This Welfare Mindset Anchors Millions in Poverty

Tom Corley boats - crop

In 2013 I did an interview with Dave Ramsey. After the interview, Dave decided to post an article about my research on his website: 2o Things the Rich Do Every Day.

Almost immediately the article went viral. Millions clicked on Dave’s list and began to comment on the post. It didn’t take long for the national media to take notice. A very prominent CNN blogger posted a scathing rebuke of the article. The Huffington Post put their two cents in, as did the Daily Kos and many other big-time blogs around the country.

Yours truly received thousands of emails, some good, some not so good. Some emails called me heroic, others called me things so offensive, they’re better left unsaid.

Clearly, Dave’s article hit a nerve. After the fog cleared, I realized why so many felt so strongly about Dave’s post.

There are millions out there who believe those in poverty are victims and there are millions out there who believe you are personally responsible for your financial circumstances in life.

Victim Ideology

Those who embrace this ideology believe poverty is outside their control. You are poor because you were born and raised poor and there’s nothing, other than winning the lottery, that will lift you out of poverty. Life screwed you, end of story. They see poverty as something inflicted upon them by their parents, society, rich people, Wall Street, banks, government policies, etc. This victim ideology is really a Welfare Mindset that acts like a virus, creating a cycle of poverty that can last many generations.

Personal Responsibility Ideology

People in this group believe that everyone has the ability to become rich and successful in America through hard work, good habits, devotion to learning, self-discipline and sheer grit and determination. They believe each person is personally responsible for their life’s circumstances and no one else is to blame.

Rich Habits Research

After interviewing 177 self-made millionaires and 128 poor people over a five year period I learned that wealth and poverty are manufactured. The tools we use to manufacture wealth or poverty are our habits, thinking and the choices we make in life.

When Dave Ramsey posted that 20 Things piece, it hit a nerve because it challenged the belief system of the poor who were conditioned to believe that they were victims of poverty. And it reaffirmed the belief system of those who believe each person is personally responsible for their lives.

Here are some of the most important things I learned about wealth and poverty from my research:

  • If you do not change your daily habits, you will stay poor.
  • If you do not read every day to become more knowledgeable at work or in your industry, you will stay poor.
  • If you read every day to become more knowledgeable at work or in your industry, you will make more money.
  • If you think you cannot become successful, that belief will keep you poor.
  • Habits are contagious. If you associate with too many poor people, you will adopt their habits and be poor. If you focus on associating with successful people, you will adopt their habits and eventually become rich and successful.
  • If you spend more than you make, you will stay poor.
  • If you save 20% or more of your income and prudently invest your savings, you will retire rich.
  • If you pursue a dream, you dramatically increase your chances of becoming rich.
  • If you pursue and achieve goals around your dreams, you will eventually have the life of your dreams.
  • If whatever you do adds significant value to the lives of others, they will pay you a lot of money and make you rich.



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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. Awesome post. Education can set you up for the rest of your life. But hard work and diligence is just as essential if not more so. The combination of both and being resilient and learning by your mistakes will lead to both monetary and spiritual richness.

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