On how people get rich...

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On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:43 am

Has anybody ever gotten rich by setting out to become rich? I ask because the general feeling I get from a lot of interviews with such people is that they were simply doing what they were passionate about, and the money rolling in was just a side effect. Or is that just what they say to keep up a sort of appearance?
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:52 am

I imagine there are some of both types. To do something well enough to make a fortune at it, it certainly helps if you're passionate. Tips the odds in your favor.

But sometimes, it is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time... or knowing the right people.

And passion is no guarantee of success either, luck and/or connections still help!
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:58 am

It also depends on the vocation you choose. It's much easier to become rich (based on probability) by choosing to be an investment banker than many other jobs.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:00 am

Lots of people get rich by setting out to do just that. Shoot, most of them are different shades of illegal, though. Most of the more "well-to-do" families of America started off doing illegal/shady things.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:24 am

TheEmrys wrote:Lots of people get rich by setting out to do just that. Shoot, most of them are different shades of illegal, though. Most of the more "well-to-do" families of America started off doing illegal/shady things.

Any statistic on that? It sounds made up to me.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:34 am

TurtlePerson2 wrote:
TheEmrys wrote:Lots of people get rich by setting out to do just that. Shoot, most of them are different shades of illegal, though. Most of the more "well-to-do" families of America started off doing illegal/shady things.

Any statistic on that? It sounds made up to me.

87.5% of statistics are made up on the spot. :wink:

It seemed to me that the OP wasn't asking about well-to-do extended families; more about self-made millionaires. And (made-up statistic aside) you also need to keep in mind that many things which would be considered illegal today were legal 50, 100, 200 years ago.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:12 am

Crayon Shin Chan wrote:Has anybody ever gotten rich by setting out to become rich? I ask because the general feeling I get from a lot of interviews with such people is that they were simply doing what they were passionate about, and the money rolling in was just a side effect. Or is that just what they say to keep up a sort of appearance?


Theoretically, it's a matter of chance proximity to a wealth opportunity that is fit to your circumstances. To be certain of wealth it helps to born into or hooked into wealth, but that's a minority view. It helps to be in a dynamic and investment-friendly country like China and to have a good education. But these are enabling and not deciding factors, as academics with the "you did not build it - others made it happen" moral approach always seem to miss. In practice, for the majority who are born into moderate situations but who are richly willing and able to excel in work, it means being unforgettably good and persistently available at something when the opportunity arises. Wealthy people who earned and worked their way are convincing characters above all.

Like Wozniak when Jobs thought of partnering with a techie, or Ford when Lucas was looking for a guy to play Han Solo, or Balmer when Gates was vetting trusted friends to build up the organization. In your life you get passed your way a very few initial breaks into opportunities which have potentially large-scale returns leading to more breaks - an industrial reputation builder, new business opportunity, partnership offer, a lucrative prospect on a quid pro quo. Or you might not get any because [GSedit:you're already in a good enough outcome, i.e. you're positioned in a union-protected career with fixed income opportunities "indexed" to your level of political participation]

Or you're awesomely talented but too near to the flames, [GSedit: you're cooperating with your neighbors to avoid upsetting old traditions and hierarchies - tribally consanguinous sociocultures are slow going to distributed wealth-building virtuous cycles.]
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:48 am

trackerben wrote:you're trapped in a rigid European shop in a union job with opportunities capped at every level comfortably accessible to you.

Or you're awesomely talented but too near to the flames, you're hiding from all the Islamists wanting to crucify your heretic kind

I'm glad we've been able to keep this away from R&P. What a good little chat.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:51 am

Yup, we're on the brink. If we continue down this path, it's getting moved to R&P...
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:56 pm

I think there's a couple of different ways. Like kumori said, being an investment banker, stock broker, lawyer is one way to get rich. But you're gonna spend a lot of time at school/work. And you have to be good.

Like wise I've heard a couple of stories of vice presidents/CEO's of major corporations that started off in the mail-room.

Or if you have a good idea and the technical know-how to make something happen (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerburg). (Of course someone will no doubt argue they copied/stole, but that's nitpicking)
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:04 pm

'Tis better to realize that very few of us will ever get rich, so we should plan now on how best to make the incomes we will receive work for us over our lifespans.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:27 pm

I hate the term "rich" because the connotations it implies vary greatly from one person to the next. Rich can be a negative or a positive term, it seems.

To state the obvious: you become well off by saving lots of money. But, that seems to be hard for a lot of people to do. I do pretty well, but the percentage of my take home pay that I save is ridiculously high by most standards. My family lives cheaply. No fancy new cars, massive houses, expensive vacations, or needless waste. I work with some people who make around the same amount as me, but spend it all on "stuff". By most standards, people would look at them and assume they are more well to do than I am because of that needless consumption. I focus on keeping monthly recurring expenses low (subscriptions like cable, cell phone, Netflix, magazines, whatever).

A good book to read is "The Millionaire Next Door". Lots of interesting statistics. The basic message is that the people you think are millionaires often aren't, and the ones you think aren't, just might be.

If we save, work really hard, invest wisely, and be patient, and I think we can all become "well off", whatever that means to you.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:07 pm

esc_in_ks wrote:If we save, work really hard, invest wisely, and be patient, and I think we can all become "well off", whatever that means to you.

Now we need a lecture on investing :)
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:44 pm

Lots of different paths out there to becoming rich. I know 6 millionaires. 3 of them got there by taking business risks, 1 just worked hard and lived frugally, 2 via wrongful death lawsuits and life insurance payoffs. They're all just nice people. No one stepped on anyone to get there, no one stabbed anyone in the back, no one stole their mother's social security checks. Sometimes you get there via hard work, sometimes you get there by investing your nickels in the right places, sometimes you get there through heartache and misery.

For most of us, whether you get there is a matter of what is important to you in life. We all have a level at which we decide what we want and what we are willing to sacrifice to get there. Have a child or two or three? Prefer Heinz over Hunts? That's a decision you made. You chose that over having some cash in your pocket. And, for most people, its still a way more fulfilling choice. But, we all have a chance to go for it--if you are willing to sacrifice other life goals to get there.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:38 pm

Here, a new, rather out-of-the box hypothesis suggests that
dopamine differentials can explain differences in risk-taking between societies. John
Mauldin, the author of “Bulls-Eye Investing”in an email last month cited this work.
The thesis: Dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, is linked with curiosity,
adventure, entrepreneurship, and helps drive results in uncertain environments.
Populations generally have about 2% of their members with high enough dopamine
levels with the curiosity to emigrate. Ergo, immigrant nations like the U.S. and Canada,
and increasingly the UK, have high dopamine-intensity populations. If encouraged to
keep the rewards of their high dopamine-induced risk-seeking entrepreneurialism, these
countries will be more prone to wealth waves, unequally distributed. Presto, a
plutonomy driven by dopamine!
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:36 am

Crayon Shin Chan wrote:Has anybody ever gotten rich by setting out to become rich? I ask because the general feeling I get from a lot of interviews with such people is that they were simply doing what they were passionate about, and the money rolling in was just a side effect. Or is that just what they say to keep up a sort of appearance?



Well if you took a look at my 401K and Roth's you would say I was rich. But that's monies I can't touch till retirement unless heavily penalized monetarily. But this is something I have been working on for the past decade. So in a sense I set out to be rich but only at retirement age.

Edit: typo
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:49 am

It also helps if you're born a Kardashian. You can be as dumb as a doorknob, not work hard at anything for most of your life and still be rich. Plus, people (the networks) pay you to watch you waste money, so you continue to be rich even if you don't even try. So being born rich helps you be rich. I know it's silly, but I know very few people who've achieved fortune working hard from a cubicle every day.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:23 am

Well because my dad is an accountant all our family friends tend to be: farmers, small business owners, moderately-extremely successful investors, dentists, veterinarians etc.

So.... most of these people end up having $1-5 mill in assets. Not liquid money, ala Snoop Dog, but if they died tomorrow and sold all their stuff ~$1-5 million tied up all over the place.

These people don't do anything different to you or me, live completely normal lives, can't even appreciate the money anyway as they have to keep working to either keep their business worth something, paying off their kids university loans, or paying off their own mortgages..... So.... they're all stuck in the rat race even with > $1 million bucks.

So... the real question is how do you get your living expenses below the amount of money you make if you stayed at home (i.e. dividends, rent, interest earned on your money doing something for you, etc. etc. etc.) rather than working. If you manage that, then you're out of the rat race and you're life rich. Time wealthy. And probably have no idea what to do with yourself. If you could manage all that AND afford to travel around the world then you're swimming in dough or doing something illegal.

Me personally, I'm an engineer. So my employer pays me to travel around the world :D... (though no time to go site seeing, and the places i get sent tend not to be nice to visit.... harsh environments... bad governments... unstable socio-economic areas... or just in the middle of a desert somewhere).
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:14 am

On investing for future retirement: You are really fighting the odds for health. Too much first-hand experience with family that has done a fantastic job saving and investing "for the future" only to find that when the future came, their health did not. My mom: ALS, my uncle: (very wealthy from saving) dropped dead at 48 from smoking. In my uncle's case, someone else gets to spend his hard-saved money, and my mom: medical bills and stuck in a bed. Needless to say I have a strong desire to enjoy life and health I have now, so my only real savings is in a miserably performing 401K.

And we all have to remember that if we have a roof over our heads and healthy food 3 times a day, we are stupid-rich compared to the most people in this world.

It would be nice to be time-wealthy though.

Also as an engineer, the only way I can break out of the rat race is to invent something. To invent something that does not tread on a patent is next to impossible. I could come up with something, not have the resources for a patent search, get temporarily wealthy after blood sweat and tears, and then all of my wealth would be removed by a gang of corporate patent vultures circling until I was wealthy enough to make an excellent target.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:21 am

Maybe we need to separate asset-rich from cash-rich. And then separate rich from wealthy.

It's one thing to be asset-rich but cash-poor; it is better to be cash-rich even if asset poorish because cash flow really is everything.

Rich vs. wealthy is simple: Kobe and LeBron are rich; the owners of their teams who sign their checks are wealthy. Aim for wealthy and you might end up rich. Aim for rich and you may end up merely well-to-do.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:17 am

I find it interesting that many millionaires do fairly mundane things but do it well and have their own business. I can't find the article right now, But I read in the Detroit Press back in the late 90's that the largest number of millionaires in Michigan were of eastern or middle eastern descent and owned dry cleaners and convenience stores.

From personal observation: Eastern and Middle Eastern peoples (especially non-westernized) classically do three things:

ZERO DEBT or if they do have debt pay it off as fast as humanly (and sometimes inhumanly) possible. They only buy the minimum they need to live comfortable but not lavishly. (You can't get a head very easily if you bought a house for $100,000 and then have to pay back $300,000 to pay it off. The same thing goes for credit cards.)

SAVE EVERYTHING they keep their change, they use coupons, they look for deals, they buy nice but used cars, if they do buy new or even if they buy used they drive their cars into the ground, the use a bicycles, and they usually eat fresh veggies with a nice sauce and only a little bit of meat.
(A penny saved really is a penny earned.)

WORK THEIR ASSES OFF - they typically work longer hours, retire later, they often have their own business, they invest (goes with save everything above). Very often you will see older people with a little nick-nack shop, convenience store, or hole in the wall restaurant which they run out of the downstairs etc while they live upstairs and this is considered "retirement". Its not because they HAVE TO but because it gives them something to do.

I find that run of the mill millionaires do very much the same thing as listed above. There are people who live large and barely make it month to month because of the huge mountain of debt they carry.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:27 am

Aranarth wrote:I find it interesting that many millionaires do fairly mundane things but do it well and have their own business. I can't find the article right now, But I read in the Detroit Press back in the late 90's that the largest number of millionaires in Michigan were of eastern or middle eastern descent and owned dry cleaners and convenience stores.

From personal observation: Eastern and Middle Eastern peoples (especially non-westernized) classically do three things:

ZERO DEBT or if they do have debt pay it off as fast as humanly (and sometimes inhumanly) possible. They only buy the minimum they need to live comfortable but not lavishly. (You can't get a head very easily if you bought a house for $100,000 and then have to pay back $300,000 to pay it off. The same thing goes for credit cards.)

SAVE EVERYTHING they keep their change, they use coupons, they look for deals, they buy nice but used cars, if they do buy new or even if they buy used they drive their cars into the ground, the use a bicycles, and they usually eat fresh veggies with a nice sauce and only a little bit of meat.
(A penny saved really is a penny earned.)

WORK THEIR ASSES OFF - they typically work longer hours, retire later, they often have their own business, they invest (goes with save everything above). Very often you will see older people with a little nick-nack shop, convenience store, or hole in the wall restaurant which they run out of the downstairs etc while they live upstairs and this is considered "retirement". Its not because they HAVE TO but because it gives them something to do.

I find that run of the mill millionaires do very much the same thing as listed above. There are people who live large and barely make it month to month because of the huge mountain of debt they carry.



That is nice but they OWN a job, such as a restaurant or convenience store. The problem is this: what if they cannot run the place themselves? Does that little business survive? The first two virtues are great but it is number three that concerns me.

For me, being rich implies being time-wealthy too. Doctors and lawyers and investment bankers can become rich, but they tend to be time-poor. They OWN a job (certainly have a job), but they do not have full control of their lives because it they are so job-centric. Working smarter implies that YOU get the time while others trade time for money working your system. Hard work is a great virtue, but being smart about it is better.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:57 am

kumori wrote:It also depends on the vocation you choose. It's much easier to become rich (based on probability) by choosing to be an investment banker than many other jobs.


I'm an investment banker (a young one), and it's not easy to get rich in this industry anymore just looking at the people I work with and the industry. Well it also depends on what you call rich, the 30 year old people here make about 300K a year, which isn't rich for this industry or NYC.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:19 am

The median household income in the very wealthiest census tract in the city is $188k/year. $300k is rich, even for NYC.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:23 am

grantmeaname wrote:The median household income in the very wealthiest census tract in the city is $188k/year. $300k is rich, even for NYC.


Yeah but in all the movies I've seen Invest bankers go to $500 / slice sushi bars... :/

It's tough being wealthy.

It's tougher being a wealthy invest banker trying to entertain your clients at a $4/pint pub like us engineers do. :D
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:38 am

Become a Medical/Pharmaceutical/Corporate Salesperson.

Learn to talk. Learn to lie. Learn to know what people want to hear.

Rich but soulless.

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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:20 am

It depends on what you really mean by rich. What, exactly, it is that you actually want? Do you want to have stuff that impresses other people in general, or some particular person or group? Do you want to be able to do certain things that you can't now, like travel the world or build an interesting car or something? Do you just want to be comfortable, able to buy decent versions of things you need without worrying about whether you can afford it or not? Do you want to provide for your (future) children, make sure that they have a better life than you did? Some other goal?

Then, there's the question of how rich is rich to you? There's the insane rich levels of tens of millions of dollars or more, essentially more money than anyone can really spend; so much that you can pay people to do just about everything for you and don't really have to worry about working at all. Money like only the top-tier of sports stars, movie stars, musicians, and company founders make. I can't speak to the sports/movies/music side (seems to involve some combination of skill and knowing the right people at the right time), but you can see that the tech/company founder side usually involves a really revolutionary idea implemented well and aggressively at just the right time. See Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc.

Then there's the more average levels of rich, like a few hundred thousand to a few million. You have plenty of money for all ordinary and even most extraordinary things, but you can't do anything too crazy or quit work entirely or you could lose it all. This is pretty doable for anyone with drive and energy who sets themselves at a good field.

And that's where your reason for wanting it comes in. To have a good shot of getting to average-rich, you need to keep applying a lot of energy towards your goal for a long time. That means that your fundamental reason for wanting to be rich has to be something that will keep being important to you for decades. If you want to be rich to impress other people, you tend to realize after a few years that you don't really care that much what whoever you were trying to impress thinks anyways. That's also why many rich people get there by just doing what they were passionate about without really worrying about the money too much - what they're really passionate about is something they can keep applying a lot of energy to for years and years.

Of course, it also has to be in a field that actually has a good chance of success. There's lot of people who are passionate about music, acting, sports, and other types of careers like that who slave away for decades but never even make a living at it. The tech fields are nice in that if you really enjoy doing it and apply yourself well, your chances of being insanely rich are pretty slim, but you'll almost certainly do all right.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:47 am

To me, "rich" is retiring at 60 with no debt and an investment portfilio of $500,000 to $2,000,000. I am not on target yet.

There has to be a balance between enjoying life now, and saving, because you could be killed the next day in a car accident.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:08 pm

I want to retire at 30 with no debt and a ~$700k portfolio. I'm on track. Ish.
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Re: On how people get rich...

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:31 pm

grantmeaname wrote:The median household income in the very wealthiest census tract in the city is $188k/year. $300k is rich, even for NYC.

Not when shoebox apartments rent for $10,000 a month! :P
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