Can good financial habits lead everyone to wealth?

No. That was sad. Sorry. But it’s true. However, I’m about to argue that wealth shouldn’t be the aim for everyone. This isn’t meant to be condescending. Wealth, by its traditional definition, is not possible for everyone. If you follow my advice to the “t”, wealth is not guaranteed. This isn’t disheartening, sad, or even depressing. This is math. The big point here is that wealth, in it’s traditional sense, is not the goal of personal finance. I have not typed a single word on this blog, spoken a single syllable on the radio or television, or made one claim publicly that wealth is the aim. It’s not even my goal for my family.

I don’t think we should all be scrambling to be “rich”, because I find it to be completely pointless. Millionaires can be made my scrimping and saving every penny, but that isn’t realistic for most people. If you are in the midst of a 30 yr career in the same job, making $50,000 per year, wealth isn’t likely. But this isn’t sad. This hypothetical individual can live a wonderful, fruitful, fulfilling life without wealth. Wealth generally comes with the sale of a business, extremely high income, speculative investing, or an inheritance. The Average Joe isn’t going to be wealthy. If this strikes you as sad, then I’m sad for you. There’s nothing sad about math. I’m not angry that I’m not 7’7″ and in the NBA.

I’m not going to take the time in this post to explore the other definitions of wealth. Yes, you can be untraditionally wealthy or relatively wealthy, but that’s not the point.

There’s been recent criticism of some people in the personal finance industry that is unjustified, untrue, and frankly, mean-spirited. I’m not linking to it. The author of the criticism doesn’t deserve the attention. The criticism is that people like Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and me are telling people to budget and get out of debt, so they can be wealthy some day. The criticism goes on to say that we are providing false hope in an attempt to peddle products and services. I can’t speak for Dave and Suze, but I can tell you that this assertion couldn’t be further from the truth. The purpose of personal finance is not to teach people how to be wealthy. In fact, find the words rich or wealthy on my site (in terms of them being the aim), and I will pay you. The purpose of personal finance is to teach resourcefulness. It’s to help people have the best financial life possible, for them, not the best financial life possible in relation to anyone else. Poor money management leads to stress. Stress can lead to unhappiness. My job and goal, is to minimize the financial stress in your life by helping you make the best financial decisions possible. Will you be a millionaire if you follow my concepts? Frankly, who cares. What you will be is efficient and resourceful.

7 thoughts on “Can good financial habits lead everyone to wealth?

  1. I know there is data somewhere that shows additional money brings additional happiness only up to a certain income threshold (it’s under $100,000). Certain things are easier with wealth but it’s not a guarantee to make you happy. I suspect good financial management allows you to be happy at any income level.

  2. It’s very kind of this person to sell a $27 book about how other financial planners books are a waste of money. She (or he) is a true humanitarian.

  3. Pete, I love the way to bring reality to the conversation! Your statement, “My job and goal, is to minimize the financial stress in your life by helping you make the best financial decisions possible.” This goal, when attained by your readers/listeners/viewers yields happiness and happiness is wealth of it’s own.

  4. Pete, another great post that makes a powerful point. People do confuse the point of financial planners, don’t they. Funny, we go to school to learn reading, writing, and math. We go to college to learn technical knowledge and advance thinking skills. People teach us this stuff. But, when it comes to money, no institutionalized system exists to help us master money… so we assume anyone sharing personal finance knowledge (like schools and colleges share knowledge that we pay for in taxes and tuition) has a goal to make us rich. Sure, school’s goal is to get us into college… and college’s goal is to get us into the workforce. The end result is clear. So it should be with personal finance, too… reduce stress so you can enjoy life more – a simple clear goal. One worth achieving I might add! Again, great post, Pete!

  5. In some families, the most generous sacrifice is taking control of your finances to allow the next generation the opportunity to succeed. You may not be wealthy in your lifetime, but what if your children are the first to go to college in your family? Do they now have a better opportunity to make life better for the next generation?

    You may never become rich, financially independent, or wealthy listening to Dave or Suze or Pete, but at least you have a shot. You have a plan. You are guaranteed to not be worse off. If you continue making bad decisions because you have no plan or someone told you it’s impossible to make it and its ok to continue generational cycles of being poor, you are guaranteed to always be broke. Your kids will be broke too, so will their kids. Break the cycle. Stop listening to enablers who are probably as bad off as you.

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