How Rich Do You Want To Be?


Tom Corley boats - crop

Wealth comes in many shapes and sizes. In my Rich Habits research, I identified three levels of wealth.


Just less than 22% of the rich people in my Rich Habits study fell into this category. Level 1 Rich means you have zero debt and the passive income generated by your wealth is enough to meet or exceed your standard of living.

The Level 1 Rich have five things in common:

  1. They have a low standard of living and
  2. They typically make a modest income and
  3. Their modest income exceeds their low standard of living and
  4. They save 20% or more of their income for many years and
  5. They invest their savings prudently for many years.

It took Level 1 Rich people in my Rich Habits study about 32 years to accumulate an average of $3.2 million.


Approximately 27% of the rich people in my study were the Level 2 Rich. Level 2 Rich were virtuosos in their career, industry or profession. They were among the best at what they did.

These individuals either worked for large, publicly-held corporations, in which a significant portion of their compensation was stock-based compensation or they ran small businesses that were highly profitable.

It took Level 2 Rich people in my Rich Habits study about 20 years to accumulate an average of $4 million.


This is the uber-rich. Approximately 51% of the rich people in my study were individuals who pursued some big dream and were able to turn that dream into a reality. Their dream eventually provided them with an enormous amount of income, profit or gain.

According to my Rich Habits study, the Level 3 Rich accumulated the most wealth ($7.4 million) in the shortest period of time – 12 years.

The point in all this is that there is more than one way to skin a cat. If you’re risk averse, it does not disqualify you from becoming rich. If you have no dream or you’re not interested in saving your way to wealth, become a virtuoso in what you do for a living. If you are not a saver or a virtuoso, pursue some dream that makes your heart sing.

If you want to be rich, the only important thing is to pick one path and stick with it for many years. The one common denominator all levels of wealth share is time – it takes many years to become rich.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Patrick Binning says:


    With regard to this article, what dollar amount are you using as a demarcation point for being “rich”?

    Thanks and great material!

    • Level 1 – Up to $3.2 Million accumulated over 32 years
      Level 2 – > $3.2 million – $4 million accumulated over 20 years
      Level 3 – In excess of $4 million. Average in my study was $7.4 million accumulated over 12 years

  2. Wanda Rosseland says:

    Dear Tom,

    Can you tell me what time you go to bed at night, and what time you get up in the morning.
    Thank you so much.
    Wanda Rosseland

  3. Jonathan says:

    Thanks Tom for your excellent articles.
    I think becoming level 1 Rich is much harder today because with savings accounts paying tiny interests rates or even negative rates in some parts of the world, Savings are becoming more correctly titled “Losings”.

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