What Truly Separates The Rich From The Poor

What Truly Separates The Rich From The Poor?

There are some big differences between the rich and the poor. Many of which are just a matter of discipline and knowledge in areas that aren’t readily taught in schools as we grow up. Subjects about finance and even home economics are very important to everyone’s success even the rich.

There were 18.1 million millionaires in the US in 2019, that’s 5.5% of the US population of 328.2 M. Yet in 2003 12.8% of the population (42 million) lived below the poverty line. What truly separates the rich from the poor is the steadfast discipline to win in all the major areas of life; 

Financial discipline- The rich make their money work for them.

Physical fitness- The rich stay physically active.

Business/ Learning- The rich study and learn about business or other interests and never stop.

Philanthropy- The rich work and give to communities.

Family and relationships- The rich utilize time for family and friends effectively.

Communication- The rich have excellent communication and listening skills.

Personal/Spiritual- The rich believe in themselves and are spiritual.

Recreational- The rich can balance recreational/fun within their lives.

Area Of Life The Rich The Poor
Financial Discipline -Purchase fewer consumer goods

-Invests first then spend

-Their money works for them

-Knows accounting principles

-Purchases consumer goods

-Spends then invests after

-Their money’s gone after spending

-Normally doesn’t budget

Physical Fitness -Stays Active

-Eats healthy

-Gets enough sleep

-Actively reduces stress

-Poor physical shape

-Eats junk

-Stays up wasting time

-physically/mentally stressed

Business -Owns/Owned

-Constantly learning

-Financially Literate


-“no time”


-Relies on an employer

Philanthropy -Gives to charity

-Helps in the community

-Actively tries to be liked by everyone

-fails to give

-helps when “obligated”

Family and Relationships -“makes time”

-family is a necessity

-Balances friends, fun, and work

-spends more time with friends and family

Communication -Excellent communication skills

-knows their area of expertise enough to explain complex ideas effectively

-avoids communication


-poorly expresses ideas and information

Personal/Spiritual -may or may not believe in a “higher power”

-is understanding of many people’s faiths and beliefs

-may or may not believe in a “higher power”

-is understanding of many people’s faiths and beliefs

Recreational -spends less time relaxing

-maybe able to take more extravagant vacations

-works a lot of weekends

-spends free time relaxing

-loves the weekend to relax rather than work

There are many differences between the very rich and the poor but going from one to the other in either direction is easier than most people think. You can start learning and applying yourself towards success, just as much as someone with a lot of money may make a bad decision that lands them in hot water.

But, let’s take a look at the areas that differentiate the rich from the poor.

Financial discipline- The rich make their money work for them.


For most millionaires, they created that wealth through investments and or business. This may seem surprising but a study of 10,000 millionaires done by Dave Ramsey confirmed this and a few other surprising things about millionaires. 


· Ramsey Solutions conducted the largest survey of millionaires ever with 10,000 participants.

· Eight out of ten millionaires invested in their company’s 401(k) plan.

· The top five careers for millionaires include engineer, accountant, teacher, management, and attorney.

· 79% of millionaires did not receive any inheritance at all from their parents or other family members.

In this study, Dave Ramsey found that 79% of millionaires didn’t inherit their wealth and it also took an average of 28 years to become a millionaire!

Becoming a millionaire is narrowed down to several things. The truly rich invest their money first then spend what’s left. This is extremely important because it’s very common that by not setting your investment income aside it will get lost in bills or other purchases.

This is also part of the reason the truly rich don’t purchase as many consumer goods. They buy what they need and live a stable “in their means” life.

The poor on the other hand, don’t save/invest much at all. We can see the result of this through data collected every year in the census.

A study done by the American Economic Association (AEA) shows some very interesting stats about where people are in the poverty hierarchy.

A Snapshot of Current Poverty 

Data on poverty in the United States is collected annually by the Current Population Survey. In 2003, 12.8 percent of all nonelderly individuals lived below the poverty line, while 17.6 percent of children lived in families with incomes below the poverty line. Women are more likely to be poor than men; in 2003, the poverty rate for males was 11.7 percent, and for females was 13.9 percent.

This shows a good picture of what lack of financial discipline can lead to. Now many millionaires don’t have their own business and are working a “normal” job. You just need some discipline to invest and save money.

Becoming a millionaire is about controlling your spending and investing so your money makes you more money. Using Compound interest is one of the best ways to accelerate your financial success! 

You can start saving more for your future in a high interest saving account easier than you think!

Physical fitness- The rich stay physically active


It’s not enough to just have money. Why have money and be in poor health? You won’t get to enjoy your money and travel or spend time doing what YOU want if you are sick or out of shape.

Imagine yourself right now if you had $10,000,000 and wanted to hike a mountain. Could you do it?

Being active and physically fit is just as important as your money situation. After all, being active and eating healthy is one of the BEST ways to improve brain function and live longer.

man front deadlifting a barbell

This isn’t a new idea either. Back in 2011, the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (2011), Published by Cambridge University Press released a Symposium A Review of the Relation of Aerobic Fitness and Physical Activity to Brain Structure and Function in Children which found several relationships between cognitive function and physical fitness. 

Several cross-sectional evaluations have observed that poorer aerobic fitness is associated with decreased academic achievement in the areas of reading and mathematics 

Together, studies using neuroelectric methods suggest that lower levels of aerobic fitness are associated with poorer integrity of cognitive control processes, with a decreased ability to begin the cascade of processes required to signal the need for additional top-down control, allocate attention toward actions, efficiently process environmental information, and flexibly modulate cognitive control processes to optimize behavioral interactions within the environment.

Now all of this can lead to much greater success throughout life and is in part why many millionaires are physically active and continue to eat well throughout their lives.

Business/ Learning- The rich study and learn about business or interests and don’t stop


You don’t need to have your own business to become a millionaire, this has been proven many times including the study done by Dave Ramsay. But there are some differences in how a lot of millionaires associate themselves with education.

Millionaires continue to learn all the time. They never stop learning especially if they are running a business. If you continue to read and want to learn new things your horizons of success will grow exponentially just because you are continually learning.

inside a library

In a study done by the American Economic Association (AEA)

education is a strong predictor of poverty status. Among individuals living in families in which the head has less than a high school education, 31.3 percent are below the poverty line, compared with just 9.6 percent of those whose head has at least a high school education.

It’s much less common to find someone who is a self-made millionaire just by accident. There is a lot of hard work and time that goes into becoming a millionaire. Just having a million dollars isn’t enough, you need to be able to use that money to benefit you over the long run.

This is part of the financial literacy that millionaires have. They learn about money and investing so that they can better utilize their time and funds. If you want a great resource for investing you can go through The Beginners Guide to Financial Statements and get a great overview.

Philanthropy- The rich work and give to communities


Some of the most generous people in the world are people with money. This seems to make a little bit of sense though.

If people of wealth never gave back to the community there would be many things not accomplished. An article published by Amsterdam UMC sheds some light on the subject of Philanthropy

First of all, there is an economic explanation. The industrialized world has untold wealth, albeit unevenly distributed. The generation after World War II has become rich and wealthy in these countries. They are transferring their money to the next generation. Growing wealth, in general, is an important prerequisite for philanthropy

The shortest definition of philanthropy today is from one of the founders of the academic study on philanthropy in the United States, Bob Payton. He defined philanthropy as

“voluntary action for the public good” (Payton 1988).

It’s not enough to just hoard your money, it’s not fully ethical either. There needs to be some give back to the communities and people around you. A transfer of wealth from the rich to the lesser fortunate.

I say the lesser fortunate because community outreach is not solely allocated to the poor. Not the poor may need MORE help but many of us receive the benefits of Philanthropy and don’t even realize it.

The next time you are in a hospital, look around, you will probably find plaques with dedications to businesses or people who have donated towards other people’s health.

This type of Philanthropy tends to increase with the more money you have. Even if you “aren’t rich” you can engage in giving and helping others yourself. Sometimes there doesn’t even need to be a monetary exchange. Take the time to benefit others and the same will happen to you.

Family and relationships– The rich utilize time for family and friends effectively.


As with everything there is a balance in life. You need to have a balance for family life as well as all the other areas.

Too many people fall into the trap of working all the time and worrying about money all the time that other areas of their life begin to fade and don’t get the proper attention that they need.

Don’t let your family become that neglected area. You need to develop a balance and stick to it. Of course, this needs to be individualized to each person but there is always a way to make it work.

You may need to sacrifice something else to make it happen. If that means you commit to going home and eating supper every day with your family no matter what is going on then that’s a great way to get started.

Commit to your family just as much as the pursuit of money. You will be much happier in the long run when your family is around you and not stuck in the job you hate anyway.

Working 100 hours a week and thinking you can spend time with family just won’t happen. The top business owners and CEO’s understand this and have to make the same choice you do.

What is a good life balance for you?


Communication- The rich have excellent communication and listening skills


Some people make absurd amounts of money teaching others how to better communicate or communicate in such a way to accomplish goals.

Selling for example, is a massive market for learning. I know, “the sleazy salesman” doesn’t seem like a good spot to explain but it really is because the vast majority of salespeople aren’t sleazy and they aren’t trying to scam you out of your money.

Also, if you go to work right now, how can you get paid by your employer if they aren’t selling something? You are a cog in that machine too.

Sales generate profit and that, in turn, is used to pay your salary, and the process repeats. The communication required to make that happen though is very complex. Learning and understanding what people want and need is hard.

That’s why communication is so important not just for sales but for family and friends too. Learning how to ACTUALLY listen to someone and properly communicate back and forth is a skill that in a lot of people is underdeveloped.

The great Warren Buffett said;

If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential. You have to learn to communicate in life – it’s enormously important.

–– Warren Buffett

Picture of Warren Buffett

This is a man worth billions of dollars. The importance is idea sharing can’t be understated.

Personal/Spiritual- The rich believe in themselves and are spiritual


The hardest part of life is a failure. But, you can’t have the good without the bad.

If all we had was success, “everyone gets a trophy” the value of that trophy goes way down.

You need to fail, your kids need to fail, it’s part of life. Now, the way you react to your own failure(s) is entirely in your control.

If you want to become a millionaire you are going to have to come to terms with failure. You need to grab your bootstraps and pull yourself back up.

Failure is temporary and most of the time we blow our failures up bigger and bigger because of our own anxiety not because of rational reasons.

I have found this in my own life and try to recognize when I’m just being reactive for the sake of justifying my own failure. But I really only have two options;

  1. Quit
  2. Keep going

Both are equally difficult, if I quit I have to accept my failure and move on having never accomplished what I set out to do. But, if I keep going I have to accept my failure and try again.

Both ways I need to accept the fact that I failed at something as will you in time. Failure happens and it’s one of the best ways to learn. Schools teach us to never fail, it’s bad to fail. This is so wrong and it holds people back.

  • Fear of failure is just anxiety towards the unpleasant.
  • Success is the Fortitude to maneuver through your own emotion and pain towards the continuous completion of goals.

Recreational- The rich can balance recreational/fun within their lives

dancing at a concert

There’s nothing wrong with watching TV or playing video games for a while. You need some R&R too but have balance.

If you want to watch TV for a while, do it! Just make sure you carve out time for the other important areas. Finding and using that balance can alleviate stress and anxiety making you more productive.

Just as your family is important, your sanity and well being are important too. Some people like to golf, It’s a bit of a cliché in regards to the rich and golf, but it’s fitting.

Think for a second about golf. It’s physical activity, relaxing, recreational, you do it with friends/family.

All of the things that successful people are looking for, It’s no wonder so many people enjoy it.

Find what makes you happy and use it to help you relax. This will make your life so much better and you will have less stress. Just balance the important parts of life and don’t let the TV take control of too much of your time.

The Take Away

There are some big differences between the rich and the poor but EVERY SINGLE ONE is available to you. There is no part of what a millionaire does that you can’t do or learn.

So, start opening books and learning again, it won’t be like school because you get to choose what you learn. You get to decide what is important and explore new ideas and how things work. Get your finances in order and decide to push through the hard times.

YOUR success is built through your persistence to achieve.

Check out The 10 Most Common Financial Problems and Challenges!


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