How Your Mindset Can Keep You Poor


Tom Corley boats - crop

After eleven plus years of studying wealth and poverty, I have come to the conclusion that poverty is a mental disorder. I like to refer to it as Poverty Mind Syndrome. Poverty Mind Syndrome is born at home, primarily in poor households, with parents who are raising their kids, unintentionally, to be poor. This syndrome is like a virus that causes a Generational Cycle of Poverty, infecting the children in these households, who eventually become adults who struggle with poverty. How do you know you have Poverty Mind Syndrome? The symptoms are as follows:

  • Victim mindset – Your financial circumstances are dictated by forces outside your control: Wall Street, rich people intent on keeping you poor, government policies, the economy, bad schools, growing up in a bad neighborhood, bad luck, etc.
  • Closed-Minded – Being closed-minded means you are unwilling to embrace new ideas, new thinking or opinions that differ from your own. One of the hallmarks of self-made millionaires is the ability to be open-minded to new ideas, new knowledge and new ways of thinking. This symptom is anchored to another symptom called Ideological Constraints. 
  • Ideological Constraints – Holding on to ideologies that keep you from growing out of your poverty: rich people are bad, money is the root of all evil, poor people can’t escape poverty, needing a college education to escape poverty, etc. The ability to cast aside your ideological constraints, allows you to expand your thinking, to grow and to evolve.
  • Intellectually Impotent – “I’m not smart and that’s why I’m poor”. Everyone has the potential for genius. We are all born with the genius gene. What keeps the switch to that gene in the off position is your belief that you don’t have the smarts to rise above your financial circumstances in life.
  • Immediate Gratification – Those with Poverty Mind Syndrome look for short-term solutions to their long-term problem. They play the lottery, they gamble on sports or they look for their 401(k) plan funding in casinos. Escaping poverty and creating wealth takes a lot of time. In my study, it took the the average rich person 32 years to accumulate their wealth. The only way your ship will come in is if you build a dock big enough to anchor it.
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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. I usually love what you post on your blog about your research and books. However, this sucks. Giving “poverty Mindset” The same abbreviation that is widely used in our culture for a negative women’s condition is a terrible hook. It makes your writing feel sexist, which I don’t think you are. Please stop using this abbreviation for poverty mindset. You’re smart, think of something else. Thanks!

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