The Secret to Success for Working Stiffs

Posted on Posted in Finances

There is an unlimited supply of advice on how to become successful.  Most of it was created to enrich the author, not the reader.  I am about to share with you a simple yet reliable method for accumulating wealth for people of average income.  It has been used by millions of people to become millionaires, yet only a small percentage take advantage of this amazing system.

Do you have what it takes to become successful?  Then, read on.

Don’t skip down to the bottom or you’ll miss all of the good stuff.

It’s Not what you Earn

Writing Checks on Payday
Image by Meddy Garnet

I met a lot of fun and interesting people in college.  I also met some people who were fairly obnoxious.  One particular guy in my Physics class was extremely arrogant.  He kept interrupting the lecture to add his own comments.  And, it was obvious to everyone he had no idea what he was talking about.  Our professor, who was a brilliant Physicist, took this all in stride and kept on with his lecture.  This student kept trying to prove how smart he was, but he wound up making a fool of himself.

One day, I was talking to a couple of my classmates at break and he blurted out, “How much do you make?”  Even though I considered it fairly rude, I told him my salary.  He immediately shot back, “Last year, I made $250,000.”  I said, “Wow, that’s great.  How much did you keep?”  His response was, “Huh?”  I said, “If you are a single guy and made a quarter mil last year, I sure hope you saved some of it.”  The look on his face was priceless.  It was obvious he had blown every penny.  Instead of looking smarter than the rest of us, he looked pretty stupid.

No one gets rich by spending all of their money as fast as they earn it.

It’s Not what you Buy

Some people buy expensive things to look rich, when they aren’t.  Some people want the finer things, even though they can’t afford them.  Some people have no idea why they buy things they don’t even need.  Some people hide their spending from their spouse, because they know it will cause a fight.  In all of these cases, spending is a problem.  Not only does it jeopardize that person’s financial future, it lowers their quality of life.

I know two people who loved to drive Cadillacs.  Even though they both had working class incomes, they traded in their sweet Caddy for new a one every four years.  Both of these people wound up broke at retirement and had to sell their houses.  One moved to a trailer park and the other moved out of state.  I appreciate a fine ride as much as the next guy.  But, it’s a pretty heavy price some people pay to drive expensive cars.  For people who can afford new cars, it’s not a problem.  For those who can’t, it’s a financial disaster.

No one gets rich buying fancy things, but they sure can become poor.

It’s What you Keep for Yourself

No matter how you slice it, people have to keep some of their earnings in order to accumulate wealth.  It doesn’t matter if they are barely scraping by or making money hand-over-fist.  If they don’t keep some money for themselves, all of their hard work will only benefit others.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s easy for anyone to understand.  But, most people just won’t do it.  So, they give up their chance for a better life in the future.

I have a friend who used to own a telemarketing company and he made a lot of money selling copier toner.  But, he spent most of the money on items that had little future value.  I remember him buying a $10,000 statue in the ’80s, when that was a lot of money.  He got sick a couple of years ago and lost everything.  Now, he works at Lowe’s for the health insurance.  This could have easily been avoided if he had just saved some of the money he was making.

Most people get rich by saving part of their income over a long time.

My Success Secret

I can’t tell you what works for other people, but I can tell you what works for me.  As soon as my paycheck gets deposited into the bank, before I spend a dime or pay any bills, I Pay Myself First.  I jump on the website of my brokerage account and my mutual funds and I transfer money into my investments.  I could easily automate the process, but I like to do it manually.  As I put the money into my investments, it reinforces that I am working for a better future, not just to make a living.

Back when I was young, poor and saving for a house, I would envision people trying to take my paycheck away from me.  And, I would have to fight them off to keep some of my money.  I imagined the landlord, Citibank and the utility companies all trying to bum-rush me on payday.  And I would be punching and kicking them with my money clasped tightly in my hand.  I know it may sound ridiculous, but it worked.  I saved up a big down payment on a small income and I bought my house.  If I hadn’t fought so hard to keep my money (at least in my own twisted mind) I would still be broke and paying rent.

Most people get rich by refusing to let others take away their income.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is saving money is no secret, but it is the way to success.  This is something many people know, but few people do.  Saving money now is almost like winning the lottery in the future, except it’s a sure thing.

“It’s not the things you don’t know that will cause you problems in this class.  It’s the things you think you know that just aren’t so.”

Professor Joel Levine – Master of Physics

Recommended Reading

Darwin’s Money – US Loses AAA Credit Rating – It’s About Time
Barbara Friedberg – Tips to Make Smart Money Choices
Money Ning – 5 Exceptional Ways to Save for the Future Now

This post was featured on the Carnival of Personal Finance over at Narrow Bridge Finance.  If you aren’t familiar with the Carnival of Personal Finance, you need to check it out. It’s the greatest carnival on the net.

21 thoughts on “The Secret to Success for Working Stiffs

    1. You are a good husband Ben. Wives love gifts, mine especially. But, it’s more important to give them a sound future than a few baubles. At least, that’s what I tell my wife and she still buys it. 🙂 Now that I am starting to get the future handled, I have become a lot more generous.
      Bret recently posted..The Secret to Success for Working StiffsMy Profile

    1. Thanks for stopping by Ashley.

      Honestly, this guy wasn’t too bright, which was surprising for a Physics class. No one was surprised when he dropped the class.

      He was a contractor and in California, they can make a bundle. I suspect the $250K was his gross income, not his net. But, it was still a lot of money. I kind of felt sorry for him. Even though he acted very cocky, it seemed like he needed approval badly.
      Bret recently posted..The Secret to Success for Working StiffsMy Profile

  1. Bret –

    Article is spot on and definitely the way I try to live my life. As far as the know it all, it seems your professor was taking the Thoreau approach: “A wise man does not judge; he lets others judge themselves, and merely records their own verdict.”

    1. Hi Dan, Thanks for stopping by.

      I love the Thoreau quote. I pride myself on reserving judgement of others, even though it’s sometimes hard to resist.

      My Physics professor was awesome. Not only was he really knowledgeable about physics, he loved the subject. And, he loved teaching it. A couple of years after I graduated I turned on the TV and saw him on Nova. He taught at junior college and was right there with the professors from CalTech and MIT.
      Bret recently posted..The Secret to Success for Working StiffsMy Profile

  2. I would like to comment about the whole thing about The secret to success for working stiffs. I do not believe that one can prosper by simply saving money in a bank and earn 2 or 3 percent interest. Instead I believe having a great deal of knowledge about a special area may it be penny stocks’ rare coins’ collectables’ Real estate. I know a guy thats in the used car business that works for himself he does not have any employees. He buys and sells one or two sometimes three cars a week. He can make two hundred thousand dollars a year. The thing that matters the most as far as success goes in his business or failure is if one has the knowledge or if one lacks the knowledge about the business. He commented that its a lack of knowledge that matters most not money or connections.

    1. I completely agree with your comment about not getting rich by saving money in banks at 2 or 3%. In the current economic environment, the published CPI is 2%, but the real rate of inflation is around 6%. Putting money in savings accounts, CDs and treasuries is a guranteed money loser. Stocks, mutual funds and real estate offer better historical long-term performance.

      I also agree about the value of specialized knowledge. The U.S. has transformed into an information based economy. With the Internet and other online resources, it is easier than ever to get paid for your knowledge.
      Bret recently posted..How Has Buy-and-Hold Survived So Long?My Profile

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