How to Get Rich Stay Rich and Be Happy

Chapter 1 : ANYONE CAN GET RICH IF THEY CHOOSE TO 

Anyone who wants to badly enough, can get rich. This is a rather blunt state- ment, and I firmly believe it is true, so I will repeat it. Any reasonably healthy American of normal intelligence (or less) can make himself or herself rich under our free enterprise system if he or she wants to badly enough and starts early enough in life. 

Then why aren’t we all rich? There is a certain percentage of our population who do not care to be rich. At least, that is not their primary goal in life. I am talking about Salvation Army people, religious workers, social workers, some teachers — people whose primary interest is in serving their fellow man, not in accumulating great wealth. And I submit that we are fortunate to have these people in our midst. Without them, the world that you and I live in would not be a fit place in which to live. 

In the case of every rich person or wealthy family that I dealt with, someone made the sacrifice of spending less than he or she earned and invested the dif- ference in something that went up in value and made him or her rich. Maybe some people, somewhere, sometime, got rich without making any kind of a sacrifice, but I have never run across them. 

The sacrifice may have been made by the rich man or woman, or by his or her father, grandfather, or great-grandfather, or uncle, or friend, or someone else. I suppose if an oil well pops up on the farm, the sacrifice isn’t very great, but then again, someone had to save up the money to buy the farm in the first place. 

Most of the great fortunes I know about were started by someone who worked long hours, scrimped and saved, and made unbelievable sacrifices to get the fortune started.

Economic background seems to color one’s idea of what constitutes being rich. Some of my contacts with relatively modest means feel they are very well off, while others, with far more money than they could ever spend, feel they are practically destitute. 

My wife grew up in Kansas. She likes living in Chicago except during the win- ter, which she finds too long and too cold. Even the summer is too cold for her. Her idea of a good vacation is two weeks in Kansas in August. So, every year she goes back to Kansas in August for her vacation. 

Years ago, she and the children were on vacation in Kansas on the Santa Fe Chief. I went down to the Dearborn Street Station to meet them, and, as so often happened, the train was quite late. This was the hottest day of the year, and when it gets hot in Chicago, the Dearborn Street Station seems to get hot- ter than anyplace else. 

1. Inherit it. If you can see that you are going to inherit it, then you have it made. You can skip to the part of this book about staying rich. Someone else has already made the sacrifice of spending less than they earned to create this wealth for you. You should be grateful. You didn’t have to do anything about it; your ancestry is completely beyond your control. You are fortunate indeed. 

2. Marry it. This is an area in which you do have some control. This is some- thing you can work on, but you have to get started on it before you get involved with some poor person. This can be quite a project, and I have seen both men and women work this approach to wealth quite effectively. I see nothing wrong with it. I grew up in an area and at a time when most people, boys and girls, firmly believed that the good Lord made someone especially for them. Growing up for these young people was largely a search for their “intended.” Well, if your intended, when you find him or her, happens to have a lot of money, you should graciously accept the situation. Don’t fight it.

Of all the rich people I know, not one of them got rich from his or her salary. Salary is important insofar as it determines your standard of living, or to put it in more modern terms, “your lifestyle.” There is obviously some type of a nat- ural law that says your cost of living tends to rise to equal the available income. It takes strict discipline to prevent this from happening. 

You have heard this expression. Sometimes, it comes out “You have to have money to make money.” Same thing. 

This is an expression I heard my father use over and over when I was a kid growing up in east Tennessee. I thought he originated it, but I learned later that this was not the case at all. Jesus Christ used this term 2,000 years ago. Matthew 25:29 says, “For unto everyone that hath shall be given.” Every time I read this, I think to myself how right He was. Yet, I find it presumptuous of me to be emphasizing that Christ was right. It reminds me of the well-known story of British Field Marshall Montgomery who gained fame with his success in North Africa in World War II. The story goes that at one time he was address- ing his troops and said, “Now, as Christ said in the Sermon on the Mountain, …and I might add that He was right.” That is the way I feel when I find myself pointing out that Christ was right when He said, “For unto everyone that hath shall be given.” 

We country kids used to think that if we just lived in New York City or Chicago or someplace else, we would certainly make a lot of money and become rich. Later, we thought that if our parents had just lived in Rochester, New York, maybe they would have bought some Eastman Kodak or Xerox stock back in the beginning, and that would have made us rich. If they had lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, they probably would have gone to church with Mr. McKnight and would have been so impressed with him that they would have bought some stock in his company, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing (3M). Certainly, if they had just moved to Texas or Oklahoma, they would have found oil on the farm, and we would now be on easy street. 

Some of the most well-educated people I know — lawyers, doctors, teachers, and scientific geniuses of all kinds — do the poorest job imaginable in man- aging their personal affairs. I repeat, some of them, not all. On the other hand, we have some multimillionaire customers in our trust department who have lit- tle or no education and make no pretense of being brilliant or, even smart. They have simply spent less than they earned and invested the difference in something that went up and made them rich. 

It may actually be harder for the well-educated to save than for the not-so-well educated because the well-educated tend to have more expensive tastes. Sure, they tend to have greater earning power, but if their tastes for expensive vaca- tions, homes, cars, clothing, and the like are even more developed than their earning power, there will be nothing left for investment in things that will make them rich. 

Chapter 9 : STAYING RICH IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN GETTING RICH 

You can go all through life and never have anything. You can be a nice person, a good citizen and a good church member. People will love you and respect you. But, once you have had a lot of money and lost it, you have big problems. The inconvenience of going from rich to poor is greater than most people can tolerate. Also, if you have had a lot of money and lost it, society will be very rough on you. They will point you out at cocktail parties. “Do you see that guy over there? At one time he was worth a million dollars. Look at him now. Stupid so-and-so, he blew it.” 

Life is just one continuous struggle to feel good about oneself. Any time you can do anything to make anyone more pleased with him or herself, you are making life easier for that person. Conversely, if you want to make life tough for anyone, you should look for opportunities, no matter how slight or subtle, to say or do something that will make him doubt his own value. 

Different things make different people feel good about themselves. For some, it is athletic proficiency, for others it is physical beauty, intellectual or scholas- tic attainment, executive power, political success, or owning an automobile. These things of primary value invariably change with the maturing process of the individual. The things that seem absolutely essential for you to be proud of yourself at age 18 or 30 will not seem nearly so important at 50. In fact, the per- son at 50 who is still clinging to teenage values is likely to be in real trouble. In spite of the vast array of things that are necessary to make different people feel good about themselves at different stages of chronological or intellectual development, there is one common thread that is required of everyone to pro- duce lasting happiness, and that is good personal financial management. With- out this, everything else eventually falls apart. 

Let’s back up and look at this one day at a time, since that is the way we all live our lives. How long has it been since you got up early in the morning, before sunrise, and went out in the country where it was quiet to watch the arrival of a new day? It is truly a remarkable event. Yet it happens every day, and has for millions of years. The air feels somehow like it has been laundered. There is usually a low fog because the air temperature varies from that of the ground. The birds are highly active. 

You will be aware that an important event is taking place, namely, the birth of a new day. Important things will happen this day all over the world. Babies will be born. Crops will grow. The sun will shine. The rain will fall. There will be production, consumption, investments, successes, failures, and challenges. Commerce and industry will surge ahead in this, another new day. And, most important of all is the fact that you are a part of it. 

 

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