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October 26, 2009


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Sounds like interesting book I'll have to put it in my list to read. Is it very different from The Millionaire Next Door? Did the book address if these factors are really causes or merely correlations?

I have more than 12 on the list so that looks pretty promising for the future :-).

-Rick Francis

I think I hit about 17 of the traits myself.

I would caution the interpretation of this kind of thing. I wouldn't assume that doing these things will make you rich. You can do all those things and end up poor. But well off people do tend to share these traits. There is a lot of correlation between these traits and financial success but that doesn't necessarily mean people with these traits will find success automatically.

Interesting, I'll have to check out the book. I think it would be interesting to know what the traits of the other 3 groups are...

I feel stocks are worth the risk, I have reduced outstanding debt, I want to own a home, and I've always known what I wanted to do for a career (but couldn't afford the required training).

None of these things is making me wealthy or even finan cially comfortable.

Attaining a very comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle during one's retirement is no doubt a very high goal for people that are still many years away from retirement. My wife and I have been retired for over 17 years now and everything worked out beautifully. However, as I have repeatedly said in prior posts there is a huge amount of Luck and Chance that enters into everyone's life. This book apparently doesn't agree with me, it seems to believe that if you do all the right things that you are guaranteed success. That just isn't true.

Divorce is one of the most common destroyers of both wealth and dreams.
After that comes circumstances beyond your control such as serious accidents, serious health issues, serious issues relating to a child, losing one's job at a critical time in life, and losing a large percentage of one's investments due to an unpredictable set of problems in the economy.

I believe that I fall into the 'wealthy' category. The children are long gone and all self supporting with good incomes. The most precious thing that my wife and I both have is 'each other' and a relationship and togetherness of a type that only comes after 53 years of being very happily married. We have more than sufficient wealth and more than sufficient income so it is not something that takes on high importance. The second most precious thing we also both have is Good Health, and maintaining good health is a team effort that is always uppermost in our minds. We try to make that a very high priority and take care of each other's needs so that an enjoyable life can stay that way for as long as possible.

Unfortunately everything has changed dramatically from the period 1956 - 1992, the time when I got married, started work, raised a family, had a great career, took my pension and retired. The period between 1992 and 2009 is also going to be very different from the last 17 years for people that are now very close to retirement.

This quote from the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns in 1785 shows that people have been worrying about this problem for hundreds of years.

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Thnx for reviewing this book, b/c it's so boring to read books that just survey.

Optimism and having the right PROCESS is key. With the right process, over time, we'll all be rich.


I wouldn't panic over the newspaper issue, I think newspapers are more important factor among the older generations, not necessarily younger, more web savvy folks. The real question is, are you regularly reading news in some format?

Reading being the key word, not News because watching MSNBC or Fox News isn't the same thing.

I would like to read a book about people who are wealthy versus people who are happy. Pretty much every post on this website talks about how to become wealthy. I am very young in my career, and have so far been focused on how to become wealthy. Through a serious of very carefully chosen books I have read lately, I have decided that becoming wealthy is a very arbitrary goal. What's the point?

There is no reason to spend the most productive (and probably healthy) years of my life looking towards a time in the future when I might finally be able to enjoy my life.

I am currently in a process of very conscious decisions geared toward learning about myself, learning what my core values really are, and then making decisions to only do things that important to me. Beginning today...not 40 years from now after I have busted my ass an saved up a huge chunk of money.

I seem to have 17 of the traits and my husband has 14 (he's not really a happy, optimistic, social type...I'm the perky extrovert to his pessimistic introvert). I love the vote of confidence from the book, but the real key to our wealth and financial goals is to spend much less than we earn...I saw a few savings related traits in the Financial Attitudes and Behaviors, but I think it really just boils down to spend less than you make. Nice and simple. :)

@wanzman -

"Through a serious of very carefully chosen books I have read lately, I have decided that becoming wealthy is a very arbitrary goal. What's the point?"

We've been struggling with this, too.

We are financially comfortable, debt free, etc. But the truth is you don't take it with you.

Out of all the "wealth" that was listed by Old Limey, he values his wife the most. And there is a great deal of Luck and Chance to life and wealth building (although your habits can improve or make your situation worse).

Money is a tool and path to freedom. After a while, the amount you have is just a score on the billboard.

FMF, in your future posts, are you going to mention how Chatzky quantifies the 4 demo categories, i.e. is wealthy a function of income, net worth, or a more complex arrangements of attitudes and achievements?

the book made me curious a little to have one and see if how many traits i have....such an informative post...thanks for sharing..

As you travel down the road of life from your 20's into your 70's and 80's it's important to realize that for some of life's great adventures the window of opportunity doesn't stay open forever because of the way the aging process reduces your energy and your desire to take risks, as well as for other unanticipated geopolitical reasons. One of our most memorable adventures took place in Africa in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Botwana in 1989, before we were wealthy, before retirement, and are risky destinations today. Remember - you only go around once.

There are some adventures that you just cannot put off until you are wealthy, if you do then there's a high probability that by the time you decide that you can afford it, that you can leave the kids at home to take care of themselves, the window of opportunity will have closed for a variety of reasons.

My wife and I did our 'Adventure Travel' while the windows were open, now when we look at the same catalogs of those very exciting trips we realize that there is no way they would be possible, some are no longer offered. For some, the countries are no longer safe for Americans to travel, for others the health risks are too great, and for others the physical demands are now beyond our capabilities.

The bottom line - Don't put off great adventures until you sadly realize that you missed the boat.
As 'AM' noted, once your wealth has reached the critical mass where it can safely grow by itself with hardly any risk, it's size becomes just a number on your monthly statements, and a liability and responsibility to prudently pass it on to your chosen others. It's size has no impact on your life whatsoever. As a good friend sometimes reminds me, When was the last time you saw a Brinks truck following a hearse?

I would be curious which of the traits listed "drop out" as you go down from "wealthy" to "financially comfortable" and below.

For example, I don't imagine that "being married" would only be a feature of those who are financially comfortable and wealthy

However, 401K investing might be prevalent only in the top 2 groups.

I like your insight Old Limey. I think most of the readers of this blog are probably still working and aspiring to your degree of wealth. Your earlier post is valid.

Luck, or good fortune, plays a big role in our financial status. It effects everything, and we should appreciate its influence on success or failure.

I agree with the post's thoughts about the characteristics of wealthy people. I feel wealthy but still need to work for the money. My job is something I like to do and enjoy. I am suprised that liking to work or liking what you do for a living is not a characteristic of wealthy folks.

MrAtoZ --

Stay tuned. More posts on this bokk to follow...

Old Limey,

Another great comment. I've been to Kenya & Tanzania, that was pretty fun. Went there to climb Kilimanjaro and we did with a few days to spare so we did a safari- highly recommended. When you were in Zimbabwe, was it still called Rhodesia?

Now I need to try and plan for a few other big summits before I get too fat & old...! Aconcagua, Denali, Everest ... now that would be an adventure!


It was still Zimbabwe when we were there. I have climbed Rainier, Whitney (twice), Shasta, Baker, Glacier Peak on the West coast. In Nepal I climbed Mt. Mera (21,246 ft), a trekking peak but still the most challenging thing I have ever done. Another adventure I enjoyed was hiking the John Muir trail from Mt. Whitney to Yosemite Valley, a distance of 230 miles. I did it solo in 16 days back in 1986 when I was 52.
When we were in Botswana we took a flight into the Kalahari desert to meet with the Bushmen, that was a thrilling experience. Another great flight was going in a little plane very low over and around Victoria Falls.

Kilimanjaro was in the planning stage on a trip to Africa but it fell through when it meant that my wife would have to fly to Africa later, on her own, and I didn't want her to have to do that.

When I was quite young, in my early teens, I decided I never wanted to have children. I have held to that, and it has been a great help in getting to my present fortunate position.

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