Home » Big Surprise — Rich Guys Say Rich People Are All-Around Better Than Poor People!

Big Surprise — Rich Guys Say Rich People Are All-Around Better Than Poor People!

A friend, Kather­ine Shec­ora, posted a link to an arti­cle on Dave Ramsay’s site about 20 Things the Rich Do Every Day along with her own excel­lent com­men­tary. I started to com­ment on her post, but my remarks got so long that Face­book wouldn’t let me post the com­ment. Then I was going to write my own Face­book post, but as I was doing it, I real­ize that it has been far too long since I posted any­thing to my own blog, and this would really be bet­ter here any­way.

Let me just say right up front that I’ve never liked Dave Ram­say. I think he’s a self-right­eous ass­hat. I know that lots of peo­ple swear by him, but I think his meth­ods are too sim­plis­tic and dis­miss many of the bar­ri­ers to suc­cess that peo­ple who are truly poor or in abu­sive sit­u­a­tions have to deal with, not to men­tion those with chronic ill­nesses and other issues.

So — on with these sup­posed habits of the rich. I have some ques­tions Ramsay’s claims. Where did he get these fig­ures? What sort of method­ol­ogy was used? How many peo­ple were sur­veyed, by whom, and what are the cre­den­tials of the peo­ple doing the study? What is con­sid­ered “wealthy” and “poor” for the pur­poses of this study? Where is this study pub­lished? Is it peer-reviewed?

Ah — Ram­say got his infor­ma­tion from another “guru” mak­ing a liv­ing sell­ing advice on how to get rich, Tom Cor­ley. I didn’t find wherever it is that Cor­ley makes all the claims that Ram­say cites, but I found SOME of them, thanks to some­one else’s blog post. It’s pos­si­ble that the rest of the claims are in Corley’s book, and I’m cer­tainly not about to buy it to find out. Cor­ley talks about “sta­tis­ti­cal data” and says, ” I spent five years study­ing the daily habits of over 200 wealthy peo­ple and over 100 poor peo­ple. I tracked over 200 activ­i­ties that sep­a­rate the wealthy from the poor.” The study sup­pos­edly resulted in his book, Rich Habits — The Daily Suc­cess Habits of Wealthy Indi­vid­u­als.

So no, there’s no peer-reviewed data here. And he isn’t a sci­en­tist of any sort, nor does he have any train­ing in doing soci­o­log­i­cal research. He’s a CPA. He doesn’t give any infor­ma­tion that I could find on his method­ol­ogy or def­i­n­i­tions. Very sloppy. There were a total of approx­i­mately 300 peo­ple involved in the study, but it doesn’t say that they were all involved for five years — just that he was doing his “research” (I use that term loosely) for five years.

So, let’s get on with these habits that sup­pos­edly set the rich apart from the poor!

  1. “70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calo­ries per day. 97% of poor peo­ple eat more than 300 junk food calo­ries per day. 23% of wealthy gam­ble. 52% of poor peo­ple gam­ble.”
    How is “junk food” defined here? Con­ve­nience foods? Fast food? Any­thing other than the sort of organic, gluten-free, free range, non-GMO stuff you have to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to buy for mucho dinero, then have the knowl­edge, resources, and time to pre­pare? (That’s assum­ing you can GET to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, since they aren’t in poor neigh­bor­hoods.) If you haven’t already done so, please go read Linda Tirado’s won­der­ful arti­cle, This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Deci­sions Make Per­fect Sense. And let’s be hon­est here — by “gam­bling” we’re talk­ing “buy­ing lot­tery tick­ets” right? The only peo­ple I know who buy those reg­u­larly are at least mid­dle class, but I don’t go around ask­ing peo­ple about their gam­bling habits, to be hon­est. The one per­son I know who had an online gam­bling addic­tion would have been upper mid­dle class. Poor peo­ple don’t usu­ally have com­put­ers and inter­net access, and there aren’t that many legal ways to gam­ble in most of the coun­try.
  2. “80% of wealthy are focused on accom­plish­ing some sin­gle goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.”
    What con­sti­tutes a “sin­gle goal” here? Sur­vival, as Kather­ine pointed out? Get­ting your kids raised safely? How about keep­ing a roof over your head, or keep­ing your job so you can do that? I guess the only things that count as “goals” by these guys’ stan­dards are things like “make part­ner within X years” or “buy a vaca­tion home”?
  3. “76% of wealthy exer­cise aer­o­bi­cally four days a week. 23% of poor do this.”
    The truly “wealthy” don’t have to work, so of course they have time to do aer­o­bic exer­cise four times a week! They can afford per­sonal train­ers, too, not to men­tion gym mem­ber­ships. Far more of the “poor” have phys­i­cally demand­ing jobs, have to spend extra time get­ting to and from work because they don’t own their own vehi­cles, work more than one job, can’t afford ANY extra child­care in order to spend time at a gym IF they could afford a gym mem­ber­ship, and cer­tainly can’t afford per­sonal train­ers!
  4. “63% of wealthy lis­ten to audio books dur­ing com­mute to work vs. 5% of poor peo­ple.”
    Audi­ble is great! But how many of the poor can afford audio­books? Bor­row them from the library, you say. Well, more and more library branches are being closed every­where — it isn’t as if libraries were the high­est pri­or­ity in most county bud­gets in the first place. Branches in poor areas are often closed first. Even when they aren’t closed out­right, their acqui­si­tion bud­gets are sliced to rib­bons. But let’s say our poor peo­ple are able to get access to a library that has audio­books avail­able. Okay, SOME of them have smart­phones on which they could lis­ten to audio­books, if the books are the right kind — I don’t know about your library, but mine has a lot more of the older books on CD than Over­drive audio­books that you can down­load to a smart­phone. If you don’t have your own car, you can’t lis­ten to those so eas­ily. If you don’t have your own com­puter and tech­ni­cal know-how, you can’t rip them for lis­ten­ing on your phone (of course, doing that is of ques­tion­able legal­ity any­way). That’s assum­ing you have a smart­phone or other mobile device on which you can lis­ten dur­ing a com­mute. Some peo­ple don’t have them, par­tic­u­larly poor peo­ple.
  5. “81% of wealthy main­tain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.”
    I call bull­shit on this one. Seri­ously? I’m just not believ­ing it. To-do lists, gro­cery lists, chore lists, you name it — I know plenty of peo­ple who cer­tainly aren’t WEALTHY who make lists ALL the time. Does it only count if they’re on dead trees or some­thing?
  6. “63% of wealthy par­ents make their chil­dren read two or more non-fic­tion books a month vs. 3% of poor.”
    See above regard­ing libraries. Also — HA! I want to see proof that these rich kids actu­ally READ two non-fic­tion books a month. Is this stuff actu­ally required by their pri­vate schools? I am a BIG fan of read­ing, and the encour­ag­ing thereof, but I don’t think any­body can effec­tively “make” kids read any­thing and have it do any good.
  7. “70% of wealthy par­ents make their chil­dren vol­un­teer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.”
    I’m call­ing bull­shit again. Was there any proof of this sup­posed vol­un­teer work? Was it time spent at church, or some sort of actual ser­vice to the com­mu­nity? I can tell you how I was spend­ing my hours — being forced to go to church every time the doors opened. Tak­ing care of sib­lings. House­work. Going to my own jobs (mul­ti­ple). How many of the rich kids have to work, or take care of younger sib­lings, or clean house?
  8. “80% of wealthy make Happy Birth­day calls vs. 11% of poor.”
    Birth­day calls, really? Did they count other forms of con­tact, or only phone calls — are those some­how mag­i­cal? Did any­body con­sider that some of the poor DON’T HAVE PHONES??? Or that they might need to use asyn­chro­nous com­mu­ni­ca­tion due to the dif­fi­cult of mak­ing con­tact due to their work sched­ules?
  9. “67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.”
    How can the wealthy write down their goals, mul­ti­ple, when item two says that 80% of them are work­ing towards a SINGLE goal? Does writ­ing a goal down invoke some kind of magic?
  10. “88% of wealthy read 30 min­utes or more each day for edu­ca­tion or career rea­sons vs. 2% of poor.”
    It’s a lot eas­ier to find time to read if you have leisure time in which to do it, and access to relevant/​interesting read­ing mate­rial! So we have the library/​money issue again, in addi­tion to the time issue. How many of those “wealthy” peo­ple are just spend­ing time online, any­way — are they actu­ally read­ing in a directed man­ner, or just surf­ing, like most peo­ple do? (Most of the poor don’t HAVE inter­net access.)
  11. “6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.”
    This is one of the things that make me say “HA!” I just don’t believe it was a ques­tion on a sur­vey. The wealth­i­est peo­ple I’ve known were VERY out­spo­ken! The poorest were far more afraid to speak up! I think this item is sup­posed to imply that poor peo­ple are poor because they don’t know when to shut up, or when it’s appro­pri­ate to be out­spo­ken, or how to use tact.
  12. “79% of wealthy net­work five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.”
    Again, the wealthy have far more time to devote to such things than the poor do — and they are gen­er­ally in pro­fes­sions that ben­e­fit far more from doing so. If you’re doing menial work, net­work­ing doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. You don’t improve your work at the fast food joint by net­work­ing with other burger flip­pers or cashiers.
  13. “67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.”
    I bet they spend every bit as much or more screen time, though. The poor are just less likely to have com­put­ers and inter­net access.
  14. “6% of wealthy watch real­ity TV vs. 78% of poor.”
    The wealthy have access to a greater vari­ety of enter­tain­ment, so they aren’t stuck with the crap that’s broad­cast. What per­cent­age of what’s on broad­cast tele­vi­sion any more IS real­ity TV, any­way? The few times that I’m exposed to it, it all seems like real­ity shows. How much time are the wealthy spend­ing using smart­phones, tablets, com­put­ers, and other devices? How much time do they spend watch­ing other things on tele­vi­sion?
  15. “44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.”
    How many jobs are the poor work­ing? How many hours of sleep are they actu­ally get­ting? Again, I refer to Linda Tirado’s arti­cle, in which she said, “Rest is a lux­ury for the rich.”
  16. “74% of wealthy teach good daily suc­cess habits to their chil­dren vs. 1% of poor.”
    What kind of “good daily suc­cess habits” are we talk­ing about here? How to make it to payday/​the end of the month when there isn’t enough to eat? How to fix all the things that don’t work in the crappy place you can afford to live in, because the land­lord sure as hell won’t do it? How to reduce your chances of being a vic­tim of crime in the shitty neigh­bor­hood you have to live in? How to read tran­sit maps and fig­ure out how to get to school/​work/​the store/​the clinic? How to take care of fam­ily mem­bers rang­ing in age from infancy to old age? How to do the bud­get dance to try to keep all the util­i­ties turned on?
  17. “84% of wealthy believe good habits cre­ate oppor­tu­nity luck vs. 4% of poor.”
    That isn’t even a sen­tence. I don’t know what they’re try­ing to say. They think their good habits cre­ated their opportunities/“luck” ? I think that in most cases, they inherited cap­i­tal, or at least got a solid start and good edu­ca­tion, that gave them those oppor­tu­ni­ties and “luck.” Yes, good habits can help — but nobody does it alone.
  18. “76% of wealthy believe bad habits cre­ate detri­men­tal luck vs. 9% of poor.”
    See above.
  19. “86% of wealthy believe in life­long edu­ca­tional self-improve­ment vs. 5% of poor.”
    How many of the poor had a decent edu­ca­tion to start with? How many of them were given any rea­son to think that edu­ca­tion had ANY value? How many of them have had any real oppor­tu­nity to get a good edu­ca­tion? How many edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties are avail­able to the poor? They cer­tainly have far less time than the wealthy do to spend in self-improve­ment, and a hell of a lot less money to spend on it.
  20. “86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.”
    I won­der how many of those poor are truly lit­er­ate? I won­der what we would see if we com­pared the schools in which they were edu­cated to the schools in which the wealthy were edu­cated? I know, per­son­ally, that you CAN get a decent edu­ca­tion in a shitty school — but you have to work at it harder, and you need SOME sort of sup­port, some­where. You also need some kind of encour­age­ment to develop a love of read­ing. You need access to read­ing mate­rial at some point. You do real­ize, don’t you, that some schools don’t have libraries — things that many peo­ple take for granted in their schools? (I attended one of them.) How are the kids in those schools sup­posed to develop a love of read­ing with NOTHING TO READ? I’m also won­der­ing how many of these peo­ple report that they “love to read” but haven’t actu­ally picked up a book for leisure read­ing in years, or couldn’t dis­cuss a book to save their lives (I find that’s often the case with peo­ple who claim that they “love to read”).

Over­all, NO. Just no. The entire thing reeks of self-right­eous bull­shit, and a poorly-designed set of ques­tions that doesn’t prove any­thing other than that the per­son who came up with this stuff doesn’t under­stand a bloody thing about sci­ence or sta­tis­tics. But it cer­tainly gives the peo­ple who want to do so lots of excuses to sprain a mus­cle while pat­ting them­selves on the back.


  1. Tom Corley says:

    Accord­ing to this post any­one who is an out­sider is, by default, not to be taken seri­ously. Ein­stein was a patent clerk who did physics part-time (and changed the world of sci­ence and physics), Adam Smith had a PhD in Phi­los­o­phy (and changed the world of Eco­nom­ics), Jesus was a car­pen­ter (and changed the world by cre­at­ing a new reli­gion). Thank God for out­siders. My views on the cause of poverty, as an out­sider, are rat­tling the lim­it­ing beliefs of indi­vid­u­als and blog­gers such as your­self.

  2. Cyn says:

    You suf­fer from a lack of edu­ca­tion, Mr. Cor­ley. Ein­stein had a degree in physics and math­e­mat­ics. He took a job as a patent clerk in 1902 after spend­ing two years search­ing for a teach­ing post in his field after grad­u­at­ing from the Zurich Poly­tech­nic. He con­tin­ued to seek such a post, and in fact found one in 1908.

    Adam Smith was a social philoso­pher, just as John Stu­art Mill and Karl Marx were. The social sci­ences weren’t as nar­rowly divided in their times as they are now.

    Yeshua was a rebel exe­cuted for trea­son by the Romans. He cre­ated noth­ing. We have noth­ing he wrote, and noth­ing writ­ten by any­one who knew him. Saul of Tar­sus, more than any­one else, founded a new reli­gion based on tales of his fol­low­ers.

    Your views are sim­ply show­ing your big­otry and total lack of under­stand­ing of sta­tis­tics, soci­ol­ogy, and many other dis­ci­plines. Do you under­stand that cor­re­la­tion is not cau­sa­tion?

    I do hope that you’ve seen this arti­cle, which is much bet­ter than mine:

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