There Is No Monopoly On Being Rich

Oakland Bay Bridge SunsetI’d like to think most of you come here because you have a desire to improve your finances, hang out and connect with like-minded folks, and get entertained. Despite some rather highly opinionated posts, there’s not a lot of nasty comments at all.

I am a perennial optimist. Sprained ankle? Thank goodness it’s not broken! Ever since I was about 12 years old, I knew I did not want to be poor. Seeing ubiquitous poverty growing up in third world countries makes me appreciate how lucky we are to live in America.

It was in the 9th grade when a senior told me to stop messing around if I wanted to have a better life. And it was the first month of work that I told myself if I could just survive these brutal 5:30am-7:30pm+ workdays for the next 10 years, that I would be rich.

Thirteen years later, work is but an option. The biggest irony is that in order to stop caring about money, you first have to care a great deal about money. I could have worked for many more years and saved many more dollars, but money is no longer a driving force. I’d much rather have the freedom to do what I want.

It’s been three and a half years since I first started this blog and I’ve encountered a plethora of different attitudes about wealth. Some people believe it’s their destiny to remain poor while others have an unwavering desire to make it big beyond their wildest dreams. If you believe you will always be poor, then that is what you will be. If you believe you deserve to be wealthy, you have an infinitely higher chance of succeeding.

There is no monopoly on being rich. You don’t have to be angry at others who have more. You’ve just got to be confident that you belong and survive long enough to succeed.

Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not all right, then it is not yet the end.” – Unknown

Related Posts:

A Day Job Is So Much Easier Than Entrepreneurship

In Search For Empathy For The Unemployed

I’m Not Supposed To Be Here… 

Photo: Bay Bridge Sunset, SD.

Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Sam, it is so true that circumstances are perceived how one desires them to be. Those of us struggling up the financial ladder right now do need to care a great deal about money and, indeed, that is the irony. But, even with my limited exposure to your writings, I have always felt through your words a deep-rooted desire to persevere and succeed, so I am not at all surprised you currently enjoy the languorous freedom of financial prosperity. You are a true inspiration.

    • says

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for your note! It’s been interesting reading so many viewpoints over the past 3.5 years and I believe there has been a positive attitude change over this period from readers and observers alike.

      Time goes so quickly. Might as well make the most of it!

  2. says

    Agreed. I think that you can achieve wealth if it is a priority. My only hesitation is when the pursuit of wealth leads to sacrifices that I am not willing to make, i.e. time with family, stress on close relationships.

    I am pursuing welath with more vigor at this age than I hope to in 20 years, but all the while never placing it at the top of my priority list. If I can achieve wealth and keep my priorities in tact, that is the ultimate.

  3. says

    Wealth in itself is not the goal! It may be career goals, business goals or even personal goals that may lead to wealth. I believe that if I do it well the money would follow. So I try to do my best at whatever I am doing and success usually follows.

  4. says

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s like most wise people always say. You can attain anything if you set your mind to it. There is nothing stopping anyone from being wealthy no matter what people say. You just have to be able to give 100% all of the time and stay focused.

  5. says

    I hate to be the pessimist here, but not everyone can be wealthy. Everyone can aspire to be what they want but let us remember that we are living in a society without a leveled playing field so, everyone’s desires don’t always come into fruition. This realist view should not deter folks from trying their best to become wealthy but it should allow them to refrain from stressing out if they don’t make it. Becoming wealthy, I imagine, is way more complex than saving and investing. Investing, in and of itself, is complex (I.e. marketing timing, where to invest, asset allocation, etc.) I would say that a great place to start, though, is living below one’s means, maximizing one’s earning potential, maximizing one’s savings rate, and minimizing debt. Those concepts coupled with strong connections and friends who have similar desires should give someone a headstart in the wealth race. Great post!

  6. says

    Great post, Sam! You have to decide to become rich. Without your decision, nothing happens. You don’t need permission from others; you just need a die-hard mindset to become wealthy.
    “If you think you can’t you are right; if you think you can, you are right” — Henry Ford

    • says

      I love this line too!

      It is something I have tried very hard to explain to the more “free-spirited” friends and family members around me, who all incidentally think I care too much about money. But I need to care now, because I don’t want to NEED to care later when I no longer have the benefits of youth.

  7. says

    I remember that eureka moment when I realized that if I saved half of my income during a year, I could live for another year the same lifestyle without working. All my friends said I was crazy, and now, they are still in the cubicle and I am not. Great post.

  8. says

    This year I was able to achieve over a million dollars- however it was because we bought a house and refinanced our investment properties. I told my wife that she married a millionaire, in debt. Its a large number now but I know in a few years it will be worth it.

    By the way Sam we’re heading to SF for vacation this week, any restaurant recommendations?

  9. says

    1) Someone mentioned above that our society is not a level playing field… Just wanted to add that, though that may be true, our society also has mobility built into its framework such that one can start “almost nowhere and end up almost somewhere.”

    2) Wealth is unequivocally in the eye of the beholder… We have friends who earn well into the 6 figures, but are constantly crying poverty. We also have a friend who makes about $50,000/year, but spends less than $10,000 and thus, never wants for anything. We’re not saying that legitimate, financial imbalances don’t happen, but like everything else, the fact that they occur is not really what’s important. What IS important, is how one chooses to think about and act on life’s events.

    • says

      I agree. ACTION makes things happen. And ACTION is what is needed if people want to change anything. If they don’t, thing no action is needed, but also, please no complaints either.

      Blogging is a good example. Nobody write my posts automatically. If I want to build content, improve traffic, and create a brand online, I must act.

  10. says

    Well said, Sam. This is really true, iIf we focus on working for money, the tendency is we’ll go deep to the rat race. It is very hard to go out of the rat race if we ignore the process of getting more or getting rich. Working with someone, it means we are making our boss’ life better while we are still struggling. Anybody can get rich if we want to, nothing impossible if we believe and have faith on it.

    The obvious solution is to invest your hard earned money and acquire many streams of income as much as possible.

  11. says

    We are surrounded by “riches” that don’t cost a dime. I spent a few lovely hours today hiking in the cliffs above the ocean and it was completely free. And not only was it free, it cleared my head, I had a great conversation with a friend on the trails, and I got some great exercise at the same time.

    We really do not need a lot to be happy and to feel fulfilled! Being in good company is priceless, and having great weather and gorgeous views are fantastic free bonuses!

  12. says

    I hate to admit it, but I am more of a pessimist sometimes and I ‘ll get frustrated, thinking I’m how old and why aren’t I making as much as my peers. But then I think, I may be making less, but I manage to afford a 1 bedroom apartment, will own my car in a couple of years, can afford to go on vacation 1-2x/year and still manage to save quite a bit of income.

    Thanks for your optimistic article. I have decided I want to become rich, but I do not want to inflate my lifestyle either. I want to be that person who managed to become rich on an average person’s salary, if possible.

    • says

      Sounds like some pretty good progress and a good life to me!

      It is hard not to be pessimistic over the past 5 years with the financial Armageddon, but things are recovering, and if we’re still alive, there is such much ahead of us!

    • Linda says

      Most people who want to be rich start out living like they are rich. Living like you have reached your goals with all the toys perceived to be needed is how people never become rich!

  13. says

    Like my mom always said, “different strokes for different folks”. Some people always feel sorry for themselves and never try to do anything to better their situation. Then there are those you just don’t know any better and seem to follow the cycle.

    I think that the world is the limit and you are limited only by what you are or not willing to do. Sometimes its as simple as asking for help and changing old habits. Will I ever be wealthy not sure but I am doing everything I know to get there and enjoying the ride.

  14. says

    Short but sweet and so so true. People are quick to judge without knowing the whole story of how someone might have become wealthy. Also it’s not about how much you make but what you do with your money, imo.

  15. says

    I think you need to be very, very careful about such generalizations.

    I have a disability. I spent my early 20s trying to find a way to work around it. Then my mid- to late-20s on disability. My husband also has health issues and he ended up on unemployment because of it, then ultimately had to go on disability. We managed to pay off the debt despite this — and that was on $3,000 a month with $700 rent and $502 insurance premiums from a high-risk group thanks to his health conditions.

    The only reason we got anyway is that I somehow stumbled on a one-of-a-kind job that combines a boss who understands health problems and the ability to telecommute. I’m telling you, these jobs just don’t exist. There is statistically no way I should be able to work to earn a livable wage right now. I’m the absolute exception to the rule.

    So if the stars hadn’t aligned, my husband I would be living on $1,600 a month. Even having moved to a cheaper state where his health is something improved, we would barely be able to keep our heads above water. As it is, we’re having a bit of trouble again because we felt obligated to buy a house early so his parents wouldn’t be homeless. That part of is pretty much the only part of this whole saga that has actually been under our control.

    And, yes, the vast majority of people can work full-time. So they probably have fewer excuses. But when I started my blog (because I got tired of everyone preaching about how you “should” be able to do things and their writing about struggling on two incomes) I found a lot of readers who were stuck in untenable situations — often thanks to health problems.

    So there are more of us than you might think. And it’s pretty insulting and aggravating when people blithely state, essentially, that if we’re not financially comfortable it’s our own fault or our own lack of commitment. The readers with the special conditions are some of the MOST committed to finding ways to become financially stable. That doesn’t mean it happens. And they’re sure as hell not going to get rich.

    In summation — and I know this is long so I apologize — there IS a kind of monopoly on being rich. Things have to go right. You have to not have health conditions that impair your ability to work. Like, say, chronic fatigue from a life-threatening neurological illness at age 19. You have had the means and good education to get a good higher education — usually at a prestigious school. You have the temperament for work in a field with high income.

    I’m not saying everything was handed to you. You had to know where to put that money, have the discipline not to spend it. But a lot of things that you take for granted… Well, you just don’t realize how much they contribute to your current situation.

    • says

      What I’ve learned is that you can’t please everybody all the time, so I don’t bother. I have setbacks and disabilities too,
      but I’ve decided to always look on the bright side.

      Why does something optimistic on my blog insult and aggravate you? If this short and sweet post makes you angry, then I fear your life is going to be even more difficult than normal.

      We are always the exception. Nobody is special, or we are all special. What would you like me to do about your situation? I understand not everybody can start off on equal footing. There are always others who have it even worse, and I’m sure much worse than you. What do you say to them?

      • says

        I think you misunderstood me. First of all, I was trying to be clear that I’m absolutely *not* the worst case. My point was that I am unimaginably lucky.

        My point was also that most people with debilitating disabilities won’t be that lucky. They might find some part-time work. Few people drawing disability benefits can work full-time. Many can’t even work at all.

        So it can be hard to read posts that seem to say that attitude is everything. The deeper implication there is that, if you’re not rich, it’s because you’re not trying. That’s the part of the message that I was trying to address.

        I doubt any of that occurred to you as you wrote the piece. I didn’t think you actively had such a mentality. I certainly hope you don’t. That said, the implication is still present.
        For the record, I’m not disputing that optimism is important. It does make a difference. It just isn’t always enough to get you over obstacles. Not all circumstances can be overcome with hard work and optimism. I wish they could.

        As for your setbacks and disabilities… I truly hope you are using those words carefully. I know you have been flamed in the past for what people felt was a liberal use of the phrase “bleakest situation.” So when you say that you have disabilities, I really hope you are using that in its actual, literal meaning. Anything else is truly insensitive.

        If you see me as an angry ranter, well I can’t change that. But I give a lot of thought to my words, and I’m mine was not meant to be an angry rant. It was not meant to tear down your argument. It was meant to point out that, whether you meant to or not, you were presenting an oversimplified view – and that it led a message you probably (hopefully) didn’t intend.

        • says

          Abigail, you make the implication “because you’re not rich, you’re not trying,” not me. Seeing the world half empty is no way to live. My message to everybody is to know the rich don’t have a stranglehold on wealth. That everybody deserves a seat at the table and can as well.

          I’ve had my own setbacks and things that have happened which should have completely precluded me from any chance at finding a decent job, or a job at all when I was younger. I grew up in third world countries and have met the most disabled of people who either chose to believe or chose to complain. But we all decided we didn’t want other people’s pity. We didn’t want to use the “woe is me” card and tell the world about all our deepest problems to gain sympathy.

          I’d ask you try and be an optimist for one month and see if it helps your mood, your happiness, and your wealth. It won’t be simple like flipping the switch, but I implore you to try it out. The worst that can happen is that nothing changes. But at least you will have tried.

    • Jerry Curl says

      It’s pretty sad you’re trying to tear down such a positive article. Have you read your comment again? Who would want to hang out with someone like you? No wonder why you are having such trouble!

      Only in America do overweight people use hyperthyroid as an excuse why they are overweight as millions of people around the world starve. Only in America do people use ADD as an excuse for why they can’t get a job after over a year when there are plenty of minimum wage jobs to be had. People would die to just have the opportunity to come to America and wash dishes. Only in America do people blame someone else for buying too much how or taking on too much debt.

      Looks like you have a blog too. Why not create a blog as big as Financial Samurai and generate online income, that way, you wouldn’t feel as financially constraint. I’m sure it takes a lot of work, but if Sam and what looks like many others can do it, why can’t you? Finger cramping?

      • says

        Hey man, I love cheeseburgers and milkshakes as my excuse for no longer having 6 pack abs.

        Thanks for pointing out blogging. It’s an equal playing field because any blogger can decide to write more, build a brand, guest post etc to gain to gain traffic and earn more money. But, it is much easier to complain as blogging is tough!

    • Felicity says

      I find it strange you are knocking this post. I’m not sure what your story is, but something must be bothering you in your personal life to think this is an offensive post.

      This is the problem I see with a lot of Americans:

      * Never traveled internationally, so don’t know how fortunate they are.
      * Don’t speak another language, thereby not being able to undertand across cultures
      * Don’t take care of their bodies because there is so much food they overeat.
      * Are falling behind other nations who work harder and appreciate what they have.

      You wouldn’t fit some of these points would you? If you do, just be honest with yourself. Try to think of others more instead.

      F

    • Farah says

      I agree with the first part of your phrase, but am INSULTED by your last part.

      “The readers with the special conditions are some of the MOST committed to finding ways to become financially stable. That doesn’t mean it happens. And they’re sure as hell not going to get rich.”

      I have a severe speech impediment ever since I can remember speaking. It was embarrassing, debilitating, demoralizing. I practiced night and day to get better. I visited therapists and when i got the courage, I joined a Toastmasters group.

      25 years later, I am financially independent. It is insulting you think that just bc someone has a disability, they “sure as hell are not going to be rich.”

      • says

        You’re right, and I apologize. That wasn’t quite what I meant to say. And when I went over the original comment later, I was upset that I hadn’t edited that better. Unfortunately, there was no way to edit the comment, so I can’t do much except apologize.

  16. says

    Love this post – I really do believe that we ensure the completion of our goal the moment we fully commit ourselves. Most pessimists miss the fact that that everyone requires a different level of commitment based on our circumstances. For me to become a scratch golfer is possible, but it will require a lot more work than it will for someone who’s already been playing for years, has more time or money, or is just naturally better at golf. So even though the playing field isn’t level, I can do it, I’ll just have to commit to higher levels of practice, lessons, investment, etc.

    Obviously this isn’t true with EVERYTHING (like traveling back in time or becoming President) but this is a serious site so I know people won’t get hung up on that silly stuff.

    Yes, everyone won’t be rich. But that doesn’t mean everyone can’t be rich (to your “no monopoly” point). It just means everyone isn’t committed to doing what’s necessary _for them_ to become rich. The fact that the playing field isn’t level means some people have more of an uphill battle than others.

    Again – cool post. Thanks!

    PS: My wife and I are heading to SF this weekend and might check out PPQ on your recommendation!

    • says

      Tim, your analysis is spot on! Given the playing field isn’t level, we each have our own level of commitment, effort, and luck necessary to achieve our goals!

      Blogging is a great example of where the playing field is as level as it gets. Practically everybody can go to godaddy and register a domain, or start up a blog for free on wordpress.com if they have a computer and internet access. Go visit blogs that have a more downbeat tone full of rants, and I will promise you it will attract fellow pessimists with sour views of the world. And when fellow bloggers tell me that life isn’t fair when it comes to making money, I AGREE. And when I ask them why not simply write five in-depth articles five times a week, guest post on bigger sites once a week, create a product to sell, and relentlessly build relationships with other bloggers, I don’t get a response.

      I don’t know why I don’t get a response.

      PPQ is the bomb! Roasted garlic or curry crab with garlic noodles, cabbage salad and rolls!

  17. Virginia says

    This reminds me of something I heard from Rabbai Daniel Lapin on a TV show. He has this saying that some people view wealth like a birthday cake. It is a limited resource. As one person eats more there is less for everyone else. His counterpoint is that wealth is really like the candles on a birthday cake. Fire doesn’t have to be a limited resource and can be spread.

  18. says

    You’re right. I didn’t like my job, I loved my job for the first 10 years, and then it started to really fade.

    Great to hear you reached financial independence at 29! These anecdotes make me so bullish on the economy and life in general. So many people I know have done well, and do not have financial worry that it is blowing away the gloom the mass media loves to constantly tell us.

    Fight on!

  19. Nola says

    People see and read what they want to read. If you have a negative disposition, you will inevitably look for negative results.

    I’m not rich, but I’m working on improving my financial situation. All the good things that have happened to me came out of taking risks and hard work. Some call it luck, and that certainly plays a factor. However as you say, the harder we work, the luckier we get!

    A lot of negativity stems from self-esteem. It may be because the person is objectively unattractive or overweight. As a result, they close in as people don’t treat them as well growing up. They then grow up with a bad attitude that leads to falling behind. It is not a coincidence that some of the most pessimistic people are also some of the most unattractive.

    People also suffer from group think way too easily.
    Thanks for the motivation!

  20. Lynn C. says

    I’m an optimist by nature — glass half-full to the point of being disgustingly cheerful most days. I’m so doggone friendly I strike up conversations while standing in line at the register!

    But I give “pessimists and people who wallow in self-pity” benefit of the doubt and try to help them out of their funk before blithely writing them off as “depressing and miserable”.

    Anyway I’m eternally optimistic and I’ve got the friendly and happy thing down pat. And maybe if I believe hard enough I can retroactively become one of those “coolest kids in school” that you’ve decided those other people aren’t.

    The thing I find sad, my dear Genius, is that many of these comments (especially yours) are so smug and condescending.

  21. Whiners Always Win In The End says

    Short and sweet, I like! I’m agreement with you that if we don’t believe, nobody will believe in us.

    America has grown fat and lazy, while countries like China and India are eating our lunch, and we are still growing fat and lazy!

    There is no coincidence that the people who complain the most feel the most self-pity. They haven’t seen real pity! But, the fact is, whines always win because it’s easier to whine and get handouts than actually do something about your situation.

  22. Marie says

    Abigail has bragged on posts that they only spent $50 for the weekend on eating out. She could not bear to cook. Her husband was afraid that roaches would get in crockpot while food was cooking, so they had to get fast food. He has a delicate stomach, so he cannot eat what she cooks, so gets fast food for him. They like some sort of gaming with cards and travel to trade these cards. Cards are like $150. each. She started collecting, doing the same cards so she could do something with him–couple time. Otherwise, they had nothing they could do together.

    You get what I am saying? Delicate stomach only can eat fast food? How ridiculous. Afraid of how she cooks and what she allows into food? Fast food is always clean? Sure! She argues desperately and does not see the irony in his looking for stomach-easy and disease-free food in fast food instead of a home kitchen. Because…

    She hates to clean and cook, so she considered getting a weekly maid and having someone cook food for three (I think or maybe two) meals a day and bring it to them. She may have done it. People don’t post when she gets these ideas. No use crossing her. He has to rest lots because of his condition, but he can drive and play/trade these card games for several days, without a nap, no doubt.

    Picking up things each morning or night is not an option for her. He won’t eat leftovers! What a mess!

    He is too delicate to do yard work or do repairs, yet they bought a house with a guest house so his spendthrift parents could live with them. The parents were sending them to the poor house last I heard. I cannot bear to read her posts. Yes, she is a complainer and Debby Downer. I have disabilities that are much more severe than both of theirs combined.

    Husband has ADHD or something. So, everyone is afraid of his impulsivity and walks around on eggshells. I am a teacher and do not believe ADHD is a problem we should medicate or accommodate with lowered expectations. Unruly or overactive children who have parents who have tolerated their behavior and expect others to mollycoddle their kids are the problem. I believe ADD and ADHD is from innate temperament that is encouraged by parents that don’t want to be parents. They want to be friends with the child. My daughter puts up with outrageous behavior from her only child, a daughter, behavior that will be dangerous when the child is a teen.

    I could tell you stories from special ed classes to prove my point.

    Abby did have a bad health problem and residual problems. But, she tolerates no other opinion and wants to be petted like her mother pets her. She said her blog is to connect with others with disabilities. I have a very young friend who has a disability and thinks everyone should agree with her about everything. She tolerates no other voice. Some people with disabilities define themselves by their disability. Abby does that.

    It has been so long since I read your post! I probably have not read all the comments. But, hard work won’t necessarily make a person successful. Even working smarter won’t work always. Being in the right place at the right time, having the right background, being the right gender, the right ethnicity, good ideas, and dumb luck all play a role in success. “Luck favors the prepared.” Sometimes that works.

    The one thing I did not like about your post is the optimism about “no monopoly on being rich”" that feels like I am being beat over the head by Pollyanna. However, that is more tolerable, something I can ignore or argue with. Abby pulls the disability card out and waves it in our faces. No fighting with disability. She has a thousand excuses why she must spend money right now. She has a mother who enables her to spend. Abby knows she will not suffer. I feel sorry for her for her low self-esteem and being chained to a whiny-baby husband.

    I have read a few of your posts and like your blog. Hers? Not so much.

  23. Marie says

    They sold lots of the cards to raise a downpayment. Then, the plan was to start buying them again after they got the house. She and husband are really whiny about people who say their piece even in the kindest manner. So lots of people lurk, watching the continual train wreck that just never ends.

  24. CMM says

    Marie – while I don’t agree with your thoughts on ADD/ADHD, I do concur with your thoughts on Abby’s blog. I have dissented a few times in the comments only to be slammed by her, her husband, and/or her mother for questioning her motives to buy something wasteful that they surely cannot live without. I simply stopped responding, although I do stop by every once in a while, probably because of the train wreck effect.
    I am glad that it led me to this blog because I thoroughly enjoyed this post and will continue to read financialsamurai, as it is a more pragmatic PF blog without the dose of ‘poor me’ that runs rampant elsewhere.

  25. says

    Sam you are right about this for sure! I was thinking the same thing when I wrote my recent post “successful people are just more determined then you. Not everyone is given a fair chance at life. Some people are given too easy a go. Some people just keep jamming the square peg into the round hole until it mashes the corners off and fits. This last guy does not give a damn about fair chances.

    “successful people are just more determined then you.”

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