There are reasons why poor people stay poor and why rich people get richer
I happened to pick up a copy of a nationally distributed newspaper a few days ago. In it was a column written by Paul Busharizi called “To be wealthy is glorious.” Intrigued, I began to read.
One sentence caught my attention and provoked my thinking. He wrote “For the poor man, money is for spending, for the rich man, read billionaire, money is for making more money.
So I began to consider the differences in the ways to take the little bit of money most of us have and make it even less. There are doubtless more and I want to be clear that I am not proposing that there are formulas you can follow that will guarantee riches. I am proposing that there are attitudes about money, about handling money, about conceiving of money, and the way we actually do handle it that make the difference between those who are well off and those who barely get by. I am not so naïve as to suggest that there are not reasons for financial reversal or hardship over which you can have little control. The unforseen does suddenly come upon us. Few can predict and I doubt anyone would willingly choose divorce, catastrophe, accident, failing health, or any of the other tragedies life can toss our way. What’s more, those things can happen to someone else yet negatively impact us. I am however, suggesting that it is not luck that got the better off to be, well, better off.
Ok, enough about that. I could, and doubtless will write a good deal more about the subject later and I am not, by any stretch of the imagination wealthy. Life has thrown us more than one challenge before, we are in another pretty big one now (you might be too), and doubtless there will be more. Insert your name anywhere in this paragraph and we have found common ground.
Thus, here is my list in no particular order.
Don’t respond to the midnight cry – late night infomercials are rife with ways to get rich. Be smart about this. If someone has found a sure path to wealth why are they going to let you in on it for three easy payments of just $39.95? Actually, they have found a sure way to get rich and that is to get you to give them three easy payments of $39.95.
Wealthy people are far ahead thinkers. Tomorrow will soon be today. You may be twenty now but you will be sixty soon, a lot sooner than you think. It is called prudence and few poor people employ it. Early in my life I spent a good deal of time counseling pastors about the peculiarities of the American tax code. It allows an ordained minister to opt out of Social Security by filing a form within two years of their ordination. The only stipulation is that one opts out for “reasons of conscience.” I cannot number how many pastors opted out but I can tell you that none of them did so for reasons of conscience. They all, to a person, revealed they did so because they did not want to pay the tax. When I asked what they intended to do when they got old, none of them had a plan. Not one. They all abandoned their responsibility to care for themselves and their family by any type of planning at all – no pension plans, no investments, no savings, no nothing! Most said that Jesus would come back and they wouldn’t need it, a rationalization so patently irresponsible it does not even deserve a response. The worst were those who said they would just trust God. Ok, let me get this straight. You have just decided to misrepresent yourself to the authorities by claiming a conscientious objection for something about which you have no conscientious objection, lie to them under penalty of perjury, and now you want God to carry the day because you are too irresponsible to pay Ceasar what you owe Ceasar (look it up)? I’m telling you here, you might as well pray to a stump for all the good that prayer is going to do. You wonder why you are just getting by? Get a clue.
Money is not for spending. Have you noticed that members of certain ethnic groups will move into a blighted area filled with poverty and ruin, rent a small building, and open a convenience store. In the midst of almost complete degradation, they make a success and soon own not only the storefront they have rented but the entire building. Why? Because what money they earned they did not spend on I-phones, I-pads, or jewelry. They invested, improved business, paid off debts, worked longer hours, and became wealthy. Then they suffer the ire of the neighborhood because they did what no one there would do. Poor people spend every nickel they make and more. Rich people invest.
What you don’t know can hurt you. Investing is not speculating. Poor people gamble. Rich people count the costs and consider the risks. When I worked at Lowe’s I helped a lady buy some molding for a new business she was starting. She had already signed the lease for a pet boutique where she planned to sell doggie booties, kitty cat pajamas, and the like. One inclined to make wealth would not make such a venture without considering just how many doggie booties she will have to sell every month just to make the lease payment. Even careful investors sometimes get burned. For foolish ones it is almost certain. A fool and his money are…well, you know the axiom.
Rich people are neither wealthy nor dishonest and they don’t owe you a nickel. The politics of envy are being played by people anxious to exploit you for their gain, not yours and you are being played for a sucker. It seems amazing to me that people who have earned substantial amounts of money are being labeled as greedy because they want to hang onto their money while those who want to take it from them are not be called greedy. Greed is to covet what is another’s because you consider it to be illegitimate that they have it therefore you should have it. The equation just doesn’t hold up. Remember that what goes around comes around. Let them have theirs and when you get yours you will understand why.
Money is a device for getting more. Money is not the end, it is the means. The very wealthy are almost always unbelievably generous and their wealth provides jobs and prosperity for huge numbers of others. They invariably look for ways to make life better for others, produce things or services that will do just that, and the result is wealth.
Poor people have no more invested in their financial future and well-being than the next paycheck and that’s how they live – paycheck to paycheck. Now that may indeed be the intervals at which money comes in, but you don’t have to live that way. Wealthy people live life, not weekly or semi-monthly periods. Look longer term, much longer term.
Living beyond your means has become an American mantra but rich people live below their means. You can too. It can be done.
Enough for today. I’ll post the final 11 ways in a couple of days.
What ways have you discovered to take a little money and turn it into less money?