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How Rich ARE You?

by J. Money on Monday, May 3, 2010

my rich list position
I was forwarded this site from a good friend of mine (Mr. Coffee Cents himself) and it turns out I’m pretty RICH! The 49,322,169th richest person in the world to be exact ;)  But what’s crazy about this is that I fall into the Top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people.  THE WORLD’S.

That means 99 out of every 100 people living and breathing today are making less than $75,000 a year – the number I plugged into this Global Rich List. That’s insane man.  And do you know what happened when I plugged in $50k?  It barely moved. $50k is *still* in the Top 1% of the richest people in the world.  In fact, I kept going lower and lower until I hit pretty much rock bottom – do you want to guess what that number is?  Check it:

At a $40,000 salary: Top 3.17%
At a $20,000 salary: Top 7.16%
At a $5,000 salary: Top 14.39%
At a $2,000 salary: Top 17.62% (not even considered “poor” yet!)
At a $1,000 salary: Top 44.1%
At a $500 salary: Top 80% (now “poor” – but still beating 20% of the world)
At a $200 salary: Top 95.71%

And then it pretty much drops off. 60% of the world makes less than $1,000 a year! If you aren’t feeling thankful now, something’s wrong with you.  No matter how much debt or financial crap is going on in your lives.  We are very blessed to be living in the U.S.! Or Canada or England or wherever else you’re reading this right now :) We may not feel rich, but you better believe we are.

The only thing I don’t like about this calculator is that it bases all this wealth on salary. Which, as we all know (or *should* know), does NOT necessarily mean someone’s well off.  Or even close to being well off. I mean, it’s still better than 99% of the world, of course, but not in the way you and I think about what being “rich” means.  The true measure of financial success is the way you MANAGE it all – your spending and saving habits. There are plenty of people out there making 6 or 7 figures who are still struggling to get by!  I know of one myself, actually, and to think I have a higher net worth than he does blows my mind.

But the point of all this is just to really think about how lucky we should feel for being in the positions we are.  We all have shelter. We all have food and water. Most of us still have our health and our loved ones nearby. In the general scheme of things – we are ALL rich!  And unfortunately it takes a silly calculator sometimes for us to realize it.

my rich list position

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Young Mogul May 3, 2010 at 9:37 am

Yes, this post really should make everyone feel grateful to be born in the good ole’ US of A. We are not a perfect country, what country is; but we do OK. It is just the luck of the draw what country we are born into, the quality of our parents, etc. Many of us don’t have a reason to complain about finances because, most of us–not all– have determined our own financial situations through our own actions or lack thereof.

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2 MyFinancialObjectives May 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

Wow that is crazy….. I really liked their little statements at the bottom:

“$8 could buy you 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.

$30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.

$73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.

$2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.”

Pretty powerful message. Nice post!

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3 Keith @ LifeTuner May 3, 2010 at 10:52 am

Really great perspective, J. Thanks!

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4 Investing Newbie May 3, 2010 at 11:51 am

Being a Financial Analyst, I can’t help but notice how WRONG this calculator is. Of course, it is a model, which is a simple reflection of a metric, and the point overall of the calculator is to be grateful for our current circumstances. But, honestly, $5,000 a year in some countries is baller status. Which means at your salary level, you could probably be a king in some places. Hmmm…I hope I didn’t give you any ideas…

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5 David Damron May 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm

This post was actually depressing J. Why? Because I was once in the top 1% richest too, yet I didn’t do that much to help others. Sure, I donated $20 here and there to this and that, but I took for granted how lucky I was and didn’t help others get there too. Or even get to making $1000/week.

This was a great post man. I think more people need to read how lucky we are and how we need to aspire to give more back.

David
The Minimalist Path

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6 FB May 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I wish it had links so I could buy a 100 trees that be great!

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7 Favor May 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm

We should indeed consider ourselves blessed. I do everyday…

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8 Donna May 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Wow! That is exactly why for Christmas my husband and I do not exchange gifts. We donate to Gospel for Asia. Last Christmas we gifted 2 rabbits, 2 chickens, gospel tracts, blankets, biosand filter wells for clean water and so on. I do not need more stuff! When I think how grateful someone is to receive 2 chickens and a warm blanket, it makes me cry. This is exactly why I give and have adopted a more minimalist lifestyle in order to give to my charities monthly. If everyone bought one less item and gifted a family a way to support themselves or educate themselves, what a better and healthier world this would be. Great post J, as usual. :-)

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9 CoffeeCents May 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm

@InvestingNewbie

You’re entirely right in that the calculation does not factor in the cost of living, and at a micro scale that’s going to cause some incorrect statistics (I point out this correction in my article on DinksFinance.com). But it is a reminder that the developed world really does have a huge advantage and while this is an imperfect measure, it still makes a great point

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10 Stella May 3, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Very thought-provoking stats! Thanks putting it all in perspective…

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11 ctreit May 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

You have something else to be thankful for. You have a good head on your shoulder that allows you to grow your net worth steadily while somebody else can’t even do that with a much higher income than yours. Imagine being trapped so that you don’t grow your net worth! How many agonizing hours does it take before you can break out of this trap? – We have indeed every reason to be grateful not just for our material well-being but also for our emotional well-being.

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12 Donna Freedman May 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I feel rich because:
I have family, friends and a job I love.
I have everything I need and some of what I want.
I have food every day, a roof over my head and access to clean water. (People die every day from water-borne illnesses in some parts of the world.)
I have no debt, save money every month and am in a position to help others (loans, gifts, donations to charity).
As I wrote in an article called “Living ‘poor’ and loving it,” true prosperity is more than just a healthy bottom line. Being rich wouldn’t necessarily make me happy or generous. Those two states of mind have nothing to do with your bank balance. There’s a world of difference between poverty and poverty of spirit.
[[That thumping sound you hear is me climbing down from my soapbox.]]

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13 Shevonne May 4, 2010 at 12:01 am

I’m 39,615,049. I can’t believe that 9 out of 10 people make less than $75,000. It seems where I live everyone makes more than that.

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14 me May 4, 2010 at 1:24 am

That’s right. We are all rich. And we are all going to hell.

Jesus said to the rich man: If you want to go to heaven: “Sell all you have, give it to the poor and follow me.”

So, all Americans (including you) are going to hell because they are not following Jesus’ commands.

And you thought we were a Christian nation!!!!

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15 Andy May 4, 2010 at 4:38 am

An interesting idea that $75K makes you in top 1% of the world. 1% = 600 million people so I guess the numbers are possible, Still most non-developed countries rarely report income and in a number of cases, it does not factor it other types of income (like dividends, state subsidies) etc. The average American family makes $50K and the American poverty line (http://www.savingtoinvest.com/2010/03/what-is-poverty-in-america-national.html) tops out at about $37K – so I guess $75K may not be a bad Estimate. But like one of the commentators said, cost of living is a big factor and $1 in America buys you much less than $1 in China or India.

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16 likaki May 4, 2010 at 7:51 am

I think it interesting that “Me” thought we were a Christian nation. What in the world you talking about? Ever heard of our Constitution and the separation of church and state, one of the major reason for starting the America was to escape “Me’s thinking. Your religious fantasy life is Un-American!

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17 J. Money May 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

I think “ME” just likes to stir up the pot :)

I’m not the most religious man in the world, but I do pray and believe in God (and do my best to go to church every week – even if I fail) and it’s a bit hard for me to follow the Bible literally like that. If you sell all your stuff and give your money away you cannot support your family. You may be able to “get by” and find a way to live more freely, but 1 emergency could wipe you out and you wouldn’t be able to give back to society anymore (because “emergency funds” would be forbidden). And if you think you could get decent health care without much money you’re in trouble….

I think there’s a nice balance between following the Lord’s word while at the same time providing for your family. But I’ll be the first to admit I could be giving back a helluva lot more than I am….it’s been something I’ve been working on for a while now.

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18 Jeff Burton May 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Another misleading aspect of this is that it implicitly confuses per person income with household income. Divide by number of people in your household and plug in the number – eye-opening, but not quite so dramatic.

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19 Gady May 5, 2010 at 7:16 am

your article is so egotistic. yes we are rich and yes we should be thankful.
but what about those other 90% who suffer from our richness ?
they are getting paid 1$ per day so we can but the shoes they are making for 200$ ?

your wealth is given to you just because you were burn in the USA.
if there is an a life after this one I wish you will be born in India

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20 J. Money May 5, 2010 at 11:12 am

I’m not sure what the point of your comment is….we shouldn’t be glad we live in the US? We should live like those less fortunate? I don’t see how sharing the news that the US is in the top 1% (and thus educating those who didn’t know this like myself) is a bad thing.

Are you doing something that’s helping change the world that we should be aware of?

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21 Boaba Whales May 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I just want to point out that the absolute numbers do not correlate directly into purchasing power — simply because when international trade is not involved, money value is only relative.

The same McDonald’s meal costs 14 USD in England, 7 USD in the United States, 4 USD in Taiwan.

Does that mean the burger in England is better in quality? Or that burgers in Taiwan have one less patty?

No, the price is different because money value is only relative to the market the product is sold in. People make more money in England, so in general their prices are higher. On the other hand, people make less in Taiwan, so the prices are lower.

If we assume that someone in Taiwan only make 60% of what an average American makes. What this website tries to tell us is that they are “less fortunate” and “cannot live the life style of an average American.” What if things in Taiwan are in general 50% cheaper than the same things in the US? Then that person actually actually have more purchasing power than an average American and most likely lives a better life than the average American.

This is not to say that we are not fortunate. Even though it might only cost 30 USD a month to live an “average American lifestyle” in some countries, the average income for someone in that country might be 25 USD. If you would like to help out countries where the cost of living is lower in terms of absolute numbers, then of course your money would make a big impact and you should help them out.

Unless the website would instead calculate “annual income divided by cost of living an average American lifestyle” depending on your geographic location, I would say this website presents a very skewed view on this issue.

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22 F. I. A. R. May 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

That’s a very twisted way of looking at things.
The author is feeling happy and blessed for being amongst the top 1 percent of earners. I look at it as a disgusting illustration at how the “trickle-down” theory is bullshit. There are people out there with nothing…and those with everything. Nobody should have that much money. The wealth needs to be shared. This article doesn’t make me feel happy about my prospective salary, it makes me feel ashamed to be a part of a human race that does not take care of one another!

~F

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23 J. Money May 8, 2010 at 10:56 pm

you don’t think anyone in the 1% gives back and shares some of their wealth? what are you doing to help out?

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24 RGA May 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I have never plugged into that I’m grateful I have shoes when I see a man walking barefoot. I think one’s IQ is slightly above two standard deviations below normal, whenever I hear that kind of thinking. I was cursed with this human condition called empathy, and have never much thought of how wonderful it feels to be rich, while you’re poor. Instead, I think of how much we have that doesn’t go to help others. It’s probably about 60 – 80% of our resources, that go directly to thinking this planet is our own personal playground of comfort and enjoyment. Yuk, on being rich. Do something for the planet, rather than yourself, and you will know the full meaning of wealth.

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25 RGA May 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I should have read all the comments before I posted. You seem like an intelligent and thoughtful person, who wants the best for his family, and works hard to pull that off. That’s more than I can say about a lot of people. What happens though, is that the thinking you subscribe to, while well meaning, is exactly the biggest obstacle to a more equitable world. We blindly follow a set of priorities that put ourselves and family first, our community second, our country next, and then the world, with whatever we deem may be left over, while voraciously perusing our goals of security for our own lives. Until the bulk of people in the world can begin to exercise some honesty about that, and stop rationalizing and justifying their own self-interest, there will be little to no real progress toward a more equitable world. And while I’m not formally educated in religion, your statement about striking a balance between Jesus’ words and taking care of your family, is a total distortion of his alleged teachings. He never taught “balance,” he never said, “follow me and we’ll build an air conditioned church,” and his family was as large as his burdens. He taught a completely different thing than what you seem to think. He never said, “follow me and we’ll strike a balance between helping the less fortunate and diversifying our portfolios.” Sorry to be so harsh, but I get really tired of people that go to church, thinking it has anything whatsoever to do with the teachings of Christ. Most churchgoers, while good people, and well meaning, do it mostly to bring meaning to their own lives and standards. Yes, there is some token of giving and helping. Some people, of course, are more honest about it than others. I said “most” churchgoers.

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26 sid350 May 17, 2010 at 1:40 am

I make ~$500 per month, and it’s a good money here.

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27 LD May 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I’m in the top 12%, apparently, but I still struggle to meet the expenses of living in my privileged Australian society – enough to survive, just. I can’t say this told me much that I didn’t know, and I don’t feel a whole lot better about my income.
I am very grateful that I have shelter and clean water and food and clothing, but everything is relative. Of course.

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