When you’re the first person whose beliefs are different from what everyone else believes, you’re basically saying, “I’m right, and everyone else is wrong.” That’s a very unpleasant position to be in. It’s at once exhilarating and at the same time, an invitation to be attacked.
~ Larry Ellison
Most people are lifelong Sidewalkers, followers of the Sidewalk Roadmap.
The Sidewalk is the plan most traveled, a contract for a pleasurable today in lieu of a more secure tomorrow.
A Sidewalker exists in a state of one-something-from-broke: One album failure from broke. One business deal from broke. One gig from broke. One layoff from broke.
On the Sidewalk, you’re always “one something” from being homeless, bankrupt, or back living in your parent’s basement.
Yes, some Sidewalkers actually earn large incomes, but none of them ever obtains true wealth.
Don’t let the contradiction fool you. The Sidewalk doesn’t have an exit ramp to wealth—only a “DEAD END” sign signaling impending doom. The Sidewalker’s road trip is a financial treadmill with a destination that typically ceases at bankruptcy or a crisis of reckoning.
WHAT IS A SIDEWALKER?
A Sidewalker’s financial destination doesn’t exist. The plan is to have no plan.
Surplus money is immediately spent on the next great gadget, the next trip, the next newer car, the next fashionable styles, or the next hot fad. Sidewalkers are carelessly trapped in a “Lifestyle Servitude” fed by an urgent, insatiable need for pleasure, image, and instant gratification.
This perpetuates a cascading cycle that spins faster every month, increasing the velocity of the burden, forever enslaving the Sidewalker to their job or their business.
The Sidewalk is the road most traveled because it’s the path of least resistance.
Its siren song is instant gratification, and money is a hot potato that’s quickly exchanged for the latest fix of the day.
Want to witness how Sidewalkers live and think? Watch the television show Judge Judy for a few hours. Daughters suing moms for $100, people denying responsibility, consequence ignorance, people wanting rent for free. Seriously, the show should be renamed Life from the Sidewalk!
THE MINDPOSTS OF A SIDEWALKER
The Sidewalker’s roadmap contains behavioral characteristics that drive the Sidewalker’s actions. These mindsets are signposts, or “mindposts” that guide the Sidewalker through life.
Credit allows me to buy things now! Credit cards, consolidation loans, car payments—these supplement my income and help me enjoy life today! If I want it now, I’m going to get it now.
Time is abundant but I spend money like there’s no tomorrow. Heck, I could be dead in two weeks, and you can’t take it with you!
I finished school when I graduated, hooray!
If you got it, flaunt it! Why save for a rainy day? I spend every dime I earn and most of my bills are paid on time; isn’t that being fiscally responsible?
Primary Income Source:
Whatever gig pays the most is what I will do. I chase money baby! It’s all about the Benjamins!
Primary Wealth Accelerator:
Net worth? I hit the casino, I buy lottery tickets, and I have an active lawsuit against an insurance company . . . does that count?
He who dies with the most toys wins!
My formula for wealth is (Wealth = Income + Debt).
What destination? I live for today and I can’t be bothered about tomorrow.
Responsibility & Control:
Everything bad happens to me. The man is keeping me down. I am a victim. It’s someone else’s fault.
Live today, to hell with tomorrow. Life is too short to plan any further than 30 days out. You can’t take it with you! You’re only young once! Besides, I’ll hit it big someday.
THE DISTURBING SIDEWALKING FACTS
While these hypothetical mindposts and their commentary might sound ridiculous, they aren’t!
Just look at the data. Read the reports. According to a US Census Bureau study conducted in 2000 (before the technology implosion of 2001 and the financial crisis in 2009), here are the disturbing facts:
• A person under the age of 55 is 57% likely to have zero net worth, or negative net worth.
• An estimated 62% of all households in the United States have less than $100,000 in net worth.
• 89% of all “under 35” households had a net worth less than $100,000.
• A person in the 35–44 age range has a median net worth of $13,000 excluding home equity.
• A person in the age 45–54 group has a median net worth of $23,000, excluding home equity.
In a 2007 Census Bureau survey, 61% of all people who earned income earned less than $35,000/year.
This data unmasks the ugliness behind the Botox injections and the luxury German sedans:
Sidewalkers are the majority. An estimated 60% of adults live their lives on the sidewalk.
Yes, the world is full of financial illusionists.
Once the recent financial crises are factored in, the latest figures will devolve into chilling depths; I estimate that 85% of American families will have zero or negative net worth.
But you can bet that they have 650 cable channels streaming into their five flat-screen HDTVs.
If you’re older than 35 and you have less than $13,000 in net worth let me be blunt: What you are doing isn’t working. You need a new roadmap.
THE STANDARD SIDEWALKER: INCOME POOR
“Income-Poor” Sidewalkers are the mainstream populous and reflect the lower to middle class.
These Sidewalkers work for modest salaries and possess all the toys to show for it, but have little savings and no retirement plan. Their future is mortgaged to the hilt in favor of a lifestyle, with purchase affordability of any extravagance determined by the monthly payment.
Every dime is spoken for: car payments, clothes, or is sent to stave off the credit reaper.
If you live this way, you are driving at the financial redline on a narrow road bordering a cliff.
There is little hope for Sidewalkers because their roadmap is corrupted by gratification, selfishness, and irresponsibility. This problematic disposition repels wealth and thrusts codependency on overburdened hosts: taxpayers, employers, friends, parents, and loved ones.
Income-Poor Sidewalkers rationalize, “Life is short. Get out of my way or get run over!”
SIDEWALKING SYMPTOMS: ARE YOU ON IT?
You haven’t learned much since graduating from high school or college.
“I’m done with school, hooray!”
You change jobs frequently.
“C’mon, I left because this other job pays more.”
You think people with money have it because they had rich parents, luck, or easier life circumstances than you.
“I’ve had it hard. If my parents would have paid for college I could have had a good job. I had a rough childhood. Those people with money have no idea.”
You are easily impressed and seek to impress.
“I love designer purses, German cars, Italian clothes, and purebred dogs. I work hard for my money and I deserve it!”
You have poor credit.
“I pay my obligations most of the time . . . it’s just that I can’t always pay on time because of situations outside of my control. Besides, the banks and utility companies are big, rich companies—they are the enemy.”
You put faith into politicians and government to change the system, instead of focusing on how you can change yourself.
“A bigger government is the solution. More regulation, more programs, and more services. The government should serve the people. Rich people should pay more in taxes for their good fortune— they can afford it and I can’t!”
You view pawnshops, payday loan stores, and credit cards as a means of supplemental income.
“Groceries can’t wait until the next paycheck—my family has to eat! Besides, there’s a sale on crab legs for only $18 a pound.”
You have filed for bankruptcy at least once.
“It wasn’t my fault—I overextended myself and didn’t expect to lose my job. I didn’t expect a recession. I don’t feel bad about bankruptcy because it wipes my slate clean and I can start over fresh. I’m already pre-approved for another credit card.”
You live paycheck to paycheck.
“Wait, doesn’t everyone?”
You don’t alert a business when they give you incorrect change in your favor.
“Are you crazy? If a business makes a money mistake, I’m keeping it. It’s not my fault their employee screwed up.”
You have a negative net worth and little, if no savings.
“What’s the point? You only make 1% on a savings account anyhow, and look at all those people who invested in the stock market. Suckers! At least if I spend every dime I can’t lose it!”
You have no car insurance, no health insurance, and you have unprotected sex with uncommitted partners.
“What can I say, I’m a risk taker. I know that insurance and birth control are important, it’s just not a priority.”
You regularly gamble at the casino or buy lottery tickets.
“You gotta play to win right? Forget the odds—this time’s different, I just feel it.”
You immerse yourself in alternate realities, including Web site celebrity gossip blogs, television, sports, video games, or soap operas.
“I just love American Idol, Lost, Survivor and Peoples’ Court. Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to10 p.m., I know exactly where I will be.”
You’ve lost money on “get rich” schemes.
“There’s got to be an easy way to wealth. If I just buy this program/DVD series/late night infomercial product, I’ll have the secret! Get rich easy is out there!”
Your family cringes when you ask for money or you quit asking because you know a lecture follows.
“Geez, it’s just $500. My parents should take care of me until I die. Don’t they see how hard I have it? I mean, look at this apartment! The granite countertops need to be replaced!”
Can you identify a behavioral pattern? These mindsets are indicative to the Sidewalk.
Hopefully you’re not feeling angry or defensive – because that might indicate your beliefs are bred from the Sidewalk roadmap.