I Spent 5 Years Studying Poor People and Here Are 4 Destructive Money Habits They Had

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Your money habits can make you rich or put you in the poor house. According to a recent study by Brown University, in which nearly 50,000 families were surveyed, most of the habits we pick up in life come from our parents (Brown Study). This includes money habits. If your parents had bad money habits it is likely those habits rubbed off on you. But in order to change bad money habits you need to first become aware of them. Below are some destructive money habits that I uncovered in my five year Rich Habits study that will put you in the poor house unless you eliminate them:

  • Gambling Habits – Gambling is not a sound plan to lift you out of poverty. Gambling relies on random luck. The odds of winning Powerball are 1 in 175 million. That’s basically zero. Seventy-seven percent of the poor admitted to playing the lottery regularly vs. 6% of the rich. But it’s not just the lottery they gamble their money on….. 52% of the poor admit that they gamble on sports at least once a week vs. 16% of the wealthy.
  • Time Wasting Habits – Time is money. The rich understand this. Sixty-five percent of the rich created at least three streams of income during their lives. Conversely, the poor all relied on one stream of income. They didn’t invest their time wisely in building their careers or building a side business. In my study, I uncovered many time wasters the poor engaged in that ultimately cost them money: Seventy-seven percent of the poor admitted to watching more than one hour of TV each day and their preference? Reality TV wins hands down. Seventy-eight percent of the poor watch reality TV shows. The rich, on the other hand, are not big on TV. Sixty-seven percent watch less than an hour each day and it’s not reality TV that they tune in to. Only 6% watch reality TV. Another time waster is the Internet. Seventy-four percent of the poor in my study spent more than an hour each day on the Internet. These days that means Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube. Conversely, 63% of the rich spent less than an hour each day on the Internet. This freed up more time to read for self-education. While many of the poor in my study said they read regularly, 79% admitted that they read strictly for entertainment. Only 11% of the rich said they read for entertainment. Instead, they focused their reading on self-education: biographies of successful individuals, career-related reading, self-help, history and money matters. When you’re wasting your time watching TV, on social media or reading for entertainment it leaves little time to do productive things like reading to learn, building relationships with other success-minded individuals via networking or volunteering or building a side business. Time does not discriminate. Everyone gets twenty four hours, rich or poor. The rich simply choose to spend their time differently, doing things that are productive.
  • Bad Spending Habits – The rich in my study made a habit of tracking their spending in the early days of building their wealth. It’s easy to lose sight of where your money is going. If you don’t have a lot of money you need to get into the habit of tracking every penny. The poor in my study didn’t. I uncovered certain poor spending habits that held the poor back in life: Ninety-three percent admitted that they did not budget their spending. Sixty-six percent admitted that they were not frugal with their money. They had a bad habit of making spontaneous purchases with their money. Oftentimes, this required them to use credit cards. Eighty-eight percent of the poor in my study had over $5,000 in revolving credit card debt. Sixty-nine percent used those credit cards to purchase big ticket items. And 77% had multiple credit cards. Conversely, 92% of the rich relied on one and only one credit card. Eighty-eight percent of the poor never shopped at a goodwill store in their lives. Many goodwill stores sell high quality clothing. The clothes may require some minor tailoring but, otherwise, you’re getting real value at a steep discount. Sixty-eight percent of the poor said they don’t use coupons. Why would you pay more for food than you have to? Every dollar you save is one less dollar you have to earn. Sixty-one percent of the poor did not own their homes, they rented them, while 100% of the rich owned their home. When you don’t own you home, you are unable to build home equity, which comes in handy when you retire or to help your kids with college costs.
  • Poor Savings Habits – Only 5% of the poor in my study saved 10% of their income. None saved 20% of their income. Conversely, 94% of the rich in my study saved 20% or more of their income. Many of the millionaires in my study started out poor and did not have large incomes during their lives, so this was a habit they adopted while they were still poor. Fifty-one percent were small business owners who watched what they spent in order to enable them to save money. They then invested their savings, as well as the investment income generated by their savings. After many years, their savings and investments compounded, eventually turning them into self-made millionaires. It wasn’t easy but they did it. You can too! You just need a plan. You need to bite the bullet and save 10% or more of your income and then invest your savings wisely.

Building wealth takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It took the average millionaire in my study thirty-two years to become rich. The younger you are the more time you have to build wealth. That’s only possible if you eliminate destructive money habits and adopt sound money habits.


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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, Money.com, India TV, News.com 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, SUCCESS.com, Inc.com, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider, Credit.com, Bankrate.com 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 vehemently disagree with your assessment. First of all, i do NOT gamble, nor do I waste time. I have worked at least three jobs for most of my life. I have a terminal degree, as well as various other professional licenses. And I’m still poor. Not because I don’t work hard, no. Because I can’t get a break. I even moved to a miserable snowy city from heaven (Sedona, AZ, is as close to heaven as you’ll get on earth) to try to find a better job suited to my education and experience. Didn’t happen. All that happened was my cost of living went up. As far as my spending habits, well, if you thihk splurging on an Arby’s meal instead of the Mickey D’s value menu or a TV dinner from Dollar Tree is a bad spending habit, well sue me (hint: If you do, you won’t get anything). When your life is an neverending misery of working at various underpaying jobs until you finally get to sleep for five or six hours only to wake up and do it all again, a semi-decent meal (if you can call Arby’s a semi-decent meal) is a welcome change now and then. And as for savings, puh-fucking-lease! You can’t save if every single dime you make goes to your costs of daily living, like rent, utility bills, or food. There’s nothing left to save. Your article is bullshit, it does nothing but demonize the poor for being low-lifes, instead of addressing the real problem: Unions have died in America. The economic recovery has gone 99.9% to the 1%, and they aren’t sharing. Trickle-down economics has destroyed the middle class. Stick your article up your ass and do some research.

    • Thank God the 31% of the poor in my study were not mentored by you. They’d still be poor. As for all of the economic recovery going to those who are rich, how do you explain that according to Wealth X most of the world’s wealth comes from those in poverty or those in the middle-class? You are the victim of your own limited thinking.

      • No Thomas! I have to agree with Jennifer’s remarks. Here we have a system that capitalisiom is good for the top earners and very little for the low paid. You said it yourself when you mentioned that most of the worlds wealth comes from those in poverty low paid jobs. An easy way to describe this is a field worker or farm labourer works his/her socks off all day for very low pay. His or her toil supplies the wallmarts supermarkets of the world.Its the supemarkets and CEO’s and the directors who get the top salaries. Wealth created by the poor to the rich.

    • Attitude determines your latitude. Maybe if you change your mindset, your circumstances may get better. I think the author is on point; if one disagrees, that’s cool, but he certainly didn’t deserve such harsh criticism coupled with foul language. You sound so bitter and that kind of explains why you are in that situation. I don’t know your full history; maybe some unfortunate incident or bad decision stunted your growth; I don’t know. However, I know people that went to prison and got released; they later greatly improved their circumstances. They were severely disadvantaged by a criminal record, but they took accountability, pushed forward and they are doing great. If you’re working 3 jobs and still can’t make the ends meet and save, something is wrong and you need to re-evaluate. Best wishes and I hope God blesses you if you will allow him to.

    • I fully agree with this article. I was (and probably am still) not classified as rich. BUT, when I was a kid, 12 years old, I was left on my own in this big world to take care of myself. I had no knowledge of budgets or what it takes to survive, so I knew I had to educate myself financially. I do not have super human abilities or great talent that landed me money, instead I worked the same low paying jobs as everyone did (in fact, I only found out later I was being paid so little it was actually illegal). I used every minute I had to study and work, putting myself through school. I set up a budget and kept to it very strictly, if it was not on my list I am not spending money on it (exception being in emergencies of course). At the end of the month, if I managed to get through the month with a cent to spare I would put it away as savings and carry on with the next salary. Fast foods was non-existent and I carefully planned meals with foods such as potatoes and veggies being the staple foods. I am now 24 years old, put myself through school and slowly but surely working my way to a degree. I have a nice little house that I rent full of furniture I worked hard for and a car that is old, but still gets me from point A to point B. I might not have “luxuries” like a TV or nice clothes (I still make my own to save money), but my fiance and I are happy with the progress and we are still working hard just like we did then.

      My point with this comment is that you could say “I don’t gamble, I don’t waste yet I have not been able to build up some savings or get any further…” , but maybe your perspective of poor is a little bit different. If you say you can actually afford TV dinner even if it is the budget one, I say that is still a luxury if you are poor. What you see as “needs” is a luxury to other. You cannot get ahead financially if you are always living on the limits of your salary. You say you are living on rock bottom, I am from Africa, I think you should see this perspective of rock bottom before claiming that you cannot lower your lifestyle to benefit from it in the long run.

      I knew a man who complained of a low salary (I am from a different country so I cannot give you that in dollar or euro to explain). This man was my father… He complained when he had R6000 as a salary that he was not earning enough to be able to get by financially. His employer was a nice man and raised is salary to 10 000, then to 15 000… It was never enough and he was still living from month to month. His excuse was that he felt he deserved to life a little bit better lifestyle now that he can afford it, but he was missing the point. I feel you can only up your lifestyle when you can live off your salary, put away into savings and still plan carefully within your salary.

  2. “Conversely, 63% of the rich spent less than an hour each day on the Internet. This freed up more time to read for self-education” I truly hope that this is logic leaping statement is referring to time spent on the internet for leisure and fun as opposed to just the blanket statement as it is written! Since that wasn’t properly delineated and knowing full well that today’s “rich” (whatever that means) and “poor” alike both use the internet FAR more than an hr a day and generally have a MUCH more fulfilling time utilizing the internet for “self-education” than any book; makes me wonder exactly which five year period you spent “studying” these “habits”? Was it 1995-2000? or even earlier? It sounds very dated! http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/internet-planet/470316/

    • Leisure time. 2004-2008. The self-made rich don’t waste their time surfing the Internet unless it’s related to their goals, dreams or their job or business. You can disagree, but I have data on my side, not opinions.

  3. Set goals that can be certain and obtainable, after that break these on to manageable pieces part during a period. In the act, growing each landmark builds trust and results in push. Self-confidence, in turn, evolves like with a good coral deep sea on part compresses to a great platform.

  4. Maybe rich people better understand the “right” response, and accordingly under-report the time they spend watching TV, surfing the Internet, etc. Maybe many rich people who play the lottery know it’s a dumb thing so they say they don’t play

  5. you retard. if you are poor, you can’t save 10% of your income because you need it. If you have plenty money you can afford to save 20%! that is a no brainer.

    • You can always save. But you have to make tough choices like no cell phone, no cable, no big TV, smaller home or apartment, no McDonalds, Doritos or beer, wine or alcohol. No lottery tickets. 31% of the rich n my study came from poverty. Thank God they didn’t have someone like you as their parent or mentoring them. They’d still be poor.

  6. Joshua Geissler says:

    Really enjoyed the article

  7. Domis the Entrepreneur says:

    This Man is offering FREE Good advice, and people are calling him a retard!.Priceless

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