America’s Poor – Who Are They, Why Are They Poor and What Can We Do?

Here are some important facts about poverty and wealth in America:

  •  43.6 million Americans live below the poverty line
  • 50% of American Households make less than $33,048 a year
  • Average student loan debt now exceeds $27,000
  • Over 9% of college graduates default on their student loans within two years of graduation
  • 314 million people currently reside in America
  • 138 million make enough money to warrant filing an income tax return
  • 6.9 million, or 5%, make $155,000 or more a year

This 5% puts money away for retirement, education for their children, savings, go on nice vacations, live in nice homes and retire without any financial worries. What is this 5% doing right? What is it that financially successful individuals do that sets them apart from everyone else?

In my five-year research study on the daily habits of wealthy and poor individuals I found the answer to this question. I found the financial equivalent of the Holy Grail: Your daily habits dictate whether you will be rich, poor or middle-class.

40% of all of our daily activities are daily habits. This means 40% of the time we are all on auto pilot. If we have Rich Habits, life is good. If we have Poverty Habits, life is bad. Think of a seesaw. On one side of your seesaw are your Rich Habits and on the other side are your Poverty Habits. If you have more Rich Habits than Poverty Habits you will be rich. If you have more Poverty Habits than Rich Habits you will be poor.

In wealthy households parents go to great lengths to teach their children these Rich Habits. This is why the rich get richer. I refer to this as, “the generational cycle of wealth”. In wealthy households, the rich get richer and this pattern repeats itself from one generation to the next.

In poor households children learn Poverty Habits from their parents. It’s not intentional. Poor parents never learned the Rich Habits from their parents. This is why the poor get poorer. I refer to this as, “the generational cycle of poverty”. In poor households the poor get poorer and this pattern repeats itself from one generation to the next.

In reality, parents are responsible for the wealth gap and income inequality in our country.

So how do you break the generational cycle of poverty?  Believe it or not it’s easy to do. Each one of the Rich Habits was designed to be a Keystone Habit. Keystone Habits are unique habits. They are unique because they affect other habits. One good Keystone Habit, for example, could act to eliminate 2 or more ordinary bad habits. 

Bad Habits That Are Keeping You Poor

  • You watch more than one hour of T.V. a day.
  • You spend more than an hour a day on recreational Internet use (Facebook, Twitter etc.)
  • You eat more than 300 junk food calories a day. 
  • You drink more than two glasses of beer, wine or hard alcohol a night.
  • You drink more than 12 ounces of non-diet soda a day. 
  • You don’t exercise aerobically a minimum of 30 minutes a day, four days a week.
  • Your relationships are on an “as needed” basis. You only reach out to your friends to socialize or when you have problems and need their help. You don’t call them just to say hello, happy birthday or to congratulate them or console them when something happens in their lives. In other words, you ignore them unless you need them for something.
  • Procrastination is the rule rather than the exception. You don’t maintain a daily “to do” list, or if you do, you don’t accomplish 70% or more of your daily “to do” list each.
  • You devote very little time to your career beyond working. You do not read a minimum of 30 minutes a day of career-related reading material.
  • You do not network or volunteer a minimum of 5 hours a month.
  • You do the bare minimum at work. You have “it’s not in my job description” syndrome.
  • You talk too much and don’t listen enough. You violate the “5 to 1 Rule” (Listening for 5 minutes for every 1 minute of talking). 
  • Oftentimes, you are putting your foot in your mouth and saying inappropriate things.
  • You are not generous with your time or money with respect to your relationships.
  • You are a spender and not a saver. You don’t save 10% of your net income every month. You violate the “90 % Rule” (Pay yourself first 10% of your net pay and live off of the remaining 90% of your net pay).
  • You spend more than you earn and your debt is overwhelming you.
  • You don’t control your thoughts and emotions on a daily basis. You lose your temper too often and belittle others too much.
  • You think a wish is a goal. Goals require a specific physical activity, otherwise they are just wishes and wishes don’t come true. 

Ten Keystone Habits That Will Make Your Rich:

  1.  Wealthy individuals have eliminated most of their bad daily failure habits and replaced them with good daily success habits
  2. Wealthy individuals set daily, monthly, annual and long-term goals. They understand the difference between a wish and a goal. See my Free Goals Report:
  3. Wealthy individuals engage in 30 minutes a day of daily career-related reading. 
  4. Wealthy people are healthy people. They exercise aerobically 30 minutes a day, four days a week and stay below their “caloric threshold” (This is the number of calories consumed each day that will neither make you gain weight nor lose weight). For men this ranges from 2,000 calories a day to 2,600 calories a day. For women this ranges from 1,500 calories a day to 2,100 calories a day. 
  5. Wealthy individuals manage their relationships every day. Strong relationships are the currency of the wealthy. They employ certain strategies to grow their relationships such as: “The Hello Call”, “The Happy Birthday Call” and “The Life Event Call”. They use a specific strategy to help them increase their Rich Relationships and eliminate their Poverty Relationships.
  6. Wealthy individuals live each day in moderation.They eat in moderation, spend in moderation, work in moderation and play in moderation.
  7. Wealthy individuals complete at least 70% of the tasks on their daily “to do” list.
  8. Wealthy individuals engage in “Rich Thinking”. They are upbeat, positive and focused on achievement.
  9. Wealthy individuals save a minimum of 10-20% of their income and live off of the remaining 80-90%.
  10. Wealthy individuals control their thoughts and emotions, every day.

How to Re-Invent Yourself in 30 Days:

Take out a piece of paper and form two columns. In the first column list every one of your bad daily habits. Call this column your “Bad Habits” column. After listing all of your bad daily habits invert them and include them under column two, your “Good Habits” column. For example: “I watch too much TV” becomes “I watch 1 hour of TV per day”. “I eat too much” becomes “I eat 2,000 calories per day”. Fill your Good Habits column with these inverted Bad Habits. Keep you new Good Habits list with you and refer to it every day.  I call this the Rich Habits Checklist. Live your Rich Habits for 30 days. Strive to follow 30- 40% of your  Rich Habits each day. By the end of this 30 day period you will be unshackled from many of your bad daily habits. Following your Rich Habits does two things: First, it eliminate what I call Detrimental Luck. This is the bad luck that poor people attract into their lives by living with bad daily habits. Second, it manifests Opportunity Luck into your life. This is the good luck wealthy people attract into their lives by living the Rich Habits.

Failure, like success, is just a process. Our daily habits reveal which process we are following in life. Changing the process from failure to success requires that we change our daily habits from bad ones to good ones. By adopting the Rich Habits we are literally walking in the footsteps of the wealthy …. every day.

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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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