Saturday 12 February 2011

15 Signs You'll Be Rich

Anneli Rufus is an American journalist and author. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe among others and authored 16 books such as Weird Europe: A Guide to Macabre, Bizarre and Just Plain Weird Sights (1999), Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto (2002), Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move On (2008).

In a recent article in the Daily Beast (Oct 2010), Ms. Rufus rattles off 15 salient points which explain why some of us are destined to be rich and why some of us are going to remain poor slogs condemned to forever work for a living. Surprisingly enough, all this is backed up with references to scientific studies which clearly show a correlation between our looks, weight, height and our family and the number of bucks we've got hidden in our sock under the bed. This seems to be some truth behind the idea that some of us are destined for greatness while some of us are destined for mediocrity. I hope that doesn't mean that we can't try anyway. I would like to believe that there may be some truth to the lyrics of the 1959 song "High Hopes" popularized by Frank Sinatra:

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant

Anneli Rufus's 15 Signs You'll Be Rich
Note that Ms. Rufus's original article cites experts to provide proof of each of these points. Interesting reading.
  1. Attractive men earn 9 percent more money than unattractive men; attractive women earn 4 percent more money than unattractive women.
  2. Individuals with above-average IQs are only 1.2 times as likely as individuals with below-average IQs to have a high net worth.
  3. People who were popular in high school earn 10 percent more than people who weren't.
  4. Graduates of Princeton University and Dartmouth College earn salaries 162 percent higher, on average, than graduates of East Texas Baptist University.
  5. For every three inches taller than average they are, women earn 5 to 8 percent more money than women of average height; men earn 4 to 10 percent more for every extra three inches in height.
  6. Being married and staying married increases your net worth by 77 percent.
  7. Drinkers earn 10 to 14 percent more money than abstainers.
  8. Those who earned undergraduate degrees in petroleum engineering earn salaries over four times as high as those who earned undergraduate degrees in child and family studies.
  9. Each one-unit increase in a typical young person's body mass index is associated with an 8 percent reduction in wealth.
  10. 22 percent of American households headed by persons of Russian ancestry have a net worth of $1 million or more.
  11. 21 percent of white Americans and only 2 percent of African Americans and 8 percent of Hispanics buy real estate or make other investments at young ages, which economists consider a key predictor of future wealth.
  12. Blond women earn 7 percent more money than non-blonds.
  13. Nonsmokers' net worth is about 50 percent higher than that of light smokers, and more than twice as much as that of heavy smokers.
  14. 36 percent of American children born to parents in the uppermost economic bracket remain there as adults.
  15. 54 percent of American children who are born to parents in the uppermost economic bracket and who then earn college degrees remain at the top.
My analysis
In going through the Ms. Rufus's list, one characteristic of some of the points comes back to social connections. Those who are better socially, stand a better chance of getting a better job, of getting better deals and of being picked by other people. Yes, good looks will help but the underlying message is that social connections mean a lot when it comes to cementing those deals which may lead us to money. Of course that seems to mean that those who are more physically attractive would naturally over time develop social skills since they probably spend more time with other people than us ugly ducklings. So, as long as we're not ugly as sin, a Quasi Modo, there's a good chance our social skills will more than make up for any deficiencies in the looks department and actually may do more in the long run than our looks.

Point #7 talks of how drinkers earn more money than teetotallers. [chuckles] It's not the drinking per se, it's the social interaction. If you go out to meet people, talk with them, be friendly and make friends, those new found friends could prove to be important for future deals.

Points #14 and #15 which talk about being born in the upper economic bracket seem curious if not telling. If 36% born into the uppermost economic bracket stay there, that means 64% don't. Why not? I'd say that whatever motivates an individual to crawl up the ladder out of his poverty does not necessarily get passed down to the offspring. Point #15 may underline how education seems to be the key in general for the success of an individual.

10 Signs You'll Be Poor
The web site Productivity 501 offers its readers tips on increasing personal productivity. This particular article amusingly focuses on the opposite of Ms. Rufus's article and underlines those factors which ensure anybody is never going to crawl out of their financial hole:

8. You carry a balance on your credit cards.

4. Social Security is your retirement plan.

1. Your wheels cost more than your car.

The entire article is worth a look but I thought to point out the above points. First of all, number eight, I'm not sure a comment is even necessary. Credit card companies can charge 20% on outstanding balances and this is without a doubt the absolute worst way of borrowing money. Only rake up what you can afford to pay and never - I mean never - not pay off your card's balance.

Social security? Ha! Live for today; don't worry about tomorrow. Is this an Aesop's Fable? The ant and the grasshopper?

Your wheels cost more than your car? I'm sorry, that is just so darn funny.

Final Word
No doubt about it. We can tell right up front if your car will be a Porsche or Public Transit. But there is a quotation which is very applicable here:

Knowledge is power.
- Sir Francis Bacon, Religious Meditations, Of Heresies, 1597
English author, courtier, & philosopher (1561 - 1626)

Yes, some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and yes, we all hate them passionately for it, but that doesn't mean we can't do something about it. Knowing about any of this is the first step as the saying is true: knowledge is power. While the opposite, ignorance is bliss, is also true I gravely doubt ignorance is going to lead us to becoming rich. The first step in solving a problem is recognising you have a problem.

In Ms. Rufus's 15 signs, there can be no doubt that social interaction and developing connections are primordial to being successful and rich. Rich people are not just rich; they are rich because of what they have done with other people. Honing social skills, getting contacts and developing friendships are all keys to providing a network of associates who can potentially help you succeed. It is very seldom anybody "does it completely on their own". We all have to work within our society; society is made up of people; we have to work with those people.

As more of a joke, I added the "10 Signs You'll Be Poor" but let's admit it's not a joke. I've never forgotten the introduction to the book The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton (see my book review) where the author makes this frightening statement, "The majority of Canadians will reach the age of retirement at the poverty level." Is that not enough to make all of us work harder? Then again, Chilton points out that working hard is good but real success comes from working smarter.


Wikipedia: Anneli Rufus

The Daily Beast - Oct 21/2010
15 Signs You'll Be Rich by Anneli Rufus


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