One winter night in Sofia, all dorms were dark except for one: ours.
Sitting in bed in our pajamas, my roomies and I were talking about how we’ll decorate our houses some day. Imagination knows no limits: we talked about pools and gardens and romantic dark bedrooms.
We chirped well into the little hours, and then my roommate said: “You know guys, no one ever sees themselves being poor in the future. Everyone imagines they are rich, or at least much better from now. But it doesn’t always turn that way.”
I could hear our three dream bubbles go pop, pop, pop.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING RICH ?
I like having three categories of rich: billionaire, millionaire, K-naire (250k and above in the six-figures). I’m talking annual income. And I am ignoring assets. By that definition, what are your chances of getting rich?
We had this professor in accounting, Kosta Pergelov, who was over eighty when he took our class; the first time I saw him walk up the tribune, he was shaking so badly I was scared he might keel over and die. But Professor Pergelov had his wits together. He once said, “If your grandfather didn’t wear a suit, it wouldn’t look right on you either!”
The same applies for the wallet in your suit. Your predisposition to being rich has to be traced back several generations. If you come from a family with a history of earning minimum wages, you don’t have much chance of becoming Donald Trump. Vice versa, Britney’s grandkids – or grand-grand-grandkids – would probably never work at McDonalds.
No matter what modern gurus tell you, your chances of getting rich on your own are very slim. Your best bets are to hope for inheritance, marry rich, win the lottery, cash in talent or profit from a kinky business idea.
However, there are several things you can do to be richER than you are now, and hopefully maximize your money potential – i.e., make the most of whatever situation you were born into. You might even make it to K-naire!
(Although, here’s the shocking truth to Why are some people rich )
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ODDS OF GETTING RICH(ER)
1. Cover the basics: emergency fund, savings, no debt. This is so obvious I won’t even go into it.
2. Go to a good college. A good college is like a great brand name to have on your resume. You’ll get a head start on winning people’s respect – “Oh, that’s Alex, she’s a Harvard graduate.” When your good reputation precedes yourself, finding a high-paying job is that much easier. And if you decide to do freelance or business, a brand name college will look great on your website, make you seem more trustworthy and smart and knowledgable.
Don’t worry about the grades – people never care about your GPA. And you can always explain a lower grade with something like “I didn’t do so well in math because it was too boring for me, but I really excelled at marketing”. Besides, the only ones who can judge you are people who went to an equally tough college AND had a higher GPA.
3. Network always. College is great for networking. Don’t focus obsessively on your studies – you can learn math or law or medicine anywhere. You can do additional reading on your own. You can always get a second degree.
But what you can’t do except in a good college is, get in the right social circles. Meet the really bright kids and kids from powerful or wealthy families. This is what you’ll capitalize on later. As they say, “The 99% encourage their kids to be nice and make friends. The 1% encourage their kids to be smart and build networks.” Guess who’s in the 1% money-wise?
And don’t stop after college! Actually, don’t stop ever. Your colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances – make them your contacts, then sift through those contacts and nurture those who might help you grow in any way. Use your contacts to meet their contacts. Always meet new people, but only give your time to those who are worth it.
4. Social skills are important. How are you going to network without them? Money flows through people. Read more here: Social skills and money .
5. You must ITCH to be rich. Do you have that itch? Do you want money and want it bad? If obsession can ever be good, it’s the obsession with money.
Unfortunately, some people grow up thinking money’s evil. Poor families sometimes resent the rich and downplay the role of money in life. With that kind of thinking, you’ll never get past “May I take your order” jobs.
If you grew up in a poor neighborhood or with poor friends, they might make snappy remarks when they see you with something expensive. Or try to make you feel arrogant. “How much did you pay for that? That much?! You’re crazy! That’s my budget for the whole month! Wow, there you go, and I can barely afford baby food.” (More on that in Forbes: Are you afraid to earn more?)
You must want to be rich and you must dream big. If the people around you mock your desires, lose them.
6. Your spouse. (This is not about gold-digging.)
Your choice of romantic partner will have a significant influence on your finances. Sure, it’s about how much they make, but it’s also about more than that. What is their financial background? Their money habits? Pay attention to their family, as well – if your in-laws constantly make bad money choices or often carry debt, you might have to run to the rescue and bail them out later. A financially sound family, on the other hand, will be able to help you out. Or at least contribute to your peace of mind.
Another vital question is this: if you get the opportunity to work more hours and make more money, will your spouse support you? Or will they whine about you not spending enough time with them? Choose a spouse that will not hold you back and will understand your choices. This is a tough job, but getting rich ain’t easy.
Let me tell you a short story. The US President and his wife were at a gas station. Seeing the service man pumping their car, the President said: “Oh look honey, isn’t that your high-school sweetheart? Wow. Can you even imagine what things would be like if you had married him instead of me?” She replied, “Yes. He would be the US President right now.”
7. Create passive income. Passive income is income that you don’t have to work for, like rent or interest or dividends. The thing about passive income is that you need a big principal payment upfront. For example: if you want to receive €1000 per year (or about €100 a month), at an average return of 5% your principal would have to be €20 000. So the deal is, invest €20 000 @ 5% to get €1000 a year in passive income.
However, passive income is… sweet. And you can pass it on to your kids. Gather enough sources of passive income and you will never have to work again.
8. Fake it till you make it: allow yourself to feel rich. This is a huge boost to your subconscious mind and will help you feel more optimistic, thus feeling confident and available when opportunities come your way.
Present yourself like a rich person. I’m not saying you should go for the stupid stuff like fancy TVs or indoor Jacuzzi or anything you can’t really afford. But invest a little in experiences: go to a fancy sales training. Visit a business book signing. Instead of five dinners in an average restaurant, have two in sleek restaurants. Instead three average suits, buy one sexy suit. Look the part to get the part!
And hang around rich people – not millionaires but people who have more money than you. Their success and reputation will rub off on you. Simply being seen with rich and important will open you a lot of doors. You will come off as smart, reliable, respected – the whole glittering deal.
Stay humble, but let everyone know where you aspire to be.
9. High IQ really helps. Your IQ is genetically predetermined so you can’t really work at it (or take credit for it!); but you can make the most of your inborn intelligence by giving it a nice sweaty workout. When you read or watch something, ask yourself if this is helping you in any way, or is it just for entertainment? Tune out Music Idol and switch to the Discovery channel. Put down Daniel Steel for Kim Kiyosaki.
I’m not saying “don’t have fun”, just try to mix it up with learning.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” Woah! No wonder he made president!
10. Good looks help just as much. Forget about “don’t judge a book by its cover” – we do it all the time. If people only cared about how functional something is, we wouldn’t have design departments in every industry from cars to clothes to yogurt.
A sloppy outlook indicates low self-esteem or low self-respect. Oh, you’re not sloppy, you just want to blend in? Well tough luck: the rich don’t want to blend in, they want to stand out, be noticed, be admired. Besides, research shows that good-looking people get more and higher-paying job offers. Look the part to get the part, remember?
Okay, so I’m gonna shove a bitter pill down your throat: You Are [prolly] Never Getting Rich. Here, gulp it down with some whiskey do numb the pain.
Alright, all done? Let me check under your tongue. Aaaalright.
I know it’s a bit mean of me to tell you this and burst your bubble. But you know, I’ve found it all tiring: the guru pep talks, the success stories… the whole “anyone-can-get-rich” promise. That’s as good as me saying anyone can win the lottery – it’s true, but what are the odds that it will be you?
I hope you don’t think that getting rich is all about the effort you put in. Because it’s not. Effort is maybe ten or twenty percent. Apart from that, you’ll need the right mix of time, circumstances, money, contacts and luck. (And don’t get delusional – Kill a Darling early on!)
Instead of chasing a dream and making risky decisions based on the false assumption that you have a fat chance of getting rich, I prefer to stay realistic. I think my chances of being Oprah-rich are slim. And admitting that has been like shaking off a huge burden. You know why?
Because chasing an unachievable dream is tiring, it’s never happening, and it makes me wanna whine. Now that it’s off my mind, I can focus on my real life which is actually pretty darn good. Yes, I will never be Oprah-rich, but I will have plenty of money. And I’m not going to fret about why I don’t have more and more and MOAR. My life will be great and abundant.
But hey, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop playing the lottery.