Chapter 1. The Difference between Being Rich and Acting Rich


Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

 --Oscar Wilde

While in his early teens, my dad worked as a paperboy, covering two newspaper routes: the blue route and the white route. Most of his "blue" customers lived in working- or lower-middle-class (blue-collar) neighborhoods located to the east and south of his parents' home. The "white" route included middle- to upper-middle-class (white-collar) customers who, for the most part, occupied nice and neat single-family homes to the west and north. Both routes contained roughly the same number of subscribers. Contrary to what you might think, my father found that the "blue" route was the more financially lucrative of the two. Customers were significantly more likely to pay on time, tip their paperboy, and provide him with a Christmas bonus.

Why? My father theorized that many of his "white" route customers were perpetually strapped for cash, as they were supporting expensive homes and all that goes along with them. He felt that many of his customers along his "blue" route lived below their means. As a result, they always seemed to have cash on hand with which to pay him when he collected.

The lesson in this story, according to my father, was there was a difference between looking rich and being rich, and that most people who looked rich weren't—they lived above their means and therefore usually had little money with which to be generous to others. ...

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