This Welfare Mindset Anchors Millions in Poverty

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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 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. 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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