Thursday, March 26, 2015

Getting Rich Quick (is not necessarily good)

Today’s culture glorifies getting rich as quickly as possible.

This is why many people try to take shortcuts and fall for rich-quick scams. Despite the Nigerian type of scams being around since the 18th century (this is where the sender asks you to help them get a very large sum of money out of the country), people still fall for them.

The media also highlight young entrepreneurs who hit it big with the latest startup. It’s easy to see people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who became a billionaire at 23, and feel as though we are behind the power curve.

So how long should it take?

According to Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, it took a minimum of 32 years for the average rich person to become rich.

It took the vast majority almost four decades, with 52 percent taking 38 years and 21 percent taking 42 years to become rich.

In fact, only 4 percent became wealthy in less than 27 years!

Becoming wealthy didn’t happen overnight; it required years of discipline, hard work and patience.

Corley states, “The path to riches is a long, lonely one, paved with many potholes and numerous dead ends. Those few who do make it are seasoned veterans in the world of entrepreneurs, deserving of their own, well-deserved catchphrase.”

Many are looking to hit a home run or grand slam to wealth.

While it definitely is more exciting and tends to make front page news, almost all will end up striking out.  Getting rich quickly is a rare phenomenon, and many who do end up worse off than before.

Just look at some lottery winners and professional athletes, who end up bankrupt only a few years after either winning or retiring from their sport.

To use my baseball analogy, being consistent with singles, walks, bunts and maybe the occasional double is far more effective over time in winning the game. You don’t want to count on that grand slam to achieve your goals.

-- David Chang, MidWeek, March 18, 2015


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median net worth for households under the age of 35 is $6,682. This makes sense, since many in this age group have student loans and are just getting started with their careers. The 70th percentile of those under 35 (meaning their net worth is greater than 70 percent of households their age) is $33,477.

Here is information for the other age brackets. Visit for more detailed information!

Age: 35-44
• Median: $35,000
• 70th percentile: $128,430
Age: 45-54
• Median: $84,542
• 70th percentile: $228,708
Age: 55-64
• Median: $144,200
• 70th percentile: $333,750
Age: 65 and up
• Median: $171,135
• 70th percentile: $334,870

The difference between the median and those in the 70th percentile is anywhere from two to four times the median amount. I didn’t include the 90th percentile, but if I did, the difference would be significantly greater.

Why the large disparity? Is it education, inheritance or just plain luck?

There are many theories, but recent research shows that people near the top have different personality traits than people near the bottom. It isn’t just about the ability to save or make more money. Studies show that our psychological makeup and character traits are the reasons for our wealth (or lack thereof), not the result of our wealth.

Here are four common traits those in the higher net worth group have among their peers.

1) Keep track of their finances diligently. This is an obvious one, of course, but more than 60 percent of Americans don’t keep track of their money! Without knowing how much is coming in and out, it is difficult to know how much to save. Also, by not paying attention to where your money goes, it is easy to let your emotions govern your spending habits. Splurging and trying to keep up with the Joneses is one of the reasons why only 18 percent are confident about retirement. Many don’t like to budget, since it can seem tedious. But the goal isn’t necessarily to track every penny, but to make sure you spend less than you make, and then invest the difference.

2) Have a long-term view. One of the top regrets retirees have is not saving enough. You don’t need a significant amount of money to invest, you just need to be consistent and use the magic of compound interest. Time is the most important factor! Sacrificing a little now can reap significant benefits in the future.

3) Are not afraid to take risks. You don’t want to take any risk, but you want to take smart risks. We all have some form of fear when it comes to money, but the key is how you deal with that fear. Some experience “paralysis by analysis” and never take any steps forward. Taking smart risks means to ask for that raise, start a business, change jobs or invest your long-term money in stocks. It is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

4) Have a healthy amount of self-esteem. This isn’t about being arrogant but about believing in themselves. They are confident and not afraid to take that smart risk to make and accumulate more money. They are more optimistic in the decisions they make and despite failures, are able to bounce back even stronger. 

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