personal exemptions that everyone else gets. Why do you think it’s fair that only the middle class and wealthy should get to exempt the first $26K or so (for a family of four) from taxes, while the poor shouldn’t be able to exempt the same amount from taxes simply because they don’t make enough money to have any left over to tax? Everyone gets the same benefit – exempting… Read more »

JB
JB
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

About as ‘fair’ as calling corporations ‘individuals’ and then not having THEM pay their taxes.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/12/us-usa-taxes-corporations-idUSN1249465620080812

About as ‘fair’ as the rich using accountants and tax lawyers to help get them out of paying their taxes.

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Kevin – And that ‘do not pay federal income tax’ includes people who are unemployed and not paying taxes now – although they were before and will again when they have a job. – It also includes those on Social Security who paid taxes throughout their life. It’s a ridiculous talking point designed to spread misinformation and resentment. Plus, while you had the grace to specify federal income tax (which many people don’t) those people ARE paying taxes and are paying for government services through those taxes. (The number of people who don’t realize that payroll taxes, for example, are… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Federal income tax is but one of a myriad of taxes and fees imposed by various government agencies. If you look at all the taxes and fees in toto paid by the poor in comparison to the rich, you get a much different statistic. Politicians on both sides tend to pick the statistics that fit their argument rather than vice versa. Pity.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

The real problem with the claims about the 53% of “people” who pays taxes is that they aren’t true, even if you limit it to federal income tax.

The actual comparison is of “tax units”, not “people”. So a married couple who file a joint return is one “tax unit” and their kids who file to get the taxes back from their summer jobs are each separate “tax units”.

This is just one of those media “factoids” that is repeated over and over until people believe it. The reality is too complicated a story for the media to make interesting.

grrlpup
grrlpup
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Maybe the wealthy donate more dollars, but in terms of a percentage of income, the most generous Americans are those who earn between $5000 and $30,000 per year. (That’s from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey from 2005.)

I think these lists show the authors’ contempt for the poor and their desire to believe the poor deserve to be poor and for that reason THEY’ll never be poor.

Pamela
Pamela
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, congregations with the lowest per capita income (the Church of God)give a greater percentage of their income than congregations with the highest per capita income (Epicopalians).

Wealthy people may give a lot of money but it’s not usually a meaningful percentage of their net wealth. Whereas middle class and poor people who “tithe” are giving 10% of their income to their church.

Mondo Esteban
Mondo Esteban
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Dave Ramsey is a huge anti-OWS person. A statistic like that, I cannot help but believe there is some bias built within it. For alls I know that may be true, but I would expect as much since the top 1% have much of the wealth in this nation. A $1000 donation might be .0001% of their wealth, while for the other 99%, $1000 might be 2% of thier wealth. So who really pays more?

jim
jim
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Here is a study that breaks down charity giving versus income levels. Patterns of Household Charitable Giving by Income Group, 2005 The top 2% of households by income levels give about 56% of the charity donations. This would contradict Ramsey’s claim. Also keep in mind that the top 1% controls 36% of the wealth in the nation. So OF COURSE they will give far more than poor and middle class people. Here’s another source that compares the giving as a % of income: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22FOB-wwln-t.html “In 2001, Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization focused on charitable giving, found that households earning less… Read more »

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago
Reply to  jim

I can’t believe the attitude I’m seeing in some of these comments. “Of course the rich give more to charity – they’ve got so much more money than the rest of us!” What an ungrateful attitude. The rich don’t have to give anything! They could just keep all their money if they wanted. They don’t give it away for the tax breaks (the break is always less than if they’d just kept the money and paid tax on it), they don’t do it for publicity – they do it because believe it or not, they’re good, altruistic people and they… Read more »

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  jim

Kevin, its the math.

The average income of the bottom 90% (using this source I found in a quick google search: http://www.wealthandwant.com/issues/income/income_distribution.html) is $30374. Giving 10% of their income is $3037. The top 10% have an average income of $269,658. To give away $3037 dollars the average top 10%-er only has to give away 1.1% of his/her salary.

This reminds me of the story of the Widow’s Mite.

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago
Reply to  jim

barnetto:

That’s meaningless mathematics. By definition, there are 9 times more 90%-ers than 10%-ers. So of course, all things being equal, the 10% contributions of 9 90%-ers will equal a single 1.1% contribution from a 10%-er. So what?

If that meant anything, then the donations would be equally distributed across income levels, since there are so many more 90%-ers than rich 10%-ers. And yet, the vast majority of all donations comes from the relatively few 1% richest people, even though they’re outnumbered 99-to-1.

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago
Reply to  jim

Kevin,

That’s not how math works. You’re ignoring income distribution, which is essential to the whole point.

And you also apparently think that 1.1% is greater generosity than 10%, which is just weird.

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  jim

Kevin, how are you counting when you say that the vast majority of all donations come from the wealthy? 1) Counting absolute dollars 2) Comparing percentages 3) Comparing the # of different organizations contributed to 4) ??? If you’re using #1, then yes, no one is disagreeing with you. The wealthy give more dollars because the wealthy have more dollars. Let’s say our high earners give away 10% of their salary (which in real life someone already said they don’t, they give closer to 2%). That would be $29,000 out of their ~$290,000 average salary. The average person outside of… Read more »

LauraElle
LauraElle
8 years ago
Reply to  David

I must reply to this. Not all wealthy people are selfish. My dad owns a small company that has been very profitable. He hasn’t taken a salary since 2007 because he doesn’t want to lay anyone off. He bought him and my mother private insurance policies so the company wouldn’t have to cover them both anymore. He also covers part of the company’s share of the medical insurance premium so his employees’ will not have additional expenses. His employees have no idea he’s doing this. Those are only a few examples. No one makes him do this. No one makes… Read more »

Janette
Janette
8 years ago
Reply to  LauraElle

Your parents are living off of your mother’s income from a different company or are they living off of their savings?

Mondo Esteban
Mondo Esteban
8 years ago
Reply to  LauraElle

Lauraelle – I also question how your parents are making money. Not to be super snarky, but perhaps instead of taking taxable income, your father writes off all of his expenses as “business expenses” all the while keeping his stated salary at zero?

rdzins
rdzins
8 years ago
Reply to  LauraElle

Any one can come up with a clicky do good think good list, I personally don’t beleive in them having mind and always looking for opportunities is a good mind set to have, but also realizing if something does not work out that is OK to and you learned from it and move on. I have to agree we have a business also and we pay ourselves less than our workers. I wish we could offer our workers more than what we are currently however, right now we can not. In the future I would like to as our business… Read more »

phoenix
phoenix
8 years ago
Reply to  David

I completely agree too. And coming from somebody who grew up in a very poor community, the poor often helped each other in time and labor (which is never counted in such studies). If a elderly neighbor’s roof leaked, we pitched in and fixed it, using supplies we bought and our own labor. If somebody needed another to watch kids, we were there for each other.

mihai
mihai
8 years ago

Well it is true in life you need to take action and change the status . Usually this is better than just maintaining it especially if you are poor. I liked the quote about calculated risk. How it applies to me: I for one hate debt(became debt free this year in February) but I am renting. So would buying a house (with a modest 20 year mortgage) help ? I think it will. With aggressive snowballing I might pay it back in 10 years (rent and payment are very close and I have a small down payment). The risks are… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

That the lists are facile is a given – the issues of rich/poor cannot be reduced to a list.
However, if we look at the lists and recognize some change that we could make to our own mindset that could improve our circumstances – then they have served their purpose.

Dink
Dink
8 years ago

Rich is a mindset. Decide to live a healthy life, stay out of debt, and opt to not have children and you can work a part-time job to support yourself. If you want children, if you want a house that’s bigger than you really need, if you want a consumerist life, you’re going to pay for it with a harder working life. Sure, “luck” could be responsible for you getting into some accident or getting a terminal disease, but the same “luck” could also have you stumbling upon a million dollar lottery ticket on the ground. It’s not constructive to… Read more »

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
8 years ago
Reply to  Dink

Sorry, Dink, but magical thinking never has and never will work. “Decide to live a healthy lifestyle” will not automatically make you stay healthy. Autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, arthritis — every disease strikes everyone regardless of lifestyle. We actually have no clue what constitutes a “healthy diet” because the studies are all association studies, and they ignore factors that influence both the food eaten and the “results.” For instance, you prepare a healthy salad and someone else gets fast food? Congratulations — you have the energy to prepare the “healthy” salad; someone else might have early cancer, or autoimmune… Read more »

Christa
Christa
8 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

um, WTF?

ShackleMeNot
ShackleMeNot
8 years ago

What an odd post. Of course Mindset matters. There are real differences between the thoughts and actions of the rich and poor. This website was supposed to focus on that very concept, right?

“Get Rich Slowly” is the opposite of the Mindset that you should get rich quick. Maybe you should disagree with a few of the specific points of distinction between those who have made their success and those who don’t, but to chalk it up to luck is ridiculous.

Good Mindset drives good choices that lead to good results.

Brendan M.
Brendan M.
8 years ago

Let’s see if I can be as trite and ignorant as this list… Rich people believe: “I create my life.” Poor people believe: “Life happens to me.” – Because they can afford to Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose. – Because they can afford to Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich. Rich people think big. Poor people think small. – Because they can afford to Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles. – Because they can afford to See… Read more »

Brent
Brent
8 years ago
Reply to  Brendan M.

Sure. But, maybe, only after they worked hard to get to the point of being rich. This article is about mindset and the way one views situations.

Kent@TheFinancialPhilosopher
8 years ago

As I was reading the post, I did not think in terms of money. If you did not like the post, you may find a greater perspective if you do the same… Try thinking of “rich” as someone who has a healthy perspective on life — a self-actualized person, able to lead a life of meaning and purpose. Now replace the meaning of “poor” with those who have an unhealthy perspective on life — those who look outward for redemption and value things higher than inner peace and contentment. With that said, there are many people who are financially wealthy… Read more »

Joelle
Joelle
8 years ago

Having been poor in my life – these statements are oversimplisic and glib. I almost lost respect for you for posting these demeaning “collective” statements and buying into groupthink.

I’m sure you already know this but poverty is more complex than the way people “think.”

Half of success is being optimistic. The other half is up to you.

Coley
Coley
8 years ago

On one hand, I agree with you and many of the posters that the lists are ludicrously reductive. These are written to sell as many books as possible, they’re not academic dissertations. Look at most glossy magazines: readers love lists. On the other hand, there’s some truth behind most of these tenets. And they can be true whether or not the affluent or disadvantaged people are truly responsible or simply lucky for their individual situations. JD, I’m glad you looked at this with a critical eye, but I’m surprised that your post seems to dismiss so much of it outright.… Read more »

JCC
JCC
8 years ago
Reply to  Coley

I believe that a lot of people have found out during this recession that it takes a lot more than the right attitude and mindset when it comes to building wealth and a secure financial future. I think a lot of people have had to eat some humble pie and had a radical shift in their views of particular things. Of course, I wish it had never happened, that should go without saying.

CD
CD
8 years ago

Having gone to what a lot of people consider to be the Mecca of WASPs for boarding school, I feel like I can comment with confidence on this post 🙂 It is funny reading this how many of the “millionaire” values we were taught on a daily basis. “To Whom Much is Given, Much is Expected” was practically engraved on everything. I came from an upper middle class family that had made good, and it really does change your perspective when every day someone tells you “one day you will be a leader in this country (obviously,or why would you… Read more »

Laura
Laura
8 years ago
Reply to  CD

“…some of the very poor people I work with- they often lack that innate sense of possibility.”

And that to me sums up perfectly the difference between the financially wealthy and the financially poor. The debate is really over what causes or prevents that innate sense of possibility, and that answer is complex. Some of it IS circumstance, background, handicaps or privileges, intelligence, etc. and some of it really is ability, drive, willingness to learn, delaying gratification, etc. Unfortunately there’s no easy dividing line, hence this debate.

Samantha
Samantha
8 years ago
Reply to  CD

GUEST. POST. please.

Barb
Barb
8 years ago

I find this post inapppropriate for this blog.It sounds like someone said “JD you haven’t had any really good knock downs on your blog lately, and I think you need to come up with one”. I actaully find it insulting as well. I suspect you did not mean it to be. that said, I agree with Jane (I think it was). The rich are different because they have money, and because of that money, they get treated differently. On a regular basis, all the time. IN almost all walks of life. Even if they choose to live like the middle… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  Barb

A look behind the scenes at Get Rich Slowly!

I actually wrote this post in late August or early September. I’ve sat on it ever since precisely because I thought it might be too inflammatory. But I keep thinking about this subject, and I think it’s worthy of discussion. What’s more, I think it’s possible to discuss the differences without fighting. We’ve had many great conversations at GRS about controversial topics, and I’m not sure why we can’t do the same here.

Tonya
Tonya
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

You’re right, of course. We just all have so many opinions! And it hurts to think that all the negatives in the second column (the non-wealthy, non-millionaire traits) are supposed to be describing us! We may not BE wealthy yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have the same attitudes as people who are.

Megan
Megan
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I think we can, some of us just have to get past the shame of our situations, most people aren’t even aware of it. Whether or not we are rich or poor or somewhere in between, there is a great deal of differences of how people live within and outside of our communities. It is hard to see homeless people walking around begging. It is hard to not be able to “fix” the issues surrounding homelessness. However the more we talk about it the more we learn from one another, and out of that comes solution, at least sometimes that… Read more »

Laura
Laura
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

🙂 J.D., if no one ever criticizes what you do, then you’re not doing anything worth noticing. 🙂

FRUGALTEXASGAL
FRUGALTEXASGAL
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Okay, then I’ll gently suggest you have poor timing at a minumum. When you’ve got a presidential candidate who says that everyone who is uneemployed are failures and people cheer, that frankly implies some truly warped and unrealistic attitudes. Grown men who used to be upper middle management don’t work at McDonalds because they think poor. Leaving chronic poverty aside for the moment, ten percent of americans do not have any work at all. You’re poor because you want to be (or becaue you don’t know any better) is a pretty sad mantra in my book.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
8 years ago

“Good Mindset drives good choices that lead to good results.” I don’t think that is really true. The one thing that distinguishes the rich, beyond luck, is that they often focus on making money as a purpose in life, rather than a means to an end. Most people want more money in to spend it. Its not money that they want, its what money can buy. With that mindset, you don’t choose your friends based on how they can help you make money. You don’t choose a job or do a job based solely on how much money you will… Read more »

Pamela
Pamela
8 years ago

I’ll be honest, I braced myself, because I’ve seen a lot of “rich people just work harder and poor people are lazy” rhetoric flung around certain PF blogs a few years ago. I’ve been financially comfortable, I’ve been broke, and I’ve been everywhere in between. My mindset has always been the same. So like you, J.D., I’m giving these differences these books list the side-eye. I don’t resent people who have more than me; I think that’s great that they’re doing so well. I resent the assumption that if you’re in a tough spot, or if you’re actually poor, many… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago

I really don’t like those lists without a lot of explaination behind each point, otherwise they do appear trite and somewhat insulting as others have pointed out. I could take each of these points and express how a poor person could have the “rich” mindset but not be in a position to execute it. I also think a big difference is support to be thinking rich. In the neighborhood I grew up in (lower blue collar) the parents weren’t highly educated, many had a distrustful view of education beyond high school, and they often griped about their jobs, bosses, and… Read more »

Theresa
Theresa
8 years ago

I recently read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It’s about the mindsets and lessons he learned from his biological dad (Phd, but couldn’t get ahead) and his best friend’s dad who didn’t graduate, but became one of the richest men on Hawaii. I’ve started reading another of his books, Cash Flow Quadrant. If you want to change your life, I would suggest you read his books. While I haven’t read Eker’s book, through other books I’ve read and classes I’ve taken, I have started changing the way I think. I am doing half of Eker’s list already. The… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago
Reply to  Theresa

Actually if you do any research you will find his biographical accounts, including of his father, are fabricated. Kiyosaki rubs me the wrong way because he is very comfortable passing off fables as real events or people. Although he may give a refreshing and perhaps optimistic (and hence inspiring) perspective of becoming successful, the more you read of him the more you realize he doesn’t really give actionable advice you how to get there yourself (unless your route is to write best selling self-help books).

JCC
JCC
8 years ago
Reply to  partgypsy

He initially marketed it through some multi-level marketing scam and those sleazy seminars, too.
Seeing his name on an endorsement for a personal finance book is enough to put me off the book and its author; I think I saw Kiyosaki’s name on a book written by Jean Chatzky. I’m getting so I truly don’t know who to read for credible PF advice.

GL
GL
8 years ago
Reply to  Theresa
Vanessa
Vanessa
8 years ago
Reply to  GL

I’m reluctant to trust the word of someone who bashes one book and suggests his own as a better alternative.

I always though Rich Dad/Poor Dad was a metaphor and not to be taken literally.

njcatherine
njcatherine
8 years ago

This is fine if all you want to do is amass wealth: You can stick this up in your office and practice those traits. I prefer to substitute the word “visionaries” or “people with purpose” because, as Dink said, my end goal isn’t wealth at all. Yet, I want to live a life of vision and purpose, and I imagine such people think long term, are lifelong learners, act in spite of fear… and as others here have said, it’s not about the money in the bank, it’s the mindset. The money is just a tool–a “means of exchange” to… Read more »

Personal Finance Source
Personal Finance Source
8 years ago

As I read this I understand why I am not one of the rich people.

sarah
sarah
8 years ago

There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start. For one thing, correlation does not imply causation. People get rich because they have a certain attitude, or they have that attitude because they’re rich? Second, what correlation? These statements are based on what? Third, the authors conflate “rich” with “successful.” Are we to suppose that a multi-millionaire who loses half of his/her wealth through poor choices (and is still a millionaire) has better attitudes than someone who came from abject poverty and built a reasonable life for themselves? This article reads like a sermon,… Read more »

Kaiti
Kaiti
8 years ago

It’s interesting how all of Eker’s points could just as well refer to self-confidence and high self worth rather than wealth in terms of money. I like that these types of laws are fundamentally universal.

Milos - Success Secret Blog
Milos - Success Secret Blog
8 years ago

Yes, many of you are right that this is not ordinary GRS post, but I like it very much. Many of the comments seem like denying that the mindset plays enormous role in getting rich. Even to get rich slowly you have to develop specific mindset. I would say that both lists are true, but these characteristics are not exclusive. I wanted to say that it does not mean that everybody who, for example, acts in spite of fear or think big, will be rich. That was the authors comment about the faults of the second list, so I am… Read more »

Tina
Tina
8 years ago

I actually really liked this article. I think the interesting thing about it is not to look at it and say “Rich people are this” and “Poor people are that,” and if you DO read the article that way I can see why people may view it as offensive, but to look at the qualities and realize which of those you may see in yourself that contribute and detract from your own wealth. For example, I sometimes find I am too risk-adverse. That is something that limits my ability to gain wealth and it is something I want to improve… Read more »

Steve S
Steve S
8 years ago
Reply to  Tina

I agree with you Tina. It is natural to take offense when somebody “calls you out” so to speak. But some open-minded personal reflection leads me to certain conclusions: that while I am young and our household income is solidly upper-middle class, I will always be a slave to wages since I cannot mentally deal with an uneven cash flow. I enjoy my downtime, hobbies, and passive entertainment (TV, internet) too much to dedicate extra time outside of my 40-hour workweek to finding multiple streams of income (side job, blogging, freelance work, etc.) I am OK with that, and I… Read more »

Sophie
Sophie
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve S

Steve, As a health care professional, I think your comments regarding mental health clients are inappropriate, demeaning and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and respect for the complex mental health issues that many people face. Your comment “instead of seeing a life where help isn’t necessary” strikes me as condescending and is akin to blaming the sick for being sick. The root cause of their victimization and dependence is often tied to: learned helplessness, institutionalization, pathology, social stigma and inequality (social and financial) among many other factors that are external to the self. This means that addressing this dependency… Read more »

Steve S
Steve S
8 years ago
Reply to  Sophie

You are correct in the sense that a complex issue cannot be boiled down into two sentences in the comments section of a blog. There are 100 other arguments and data points floating about in my head as I write those things that aren’t available to the casual reader, which makes my observations seem shallow and uninformed.

I’ll steer clear of such topics in the future.

Liz
Liz
8 years ago
Reply to  Tina

I second what Tina said. I think people are reading too much into this article – the point is to get you thinking about your attitude toward what you can accomplish with the resources available to you, including how you decide to perceive the world around you. It’s true that it’s difficult to be optimistic when your current situation is dire, and not everybody is able to do that, but there are people who succeed in getting themselves out of poverty because they have some of the mindsets listed in the “rich” column. I’m amazed at the number of people… Read more »

Tom
Tom
8 years ago

I think the better question to ask is what is the difference between the comfortable-living middle class and the paycheck-to-paycheck middle class. It’s hard to compare the average rich and the average poor person due to many variables, including systemic (dis)advantages that run completely counter to the idea of meritocracy, the idea that hard work will always be rewarded in the long run. Comparing the behaviors and mindset of rich and poor may be an interesting thought experiment, but I think it can lead to conflating whether the behavior is a cause or effect of economic status. I’m sure there… Read more »

Amber
Amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Tom

This would have been a much more interesting topic to cover for a blog post here. I don’t know a single person who thinks of themselves as ‘Poor’ or as ‘Rich’. Those are labels we apply to other people only and it makes these stupid lists irrelevant. I know many people I consider rich and many I think are poor, but only comparing my situation against what I know of theirs. I know some brilliant people who have all of the “Rich” characteristics but don’t have 2 dimes. A more timely topic would be what is the Middle Class —… Read more »

Tom
Tom
8 years ago
Reply to  Amber

“What is the Middle Class”

I think that’s an excellent question. I always see articles and posts like “AMT expanding on the middle class” or something similar with middle class never really being defined…

Chris
Chris
8 years ago

I think the biggest problem with these lists is exactly what many of the previous commentors have suggested – in general, poor people don’t have room for mistakes. I think this is the thing that middle class people often understand least – they made all sorts of mistakes growing up and even now that might have bad consequences but not life-changing-dramtically-for-the-worse consequences. This teaches them the “rich person” attitude toward risk/reward and many of the other attitudes that those lists in the post talks about. But poor people learn different things from the exact same mistakes because of the dramatically… Read more »

changeonabudget
changeonabudget
8 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Thank you for this. Blaming the poor and saying that if they changed their mindset that they could become rich ignores things like racism, disabilities, lack of access to education, and a whole host of other factors. If everyone started a race at the same time, then the person who worked hardest and was most determined to win would be rewarded. But life is more like a race where some get to start only a few meter’s from the finish line and others have to run further and over a lot more obstacles to get anywhere close to the ‘finish’… Read more »

Shane
Shane
8 years ago

The only problem that I see with your comment is that you assume life is a race with each other. In reality it is only a race with ourselves. But let’s say we do assume we are in a race with other people, and get stuck over the fact that many have a head start over us. We would never be able to win with that thought lingering in our mind. We are in essence keeping ourselves from truly winning. As for me, if someone has a head start over me, I accept the challenge. I put myself to the… Read more »

Troy
Troy
8 years ago

Of the first 20 top-level comments, 11 or 12 are responses to the idea that there is a difference between rich and poor people, rather than to any of the differences discussed in the article. Words/phrases used include “obnoxious,” “insulting,” “I fear,” and “have issues.”

8 to 9 are responses to the content of the article, either by referring to its content directly or to related experiences that indicate, refute, or are about differences. Phrases like “My 2 cents,” “I remember,” and “these questions come to my mind” were used.

That seems representative of discussions about wealth in the US.

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago

Eker’s list is literally a list of lies. It’s not even the warm fuzzies thing – it’s just not TRUE. Almost every single statement he makes about the middle-class is not just a generalization, it’s a lie and I think it’s important to call that out.

(And the exceptions are things like “Millionaires have multiple sources of income. The middle class has only one or two.” Which is for the most part true, although overly simplistic. But the ones on how the middle-class thinks/feels/talks? Just LIES. There’s nothing empowering – OR thought-provoking – in a list of lies.)

Alcie
Alcie
8 years ago

On the face of it, these types of lists are trite and simplistic. On the other hand, I could boil it down even further. Rich people have access to ‘cultural capital’ that says “I’m one of you” to others with means, in the way they speak, the educations they receive, the neighborhoods they live in, the way they raise their children, the type of food they eat, their choice of entertainment, the people they know and the people their acquaintances know. All of the above is a huge jump start to socioeconomic success. While it’s not out of the question… Read more »

phoenix
phoenix
8 years ago

There are some people who are value money above all else and will do whatever they need to in order to obtain as much of it as possible, and based on this devotation naturally exhibit many of the characteristics on the list. There are some people who act like victims of their life and based on that mindset, they will exhibit characteristics of those listed as poor. There are many who are poor who cannot afford to take as many risks because the consequences are more dire to jump without a safety net. But what I think would be helpful… Read more »

victor
victor
8 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

Read the book that is who he talks about self-made millionares, not ones who are given their money.

Shawn G
Shawn G
8 years ago

JD, I appreciated this article. While I do not agree with either Eker or Smith entirely, it is good to engage these lists and see what we can learn. I live in an area with many people who would be considered poor. It is definitely a lot different from the area where I grew up which was middle class. Living here has opened my eyes to just how differently people live. There are many people where I live who work very hard and are not able to gain wealth, they can only seem to maintain. There are others who have… Read more »

Raj
Raj
8 years ago

I don’t think this post is bad at all.

There is so much of this sensationalistic and cliched books out there that claim to teach how to get rich.

Apart from J.D’s skepticism the comments in this post are the real value here in putting all of that “wisdom” in context.

Good post 🙂

Lorri
Lorri
8 years ago

JD – I think the lists continue the propaganda that “if only poor people WANTED to, they could not be poor any more”. While I do believe there are people from poor backgrounds that do step into middle class and wealth, I think that there are alot more thngs in their way then their lack of imagination and positive attitude. When no one around you is suuccessful it is pretty tough to assume you can be, when your race and place have 20 to 40% unemployment vs some area that have 5%, you have way more ground to cover to… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
8 years ago

I had to respond to these lists largely because of the flawed assumption people make that poverty (as in being materially poor) is a personality defect and has nothing whatsoever to do with structural issues. Clearly, this is not true when you have an educational and a health system funded by property values (which gives the Rich the luxury of opportunity that allows them to see opportunities and to believe their choosing creates their own lives, which does not exist among the poor who do not have options). Nor do these opportunities exists when transit systems decline to create public… Read more »

evelyn
evelyn
8 years ago

To me, this article smacks of elitism and ignorance about the real world. I think these are ridiculous gross generalizations. J.D., how about you round up some actual poor people and ask them if they really think the way this author says they think? Then we can start a real conversation. This is just plain insulting, this list. You have traveled all over the world and yet you condone this kind of know-it-all attitude about the poor?? I expect more from this blog.

Jadzia
Jadzia
8 years ago
Reply to  evelyn

I think that is a great idea for a post.

Matt
Matt
8 years ago

What a terribly ignorant and insulting worldview.

I’ve read this blog for years, and now I’m done with it.

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

In terms of helping me understand better the problems of living with poverty, I liked the episode of Morgan Spurlock’s “Thirty Days” on living on minimum wage. What he encountered, other than lots and lots of sacrifice ( which we can all agree is a good strategy towards bettering yourself) was constant slipping into debt because of medical problems brought about by his very difficult jobs. It was very sobering.

Jynet
Jynet
8 years ago

I’m annoyed that most of these lists try to define “middle class (or poor) vs. Rich”. I think they define “Rich vs. Wealthy”. **IMO** Rich people earn and spend. I’ve had clients – a couple – with a combined income in the $300k range tell me that they can’t make ends meet. They are “Rich” by any definition. They have the nice car, nice house, nanny, etc. etc. But they are living paycheque to paycheque. The home equity line of credit is maxed, the credit cards are maxed, the car loan has a higher balance than the car is worth…… Read more »

Bella
Bella
8 years ago

For everyone who is accusing Ekler of saying that being rich or poor is some ummutable personality trait – you need to reread the post “Our blueprints are created through lifelong exposure to money messages from the people around us. Unfortunately, Eker says, most of us have faulty blueprints that prevent us from building wealth.” He is acknowledging that people are a product of their curcumstances, that past experiences shape how we relate to money – and that rich people’s experiences cause them to think one way and poor people’s experiences cause them to think another. I think that’s dead… Read more »

Kyra
Kyra
8 years ago

I skipped a lot of the comments because it seemed as if a lot of people got offended for some reason. I’ve been poor and now I don’t consider myself rich but I guess I’m getting there. I come from inner-city Cleveland, where most people are poor and don’t even know it. The current economic conditions didn’t affect them much because this was the way they lived already. I can tell you that I agree with both lists. The mentality in the hood is tread water, not learn how to swim to shore. The first step in fixing the problem… Read more »

Evan H.
Evan H.
8 years ago
Reply to  Kyra

Excellent post, Kyra. I always liked Dave Ramsey’s analogy of poor vs. broke and thinking richly vs. thinking poorly. Broke people think like rich people (save money, live within your means, give thanks for your many blessings, love others) but are at a point in life where their income is low. They are trending upward. Poor people have a mentality that they are owed something or that the *system* is working against them. This is a mentality can be passed down through generations. They are either stagnant or trending downward. Most of us started as poor thinkers as kids. Remember… Read more »

Theresa
Theresa
8 years ago
Reply to  Evan H.

Exactly! (To both Kyra and Evan H.) Evan’s poor people description made me think of another book I read recently. It’s “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. It’s all about doing little (easy) things every day to improve your health, relationships, and yes, financial situation. I think this one book has done me the most good and will continue to do so. The little decisions we make every day add up to a huge difference in our life. I am taking responsibility for myself and my situation. I think more people would be better off if they did the same… Read more »

olga
olga
8 years ago
Reply to  Evan H.

“Poor people have a mentality that they are owed something or that the *system* is working against them. This is a mentality can be passed down through generations.” Thank you. I tried reading all comments and got lost on too many, but figured bottom line: majority are mad because they don’t like accusation in having not-so-awesome mentality, and then others who say if you take away the harsh words of statement and think, pretty much a lot of it applies. Of course, topic deviated with OWS, taxes and so on, which is not fare to the post’s idea. I’ve been,… Read more »

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
8 years ago
Reply to  olga

“Personally, as an immigrant and from former communist block, I use mentality “Nobody will take care of me, and why anybody should? It’s all up to me. Nobody owes me a thing. Now, buckle up and get to work”.” I am always curious about this claim by some immigrants. How did you get here? How did you get a visa? Where did you sleep the first day when you arrived? Where did you learn English? My experience is that most immigrants get a lot of help, whether from family already here or private organizations or the government. Or, in the… Read more »

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