Chapter 1: Meet the Neighbors
Like the wealthy, the 27 percent of Americans who are financially comfortable are standing on solid—well above average—financial ground. On average, they have investable assets of $240,000—a number that rises with age.
Their good habits have put them there. The financially comfortable are even more likely than wealthy individuals to make—and stick to—a budget. In other words, they're careful about how much they spend. They're similarly careful about how much they borrow. Nearly 70 percent pay off their credit cards in full every month, and the rest either pay more than the minimum or don't use cards at all. Three-quarters devote a chunk of household income each month to personal savings. That's striking in an America that for the last decade has been saving nothing at all.
These are people who, like the wealthy, are in a good place—not just financially but in life. In large part, money does not stress them out. A scant 2 percent—a number so small it could be a result of statistical error—say money causes headaches in their lives. Only a handful say they'd have any trouble whatsoever paying a large medical bill if it hit unexpectedly, or staying afloat if they lost their household income temporarily. Although they're not as satisfied with their social lives, health, or sex lives as the wealthy are, they're just as satisfied with their family life, which makes sense, since they are more likely to be family focused, but less so on friends, colleagues, or neighbors.
With all of those positives, why haven't the financially comfortable become wealthy? They're missing a few solid pieces of the wealthy personality. They're less optimistic. Less likely to take a risk at an advantageous time. Less likely to reach out of that inner, familial circle to make a connection with someone who holds the keys to getting ahead. As a result, they are a little less grateful as well.
Don't get me wrong. Financially comfortable is not a bad place to be. It's a place most Americans should aspire to. But once you reach it, digging into your soul and unlocking The Difference will allow you to reach heights—in wealth, success, and happiness—that perhaps you never realized were possible.