Choosing to be poor

First Posted: 1/15/2009

A financial expert, while touting the virtues of investing so that your money can make more money, made a keen observation during a PBS program the other day.
We will paraphrase, but this is essentially what he said: Poor people are poor because they spend all of their money; middle class people are middle class because they put their money where it earns modest income; and wealthy people are wealthy because they invest their money where it earns significant income.
We understand that not everyone can buy a home and come up with the mortgage payment by renting it out, but there are two things that most of us can manage that are tools to building wealth: Don't spend money faster than your ability to make it, and protect your credit by paying the bills on time, which means financial institutions will lend you money that can be used to make more money.
With some exceptions, anyone with an income should be able to manage both. But the reality is, the poor among us often live life as if they are going to be dead tomorrow, preferring to spend their money on jewelry, hubcaps, a boom box or a new pair of tennis shoes. And too often, they are spending money that they don't have, so the casualty is their credit.
That is their decision to make, as ill-advised as it may be. But it should not be left to the government - and the taxpayers - to throw them a lifejacket.
We believe that no one should be able to graduate from high school without first taking a financial management class where these lessons can be learned. It would be a solid investment for the taxpayers.

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