It’s Not How Much You Make – It’s How Much You Keep

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Being wealthy requires two things:

  1. Making It and
  2. Keeping It

Some very famous individuals are great at making money but terrible at keeping it.

  • According to The Daily Telegraph, the forensic accountant at Michael Jackson’s 2005 child sexual abuse trial stated that Jackson had been spending $20 to $30 million more than his earnings per year.
  • In 2012, the financial advisors of the former NBA champion Dennis Rodman reported that he was broke. Years of extravagances, wild spending was the reason given.
  • Courtney Love, wife of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, squandered over $27 million of Nirvana earnings on years of hard partying and wild spending.
  • Thomas Jefferson, founding father, author of the Declaration of Independence and America’s third president, had a half a million dollar a year (in current dollars) wine spending habit that left him penniless when he died.
  • Famed actor, Nicolas Cage, who made $150 million in his acting career, at one time owned a haunted mansion, a private island, a collection of shrunken heads and spent $276,000 on a skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. His reckless, excessive spending forced him into bankruptcy in 2009.
  • Johnny Carson sidekick, Ed McMahon, who made millions during his fifty year career, was forced to sell his home, or face foreclosure by his bank. In a 2008 Larry King interview,  McMahon told King, “Well, if you spend more than you make, you know what happens.”
  • Johnny Depp, according to Court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, spends $2 million a month. His reckless spending over the years included $75 million on fourteen homes, an $18 million luxury yacht and $30,000 a month on wine.
  • Then there are the stories of the extravagant spending habits of Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Toni Braxton, M.C. Hammer and many, many others.

This is known as Lifestyle CreepIncreasing your standard of living in order to match your increased income.

Lifestyle Creep is driven by want spending – spending your money on things you want but do not need. Left unchecked, want spending can become an addiction.

We are seeing this addiction play out in real time with Conor McGregor. McGregor, one week after receiving $30 million in winnings from his loss to Floyd Mayweather, bought a super yacht reportedly worth $12 million. That’s on top of the multiple Lamborghinis, BMWs, Rolls-Royces and Range Rovers he owns. I’m not done. He also owns a 12,000 square foot home in Las Vegas worth $20 million and a mansion in Dublin, Ireland worth in excess of $2 million. Still not done. He has a luxury watch collection worth over $300,000. And, unless he finds some financial religion, his want spending will continue to get worse, until he finds himself one day sharing a room with M.C. Hammer.

While the tabloids are replete with stories of prodigious earners who had nothing left after years of excessive want spending, Lifestyle Creep is not relegated to Hollywood celebrities. You see it every day around you. You probably know one or more individuals who came into money – large bonus, big promotion, stock vesting or an inheritance. Suddenly, they are finding novel ways to spend their newfound wealth: super sizing their home with new additions, moving into a bigger home in a more expensive neighborhood, new expensive cars, a vacation home or that boat they’ve always dreamed of.  Or, far more common, you probably know individuals who have to rely on credit cards in order to pay their monthly bills.

How many of you know someone who has filed for personal bankruptcy? I know a few. Barring outlier causes (failed business, divorce, disease, or chronic disability), excessive spending is usually the main culprit for the vast majority of those who eventually find themselves broke.

According to Census Bureau data, there are approximately 30 million people who make more than they need but who are, nonetheless, one paycheck away from poverty. Far too many regular, ordinary individuals take a page out of the Hollywood celebrity money management playbook, spending excessively and living beyond their means for many years, just one job loss away from being homeless.

As I stated in my book, Rich Habits, becoming rich is not how much you make, it’s how much you keep.

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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. L. Moultrie says:

    M. C. Hammer is often mentioned when giving examples of people who have lost their fortunes. You may find it interesting to see what he is doing now. Apparently he has learned from his mistakes.

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