Why the Rich Stay Rich, and the Poor Stay Poor Comments51 Comments

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Everyone wants to be rich, but not many are.

Why do so few people have real wealth? Certainly, there must be some fundamental differences between the rich and the poor that can account for the differing levels of success.

Rich people often seem capable of generating amazing things in things in their lives. And many with less money seem to be stuck. You wouldn’t be alone if you concluded that this is due to some difference in abilities or work ethic. But if you look closely at the rich people you know, you’ll likely find that most aren’t particularly lucky, intelligent, or hardworking.

Let’s examine some of the actual fundamental differences between the rich and the poor:

1. Rich people attempt to create a specific life for themselves; poor people believe they have no control. If you don’t believe you can create the life you desire, why would you even try? But if you can envision what you want, you stand a chance to get it.

2. Wealthy people dream much bigger. Tell your poor friends that you want to be a millionaire and see what they say. You’re likely to hear something like this, “No one needs that much money. You can live fine with a lot less than a million dollars.”

  • Do you think that a person who says things like this is ever likely to be wealthy? People who are poor always tend to think small. People who are rich dream big.

3. The rich play to win, and the poor play not to lose. This is significant. The rich are quite bold and are always searching for a way to win when money is involved. The poor are too busy worrying about preserving what little they have. They never give themselves the chance to become wealthy.

4. Opportunities vs. obstacles. Those who are wealthy tend to focus on the opportunities and then simply deal with the obstacles as they arise along the way. The poor have a habit of focusing on all the obstacles.

5. Commitment counts. The rich do an excellent job at staying committed to achieving their goals. The poor are good at dedicating themselves to dreaming about their hopes instead of making goals out of them.

  • Although you may have fun thinking about how great it would be to be rich, that’s not going to make your desires happen. Set a goal and then fully commit to it.

6. Peer group matters. We all tend to rise or fall to the level of our peer group. Have you ever noticed that the rich hang out with other rich people? Spend time with wealthy people if you want to succeed financially. You’ll be amazed at how your perspective changes when you hear people talking about how they made $2,000+ in a single day.

7. The rich constantly learn. You’ll find that wealthy people are usually learning new things, especially when in regard to making more money. The poor frequently have an attitude that they already know everything they need to know. Don’t stop learning.

Developing the habits and attitudes presented in this article will go a long way towards improving your financial situation. It’s never too late to start, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can turn things around. Start today and you can change your financial life forever!

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This entry was posted in Financial Advice, and tagged , , Comments51 Comments
By : Adam | 7 May 2013
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51 thoughts on “Why the Rich Stay Rich, and the Poor Stay Poor

  1. Mike Thorpe

    This is a tough subject to tackle in a blog post. There are so many angles to cover. Coming from a background in sociology, I just don’t agree that it’s this simple.

    There are several prevailing theories as to why the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Specifically, social disorganization. Often, it doesn’t come down to personal traits. In fact, this post kind of paints the poor as personally deficient.

    The poor can also dream big, look for opportunity, and constantly learn. But unless their environment is conducive to success be it better access to resources and education or family support, it is less likely that they will get ahead when compared to those that have access to resources and support systems.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I completely agree that it’s not so simple either. I think the post is more focused on how people stay rich, but not so much why a lot of people are poor. I know in the city I live in the people that are worst off are either dealing with mental problems or drug problems. People end up in that situation for a wide variety of reasons. Family upbringing plays a big role as does numerous other factors. Some of the stuff mentioned in this post plays a role, but probably not as much as other stuff.

      Reply
      1. kofybean

        What exactly do you mean by that? Rich people aren’t inherently smarter, or more perfect. Many rich have mental issues, drug problems, gambling addictions, yet they have money. Saying Britney Spears is rich and therefore smarter, more talented, has bigger dreams, learns faster, or more free from mental problems than all who are poorer than her is a flat out mis-education to the socio economic structure. What about Justin Bieber’s family upbringing? I think you are right to say there is a lot of other stuff, and it would be good for a honest discussion that admits that money is not a universal standard but a construct of society. Therefore having more wealth does not depend on the intrinsic value of the human.

        Reply
        1. Simon

          I concur with you, money is not and can’t be a universal standard of success, smartness or even the value of human life. Its simply a means to an end…the end being happiness and the general well-being of humanity. I think what the post is trying to point out to is that to an extent financial independence and well being is as a result of the our habits, thoughts and temperaments. If we can change those, then we stand a higher chance of becoming financially independent. Ofcourse there are so many other factors that are in play in the whole wealth equation.

          Reply
      2. Geo

        Excuses! Keep thinking them up and you will never have money. There are no excuses. Figure something out, decide to work and put in the time and effort. Find a need and supply it. It is America!
        No ones forcing you to watch tv. Instead of watching your favorite show find a product, study it, learn how to sell it and go out and do it. It is that simple, but simple and easy it is not. It is hard work!

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Biberdorf

          You hit the nail on the head Geo…’hard work’. A lot of people are just plain lazy and aren’t willing to put forth that kind of effort. They feel that after working their job they should just waste their free time. Instead they could put that towards getting ahead.

          Reply
    2. Tracy

      Actually it really is that simple. You have to be willing to work your butt off come rain or shine, no matter how you feel to accomplish your goals. That means probably for about 5-6 years very little freedom, money to spend on movies or other luxuries, and most importantly not being afraid to fail. I am in this process now and read a lot of self motivating/ leadership books as my entertainment. I don’t hang around negative people and I watch very little news. You have to learn to be a true leader and work for yourself which means you have to except the fact that win or fail it is going to be up to you and your will to keep moving forward, sometimes crawling on your belly but always forward! Yes it is really hard unless your lucky enough to handed a silver spoon but the end result, at least so far is worth it. Then when you get to the top you come back down and take as many people as you can back up to the top with you again and again and again.

      Reply
  2. Tushar @ Everything Finance

    Interesting article! I definitely agree that there are some obvious and vast differences between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately many poor people have situations in which they are stuck as they don’t have the proper tools to remove themselves from it. I think your peer group matters, too!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I agree that peer group plays a huge role as it affects some of the traits mentioned in this post. The company you keep can also open or close doors for you.

      Reply
  3. @debtblag

    All good points.

    It’s important to note that the best predictor of whether someone will rich is still whether or not they were born rich. Of course, that’s something we can’t control, so it’s not really worth mentioning in this context.

    One more thing I’ve noticed as I’ve climbed up the income ladder — poor people pay to use their own money and rich people get paid to use their own money.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yep being born into money is how a large percentage of rich people got there. They may have created their own fortune, but they likely had help in attaining high end education, connection with high up executives and/or financial assistance. When you’re poor those kinds of things can be big obstacles that are not so easy to overcome. Good point about how the banking & credit systems are designed to favor the rich too.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That is true…instead of pushing yourself, you’d want to sit around focused on the present. There wouldn’t be much motivation to keep up with your peers or obtain the same kinds of things. Rich people just have a lot more pressure to compete financially.

      Reply
  4. Edward Antrobus

    Of course the rich take more risks. They can afford to. If you have a million dollars and lose 95% of it, you still have enough to survive. When you have ten thousand dollars and lose 95% of it, you are going to be on the street.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      And when they do take risks it is likely well thought out risks that are balanced with safe investments. They’d have access to paid advisors and other resources. It is pretty tough to diversify to limit risk when your overall holdings are rather small.

      Reply
  5. Matt Becker

    I think there’s a lot of truth to all of this, but it’s also important to understand the advantages many people are born into that others are not. This really goes along with the peer group point, but many children are born into a situation where they don’t see success around them, so it’s difficult for them to understand what it means/takes to be successful. It’s certainly not impossible, but I do think it’s important to keep in mind the different advantages that some people have that have nothing to do with their initiative or other personal characteristics.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Those early years do play a big role in shaping someone’s lifelong ambitions. I’d think that a lot of people would grow up wanting to lead similar lifestyles as their parents. If nobody around them is pushing them to succeed, it is tough to develop the initiative to push yourself.

      Reply
  6. Evan

    In our current society, the rich stay rich because: they save their hard earned money and invest it in things like CDA’s, Money Market and Trust accounts. Most wealthy people have a higher education. A degree means more opportunity. More opportunity means more experience. More experience along with your education means your’re going to stay wealthy

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It is a big cycle where having one things to the next and the next. It is amazing how much your early opportunities affect the direction our life goes in. If you can’t get that quality education, you might never get your foot in the door.

      Reply
  7. RoadtoOnePercent

    this is a great point. Sometimes, the poor stays poor due to lack of knowledge and lack of patience. They dont know where to start and even if they start, they don’t have patience to grind it out. It’s all about keep educating yourself and grinding it out little by little also known as “the power of compound interest”

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That lack of knowledge really can hold them back in all kinds of ways. Think of all the ways you can piss away money if you’re not careful. Because of that money can seem extra tight and getting out of that hole can become very intimidating. Obviously excuses would come easy when it seems like you have no hope.

      Reply
    1. Russell Matthews

      Nick. I agree, you have to take control in order to get to where you want to be. But, like Mike Thorpe mentions, there are more angles to consider.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy

        Some people do just accept the life that they have developed and don’t feel the need or optimism in pursuing something greater. Unfortunately some people are just natural pessimists.

        Reply
  8. Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

    While wealth can mean different things to different people, there is definite a commonality in their mindset. They are laser focused on what they want. They tell me all the reasons why they can do this, rather than all the reasons why they can’t. I also see many people self-sabotage themselves because they don’t truly believe they are worthy of success or wealth. Great article!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      A person’s mindset does play a big role in a person’s wealth. Sure people can be born into better or worse situations, but if someone has the right kind of personality they can find ways to succeed.

      Reply
  9. Audi News

    The points you have told above are very true, but still to balance this whole awesome world, the things need to be like this. Few rich people get bankrupt every year and few poor do get changed sometimes. And if all the people get rich, it’s for sure no one will need to work and the world will also face crisis.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I don’t really agree with your last sentence. If people get rich they still need to keep working hard to maintain that wealth. They actually usually become more motivating to amass even greater wealth. Of course not everyone can be rich though as someone needs to be doing lower end jobs.

      Reply
  10. The Norwegian Girl

    Interesting, though I think this is only scratching the surface…
    I live in a wealthy neighbourhood and I often take walks in my neighbourhood, wondering about all these people living here, and how they`d got here…

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It is a much deeper subject than can be covered in a single blog post. General traits may affect lots of people, but there are also all kinds of other reasons that people become rich or poor. It’s not always black and white.

      Reply
  11. Chris @ Stumble Forward

    Awesome article Mark. A lot of people think rich people are nothing but spoiled and arrogant, while that might be a small percentage of the rich the majority are exactly as you say.

    One I defiantly agree with is #3 on your list. The rich are always looking to win and the poor play not to lose. I know a lot of people with that poor persons mindset and feel as if it’s impossible to be rich, but nothing could be further from the truth.

    The rich are also good at setting goals and working towards them, another way I like to look at it is doing the right things long enough. If you can stick to doing the right things success will be inevitable.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes persistence does play a key in it all. If you have a negative mindset you likely won’t be persistent enough to follow through on your dreams. With that negative mindset you might take the time to plan out all of the goals required to get to your dreams either.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      People shouldn’t underestimate the effect their peer groups has. It can push them to greater success or drastically hold them back. Some people feel stuck in their current peer group though. It’s not always easy to suddenly associate yourself with more successful people.

      Reply
  12. Lou Rodriguez

    I’m personally going to give you an A for touching on the subject. Having said that, the post deals in too much generalizations and assumptions about the rich and poor alike.

    Your last line in the post; If you can stick to doing the right things success will be inevitable, I can tell you from experience is not the case.

    What I would say is If you can stick to doing the right things, your chances for long-term and sustainable success will increase. However, first you have to figure out and define what these “right things” are and then apply them! :)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Perhaps those generalizations were intended to be slightly controversial ;)
      Things definitely aren’t as easy as following a specific game plan and things are guaranteed to work out. People have unique situations and unique obstacles. Just because you want something and you work hard at it, it doesn’t necessarily go the way you want.

      Reply
  13. Shawn James @ PipsToday

    That was an interesting post t read… But I think like this: reading this post won’t make you rich but following atleast 4 out of 7 features which your wrote will certainly make a drastic change in your life and lifestyle.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Good point about not needing to cover all of these things. Covering all might lead to greater success, but each on their own can help you quite a bit.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Well if you can’t dream those big goals, how can you expect them to happen? Things rarely just fall in people’s laps. Usually they go out and grab whatever it is that they’re after.

      Reply
  14. Ogechi

    The rich remain rich because they have mastered the 4 principles of money 1) Knowledge (application) 2) Choices (Decisions) 3)Discipline (Self-control) 4) Responsibility (Accountability)

    Reply
  15. Suzanne @ Advisor Business Coach

    Yes, there are definitely differences between the wealthy and those destined to stay poor. Attitude has a lot to do with it. If you believe you can improve your life, you are more likely to take the actions to make it so. If you are focused on all the people and things that contributed to your current situation, you are not actively seeking a better life. Taking responsibility for your life is the first step.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Taking responsibility is something that many people avoid. Instead they find all kinds of excuses for their situation. They don’t stop to think that they have the power to change how they approach life and set themselves up for a much greater probability of achieving success.

      Reply
  16. Julie @ SalesVu

    What a nice post! Even considering with all these factors, I believe something is Fate. Some people always try to be rich but they fail every time :(

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      You’re right that sometimes luck/fate does play a role in this. With enough persistence and enough positive factors in your favor, you can often overcome that bad luck. Many very successful people failed early on but had the persistence to just keep pushing.

      Reply
  17. Allen

    I just got a 6% savings account associated with a Momentum Card. You can only get it at a Money Store. While I waited in line, I saw people paying a few bucks to get a money order. My checks are free at my credit union. I saw people getting payday loans with high fees and high interest rates. I get 0% balance transfer offers on my credit cards.

    What I walk away with is that access to coaching is the difference between us. Yes, there are other things too, but if I sat down with these folks, we’d put the Money Store out of business and improve their financial lives dramatically.

    It goes deeper than this, because I believe if I offered such a coaching session, I doubt I’d get many takers. The group looked like it had no interest (pun!) in finding a better path. This goes back to their childhood years when values (or lack thereof) were instilled.

    Personally, I feel sad for their lot in life. I also feel that there’s not too much I can do for them at this point.

    Great discussion, I appreciate the original post and the comments.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Biberdorf

      Yes unfortunately the people who need better financial skills are often the people who are not likely to look for that kind of help. Their upbringing does play a big role in that. It’s pretty tough to help people who aren’t willing to help themselves.

      Reply
  18. mary

    all it took was the master to destroy the mind of a few for it to reach the mind of the masses! Most of the poor are minorities and yet they have not understood the only way any man can win begins from within.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Biberdorf

      Well I’m not going to touch the minorities factor you mentioned. I’d rather not risk pissing anyone off lol. Certain minority groups do end up in a cycle of poverty. Getting out of that cycle can be quite difficult though. Fighting an uphill battle may seem a lot easier to an outside observer than it really is.

      Reply
  19. Asad Naveed

    Yes i agree to all points but the best point is. That rich people don’t miss any chance to improve thier incom and happy life. But other side the poor people don’t take any risk becouse they have very shart income and they have no money for taking risk so poor people remain poor and rich people become rich to richer…

    Reply

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