Mostly, because they were BORN rich.
(Although anyone can improve their chances of getting rich.)
Think about the rich people you know… Did ALL of them achieve their fortune by themselves? No. But even if they did it all by themselves, their CHILDREN will be rich without lifting a finger. So, simple mathematics say that at least 50% of all rich people were simply born rich. (Thus the expression “born with a golden spoon in their mouth”).
Of course, in reality we are all born with nothing. There are no baby-millionaires or babies who own Ferraris and stuff. There are no baby-owners of large hotel chains. It’s all about the parents, which only shows how important it is to be born with the “right” parents when it comes to your chances of being rich.
How rich you are determines the life you’re going to have and the life your kids and grandkids will have. Which is why, in the past, all societies had adopted the custom of arranged marriages. Arranged marriages were viewed as the norm – it was considered that a young family could not be happy and successful in the family life if they didn’t have the same standard of living as each of the newlyweds was accustomed to.
These arranged marriages happened only between families of the same class – it was not appropriate for people from different classes (or castes) to get married. Today, some societies still have a caste-system enforced, the most popular examples being India and China. Even in “modern” western societies, where classes may not be so strictly and obviously defined, most people still marry within their own class. Official or not, classes DO exist – otherwise we wouldn’t have a word for them, right?
Riches… it’s like a slow, giant game of chess where each single move takes the lifetime of one generation to achieve. If your ancestors were not good at chess and have lost a knight and a bishop for your family, you’ll have a tough time winning the game. It will take you and your descendents many years to just make up for the losses you’ve found on the board.
But what if you, by chance, happen to be a brilliant chess-player? What if you are smart enough to see a singe move on the checkered board which will give you and your children a great advantage? Sometimes this works. Other times, it doesn’t, because the chess figure is too heavy for you to lift and make the move.
All people, even the poorest, come upon great opportunities in their lives, but sometimes they don’t have the means to take them. Suppose I were to offer you a brand new Lamborgini for just 10 000, but I want the money in cash and you have only one hour. See what I mean? This is a great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, yet few people will have the money to take it. In life, it takes money to make money. (And that’s why it’s so important that you have savings – because later your savings turn into capital for investment!)
You have to be very careful with each thing you do in your life, because you can only undo your mistakes so far. For example, your parents told you to study well so you can get into a good college, but you didn’t listen to them. Now you’re 22 with no college degree, working at McDonald’s. Your friends who are just graduating from college now have better job offers than you do – and that’s when they don’t yet have experience! The gap between you and them will get bigger and bigger every year. Still, it may not be too late for you to undo that mistake and go to college. It’s certainly easier to do it at 22 than at 32.
To be rich, you need a strong foundation. Part of that foundation is handed down to you from your predecessors
(the game of chess already in progress), but part of it is for you to build (the next move on the black and white board).
And what you buid as your foundation for richess takes time. The older you become, the harder it becomes to catch up with those who started early. This is true for saving, it is true for going to college, or learning a new language. It is also true for what your job is going to be.
A few weeks ago my manager was giving me a ride home.
“Where to?” he asked.
“I’ll give you directions as we go,” I said, “you wouldn’t know the address anyway.”
I told him the address.
“Oh, I know that place. I’ll make a left turn here, a right turn next, and then just up the street.”
“Wow, how did you know?”
“I know all addresses in town. It’s a nice bonus left from when I was a cab driver.”
A cab driver? This guy who was now a sales manager and went to college and all that? Amazing! So it’s possible to work your way form the bottom up, huh?
Apparently I must have made a pretty dumb face – with a stare – because he laughed and said: “Relax. It was a joke. Did you really think I could have been a cab driver before?”
I felt resentful. Not because of the joke but because another illusion was killed right there. And maybe because it was a little patronizing of the cab-drivers.
Of course, all of that does not mean you shouldn’t try to get rich, because no matter what you were born with, you can always get RiCHER than that. (Or poorer, but let’s hope not.)
By the way, check out this short movie called “9 insights of the wealthy soul”: http://9insights.com . A quote from that movie: “TIMING: timing is very important. A seed does not attempt to grow in the winter and even the mighty eagle does not attempt to fly during a thunderstorm”. Meaning, if you’re starting a new business or venture, you need to get the timing right. Also, even the biggest ship will have a hard time running against the natural ebb and flow of the waters – and will waste a lot of fuel in the process. So it would be best to wait for the right circumstances.
For some people, “the right circumstances” may never come. Imagine if you were born in Zimbabwe – what then? Perhaps in Zimbabwe, your only way out of poverty would be a way out of the country itself? And even if you do that and run away to America or Germany, you’ll still be a long way from the status of Paris Hilton.
So the biggest factor of how rich you’ll be is your family’s (financial) history. You’ll have a tough time running away from it, and even if you do, you probably won’t get more than one class up. But hey, don’t stop trying. Keep building – for your kids and their kids.
Because one lifetime just isn’t enough.