The New American Dream

Lets start the conversation by defining what “The American Dream” is. It used to mean a good job and a house with a white picket fence. What does it mean now? Well, many people can’t save money or move out of their parent’s house because they’re underemployed. Meanwhile, college is insanely expensive but expected for most jobs, even the underpaying ones. 59% of American adults have less than $500 in savings. And according to a recent Gallup poll, only 31% of people like their jobs. So we have people drowning in loans taken out so they can get underpaying jobs, which exacerbates the problem. Sounds like the new American Dream should be a safety net.

Imagine making enough money to pay off all of your debt, put a down payment on a nice house, live a comfortable life with a few vacations every year, quit your job if you hate it and find a more meaningful one, and buy nice things for yourself every once in awhile. I think we can agree 90% of America would be cool with that right?

A very interesting study was done by Thomas Corley, who spent 5 years monitoring over 350 people for his book, “Rich Habits”. Here, “rich” is defined as someone who makes over $160,000/year and has a net worth of 3.2 million dollars. “Poor” is defined as someone who makes less than $35,000/year and has a net worth of less than $5,000. There are some really stark differences between the answers.

“Daily habits are critical to financial success in life”

  • Rich: 52% agree
  • Poor: 3% agree

If you had to guess, who do you think is more successful — person A or person B? Person A wakes up at 6am to read, meditate, exercise, then goes to work. Person B wakes up after five snooze button slaps, grabs whatever clothes look clean, and eats a couple donuts on the way to work.

The answer is obvious. What’s not obvious is why we allow ourselves to be Person B too much. We know certain habits hold us back and other habits could push us forward, but we resort to being a B Person then complain about things we don’t have.

“Relationships are critical for financial success”

  • Rich: 88% agree
  • Poor: 17% agree

Would you rather be owed money or a favor? Guess what the rich people said? Jim Rohn said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If you don’t value your current relationships, get new ones.

“I believe in fate”

  • Rich: 10% agree
  • Poor: 90% agree

Rich guy says “I control my destiny”. Poor guy says “It’s God’s plan”. I hear this all the time and I could go a couple different ways with this. I’ll go with me telling you not to blame God because you failed at something. Maybe his plan was for you to get your ass back out there. Use your failures as motivation.

“The American Dream is no longer possible”

  • Rich: 2% agree
  • Poor: 87% agree

This is just disheartening. It was a small sample size but the majority of poor people don’t believe they can dig themselves out of the hole they’re in. In this study, rich people have surpassed the American Dream so when asked the question, their answers reflect how difficult they imagine it would be to go from rags to riches in today’s economy. 98% of rich people believe they could start from nothing and achieve the American Dream. Only 13% of poor people believe the same thing. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Most importantly, how do we fix it?

Is the new American Dream possible? If so, it doesn’t seem to be for everyone anymore does it?