The Difference Between Millionaires and the Middle Class

Many have searched for the pattern, or a model, to explain why the rich are rich. Thomas Stanley has made a living studying and writing about wealthy people. He found consistent behaviors among them and first wrote about it in the “Millionaire Next Door.”

In the classic book published in 1937, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill wrote about the “16 laws of success” after twenty years of studying wealthy people.

Certainly many things separate the rich from the poor. Contrary to what the poor want to believe, it’s not luck or fate. Of the 2009 Forbes 400 richest, 274 (68%) are self-made, but the poor prefer to believe the rich have some advantages they do not. This type of thinking enables the poor to remain in their situations without taking any responsibility.

Luck always plays its part in life, but lucky people do many proactive things to put themselves in positions to take advantage of luck when it strikes. In the book, “The Top 10 Distinctions between Millionaires and the Middle Class,” Keith Cameron Smith describes the difference that has had the greatest impact on my life and my net worth.

In Cameron’s book, he discusses how the very poor focus on survival and instant gratification. They do not think beyond the moment. However, the very rich think and plan very far into the future—five, ten, or twenty years.

When reading this section of the book, I picture a scale with the amount of wealth correlating to the distance future planning spans.

The very poor think about the moment—the next drug fix. The poor think about the paycheck at the end of the week. The middle class are hoping to make it through the month. The rich are planning a year to several into the future, and the billionaires are thinking a decade or two future.

You’ll be rewarded with a wealth of life changing information by reading all three of these books at least once a year. However, I’m convinced, there is no greater trait that will reward you more than stretching your thinking further into the further.

By the way, if you want more money and freedom, and haven’t read these books…why not? Why reinvent the wheel when the answers are there?

4 Replies to “The Difference Between Millionaires and the Middle Class”

  1. Good point. I have a sign on my wall that reads:
    Short-term pain, long-term pleasure
    Short-term pleasure, long-term pain

    It’s all so simple in theory isn’t it, but the doing is when things become difficult. I think that, in my case, this is because I get motivated (to workout for example) by picturing how I’ll look and how I will feel when I am bigger and stronger. But this motivation only lasts a few weeks, as the pain and hassle associated with working out and eating healthy foods in large quantities rises. And then I quit. For me, in theory, I think the key will be not to motivate myself through the potential pleasure of being stronger, but the pain of still being weak in a year, 5 years, and 10 years.…. the pain that I have been trying so hard but keep quitting and failing… and ultimately, the pain that I have tried to reach a goal my whole life and failed over and over and I am ultimately a loser that has wasted his chance at living his best life possible.

    We’ll see.

    I enjoyed this post. I subscribed to your blog a while ago, possibly through Tim Ferriss’ blog comments, though I don’t remember. Possibly through something [Hey] Amber Rae wrote. Anyways, all the best Chuck.


    1. What a great comment Spencer. There is actually a lot of research proving what you are suggesting. People are far more motivated to avoid pain than increase pleasure. Thanks for contributing a great point.

      1. Thanks Chuck. A week has gone by now, and I can say that my idea to use pain as a motivator does not work to “keep me on the horse,” but it does get me back up quickly when I fall / fail. It’s a battle to become better–can’t give up.

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