I am thinking of a man who has a lot of money. Thousands and tens of thousands he makes each year, each month. Yet he is poor. I mean broke all the time.
The family and I recently watched the ESPN documentary series 30 For 30: Broke. It documents mostly poor kids from the ghetto who go on to be super athletes in the NBA and NFL. The story is the same: they are poor, they rise to the top and receive millions of dollars and end up in bankruptcy a few years after retirement. One commentator said receiving this kind of money is more like winning the lottery than receiving a paycheck or salary.
How did they blow all that money? They lived like a poor man with a lot of money. Each night they spent thousands of dollars on parties, friends and things. They lived like what a poor man dreams of if he’d ever become a millionaire for a day.
Here’s the quick rich/poor // with/without matrix:
Poor Man with a lot of money = blows it all and has nothing in the end; think Andre Rison
Poor Man without a lot of money = just simply poor; think any forgotten peasant around the world
Rich Man with a lot of money = has it all and is wise; think Bill Gates/Warren BuffetRich Man without a lot of money = always has enough; as in “The Millionaire Next Door” book
The head-scratcher quadrant here is “the Rich Man without a lot of money.” What’s that look like? But first a bit more on the other three quadrants. NFL star receiver Andre Rison (former KC Chief) filed bankruptcy about three years ago if I remember the 30 For 30 documentary correctly. He spent even more than he received. He invested in a car wash with a handshake with a guy who knew nothing about business. Rison knew nothing about business. He was surrounded with poor friends who spent his money for him.
I had a repair man out to the house a few days ago and he told his own Rison tale (everyone has one around town it seems). He worked at a fancy furniture store in town and Rison came in one day and bought $130k worth of furniture. They had to take him to court to get paid. As the old English proverb says “A fool and his money are soon parted,” echoing the entire sentiment of the Bible’s Proverbs on money and fools.
The reason why ANY man with a lot of money can’t keep his money is because he thinks every payday is like a poor man’s payday: cash it all and spend it on beer and Twinkies. Party now because good times never last. There is no investment mindset. No hope. This is the disease and demon of poverty. It keeps people crushed – in their head.
Now the poor man with no money and the rich man with a lot of money – not much need be said. Except the rich man with a lot of money can always make more money. As Rockefeller once said ‘it is easy to make money, but hard to keep it.’ The poor can’t make money. That’s a big difference between the poor and rich. The rich (white) have education, opportunity, connections, and assets. The poor do not.
What about “the Rich Man without a lot of money?” Sounds like anyone can be this person, right? Sure, anyone can if they decide to live within their means, or as Dave Ramsey puts it “act your wage.” Drive a clunker. Live in a basic house. Take small vacations. Delay gratification. My father-in-law was frugal. He was a teacher at a college. He saved and did thing cheaply or not at all. But he is rich now. He saved. He invested. He lived believing someday he won’t have an income so he better plan for one. He created sustainable wealth by living on less now. He lived like he had a future.
When the poor man gets a pile of money he blows it. When the rich man gets a pile a money he saves it for later and lives on less now. Rich is an attitude. Poor is an attitude. Yes, there are outside forces at work here like oppression and racism, etc. But that is no excuse for the instant millionaires who just as quickly move back to poverty. That is poor stewardship of the gifts of g-d. Rich or poor, life is a gift from on High.
Which quadrant ARE you? Can you change? This is where the real spiritual journey happens.