Rich Habits Study – Background and Methodology

Rich Habits

My Rich Habits Study has received international attention in the media. Newspapers, magazines, online sites, TV, radio and podcasts in 27 countries, so far, have shared bits and pieces of my research.

As a result, I have received tens of thousands of emails from around the world, regarding my research and my study methodology.

The overriding goal of my study was to answer two fundamental questions:

#1 Why are people rich or poor?

#2 What do the rich and the poor do from the moment they wake up in the morning to the moment they go to bed at night? 

Below is a summary of my study:

  1. I interviewed 233 wealthy individuals and 128 poor individuals over a 3 year period beginning in March 2004 and ending in March 2007.
  2. Of the 233 millionaires, 177 were self-made millionaires and 56 inherited their money.
  3. Of the 177 self-made millionaires, 105 (59%) came from middle-class households and 72 (41%) came from poor households.
  4. I spent another 16 months analyzing and summarizing the data, completing my initial analysis sometime around August – October 2008.
  5. Rich Group: $160,000 in Annual Gross Income and $3.2 million in Net Assets.
  6. Poor Group: Less than $35,000 in Annual Gross Income and less than $5,000 in Liquid Assets.
  7. About 50% of the responses were physical meetings and the rest were via phone interviews and/or emails.
  8. None of the subjects were aware they were being interviewed as I was trying to control for individual bias in their responses.
  9. I asked each individual 20 broad questions (144 sub-questions) re: their daily activities. When you do the math that equals 51,984 total questions. If you’d like a copy of those questions, email me (
  10. I tracked their responses in individual physical folders and subsequently transferred the data to two large excel worksheets for each group. I then consolidated these into what has become my Research Summary schedule. If you’d like a copy email me (
  11. I analyzed each group’s responses over a 16 month period and separated these responses into specific categories, which are included in my Research Summary.
  12. I continued to analyze the data for 6 more years after completing the initial analysis. To date, I have documented 334 categories, or 346 different data points of both groups.
  13. Most of the interviews were geographically distributed as follows within the United States: 50% northeast, 20% southeast, 10% mid-west and the balance scattered across the country.
  14. Age Demographics:
    • Rich Group (233 Individuals):
      • Age 40 – 45 = 7 individuals
      • Age 46 – 50 = 37 individuals
      • Age 51 – 55 = 65 individuals
      • Age 56 – 60 = 72 individuals
      • Age Over 60 = 52 individuals
    • Self-Made Millionaire Group (177 of the 233 Individuals):
      • Age 40 – 45 = 2 individuals
      • Age 46 – 50 = 11 individuals
      • Age 51 – 55 = 25 individuals
      • Age 56 – 60 = 99 individuals
      • Age Over 60 = 40 individuals
    • Poor Group (128 Individuals):
      • Age 40 – 45 = 9 individuals
      • Age 46 – 50 = 15 individuals
      • Age 51 – 55 = 16 individuals
      • Age 56 – 60 = 41 individuals
      • Age Over 60 = 47 individuals
  15. For the wealthy – 4% were African American, 19% were Jewish and 77% were Caucasian.
  16. For the poor – 3% were Jewish, 33% were Caucasian and 64% were African American.
  17. In the wealthy group, 214 were men and 14 were women.
  18. In the poor group 114 were men and 14 were women.
  19. In the wealth group (233), 51% were self-employed entrepreneurs/business owners, 28% were professionals, 18% were senior executives in large publicly-held companies and 3% were other.
  20. In the poor group (128), 10% were self-employed entrepreneurs/business owners and the rest were employees.

I gathered data for both groups regarding their careers/employment, the percentage born to wealth, poverty or the middle-class, spending habits, academic performance, education, perceptions of wealth/poverty, various health data, inherited money data, gambling habits, home ownership, car ownership, reading habits, relationship management, savings habits, self-improvement habits, time management habits, beliefs, vacation habits, volunteering habits, networking habits, voting habits and work-related data.

I chose an interview format as I believed it would offer far more qualitative and quantitative data than a survey could provide.

I have written numerous books, each sharing different aspects of my research.



  1. […] according to Tom Corley’s Rich Habits study, 41% of the 177 self-made millionaires he studied were born and raised in […]

  2. Is There One Overriding Secret to Success? on June 3, 2020 at 9:02 AM

    […] self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study had a clear vision of the desired future version of […]

    • Poor girl on September 26, 2020 at 6:25 PM

      The demographics of your study are very skewed… why do you not have the same percentage of Caucasians in the poor study as you do in the rich study? Don’t you think there are some benefits that even the self made millionaires coming from “poor” households gained from being white that made it easier for them to accumulate wealth. It’s condescending to think that people are “poor” only based on their “impulsive buying” and not for any systemic reasons.

  3. […] Corley would know. He spent five years studying the habits of hundreds of Americans, whom he separated into two groups: the “rich,” […]

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