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What would be my advice to someone seeking to get rich in America today?

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This page last updated on or about 6-4-09
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Site visitor Ken apparently ran across my page How to get rich in America, and wanted to know if I could offer some specific advice regarding the best way for someone to seek riches in America today WITHOUT inheritance, crime, or marriage as aids.

Hi Ken! And thanks!

Yes, I still update my site-- but I may have a thousand different pages now, so any particular page might not have been updated recently.

Old age and increasing expenses have forced me to pursue money much more fervently myself in recent years, so I've been doing my best to learn exactly the thing that you're asking about.

It all boils down to luck

Unfortunately, once you rule out the three biggies my research page lists (inheritance, crime, or marriage), pretty much all that's left is pure luck. You try everything you can, and on (extremely) rare occasion, one of us out there desperately thrashing about that way will 'grab the golden ring'.

Beware misleading media stories about people 'striking it rich'

I've delved into the personal tales of people who 'struck it rich' online in recent years according to the news media, and alas, two things stand out about them: one, the media grossly mislabels them as 'rich' in most cases where they simply obtained a significant windfall-- and maybe a one time windfall at that-- of a few hundred thousand dollars at most.

A few hundred thousand dollars is not a fortune today, by any means-- unless maybe you live in a third world country. A single major medical problem can cost that much these days.

And to make things still worse, sometimes this is their gross revenue, NOT profits-- and so they actually did NOT end up with anywhere near the monies the media is boasting about.

Being in the right place at the right time is not a scientific or business strategy which can be wielded in consistent or reliable fashion

The second thing is that practically every person's method appears to be non-repeatable by anyone else, in any sort of scientific or practical fashion-- being as how they simply appear to have been in the right place at the right time. Often doing something little different from thousands of others, BUT just happening to do it in the right place, at the right time. Particularly fortunate circumstances, which are already gone by the time you read about it in the New York Times or Businessweek, and which simply couldn't have been predicted by anyone beforehand-- except by sheer accident.

There's plenty of 'get rich quick' books and web sites which will tell you different-- and even use these non-repeatable examples to inspire you. But they're scam artists, who make their own money by getting you to send money to them in the hope they'll give you some secret you can get no other way.

Personally though, I've yet to ever hear of a single credible account of a person getting rich with what they got from such sources (and in my younger days, I bought some of those books and kits myself, finding them all to be big disappointments).

Try whatever you can that won't ruin you if it fails

So in lieu of any better advice, all I can tell you at the moment is to try anything and everything your resources and wits will allow without driving you into bankruptcy or worse, should they fail. Especially things for which you are personally best suited for or talented at, if you can figure out what those are. In my own case, I've tried to do that by posting online what I've learned myself in various research efforts, like the page to which you refer, as well as writing up accounts of my youthful adventures with my self-built supercar, and other matters. Just about anything and everything which I myself have sufficient interest in to compile, generate, and present to the world, in hopes of becoming noteworthy in my own right-- and possibly deriving profit from such fame.

Those who get rich without inheritance, crime, or marriage usually do so in a way only they personally could pull off under the circumstances

For the most consistent thing about those who get rich without inheritance, crime, or marriage, is that they usually do it in some unique way, which likely could not be repeated by anyone else.

Success of this kind is almost literally a 'billion to one shot'. Example: how many people do you know ever made it big the same way Steve Jobs did?

On the other hand, there is at this very moment literally millions of us making such 'unique' efforts-- many of them surprisingly good ones-- and yet very, very few of us will end up getting very far with them, money-wise. Most will never make any significant money at all from them.

Building a 'me-too' business merely copying the proven success already existing in a given region for your chosen industry may be your best bet for a comfortable life (not wealth)-- if you have the means.

Yes, that's not exactly good news for anyone wanting some reasonable expectation of great success for their efforts. But there's two levels of business success. One is actually becoming wealthy beyond the dreams of the average man, and the other is successfully establishing your own business from which you could make a comfortable living (but probably never get rich with). Me, I'd be happy with either at this stage in my life. But the only way I have a shot at either is going for broke shooting for the first-- as (like many others) I do not possess the capital, contacts, or other resources required to start a conventional business operation. However, maybe you do. In that case, your options widen considerably, so long as a comfortable living (and not getting rich) is enough of a goal for you. Namely, if you have the resources, you simply copy existing business success in a field where you have a natural or circumstantial edge over most others. On that matter, there's quite a few books available to help guide you, and are for the most part reasonably helpful, as a great many established businesses are often open to successful copying by others. For instance, you might know a great location for a new laundromat in your hometown, not currently being serviced by existing operations. Stuff like that.

Yes, simply building a hum-drum business to sustain you isn't nearly so exciting as the thought of getting fabulously wealthy, but getting wealthy without crime, inheritance, or marriage basically pits you against the same long shot you face in winning a massive $300 million lottery. And so will not be worth the effort and expense for most. Thus, if you have the resources, I'd advise just going about building yourself a long-term business that might allow you to retire early and comfortably instead.

I wish I could!

If you'd like average Americans to have a better shot at wealth than is described above, the biggest thing you could do is pressure politicians to make it harder for big business to bar the door.

As a final note, I'll say this: although it's likely too late for our generation to benefit from it, if we sufficiently pressured our politicians about it, we might get various legal reforms passed making it harder on big business, and easier for small business, for a change-- and thereby empower the next generation to have a much better shot at financial success than we ever did.

Further empowerment for the individual small entrepreneur would come from shifting some of the funds we currently use for corporate welfare to social welfare instead. Like providing universal healthcare and free college educations, rather than massive tax dodges and outright subsidies for big business. Things like that could drastically change the business landscape, and give all of us lots more opportunity than exists today in America. I've got more details about such changes in Intellectual property and business competition reforms in the 21st century.

I hope you find something useful in this Ken: I'm sorry it's not nearly so useful as you'd like.

-- JR

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