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October 23, 2007


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It's a great idea, doing unpleasant stuff because you can get paid well for it. I thought about the crime scene cleanup biz. But I think it would make me sick.

I would have to agree. There are lots of trades out there like Roofing, Carpenters, etc who make great income. People look down on others who do these jobs. These people are usually the guys that are making $40 plus per hour. And when these guys become weathly its a whole different feeling when it was earned with hard work

The majority of the residents of the new construction home communities that have been cropping up around the States over the past years that can actually afford those homes are not doctors or lawyers like your high school guidance counselor wants you to believe; it's plumbers, hvac, electricians, and dry wallers for instance.

Our plumber has a very nice business that he's going to be able to pass on to his son, who works with him. He has told us how much he enjoys traveling - and never stays with family or friends because he works hard to be able to stay at a nice hotel and stay off everyone's toes!

There is a local poop-scoop service I see ads for all the time. I always wonder how much business they do, since it seems like picking up after your dog would be a daily (probably more) job. I guess they must do OK though, it has been around awhile.

The alternative is to do something that very few other people can. I speak Arabic, which makes me insanely popular in certain industries. :)

Doesn't look like he deleted anything, your second comment appears a mere minute after you first; maybe the page hadn't refreshed yet?

jim --

I just deleted that one. Here's the deal:

1. Minimum Wage has made a habit of leaving inane comments all over this blog. They're usually off topic, silly, or simply "but I make minimum wage, what can I do?" or some similar thought.

2. I've warned him about making these comments several times and told him they'd be deleted in the future.

3. He keeps doing it, and thus I'm deleting ANY comments he makes. He can move on and junk up someone else's blog if he likes, but not here anymore.

I hate to break it to you guys but someone earning $40 an hour is not rich and will never be rich. Neither will a roofer or plumber. Sure the guys who own SOME of these businesses make decent money but what is decent? The person described in the article may make around $200,000 a year owning a septic tank cleaning business (assuming his costs are very low), that is pretty much what a first year analyst on Wall St. or a first year lawyer at a big law firm start at - that's at an age of early to mid 20s. My friends who went to med school are making between $300K to $1.5million and we are in our early 30s. There is a reason certain businesses are very hard to break into, if they weren't than everyone would do them and they wouldn't pay well. For every septic tank cleaner that is making six figures I bet you can find 100 that are making typical blue-collar wages. And the Millionaire Next Door book is so chock full of errors its a joke amongst statisticians and private bankers (who deal with actual wealthy people in large numbers daily). The way they collected the data led to a huge bias to bring in the bottom of their defined "wealthy" scale and was hugely biased to bringing in people that were very frugal (e.g. the $100 they offered participants to take the several hour survey).

I'm sorry, but I'm surrounded by genuine rich people on a daily basis, people who make several hundred thousand or millions per year and often at fairly young ages. They don't go around like the Millionaire Next Door guys and where clothes from Walmart and drive around in 20 year old beat up Chevys. Are there non-rich people who overextend themselves to look and act rich? Of course. But most rich people also look and act rich, it might break your heart to know that we don't live in a topsy turvy world where the real rich people in America are actually plumbers and dry wallers.

Minimum Wage --

You're banned from the site. Move on.

FYI -- not "insane", "inane."

MW --

1. I don't owe you an explanation. You were warned.

2. It wasn't that specific comment -- it was to preceeding INANE ones. They were the straws that broke the camel's back. Hence ALL comments are banned now.

NotRich - someone making $200k in the Midwest is pretty well off by my standards (don't know where you got the $40 an hour figure from). Obviously that doesn't go as far as in NY, but not everyone lives in NY, contrary to any "east coast" media bias.

I don't think the point of the article was to tell everyone and their brother to start a septic tank or pooper scooper business as a way to get rich, merely that there are people out there doing these things that make a great living.

I know some people like that: skilled tradesmen (and women). They get paid VERY WELL for what they do, and also said that there's a shortage of people in their fields. I think they do get looked down on because it doesn't require a "education", but people (are jerks sometimes) and forget that it's really skilled work, that requires a lot of experience and apprenticeship time.

I knew of one guy who put his kids and himself through school (I think he's an electrician.) Really nice guy and will never hurt for work.

I am one of those people who do work no one else wants to do. I am a dog groomer. Most people wouldn't want to do what I do on a daily basis, and they pay me well for it. The average dog is about $40 to groom and they take me maybe 45 minutes of hands on time to actually groom. I groom about 10 dogs per day. Not bad money for an uneducated "blue collar" worker.

That's HARD-EARNED money. Seriously, will any of you face the sewer 10 hrs a day for a 200k salary? I won't.

This is how roofers stay in business.

Big Chris

"$200,000 a year owning a septic tank cleaning business (assuming his costs are very low), that is pretty much what...a first year lawyer at a big law firm start at"

NotRich, I don't think that point is especially persuasive when you consider the median lawyer income is a touch under $100k. My hat is off to the guy cleaning septic tanks making much more than most lawyers.

There is a reason you get paid big for doing things no one else wants to do... people generally have a good reason for not wanting to do them.

So here's me: I'm thinking less sewage, less money is a good trade, thank you very much.

I wonder where USA Today got these figures.

Especially the septic guy. Around here they charge about $50 to pump and there's usually a $5 or $10 coupon around.

And I know a couple guys that couldn't compete in the residential carpet cleaning industry. They did a great job, but the cost/job is low and there is a big up-front equipment charge.

In the office building that I work, cleaning wages are very low, driven down by the unskilled labor coming from the south. And the competitors frequently went out of business or reorganized after the first major client cancelled.

I also know a scrap metal job that went south.

Perhaps if you are the CEO of a large cleaning, septic, or scrap metal organization you can make some dough, but these jobs aren't quite "hold your nose and rake in the bucks" jobs. I wouldn't leave my job at the law firm without a lot of research first.

The problem with looking at something like a median lawyer income is there are tons of lawyers who are worth zilch. They went to crappy law schools and become ambulance chasers. There is no major barrier to entry into that field in general but there are huge barriers to entry into the lucrative side of that field. The same goes for Wall St. Any moron can get a job as a stock broker, making a crappy wage, and go around thinking he's a hot shot Wall Streeter, but they are not considered to be typical Wall St. workers by Wall St. standards, maybe just by the standards of the general public. I'm talking about the people who work hard and focus on the competitive side of these industries, there are tons of people I know from college who went off to top law schools and then off to the big law firms. Starting salaries were over $150K and today (around 4-5 years later) most are making mid to high six figures and some even making seven figures. Same with the guys I know who went into finances and to a lesser extent - medicine. And they're smart, contrary to popular belief on this board all high-income people don't go around and blow all their money and have little net worths. They got to where they are in life largely because they aren't stupid and that shows in how they handle their money. So you may see people like this living in multi-million dollar houses, driving expensive cars, and living the high-life and think they are just overextending themselves when the fact of the matter is they earn and save more in a year than most people do in decades. These kinds of articles serve to satiate the public's appetite by making it sound like blue-collar America is where the hidden riches are when in fact they're not. Sure, anyone that owns a successful company doing ANYTHING will make a decent living, but to translate that into meaning that plumbers, electricians, and drywalling are lucrative career choices is asinine.

NotRich where can I get whatever you're smoking. Drink your martini, get your chest waxed, walk your lap dog, and get a manicure. The richest people don't have ESQ or PHD or MD attached to their names. They're business owners and they certainly don't have the time to post pro-college drivel on blogs.

Ha, another member of the anti-education working poor masses. You're right that the richest people are generally business owners, but they have real QUALIFICATIONS. Most of them are well educated and have worked in highly competitive careers. Talk to any private banker about what the profile of the wealthiest people are, its extremely heavily skewed towards the typical "elite" backgrounds in terms of education and industries. Sure you have the occasional high school dropout who became a billionaire owner of a steel company or something but those are the outliers amongst the very rich. Keep thinking your average Joe plumber has a better shot than the Harvard MBA who works for Blackstone or making serious money.

But you keep striving for whatever it is you think you're going to get along with the rest of the masses of average folks hoping to hit it big. But I'll put my money on the people I know who are already making 20 or 50 times what the average person is making to become decently rich one day (e.g. net worth in the 10-30 million range). Heck, even look at the dot-com multimillionaires, there things like schooling shouldn't matter but practically everyone you look at that hit it big went to places like Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and so on. Including the newest entrants of guys like Facebook and YouTube. People that have a history of doing well have a better chance of doing well going forward as well, plain and simple. Sorry if that's hard for you to swallow, just keep daydreaming.

If it makes good money and its legal, ill take the job!

A couple of points:

Some people will make money with these kinds of jobs WHEN they own successful businesses that do it - the key is successful businesses because most of these small businesses are NOT successful. At best this man makes $200,000 a year - good money to some but virtually everyone that graduates from top business or law schools will be making much much more than that, in fact most of them start at salaries higher than that. But its not easy to get into those schools or those programs.

$200 to $300 for a septic tank cleaning is very expensive. My parents have one at their house and pay less than $100 and that is in a high cost area of Long Island. I think the $200-$300 quotes are for his larger commercial properties, not residential.

If you go to his company's website they have 4 people working there, remember that all of them need to get paid as well.

My guess is he makes between $100k-$200k per year. It's not bad but I would never do that job for that kind of money. There is a REASON why people don't want to do that job. I wouldn't enjoy it at all and you're on call 24/7. I do something that I love and get close to $100K for it and I have a very flexible schedule. I think I'll stick with it. Plus I get medical, dental, 401k, and other benefits. If Dillard goes on a family vacation for a month he loses a large chunk of his yearly income, if I go on a family vacation for a month I'm still getting paid. These are all benefits. If the idea of success in your own business is defined as making $150K-$200K I think that is kind of crazy. There are a lot of jobs you can make that kind of money in and have other benefits attached without the constant worry of running a business. I wouldn't try to start a small business unless I thought it could eventually generate over $500K per year in income for me.

FYI -- my co-worker just had his septic system pumped and it was $300.

CFP and NotRich -- You guys are cracking me up! ;-)

WooooHoooo! MW is gone! I really disliked reading that dopes comments on an otherwise meaningful blog....

Good move FMF!

NotRich - I would call the bar exam a "major barrier to entry" in the legal field.

And I especially like your argument that getting an MD, JD or whatever is the key to success and wealth and then point out that there are tons of worthless lawyers and stock brokers out there. Well, I'm sure there are worthless septic guys out there too that do a crappy pun intended. But there are good ones too, that make a ton of money, just like there are lawyers and doctors that do very well.

Being "rich" is a relative term. To some it's being a millionaire to others it's having freedom and flexibility in one's career. Everyone needs to know their limitations and live in the reality of their situation. Your geographic location can be a limitation on how much wealth you can accumulate.

I think what both of you are trying to say is that no matter what it is you do, if you apply yourself for success, you will reach success. All successful professionals out there are successful because they are the best are what they do. Likewise, the successful septic suckers out there are successful because they are the best are what they do.

Reaching a point of long term personal financial success never comes easy. Either way you look at it, no matter what it is you do, it takes hard work to succeed……regardless of what you are working on.

NotRich your moniker describes you quite well. If you're truly describing the rich as those that hold 10% of the wealth, you've omitted all the uneducated bastard sons of Arabian lineage who are far richer than the doctors, lawyers and private bankers you seem to envy. FYI... they own more common stock in American companies than your "friends" will own in their lifetime.

I think this article wasn't stating that people should
become plumbers as opposed to doctors or roofers instead of lawyers. It is more a statement to the point that people can generate a high net worth and income without the element of higher learning.I would never look down on anyone who works hard and makes a decent living.I think the point of people in the trades not getting rich. I have a friend who was in a skilled trade(owned his own company) and his wife worked as well. They made decent money there whole lives and retired at 55 with a networth somewhere between 5-10 million. That's not that bad in my eyes considering neither one had any higher learning.

I have to take some offence to someone saying that a roofer will never be rich. My Father is a roofer. He owns his own company and they do industrial flat roofing. His last job he made a $180,000 K profit in 12 days and has done 2 hours repairs that cost $10,000.
Will he ever get rich?His income off investments problably makes more than most makes in a year.

OK, I am the Managing Director for a large factory and deal with unpleasant personnel issues every day. The Thai's I work with call this work 'CHID KEY' or 'wiping the shit' and it's a job nobody wants to do so I guess I'm doing something similar to the man in the article.

By the way, what is to stop Minimum wage posting under a different name and continuing to whine?

Example: This guy in the article makes more than I ever could in spite of my college degrees etc etc.

-Big Cheese

@NotRich and @NFFM - I have been railing against the MND myth for ages. First off, I know plenty of MND types. I am one myself, my neighbors mostly are, my co-workers mostly are, and my in-laws are all in the MND club. My FIL fits the MND description perfectly: he's a retired Megacorp mid-level executive, family-oriented, down to earth, owned same house for over 30 years, mortgage paid off, drives a Honda, etc., basically middle-class mentality. Never made more than a couple hundred, but counted his pennies, still very frugal, do-it-yourselfer... saved his money the slow and steady way and one day it added up to a bundle. With his pension, he doesn't even much touch the principal.

But, most members of the club took the faster route based on much harder work. They got there on high-income careers (doctor, lawyer, banker, etc.) and/or business ownership (technology, real estate, consulting, contracting, etc.). This type is usually flashier - more expensive cars, bigger houses, faster boats, etc.

The MND book only paints one side of the picture - the humble mouse made good picture like my FIL. But, there is a whole other kind of MND community they don't talk about because it would make you feel a bit ill. Not everybody driving a fancy car or living in a McMansion is hocked to the gills - some people can actually afford it.

The bottom line is that in order to make it regardless of vocation, you'll need to be in the small percentage of the cream that rises to the top. That means investing in your skills (thru education and/or apprenticeship), working twice as hard as the next guy, and developing a high tolerance for taking calculated risks. Lots of people think they know how to make it. It's usually not that they're mis-informed, it's that only a few are actually willing to make the sacrifices necessary. If cleaning sewers is going to be your road to making it, then you'd better be the hardest-working, most service-oriented, well-managed, sewer-cleaner in the business.

while you can make a few million dollars a year on wall street or as a physician, the average person is not going to pursue one of those careers. the hours and stress are extremely demanding and the years of schooling/knowledge required are beyond the capabilities of most...

to add to this discussion. i just turned 23. i have an MBA but chose to become an entrepreneur/investor rather than a wage slave somewhere.

i own a landscaping company at the new jersey shore which I operate about 9 months out of the year. i work an average workweek (30-50 hours per week). i also own some income real estate. together, i make over $100k a year for myself and have 3 months of vacation every winter.

if you cater to the rich buy owning a business that performs services they do not want to perform, you too will become wealthy someday. will you have $20million? who knows, but in 2007 in New Jersey, $100k is MUCH more than most people earn working more hours.

im tired of hearing people say $100,000 isnt a lot of money anymore. true, you arent living a life of luxury with that kind of salary, but you are presented with the opportunity to save/invest $50,000 a year and be worth $1 million in a matter of 8-10 years.

the way to get ahead in life financially is to have income flowing from several sources, so go get started

NotRich, can you explain why you have so much animosity to the idea that people with reasonable salaries can be quite affluent? Do you really have some burgeoning need to be worth 30 million dollars? Is that your definition of "decently rich"?

I can honestly say that if I lived off of ONLY the capital gains of a 5 million dollar investment, I would have more money that I knew what to do with. Why? Because I'm not an egotistical bourgeois fool that thinks life if about yachts and Maybach 62s and the French Riviera.

Give us all a friggin break and just get over yourself. We dont really care about your affluent friends. I went to private school in DC, I've seen affluent, and I'm not really that impressed.

In the United States, getting to a 5 million dollar net worth is EASILY attainable for someone making 80,000 dollars a year. Many people with CRAPPY jobs that make much less retire as millionaires and will do so (even in todays dollars). Janitors can become rich in this country.

No one is saying that it is better not to get an education. That would be ludicrous and economically as well as logically fallacious. But it is not the only route to wealth, or even a prerequisite. The route to wealth is spend less than you earn, by maximizing your income and reducing costs, and invest to create sources of income that are not connected to your working.

"I would have to agree. There are lots of trades out there like Roofing, Carpenters, etc who make great income. People look down on others who do these jobs. These people are usually the guys that are making $40 plus per hour. And when these guys become weathly its a whole different feeling when it was earned with hard work"

I saw this and had to comment a week after the fact because I disagree with this statement and it's validity in today's job market. My brother in law is a roofer by trade with over 10 years of experience. Roofing, carprentry, and drywall type jobs are now low-paying jobs in most areas. I know numerous people in the construction trades and the wages are being pushed down for numerous positions. Noone except for upper management makes $40 an hour and the actual workers are mostly illegal immigrants who will work for $8-12 an hour and no benefits in moderate or low cost areas. The takeover of many construction jobs ranges all over in the US from DC to Seattle to LA. My brother in law has been out of work for 6 months now and has not been able to find another $15/hour position in the roofing or carprentry fields do to the influx of illegals willing to do the work without benefits for under traditional wages. When I was going to roof 9 years ago at the same place my brother in law worked at the wages were the same as they are today and this was one of the best paying roofing companies in the area. Years ago kids out of high school would have their fathers get them an entry level position at the construction company they work. They could work their way up and make a living and have a family but those days are nearly gone.

I am a huge supporter and believer in trade skills but to make a decent living it has to be in a more skilled field such as HVAC, plumbing, electricians, welders, diesel mechanics, and other skill sets that are taught at technical schools. I have had numerous friends who went to tech-schools part-time for 1-2 years and now have jobs that pay better and/or are more stable than most of my other friends who went to a 4 year college and graduated with large amounts of debt. If I had to do it all over I would have gone to a tech-school and had a career that I could do anywhere

I have to add the point that i don't think anyone has made...

Those roofers and sewer cleaners etc NEED those Drs making high 6 figures to pay for 10,000 roughing repairs. It's symbiotic. One leads to the other.

I think that what we really need to consider is that everyone CAN be rich IF they choose to apply themselves and focus. The degree is what is in question. If we have lived on 80K your whole life in order to feel wealthy might be having no debt and 2M in the bank (providing that 80k a year in interest). If you are used to making 500K you might need 10M to have the same feeling. My roomate in college was the first person in his family to GO to college or BUY a home... to his family he was wealthy.

Final Point. We need to encourage people to go into all trades and all vocations. We need more scientists we need more Doctors more mathmaticians teachers roofers plumbers etc. We are a serviced based economy now (versus manufacture and information) and we need to allow children to differentiate and not expect everyone to "get a college degree" otherwise this service jobs will demand higher premiums and ergo become fashionable jobs...

In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king...

Not Rich,
Please go back to school to study spelling and grammar. Wear not where, then not than, who not that....etc., etc. Your multiple errors are laughable in light of your claim to superior education.
P.S. Those working for $40 per hour can and do get rich through wise investments.

I wonder how lucrative the finance field is going to be in the coming years? I think that skilled trades can be a lucrative field for those people who are not inclined to go to higher learning. If someone starts a skilled trade and actually does make $40 per hour that was mentioned above.Then if he worked 50 hours a week that is 100k a year, if he was married a his wife made a decent wage/salary then this family could potentially have a family income of 150k/year or more.That is not a bad start to generating a high net worth considering that there is no student loans to deal with also.

I just started reading this web-site; figured I could get some good input, and get away from snotty and rude remarks/comments/debates.

I'm just wondering why the majority of the comments have to be challenging; snide, and critical?

There's good info' here; a well-written post/article, so can't you just expand in a positive way rather than sniping???


I am a plumber and i make about 65000 to 80000 depending on the economy.. no degree. And yes it is a very labor intensive job.

My husband went to college, never used his degree in engineering though ended up making 200k in a blue collar business. I felt rich, before he lost said business. When the economy slipped, so did the business.

Go wax your chest "Not Rich" you petulant pip squeak.

You guys have to much time on your hands the job market is bad right now trying to find a job in any "skilled " field is like trying to find drinkable water in Mexico

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