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Thomas C Corley

Thomas C Corley is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, has a Masters in Taxation and is certified by the Corporation for Long-Term Care. He is President of Cerefice & Company, a CPA firm, and is the CEO of The Rich Habits Institute, an organization that offers Rich Habits training, seminars and education learning sessions. Thom has authored several books including his revolutionary self-help book “Rich Habits” and “The Top 100 Cheapest Places to Retire in the U.S.” book series. He also trains businesses, individuals, and students how to be financially succcessful in life through his Rich Habits education programs - www.richhabits.net.

Live Like a Millionaire

If you’re like most of us, you probably plan to budget. You tell yourself when you earn money that you’ll save it, rather than spend it. But it’s easier said than done – without a plan, you can easily find yourself on the final ten dollars of your most recent paycheck, wondering what happened to the rest of that cash and your hopes of saving it.

It’s not the greatest feeling. Wouldn’t you rather avoid it?

In my five-year study on the daily habits of wealthy people I uncovered certain things the wealthy do to create, maintain or grow their wealth.

The 80:20 Rule

This rule requires that you set aside 20% of every paycheck and learn to live off the remaining 80%. You do this no matter how much money you make. If you get a raise or bonus, set aside 20% of that raise or bonus in addition to the 20% of your regular pay. If you stick to the 80:20 Rule you will save a lot of money and you will be wealthy long before you reach retirement age. You will be one of the few among your friends and colleagues because, unfortunately, most parents don’t teach their kids the importance of saving, so nobody saves.

Budgeting & Saving

Below are some guidelines regarding budgeting and saving:

  • Don’t spend more than 25% of your monthly net pay on housing.It doesn’t matter if you own or rent. Stick to this 25% rule.

  • Don’t spend more than 10% of your monthly net pay on entertainment. This includes bars, movies, restaurants etc.

  • Don’t spend more than 5% of your monthly net pay on auto loans and never lease. Leasing is something I call a Poverty Habit. Buy your cars and take good care of them.

  • Stay away from accumulating credit card debtIf you are doing this it means you are living beyond your means and you need to cut back on something.

  • Always invest your savings prudently. Never gamble your savings on get rich quick schemes. There’s no such thing. The power of compounding can grow your savings and make you  wealthy. Saving just $250 a month over 40 years will produce $500,362 at a 5% return.

  • Max out your contributions to the company retirement plan. If the company matches your contributions, great. That’s free money. Always take free money when you can get it.

  • Know what you spend every month. Create a monthly budget and track what you spend.

Most of the wealthy don’t make a lot of money. But they do save a lot of money. They make a habit of saving until it hurts. They focus on accumulating wealth through savings.

Savings and investments are two different things. Your savings should never lose money, whereas your investments represent a portion of savings that you are willing to put at risk and lose. How much you take out of your savings and invest depends on your risk tolerance. Conservative wealthy people do not put any of their savings at risk. Moderate wealthy people put 25-50% of their savings at risk. Aggressive wealthy people put more than 50% or more of their savings at risk.

If the wealthy invest part of their savings, they typically invest it in one or more of the following:

  • Their businesses and their retirement plans.

  • Guaranteed products like variable annuities & life insurance.

  • Stocks, real estate investments, or gold.

  • Education for their children.

Accumulating wealth is not about hitting it out of the park.  It’s about getting singles. You get enough singles and you win the game.

In my five year study on the daily habits of the rich and the poor, when it came to money, there were significant differences between the two groups. Let’s take a look at some of the research:

  • 67% of the wealthy said they are frugal with money.

  • 8% of the wealthy shop at retail thrift stores.

  • 85% of the wealthy in my study stated that they have always believed that no matter what, an individual can always save money if they really want to. Only 2% of the poor share this opinion. 73% of the wealthy in my study were taught the 80:20 Rule by their parents.

  • 6% of the wealthy lease cars. Conversely, 45% of poor people lease cars. Leasing a car is a Poverty Habit. Wealthy people don’t lease cars. They purchase their cars and will drive them as long as the engine holds out.

  • 16% of the wealthy gamble on sports at least once a week vs. 52% of the poor. 9% of the wealthy play the lottery every week vs. 77% of the poor.

  • 100% of the wealthy save for retirement vs. only 19% of the poor.

The research speaks for itself. It’s not hard to accumulate money. On the contrary, it can be very easy! Living like a millionaire doesn’t have to involve earning six-figure sums. Like anything worth earning in this world, it just involves planning and commitment. You save, and you save, and you save, even if it hurts. It’s a lot harder to commit to saving than it is to not and say you did. But with these tips under your belt, you’ll hardly feel the difference – just the rewards.

**Edited for Repurpose by Amy Kisaka, staff writer with Goddess Connections.

Teaching our Children to Fail in Life

What are the chances that your son or daughter might strike it big one day and start raking in the millions? I think if they did, for every parent it would be like our biggest goal being brought to fruition – if you can’t be the millionaire in the family, your child being one is the next best thing – and you’d probably love knowing that you did everything to help them get there.

What if you found out that you not only didn’t help them, but you actually hindered them from being rich?

Not just you, but your child’s teachers, the school’s curriculum and its values… Kind of wrecks the daydream, doesn’t it?

When I travel the country speaking to high school and college students about exactly what they need to do to become financially successful in life I always begin my presentation by asking three questions:

“How many want to be financially successful in life?” “How many think they will be financially successful in life?”

Almost every time I ask these two questions every hand rises in the air. Then I ask the magic third question:

“How many have taken a course in school on how to be financially successful in life?”

Not one hand rises in the air, ever.
This happens every time I have asked this third question. Clearly every student wants to be successful and thinks they will be successful,  but none have been taught by their parents or their school system how to be financially successful in life. Not only are there no courses on basic financial-success principles, but there are no structured courses on basic financial literacy.

Children are being raised to be financially illiterate, to be poor and to fail in life.

Is it any wonder that most of us in North America live paycheck to paycheck? That most of us accumulate more debt than assets?  That many people are losing their homes? Is it any wonder that most Americans cannot afford college for their children and that student loan debt is now the largest type of consumer debt?

According to The Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt, the average student loan debt is $25,250.  This debt forces college graduates to postpone buying a home and starting a family.

The second worst thing about this problem is what children are being taught by their parents and the school system. They are being taught that rich people are bad.

You think I’m wrong? Just ask your child if they have ever read Robin Hood in school. Most likely the answer will be yes. Then ask them if Robin Hood is a good guy or a bad guy. Most likely your child will say “good guy”. In fact, they very likely consider him a hero. The fact that Robin Hood was a thief who stole from others is irrelevant. He took from the rich and gave to the poor. That, children are taught, is okay because poor people are good, rich people are bad, and poor people are thus “entitled” to that rich person’s money and wealth. Our schools are teaching children that striving to become wealthy in North America is bad.In other words, the American Dream is a bad thing.You see manifestations of this “financial success is bad, the 1% are bad and the 99% are good” mindset in things like the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Buffet Rule. You cannot pick up a paper these days without seeing some article on the wealth gap. Clearly this wealth gap needs to be addressed. But current measures to address the disparity between the rich and the poor are poorly thought out and simply will not solve the problem of poverty. The real solution is to equip our children through education at home and in school with tools that enable them to become financially successful in life.

So how do we do this? Parents and our schools need to work together to re-educate our children, both through formal education in the schools and informal education at home. In the home, parents could teach their children in the following ways:

1) Set limitations: Limit T.V., social media and cell phone use to no more than one hour a day. And limit junk food to no more than 300 calories a day. Punish children when they lose their tempers so they understand the importance of controlling this very costly emotion.

2) Teach children the importance of relationship building: Have them phone friends, family, teachers, coaches etc. on their birthdays and send thank you cards for gifts or help they received from anyone. And parents and children need to set aside at least thirty to sixty minutes a day to talk to each other. By talk I do not mean through Facebook, or on the cell phone, but face-to-face, real talking. The only real quality time is quantity time.

3) Teach children to manage money: They need to learn this. Require your children to save at least 25% of their earnings or gifts they receive. Open up a checking account or savings account for them and force them to use their savings to buy the things they want. They need to learn that they are not entitled to things like cell phones, computers, fashionable clothes, flat screen T.V.s, etc.

4) Teach children that education is not limited to school: Require your children to read one to two educational books a month, outside of school-mandated reading. Have them participate in at least two non-sports-related extracurricular activities at school or outside of school.

5) Teach children how to manage their time: They should be required to create daily “to-do” lists and these lists need to be monitored by parents. The goal should be to accomplish at least 70% of their tasks on their daily “to do” list.

And through formal education at school, the curriculum should be made to include:

1) Goal-setting and goal-reaching: Require that children set monthly, annual and long-term goals. Reassure them that mistakes made in reaching (or not reaching) these goals are good, not bad. Children need to understand that the very foundation of success in life is built on learning from our mistakes.

2) Work ethic: Work ethic is critical to success in life. Require working-age children to work or volunteer at least ten hours a week.

3) Exercise: Have the students exercise aerobically 20 – 30 minutes a day. This improves their health, burns calories and delivers desperately needed oxygen to the brain and vital organs.

4) The value of financial success: Teach students that seeking financial success in life is good and a worthwhile goal. Children need to learn what the American Dream is (unlimited opportunity for financial success) and taught that it is a great thing.

Financial success is not a secret. Wealthy people do certain things every single day that sets them apart from everyone else in life. Wealthy people have good daily-success habits that they learned from their parents. These daily habits are the real reason for the wealth gap in our country and the real reason why the rich get richer. Unless we teach our children good daily-success habits, and level the playing field, the rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to get poorer.

Yet we frequently don’t teach them these “rich” habits. Fact is, the values in place in our society, the ones currently taught in our schools’ curriculum and backed by parental guidance, make it more of a lucky gamble than anything that children will be financially successful in life. If they’re lucky, they’ll learn these critical skills on their own, outside of their regulated education, and they’ll appreciate the value of said skills when they’re still young enough for these habits to take hold in their behaviour and become permanently ingrained. Only if they’re lucky… and that shouldn’t be the case!

How to Make Yourself “Unfireable”

In my five-year study of the daily success habits of successful individuals, one important discovery I made was that successful individuals are fanatics when it comes to daily career-related, self-improvement. The reason? They are in constant pursuit of knowledge in order to help them identify opportunities. This makes them more valuable to their employer, customer, or clients and helps them to rise up the career ladder of success. I uncovered four ways that successful individuals engage in opportunity-seeking, self-improvement: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Doing. Each one gets you higher up the ladder of financial success. Strategy #1: Career-Related Reading   Many of us get monthly industry periodicals. Typically, we set them aside and tell ourselves that we will get to that reading very soon. We may even pull out the periodicals, after a week or two, and browse through them, tearing out articles we are intent on reading. We set these articles aside and, again, tell ourselves we will get to that reading very soon. After a few months we throw these periodicals/articles out, rationalizing that they are outdated and of no use. Their time value has rendered them outdated. “Successful” individuals have a different tact. They set aside time every day for reading. They read every one of their periodicals. Why? Successful individuals understand the value of timely information. They are in pursuit of opportunities to make more money and advance their careers. Often these opportunities are found inside these industry periodicals. Successful individuals, on average*, set aside 30 to 45 minutes of every day for career-related reading. They do this day in and day out. Successful individuals understand that reading helps them remain current with industry technical information and industry trends, which often leads to the discovery of hidden opportunities. To successful individuals, reading gets them one rung higher on the career ladder of financial success. Strategy #2: Career-Related Writing Writing is a form of communication. Because you are writing on a topic, you must gain a more comprehensive understanding of that topic than reading alone can provide. Successful individuals engage in writing in a number of ways including: company newsletters, industry newsletters, newspaper articles, industry publication articles, Internet articles and customer/client letters. Writing helps lift successful individuals up another wrung on the career ladder of success. Strategy #3: Speaking Speaking requires a greater understanding of a subject matter than writing or reading will provide. There is a simple reason for this. In a speaking engagement you may be asked a question and this makes it a two-way communication process. When you are “the expert” on a topic for which you have been asked to speak you must fully know that topic, inside and out. This requires a more detailed study that reading and writing together cannot provide. Speaking forces you to dig deeper and expand your knowledge base. Speaking elevates you up another wrung on the career ladder of success. Strategy #4: Doing There is no better way to perfect your knowledge in an area than through repetition by doing. Repetition in a particular area gets you closer to perfection than reading, writing or speaking ever could. Each time you repeat a task in a particular area you become more efficient and more expert. Doing, over and over again, allows you to make and fix mistakes. It allows you to improve and perfect your skill-set. Through repetition by doing you will, in time, become a master in a particular task or subject matter. ‘Doing’ raises you to the highest wrung on the career ladder of success. Successful individuals employ the above strategies in an effort to become more expert in their field and make themselves indispensable to their employer, and their employer’s customers or clients. These strategies also open up your eyes to opportunities that were previously hidden. Finding Opportunities The most successful of individuals employ all four career-related self-improvement strategies in climbing the career ladder of success. But you can achieve a good measure of career success by simply dedicating yourself, every day, to just one of these four career-related, self-improvement strategies. Make no mistake about it; it’s not an easy discipline! Daily career-related, self-improvement is boring. It’s tedious. But the by-product is the discovery of otherwise hidden opportunities. Opportunities that were there all along, but could not be seen until you took that important step of expanding your knowledge base. I like to use the following metaphor to best explain how these strategies work: 1) Imagine for a moment that you find yourself surrounded by trees. These trees are a metaphor for opportunities. You see all of the trees that are in front of you. 2) Now imagine off to the side of these trees is a hill. This hill is a metaphor for career-related, self-improvement. 3) What happens when you climb that hill (what happens when you engage in daily career-related, self-improvement)? You begin to notice that there are more trees. As you climb higher and higher up the hill (as you engage in more and more career-related, self-improvement) you realize you were in a forest and what you now see are not just individual trees but a forest; a forest of opportunities. Climbing that hill, engaging in career-related, self-improvement, exposes you to more opportunities in life and in your career. Opportunity and Luck Many individuals who struggle in life believe they have bad luck. And these same unsuccessful people believe those who are successful are simply, well, lucky in life. What they don’t understand is that successful people create their own luck. They create, what I call, ‘opportunity luck’. This is the type of luck that successful people create through their good daily habits such as engaging in career-related, self-improvement. Utilizing one or more of the career-related, self-improvement strategies will make you indispensable to your employer. Increasing your knowledge base opens up the world of hidden opportunities. Opportunities which will help your employer increase revenues or reduce expenses and guarantee that you will be among the highest paid of employees and among the last to get fired.


Before I begin on my quest to transform a life from one of poverty to one of unlimited financial wealth, let me set out some important facts about poverty and wealth in America:
  • 46.2 million Americans live below the poverty line (http://e.wikipedia.org/wiki/Povery_in_the_United_States)
  • 50% of American Households make less than $34,000 a year. (Tax Foundation.org)
  • Average student loan debt now exceeds $25,000 (http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/03/pf/student_loan_debt/index.htm)
  • 309 million people currently reside in America. (http://quickfacts.census.gov/gfd/states/00000.html)
  • 138 million make enough money to warrant filing an income tax return (Tax Foundation.org)
  • 6.9 million, or 5%, make $155,000 or more a year. (Tax Foundation.org)
This 5% puts money away for retirement, education for their children, savings, to go on fun vacations, live in nice homes, and retire without any financial worries. So, what is this 5% doing right? What is it that financially successful individuals do that sets them apart from everyone else? In a five-year research study on the daily habits of wealthy and poor individuals the answer is: it’s your daily habits! (www.richhabits.net) Wealthy individuals have many good daily habits and few bad daily habits. Conversely, poor individuals have many bad daily habits and few good daily habits. The simple reason for this has to do with how you were raised. In wealthy households parents go to great lengths to instill good daily success habits in their children. This creates what I refer to as, “the generational cycle of wealth” and is a materially contributory factor to the wealth gap. It is also the underlying reason why the rich get richer. In poor households children learn bad daily habits from their parents and this creates what I refer to as, “the generational cycle of poverty”. In poor households the poor get poorer and this pattern repeats itself from one generation to the next. So how do you break the generational cycle of poverty?  You need to eliminate your bad daily habits and replace them with good daily habits. STEP 1: Figure out which bad habits are making you poor
  • You watch too much T.V. and waste too much time on social media.
  • You eat too much and drink too much of the wrong things.
  • You don’t exercise enough aerobically.
  • Your relationships are on an “as needed” basis. You only reach out to your friends to socialize or when you have problems and need their help. You don’t call them just to say hello, happy birthday or to congratulate them or console them when something happens in their lives. In other words, you ignore them unless you need them for something.
  • Procrastination is the rule rather than the exception. You don’t maintain or stick to a daily “to do” list.
  • You devote very little time to your career beyond working. You do not attempt to become an expert in your field. To you, work is a necessary evil that one must endure in life in order to survive. Therefore, you do the bare minimum. You have “it’s not in my job description” syndrome.
  • You talk too much and don’t listen enough. Oftentimes, you are putting your foot in your mouth and saying inappropriate things.
  • You are not generous with your time or money with respect to your relationships.
  • You are a spender and not a saver. You don’t save 10% of your income every month. You spend more than you earn and your debt is overwhelming you.
  • You don’t control your thoughts and emotions on a daily basis. You lose your temper too often and belittle others too much.
  • You don’t network enough or at all with respect to your career or field.
  • You don’t set goals or don’t understand what goals really are.
STEP 2: Find good daily habits that will end your poverty The Ten Good Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1):
  1. Wealthy individuals have eliminated their bad daily habits and replaced them with good daily habits.
  2. They set daily, monthly, annual and long-term goals. They understand the difference between a wish and a goal.
  3. They engage in daily self-improvement. They engage in four core career-related, self-improvement activities.
  4. They  take good care of their health. They exercise aerobically 20-30 minutes each time, four days a week. They monitor what they eat and how much they eat.
  5. They manage their relationships every day. Strong relationships are the currency of the wealthy. They employ certain strategies to grow their relationships such as: “The Hello Call”, “The Happy Birthday Call” and “The Life Event Call”.
  6. Wealthy individuals live each day in moderation.
  7. They complete at least 70% of the tasks on their daily “to do” list.
  8. Wealthy individuals engage in “Rich Thinking”. They are upbeat, positive and focused on achievement.
  9. Wealthy individuals save a minimum of 10% of their income every year.
  10. Wealthy individuals control their thoughts and emotions, every day.
STEP 3: Re-program yourself with your new good daily success habits
  1. Take out a piece of paper and form two columns. In the first column list every one of your bad daily habits. Call this column your “Bad Habits” column.
  2. After listing all of your bad daily habits invert them and include them under column two, your “Good Habits” column. For example: “I watch too much TV” becomes “I watch 1 hour of TV per day”. “I eat too much” becomes “I eat 2,000 calories per day”. Fill your Good Habits column with these inverted Bad Habits. Keep your ‘good habits’ list with you and refer to it every day.
  3. Live your new good daily habits for 30 days. By the end of this 30 day period you will be unshackled from those bad daily habits that have been dragging you down and creating failure in your life.
So many want what has been called the “American Dream”. Yet, dreaming will only get you so far. The rubber meets the road to financial success only when you begin doing. You need to do certain things every day that will make you successful in life. You need to eliminate your bad habits and re-program yourself by living new good daily success habits. Success is a process. It’s not about random luck, education or superior genealogy. It’s about what you do every day. It’s about your daily habits!