25 Traits Of The Not So Well To Do

Who hasn’t complained about money from time to time?

I’ve had my share of gripes over the years for sure!  Some people follow up their gripes by doing something about it.  They save and work hard so they can have a better life later on.  They become the well to do.

Others are the not so well to do’s.  They sacrifice their futures to live like kings and queens today, always with the latest “stuff” but at the same time complaining about money.

I’ve observed, over the years, that the not so well to do’s have some traits in common.  The following list are my observations.

These items aren’t bad per se, but when you see a good number of these traits in a person there’s a good chance they too are one of the not so well to do (read: poor)!

25 Traits Of The Not So Well To Do:

Reason you're not rich or wealthy1) Big flat screen TV

I’d love to have one but I know we can use the money elsewhere right now.  But I’ve seen a lot of paycheck to paycheck households with a flat-screen TV.  They are the wave of the future but these were bought to have a cool tv not because tube TV’s were no longer available.

2) Premium cable channels

Who doesn’t love the shows on HBO or Showtime?  But the the ones who are most complaining about money tend to not only have one premium cable channel, they tend to have them all!  When you mention that it’s expensive they insist that it’s cheaper because of a package.  They might also have some sort of DVR to record all of the channels too.  Sorry, I can’t see spending over $100 a month to sit in front of the TV that much (thought there was a time that I did but I was also in credit card debt once too).

3) Eating out often

The not so well to do can’t get ahead because so much of their paychecks go to eating out often.  I’m not against a good meal but these people rely on other to cook for them rather than prepare food for themselves.

4) Leasing a car

A car lease can be useful but the not so well to do’s are perpetually leasing, enticed by the lower monthly payment.  Over time though a bought car would have saved them a whole lot!

5) Buying a new car every few years

Maybe worse than the car leasers are those who insist on buying a car every few years.  Oh, the horror of not having an up to date vehicle that you take care of for the long haul.  You must have something new to show off.

6) TV in every room (with cable)

The not so well to do’s are so consumed with their TV shows that they have one in every room lest they miss something on TV!  Every bedroom and kid has one too!  There might even be a small one in the kitchen.  And to add to the expense they probably all have full premium cable channels.  I love TV but come on!

7)Latest cell phones

The not so well to do’s always have the latest cell phones.  It’s a miracle if their cell phones last for the 2-year contract.  These are people where you run into them every few months and somehow they have a new phone.  They’ll insist that it didn’t cost them anything but we know better.

8 )Eat poorly

This goes hand in hand with eating out.  The NSWTD’s tend to eat like crap.  Soda is a staple as are fried foods and fast food in general.

9)Overweight/No Exercise

When you eat out all the time and don’t eat well what’s going to happen?  Yeah, you’re gonna put on a couple of pounds.  Or more!  These people scoff at exercise and moan that they don’t have time and it’s too expensive.  Of course it is – you’re spending too much time and money on your TV’s and shows!

10) Lots of new clothes

Oh, the not so well to do’s have to have the latest styles or the biggest name brands.  And in excess too!  A few pairs of shoes or sneakers?  Yeah, that would be optimistic.  More like enough shoes so that none of them ever have a chance of wearing out.

11) Tons of gifts for the holidays when you can’t afford it

Have you heard this story?  Person complains that they are up to their necks in credit card debt because they had to buy everyone gifts for the holidays.  Not just immediate family but all sorts of extended family too.  Uncle Joe’s wife’s sister Mary’s kid needed to get that new X-Box game because you promised it to him.  Wonder why he likes it when you come over for the holidays?

12) New computer every couple of years

Man, the not so well to do’s go through computers like my two year old goes through diapers!  There’s always some reason they needed a new one.  And no, these people don’t need their computer for work in any way.

13) Don’t take care of their stuff

These folks not only have lots of stuff but they don’t take care of it either.  Rather than take care of their stuff they let it fall into disarray.  Even if there’s something small that can be fixed they’d rather just go buy another then go through the trouble of fixing it.  Yeah, here’s one reason they go through so many cars, cell phones, and computers!

14) Tons of gadgets

Always with the newest gadgets the not so well to do’s have (that was a Yoda sentence, huh?).  Besides cell phones and such they also have whatever is the newest thing, paying full price for being the first to have it.

15) Doesn’t own a home

Nothing wrong with renting but I find that the not so well to do’s more often than not rent.  And they move pretty often too.  I guess their apartments aren’t ever big enough for all of their stuff!

16) No online high yield savings accounts

No ING Direct Savings for these people.  For whatever reason they don’t trust online banking, or so they claim.  Yet they seem to be able to use their computers to shop online without trust issues, hmm.

17) Doesn’t budget

No budget what-so-ever!  “Budgets? We don’t need no stinking budgets!” Spend and we’ll figure it out later.

18)Couldn’t tell you their monthly expenses

The NSWTD’s can’t keep track of their expenses.  There’s so many to keep track of too!  Think a budget might help?  They also have a tendency to miss payments on bills making the cost of their expenses even greater.

19) Doesn’t share finances with their spouse

There’s a tendency that one spouse takes care of all the finances while the other one has no clue.  Scary.

20) Hates job but won’t do anything about it

Do these people bitch about their jobs!  But ask them why they won’t leave or look for another one and they’ll give you a litany of excuses.

21)Little or no college education

I don’t want to rag on people who don’t like school.  It’s not for everyone and not everyone needs it.  But it seems a lot of the not so well to do’s have little or no college education.  Just saying.

22) No financial priorities

These are the people that tell you they could never save a down payment for a house but then you see all of the gadgets and new items they have.  Yeah, they could save up they just don’t make it a priority.

23) Quick to pick up tab and tip

It’s great going out with these people because they are quick to pick up the tab and/or leave a ridiculous tip.  It’s like they are trying to prove they have a lot so they become over generous.  Hey, I’ll pay my share and you don’t have to prove anything to me!

24)They don’t realize their situation

For all of the complaining about money they do, the not so well to do’s don’t realize why they are cash-strapped.  When you try to point out how they spend or how expensive some of their habits are they say it’s nonsense.

25) No personal responsibility

Someone or something is always out to get them and causes them to be broke.  The IRS hates them.  Their bosses won’t promote them.  Their family takes their money.  There’s always some outside influence that causes them to not have money.  It rare that they blame themselves for their situation.


The traits I listed aren’t bad in of themselves. Hey, if I could always have a new car and the latest cell phone and eat out all the time at the nicest restaurants then that would be great.

But I can’t, and these people can’t either.

The not so well to do’s over-extend themselves and hold themselves back.  They try to live up to some imaginary ideal that is impossible for them to keep up with.  Some of it is keeping up with the Jones’.  Some of it is not wanting to know their limitations.  Whatever it is it keeps them back and they will always be struggling unless they change their waysThey are the not so well to do and will remain that way unless they change.

If you are reading this and these traits resemble you then take a good hard look at your spending habits and ask yourself if there’s any way you could make a positive change!

What traits have you noticed about the not so well to do’s?

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Published or updated August 21, 2016.


  1. Great list! I would say the NSWTDs are 1 to 2 paychecks away from ruin and have no emergency. Sounds like a few people I know sadly enough, but then again, they say ignorance is bliss.

    Matt SF’s last blog post..Weekend Reads: Stock Market Stuck in a Trading Range Edition

    • @ Matt – Unfortunately I think you are right. I think many of the NSWTD’s would rather not think about their financial situation and pretend it will resolve itself or some magic will happen when the time comes.

    • I am 28 single and female 3 years ago i sold all my furnature and downsized to a trailer i now own. I have never owned a credit card. i have been living poor and saved 52,000 dollars saving my paychecks and prepareing my own meals at this rate i will save another 5ok in 3 years and i will have 100,000 all my own. I am my own person and will never be a slave to debt or employer because of my well to do habits!

  2. Oops… I meant to say… no emergency fund.

    Matt SF’s last blog post..Weekend Reads: Stock Market Stuck in a Trading Range Edition

  3. Emily@remodelingthislife says:

    I know some people like this. Complain they never have money and they are literally one misstep away from disaster but the second they get their hands on any remotely substantial amount of money they are out buying some new gadget, never helping themselves by saving or just living contentedly. It’s hard to watch and try to be sympathetic when it seems they don’t want to do anything to help themselves. The moment something goes wrong, at least they have a house full of gadgety crap to sell off until next time.

    Emily@remodelingthislife’s last blog post..Pear Budget Giveaway Winners!

    • @ Emily – Thing is they probably don’t have the gadgetry to really sell off. Either it’s not taken care of or not worth what they paid for it because they had to be the first to get it or it’s upgraded already. I’ve also seen these types all too often (even was one once). They get something like a tax refund and rather than start a savings account or pay off bills they look to make some grand expenditure. It’s tough to feel bad for them after a while.

      • …and sometimes they spend their tax refund or whatever before they’ve even received it… All you can do is shake your head..

        • ….and many NSWTD’s pay the exorbitant rates to get their income tax refund in the form of a refund anticipation loan. the NSWTD’s also are most likely to have too much money withheld from their weekly pay so they can get that big “bonus” refund at tax time. I have given up trying to explain that it is their own money to start with and they could just not have it withheld.

  4. Emily@remodelingthislife says:

    btw, I guess it’s been a while since I clicked over from my reader. Love the new look!!

    Emily@remodelingthislife’s last blog post..Pear Budget Giveaway Winners!

  5. I certainly know people like this. What frustrates me the most is when I see people out spending money and then they comment about how they have no idea how much money they have! How can you know whether or not you can afford something if you have no idea how much money you have?

    On another note, I think we should be careful not to judge someone because we see them doing some of these behaviors. There is definitely nothing wrong with having a flat screen tv or eating out. We all just need to choose which luxuries are important to us and which ones we can live without.

    Olivia’s last blog post..Saving Just a Little Can Go a Long Way

    • @ Olivia – Yes, people spend without care. Not to blame credit cards but I think having revolving credit gives them a sense of security that they can always pay it back later.

      And I’m not judging anyone who fits most of these traits but can afford it. I agree that we have to make a priority of what’s important to us. If someone wants a flat-screen tv then by all means get one. But I don’t want to hear that you can’t afford the rent or the car payment or you’re short on cash. That’s where I have an issue.

  6. Miranda says:

    I think you make an interesting observation. My husband once had a job in which he had to visit others in their homes. My brother currently delivers furniture for a store. Both of them were in awe over the flat screen TVs and nice cars that frequently came with low-rent apartments. There weren’t any signs of well-to-do, except the TVs and the cars. And my brother said that when he delivers furniture to such places it is almost always financed at high rates. My husband once complimented someone on their car, and the guy began complaining about the high cost of the payments and interest. I guess it’s a matter of priority. And being more concerned with LOOKING well-to-do, rather than actually being well-to-do.

    Miranda’s last blog post..Would We Be Happier If We Paid More Taxes?

    • Keeping up with the Jones’! Yet I know some people who are wealthy and they don’t have flashy cars or tv’s. Interesting isn’t it?

      • I believe you mean keeping up with the Joneses… Keeping up with the Jones’ just doesn’t make any sense.

    • This could also have some bearing on why the NSWTD live this way. A few months ago, I read an article stating that the food stamps program does not help Americans get back on their feet because it highly punishes savings. Income is the first factor in determining if a household can receive aid. If you meet that qualification, then you are allowed to have $2,000 in assets, other than a car. (I might not be perfectly correct on this b/c I don’t know about all of the rules of the program.) The gadgets and big screen t.v.’s aren’t really checked when someone applies for aid through food stamps. But their checking/savings accounts are. And if you can have a car exempt and still be eligible for the program, people who are afraid to lose the support they have from food stamps will be much more likely to get an expensive car than to try to save the money to be able to have an emergency fund. I think it would be nice if the government had in place a food stamps program that incrementally helps the people receiving aid so that they can be able to meet a place of security for when they get off of the program.

  7. Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet says:

    I love this post! You described a few members of my family to a T. crazy.

    Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet’s last blog post..Guest Post over at Ultimate Money Blog

  8. Meg from FruWiki says:

    The NSWTDs have their tax refund spent before they even see it.
    The NSWTDs use payday loans.
    The NSWTDs don’t have an emergency fund.
    The NSWTDs can’t skip the daily Starbucks.
    The NSWTDs are at the mercy of friends when their car breaks down.
    The NSWTDs move further away from work and public transportation.
    The NSWTD wonders why her frugal wants to live so “poor” when her friend’s husband makes a good income.

    O.k., sad to say, I might be describing a friend. My hope for her and all the NSWTDs is that they figure out 1. how bad off they really are but 2. how well off they could be and with what changes, and then 3. turn things around before disaster really strikes.

    Goodness knows, my husband and I have made a lot of mistakes — and are paying for them. And we will be paying them off for a while, and then trying to make up for lost time with savings and retirement. But, in the meantime, we’re living frugally, making a good dent in our debt each month, and not living all that bad. Actually, I think we’re living a lot better than we did before. So, there is hope for everyone!

    Meg from FruWiki’s last blog post..Plastic shopping bags

    • I agree with you on all fronts! It’s ok to make mistakes, we all make them, it’s realizing the mistakes that are important.

  9. I know some people like this. Scary!

    Just the other day, I was thinking about all the new crap I could buy now that we’re out of debt. But, I’d buy it and then we’d be broke.

    We’d be better off if we save our money for its intended purpose (getting a house) rather than enjoying a bunch of gadgets but remaining mostly broke.

    It’s all about priorities

    Kacie’s last blog post..Why I wanna spend: Daunted by my next goal

    • Funny, we do the same thing. We think “why not just take our money and go on a huge vacation somewhere?” Then we pop back into reality and focus on our priorities.

  10. A more abstract characteristic might be the lack of a vision or overall purpose to life. I think large wealth ultimately always comes from a larger purpose. The larger your purpose/vision, the larger your wealth. So, if you have no vision there’s also less need to plan, and then you end up living day by day.

    MoneyEnergy’s last blog post..The Real Costs of Graduate School

    • Both an interesting and great point! When you’re floundering around you’re not thinking of retirement and such.

  11. Echoing MoneyEnergy’s point, it is quite well known sociologically that short term thinking and lower socio-economic standing (and conversely, long term thinking and upper socio-economic standing) are highly correlated.

    Also, this has little to do with income levels. Quite a few high-income families are quite poor as they cannot afford their lifestyles, nor do they have savings to fall back on. On the other hand, there are many low income families that are on a financially sound footing. It is all about priorities.

    Arohan’s last blog post..Strategies for Teaching Kids about Money and Savings

    • So true – You can be a high power attorney and still be living paycheck to paycheck because of your debt.

  12. Man, I used to embody about 10 of those traits…no longer though my friend!

    This post is sweet…simple ways for people to measure how effective their current (if any) debt reduction plan really is.

    One of my goals in life is to help people like this! Poor saps…

    Matt Jabs’s last blog post..The Importance of Financial Mentoring

    • Same here. I think a lot of people at some point resembled this list. The key is realizing your situation and doing something to get out of it.

      • It reminded me how specifically of the relationship that exists between an individuals debt and just how much they are willing to sacrifice to get rid of it.

        More sacrifice = quicker road to debt freedom. It’s so simple, but people are just so unwilling to sacrifice anymore.

        That’s why I absolutely love Jacob of EarlyRetirementExtreme.com. That guy sacrificed enough for all of us!

        Matt Jabs’s last blog post..Manually Report Utility Meter Readings To Avoid Being Overcharged

        • mysticaltyger says:

          One thing I might add, is that after a while, you realize that not having all this stuff is NOT really all that much of a sacrifice. A roof over your head, food bought at the grocery store, a used carr you paid cash for, an affordable TV with limited cable……These things are a enough to make you happy. I would even suggest its possible to live happily without a TV entirely, but that is too radical for most.

          I would suggest that Jacob at earlyretirementextreme.com is one of those people who is probably a lot happier than average, yet he lives with much less stuff than most.

  13. Matt @ My Financial Recovery says:

    Wow – what good timing to stumble on this post. I tend to exhibit way too many of these traits and am working on breaking free of that cycle. I find I can justify spending on almost anything if I really want to (like the flat screen tv I was looking at earlier today).

    Thanks for reminding me to watch my actions now so I can live better later!

    Matt @ My Financial Recovery’s last blog post..Do You Use Roku?

    • I know what you mean! I’m the master of justifying an expense. Fortunately I have my wife to reign me back in.

  14. one that you left out that is probably the biggest reason is that they have a large amount of credit card debt and they pay the minimum! I saw so many of my friends do that and they get into a hole that they can never climb out of.

  15. TStrump says:

    In other words, the ‘Not so well to do’ can’t control what they spend their money on.
    They buy useless things that make them ‘look rich’

    TStrump’s last blog post..Discount Broker Choice and Stock Pick

  16. We’re a nation driven by being in debt….not that I agree with it. Even Obama is telling people to go spend spend spend: When he should be saying, save save save.

  17. I would emphasise that “Doesn’t budget” is one of the main sources of the rest of the trouble as hilighted in a recent study carried out here in Australia. Thanks for the post.

  18. I think I have to disagree about the overweight thing. I haven’t found being overweight to be much of a factor. Or maybe I’m just touchy because I’ve been pretty careful about money my whole life. And also overweight for most of it.

    I definitely agree that there are a few hallmarks in there. The premium cable channels and the nice electronics.

    They also tend to go out all the time, while simultaneously complaining about their finances. For awhile, I went to this dive bar (friends hung out there and cheap, strong drinks when I did indulge). Many of the regulars went there quite literally every weekday. And I would watch them pouring from a pitcher of beer and repeating the same phrases about how they were going to have to scrape up enough to get rent this month again, or they’re broke until payday. They seemed utterly unable to connect the two facts.

    It actually hurt to hear, given how tight things were for me at the time. I tended to go during happy hour or simply go to hang out with friends and not drink. I was barely holding things together, between health problems interfering with my earning ability and life costs mounting. Drove me crazy.

    You figure they bought even a pitcher three times a week, that’s $20ish a week. That’s over $1000 a year. And most of these people went four or five times a week (minimum) and got more than one pitcher. Great stuff.

    Oh and don’t forget one other trait of the NWTDs: They’re REAL happy and social around payday. That’s often because they live paycheck to paycheck, so each new check means a few nights out or a big buying spree before it all evaporates again.

    Abigail’s last blog post..A house shouldn’t be a priority

    • By no means is this a knock on people that are overweight. Heck I can certainly lose a few myself :). It’s just that I’ve observed that being overweight was a trait the not so well to do’s had from my perspective. Like the other traits, taken alone it doesn’t mean you will be poor. But throw in a bunch of other traits….

      And you’re right about payday! Money burns a big hole in their pockets and they are quick to share it with everyone.

  19. Very interesting take on people who survive on paychecks.. Cant agree more on this.. however would add few more points to this
    1. These people dont have any emergency fund and worse they dont think its required.
    2. Dont bargain or shop around while buying high ticket item.
    3. Think that time to plan for retirement has not yet come and this they can do later.
    4. Live in today and hope that tommorrow too will be similar.


  20. I totally agree with you. Love this post!!!!! I have a friend who is dead broke….can barely keep up with the electricity and food but they have a giant flat screen (in a tiny place where you can’t see the tv properly if you sit on anything but the couch!!!) and he has the latest cell phone!!!!

    They have other issues as well but those two caught my eye because I was talking to someone about this earlier.

    • I hate to knock flat screen TV’s (I want one too!) but it’s such a common trait! It’s more related to sitting around watching too much TV more than anything (and have I been guilty of that as well).

      • If I just bought a new house on a mortgage, and I have got enough bank savings that I can even pay my whole mortgage at once, but then instead of that I use let’s say $35,000 to furnish the house and buy the most expensive sofa with the most expensive beds, top range kitchen and three flat-screens, but I still have enough money in the bank so that if I lose my job, then I can keep on paying my mortgage for upto next 10 years (mine is 19 years, this is the first year). My monthly mortgage comes to about $1200 and I paid about 50% deposit, so I get less interest charged. I am 21 btw, so I don’t want to be in any trouble in the future, so its better I start to think the choices I make now.

        But although, I don’t watch that much TV, or use my Home Theater that much, I bought it because it looks nice. However, I feel really good when my friends come around and the living room comes to life (well, that’s my justification of it) or on special occasions when I have time to watch a movie with my g/f.

        Do you guys think I am a NTDSW?

  21. I admit, even I possess some of these traits at times. It’s a continuous learning process, and I’m a lot better than I used to be! But this post is giving me the kick in the rear I think i needed!

    • Writing it is a kick in the rear for me. I’ve resembled too many of these in the past. Putting this list out here helps keep me accountable. Glad to hear it motivates you!

  22. Meg from FruWiki says:


    Hard for some people to believe, but my husband and I have never even bought a t.v.! I brought on from home I had since a kid when I moved into his place — where he had a very t.v. being used as a table for his laundry. We didn’t even get cable till we moved to our next place, by which time we had gotten rid of the very old t.v.

    We got a good-sized (but not flatscreen) t.v. as a gift from his brother, and then another one (used) from his aunt. We gave up cable last December and, instead of even bothering to get an antenna for them, we just gave them away since all we care to watch these days is online.

    I’m actually quite proud of not having a t.v. — let alone a huge plasma one. I can see why someone would want one, but there are so many benefits to letting go of t.v.s:

    * We put more thought into what we watch
    * We watch almost everything free (online or from library)
    * We use much less electricity now (our laptops were already on when we watched t.v.)
    * No annoying lights coming from the t.v. or any the add-on boxes
    * No having to set another timer
    * Much less cable clutter
    * Much, much more space
    * No more keeping up with the Jones’s with bigger t.v.s every year

    Meg from FruWiki’s last blog post..Plastic shopping bags

    • Great arguments for no TV Meg! Here’s a big thing for me – When you aren’t watching TV you can be doing more productive things. My wife reminds me of this from time to time. She tells me to turn the TV off and play with the kids. She’s right too. I pay more attention to them when the TV isn’t in the background and our imaginations are better. (I’m a recovering TV-aholic).

      • I made a lifestyle change this year in which I try really hard not to mindlessly channel surf and get sucked into the latest stupid reality show on MTV/VH1. Instead, I have spent my time reading books. I read 30 books in 2008; so far in 2009 I have read 36 and the year isn’t even half over! It’s amazing what you can accomplish (whether it be engaging in a hobby, spending time with family, etc.) when the TV is TURNED OFF!

        Hannah’s last blog post..Lavazza Espresso Machines: Lavazza Espresso Point Matinee Cleaning Instructions

  23. Just to add to the cell phones and tech stuff, It seems that with the upgraded phones they also have all the extra features, unlimited minutes (even if they don’t talk much) unlimited texting and pictures (although maybe they dont’ go over more than a few hundred a month) unlimited internet (if these people have a computer why do they need internet on their phone?!)

    My friends are amazed that I spend about 60 dollars on my phone a month whre they are spending over 100. I also like that they don’t know the true cost “oh my plan is only 100 a month” but then you add in fees and taxes and that sucker can get up there! no thank you!

    MK’s last blog post..Update on What I’ve Been Up To!

    • Absolutely! I can’t imagine paying $100 a month for a cell phone. Over a year that’s more than my Macbook cost!

  24. That One Caveman says:

    It’s a shame that some of those NSWTD traits look so familiar. I used to be just like that in many ways. I’m glad things have turned around for (and within) me!

    That One Caveman’s last blog post..How to Commute to Work by Bike

  25. Wonderful observations…it reminded me of examining UAWs vs. PAWs in The Millionaire Next Door. Usually the people with all the “stuff” have no money saved away and it’s the people who don’t look rich who really are! My husband and I always say, “life isn’t a contest!” It doesn’t matter how much cool “stuff” you have if you cannot afford to live when you reach retirement age!

    Hannah’s last blog post..Lavazza Espresso Machines: Lavazza Espresso Point Matinee Cleaning Instructions

    • You can’t judge a book by it’s cover! I love me my gadgets but not at the sacrifice of being financially comfortable now or later.

  26. I have to say that I agree with just about everything on this list. I know it’s true because I’ve seen it 1st hand, like many of those who comment above.

    What worries me most is the attitude of the NSWTDs. They are quick to blame “the system” and advocate taxing “the rich”, when they should be engaging in healthy introspection and trying to learn why they are NSWTDs in the first place.

    It’s seems that personal responsibility is all too often too difficult to accept.

    • Exactly. The onus is on the individual not the store or the commercials or the credit cards companies or your neighbors.

    • mysticaltyger says:

      I agree with your comments. What worries me even more is that a majority or a large minority of Americans are like this. I would say at least 1/3.

      And like you said, it affects their politics. They are likely to vote for politicians who promise something for nothing, even though we all know that is a fantasy.

  27. Wow- Your observations are dead on. I just got out of a two year relationship with a person who embodies almost every single one of these traits. Had I known what they meant, I would have headed for the hills when the signs started to appear. Seriously, if you are in a relationship and they refuse to tell you about their finances and get indignant and high and mighty…RUN!!

    If they don’t care about their financial health, why would they care about yours? They have no qualms about bringing you down with them.

    jjomomma’s last blog post..Alive…and wet

    • That’s a great take on it! I think there are a lot of reason why someone might not want to reveal their finances but if it’s a serious relationship you should be able to discuss it.

  28. Popped across from Collective Inkwell. I don’t have everything my group of friends and acquaintances have. By all appearances I’m not as well off as they are. But I don’t have their debt so actually I’m better off. I lost everything due to the greed of others and my own trusting nature. Had to work really hard to put it right. Man, I sleep well at night knowing I don’t owe, owe, owe. Oh, by the way, I don’t have a college education and they do. My life is not extravagant. I’m happy. Great article and so true.

    Paisley’s last blog post..My ‘Salad Days’

    • Great to hear you’re moving on the right track! As for education, a degree doesn’t stop anyone when spending too much.

  29. Spoodles says:

    Well, we do have a flat screen tv. The other one didn’t work anymore. And we rent, because house prices in our area have been stoopid for the past 5 years. Buying next year, hopefully. And we both quit college to take fairly good jobs. We didn’t have any direction, so college felt like a waste of time. Nothing wrong with any of those things in and of themselves, but yeah, taken with a lot of other things, they can be warning signs.

    Spoodles’s last blog post..Teething Bling

    • Exactly. I’d love a flat screen TV and after we move we might just get one. Doesn’t mean anything bad. The point is I see many who have them before their finances are in order. It’s more about keeping up with appearances than anything else.

      • Ness800 says:

        Well I happen to love and own my fair share of gadgetry. I can distinguish the stupidly priced useless stuff from the super useful investments. I have a flat screen (I won’t need to buy another television for years- why not?) and a new phone every year (I only sign up for one-year contracts- which all cell phone companies offer through their official stores but don’t advertise- for the sole purpose of getting a new phone every year), Say what you will but on my most recent trip to San Fransisco having Google maps on my phone was my savior! I take nice vacations because I work hard and deserve it, but I plan it out as best as I can so I can take a luxury vacation for a modest price.

        My fiance and I are in the process of looking for a condo. We’re both college/beyond college educated. We keep track of all expenses and include an “electronic stuff” and “vacation” category in our budget. We don’t have children and we have well above what is needed for an emergency fund (main reason we’re looking for real-estate), we have investments, etc. Our finances are in order. so why can’t we just enjoy our hard-earned money? What’s wrong with wanting nice things if you can afford them?

        That being said, I know the people you’re referring to. There is a security officer I speak to at work who runs out and gets an i-phone every time they upgrade even though he clearly cannot afford it- and he doesn’t ever take care of it.

        • You can absolutely enjoy your gadgets and your flat screen tv! Reason being – You can afford it! Good to hear you have an emergency fund and an effective budget, to keys to helping to afford your gadgets and such!

  30. LotharBot says:

    A few traits of the NSWTD I’ve noticed:

    – they own a large and ever-expanding collection of DVD’s
    – … or GI Joe Action Figures or sports memorabilia or other “toys”
    – they go on expensive vacations
    – they are quite often divorced or single parents
    – … or they’re married but spent a fortune on their wedding
    – when buying a new service (cell phone, cable, etc.) they add in a bunch of options because they’re “only a few dollars” each, and don’t realize how much they add up

  31. Foobarista says:

    Hi, came over from FMF…

    A few of my own (these would be more of the “preening bohemian” types that I see around me here in Silicon Valley):

    1. Shop only at Whole Foods, and complain endlessly about the cost of food, when even super-organic free-range everything costs far less if you actually do a bit of shopping. Even if you have philosophical issues with Walmart, you can buy lots of organic stuff at Costco.

    2. Buy his and hers SUVs, and keep both of them and buy a Prius – but don’t drive it for some reason. And then complain about gas prices. (I’ve seen this a couple of times)

    3. Buy a gi-normous house out in the middle of nowhere, and drive 75 miles one way to work. And then discourse at length on how we need to reduce our carbon footprint (between rants about how they make $200K+/year and can’t save a dime).

    • Interesting observations! It’s nice to hear thoughts from different parts of the country.

    • mysticaltyger says:

      I live in the Bay Area and I also find your point #3 interesting. This area is so anti-war and big on combatting global warming. And maybe that is ok. But there are soooo many people here driving the largest SUV possible. How can we not connect the dots? It’s like we want the government to force us what we won’t do for ourselves. I think we’ve got it backwards.

  32. They usually have too much of everything, but books. Usually no books. Lots of electronic wizardry.

    Andie’s last blog post..Weekend Warrior

    • Interesting observation! Now that I think of it I haven’t seen a great big library at anyone I know that resembles these traits.

  33. lottery tickets

  34. Observer says:

    The only ones which apply to me are 9,15,16,20, until recently 8 (which led to 9), and arguably 25.

    I hate my job and don’t see anything I can do about it. Sure, I look for another job (so at least that part of 20 doesn’t apply to me) but with no skills and being older I am probably unhireable in this economy.

    Until recently I ate poorly because I was paying 73 percent of my income to rent a room in a house with nine people. Finally I was able to move to a cheaper room and I can afford to eat quality food. (Because I had been unable to afford good food, I was loading up on cheap carbs and getting fat. I’m overweight but now I’m losing weight now that I’ve ditched the cheap carbs.

    Oh, I realize my situation, and I am despondent over it. The good news is that I don’t have a spending problem. The bad news is that I have an income problem I haven’t been able to resolve.

    • You’re looking for a new job which makes you different from the people I’m referring to. I’m talking about people who complain but won’t take the next steps. I’m sure you have marketable skills. If you think you need more then maybe you can look into community college courses? Or continuing ed?

  35. I think you make a lot of very important points in this article. From a personal finance perspective, many of your observations are useful—the amount of money people spend mindlessly on flat screen TVs or phones, over-buying Xmas gifts and take-out food. However, some of your “observations” are offensive. What you are describing in your post is the status of poor people, and to say that poor people don’t take care of their things and don’t take personal responsibility is hurtful. Many poor people *can’t* take better care of their things, and most of those who can, DO. As for blaming others, there is a lot of reality behind the claims that society or corporate America is “out to get” poor people. Certainly the Washington Post article linked to above is an example of this. I’m not going to argue about whether personal finance is a matter of personal responsibility or circumstance—I’m sure we can agree it’s somewhere in the middle. I just want to point out that when you hear struggling folks complaining about external hardships, they are often right. This doesn’t keep them from taking personal responsibility in other areas of their life, or even over as much of their finances as they can. To say that their complaints mean that they do not take personal responsibility is, let me repeat, offensive!

    This is my first visit to your blog. I didn’t think that this article was meant to be one of those pieces that support the ‘poor people don’t need welfare, don’t you see them all wearing designer shoes?’ philosophy, but the more I reread it, the more it comes across that way. You frame a lot of these things—eating poorly, no exercise, lousy job—as if the poor should be condemned for them. You even blatantly say that some of these things are OK for rich people, but not for the poor. Why do we expect the poor to be superhuman, while we expect nothing of the rich?? As if the rich have already proven themselves to be responsible, hard working, and all things good simply because they have money.

    OK, and now I’m preaching, so I’ll go now. I like your writing style and I intend to look around to see if there’s stuff to entice me to come back. But I will be reading carefully. Let me finish by simply asking you to remember the name of your own blog, and to gently critique your comment in this post to read “NSWTD” as “poor.” As I’m sure you know, there’s a big difference between broke and poor.

    • Imelda,

      I have to say that I disagree with you. I don’t think this article is offensive at all. It’s a truthful observation of behavior in our society. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to look at ourselves through other peoples’ eyes and recognize that our habits are wrong. Don’t mistake your own discomfort with the truth for offensive content.

      I also think that you do a disservice to poor people by insisting that they can’t do anything about their situation. That is absolutely NOT true. Some people may need help, and it may not be easy, but poor people absolutely CAN change their economic status. To say they can’t takes away their power and undermines the importance of personal responsibility.

      To your comment, “As if the rich have already proven themselves to be responsible, hard working, and all things good simply because they have money.” How do you think they got their money? Most rich people get there (and stay there) by working hard and being responsible, believe it or not. So yes, they have already proven themselves.

      • One could argue that it’s through personal responsibility and budgeting that one can gain wealth (maybe not even argue). If you spend your income on stuff then you won’t gain wealth. This goes for people of all incomes.

      • Irrespective of the role of managing your finances statistically most rich people are born into wealth. There is very little class mobility in the US, and what there is is significantly reduced from previous generations. May people are shocked to hear that it is actually easier to improve your lot in the socialist paradise or Europe than here in the Land of Opportunity.

        My point is just be frugal, it is a good in and of itself, but don’t buy into the wealth story. You can’t get there this way.

    • I’m not sure if I’ve ever called anyone who resembles these traits “poor.” I purposely called these traits of the not so well to do. These can very well be traits of people with 6 figure incomes who have nothing in savings and are up to their necks in debt.

      As for not taking things, I observed people who get the latest technology, spending a lot on it then letting it get lost or wrecked. This isn’t a poor or rich trait. This is about responsibility. When you aren’t on top of money and the value of things then you tend to not care about the stuff you have. You might just go and charge a new one if you break your gadget.

      Some of the things here are ok for wealthy people if they can afford them. There’s nothing wrong with a flat screen tv, all the cable channels, or an iPhone if you can afford it. When you are mortgaging your future for these things just for the status then that isn’t too great.

      I hope you do come back. I like comments that challenge what has been said! It’s through discourse that we gain better understanding.

  36. I know people just like this. As I read your list I could imagine them saying, “Yes, but . . . ” to every item on your list.

    1 (flat screen TV) – “Yes, but I don’t go out very much. This is my entertainment.”

    3 (eating out) – “Yes, but there’s just not enough time to cook.”

    7 (latest cell phone) – “Yes, but I need that. I’ve got to be able to talk to people.”

    11 (holiday overspending) – “Yes , but it’s for the kids.”

    I’m not perfect. I don’t always cook at home. I enjoy TV. But I worked at finding a schedule where I can cook at home most of the time. I think about exercise the same way that I do my vitamin pill – it’s something that needs to happen every day. Most of all, I view life as what I make it. I refuse to accept the norm.

    Marsha’s last blog post..Heat Wave and Baked Ham

    • Yes, a lot of “yes but”‘s. I’m certainly not perfect either. I think the more we can look at these traits and look at ourselves the better off we are. I resembled a whole lot more of these years ago and hopefully don’t resemble too many now. It’s all a work in process.

  37. I mostly agree with you, but we are reaching that point where the flat TV really is the only option. My current old-timey CRT tv probably has another year or two left in it, but when it goes, I guarantee I will be replacing it with a flat screen, whether I want to or not!

    Downside is, where the heck do you put the rabbit ears? I might have to mount them on the wall.

    • True, the tube tv is done. But a lot of the people I’m talking about bought flat screens because they wanted a big tv not because their old one broke down.

      Wasn’t too long a go I had rabbit ears. That’s a thing of the past too in a matter of days!

  38. I am guilty of a few of these things: #4 – sorry, but I like driving a new car! And #8 & 9 – I’m overweight and I eat some junk food, although I almost never eat out or get fast food. #20 – Sure, I complain about my job, but I like the paycheck. And I may, at some point, buy a flat-screen TV out of money I have saved up by avoiding all the other things on the list.

    I would add to this list:

    – Don’t save for retirement. I work with a lot of people who don’t even take advantage of the company match on the first 6% of their 401(k) contributions!

    – Gamble on insurance. I know people who think they don’t need health insurance because they’re healthy (and hey, that’s more money they can spend on gadgets!), but all it takes is one trip to the hospital to put you tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

    – Consider available credit equal to cash. Some people seem to think that a $5000 credit limit is the exact same thing as having $5000 in cash, and they can and should spend all of it.

    • I like your additions! It’s tough thinking about something you need money for in 30+ years. I was that way too (and still am a bit). Still, with a matching 401(k) you leaving free money on the table.

      Insurance is big too. One illness and you realize how important insurance is.

      And credit is where the credit card companies get some. That’s why they raise credit limits after a bit. How many people have actually asked for a credit limit versus having it raised for them? Hmm.

  39. Jacinta says:

    I have quite a bit of sympathy with imelda’s complaint. I agree with all the points you make regarding these traits, but I can’t direct anyone I know to read this list. Your discussion sounds like these traits make you angry and that people who indulge in are irredeemable. It doesn’t matter that you were there once, this is not a gentle pointing out of what the NSWTD are doing wrong, this is a gloating that you’ve gotten past these issues. The only people who are going to appreciate this list are people who can gloat along with you because they’ve never succumbed to these behaviours or because they’ve gotten over them. It’s a kind of self-righteousness that interferes with a lot of personal finance posts (not just yours).

    I had the good luck to have picked up good financial sense by accident (not because my parents were money-wise or rich). I could easily be one of these people you’re criticising, many of the people I know and love are. You are spot on with these traits, but noone in this situation could read your post and not get offended and defensive.

    • Hmm, I appreciate your point of view. I hope I’m not preaching to the converted and that there’s something for people really looking to change. Your point is well taken though. By no means am I trying to be self-righteous and my intention isn’t to gloat. I’ll even say that I still resemble many of the traits.

      Let me say that anyone who thinks they resemble too many of these traits to point where they may be one of the NSWTD has the ability to change if they want to. But it’s up to them.

      Thanks for your take on it!

      • This was my first visit to Free From Broke as well, and I was also turned off by the tone of the article, despite agreeing with most of your points. I am unfortunately living a lot of the lifestyle you describe, and looking for paths out, but the “us/them” aspect of the post (and the comments) was frankly a little insulting–as in “these are the things THEY do, because they don’t have the proper values (ours)”. Perhaps it’s also the way you attribute motivations to “them”, rather than sticking to the financial side of things–I just couldn’t escape the feeling I was being looked down on.

        Despite that, I found the principles of the article to be sharp and insightful, and I probably will give the blog further reading. From your responses, it’s clear that you really only intend to provide genuine advice, not to engage in class-baiting.
        .-= Falstaff´s last blog ..From These Prison Walls I’ll Fly (2) =-.

  40. Sure, all of these traits in on person would surely indicate a lack of financial (or any other kind) of sense. But, taken apart from one another several of your points are simply a matter of the NSWTD do this because they are in fact NSWTD. Some of us have a lot of education, and that’s the reason we’re NSWTD. Some rent because they don’t want to be one of these people who over-extend themselves buying a house they can’t afford. Some don’t save for retirement because they really are just getting by. Now, if those are combined with several of your other traits, well that’s probably a problem, but the general tone of the list reads as though you lack and understanding of why so many people are in tough times. It’s not always a matter of ‘getting out there and taking on that world.’

    But, I have to agree on the gadgets and phones. Despite my hatred of my current phone, I recently talked myself out of buying a new one because the old one really does pretty much what I need it to do.

    That said, things are rarely so simple as you present them.

    • I think a key thing about the list is realization. If you’re just getting by and can’t afford to pour money in your Roth IRA, for example, I understand. I remember those days (and still live them). But at the same time the people I’m talking about don’t have money to save not because money is tight but because they chose to spend the money elsewhere like on gadgets or premium cable channels or brand new cell phones.

      There’s nothing wrong say with renting. There are times it makes more sense than buying a house. But as a trait I’ve observed there are those who say they have to rent and can’t afford a house yet at the same time they drive a new car and have an apartment full of stuff. Their choice for sure. But they don’t say they choose to rent. They say they can’t afford to when in reality they possibly could if they cut back on their keep up with the Jones’ lifestyle.

      It’s true that things aren’t always as simple as stated. But sometimes they are. I’ve seen people who spend and spend then complain that they don’t have money.

  41. Tracy in Arkansas says:

    I agree totally. My husbands (of 17 yrs) family has always made fun of me. They gave me (as a joke) “The Tightwad Gazette” and laughed about me being so frugal. Guess where they all were this year when we had an ice storm and were out of power for over 4 weeks! My favorite was the TV/Premium Channels comment though. I have a picture somewhere I took of a house (this will really date me LOL). It was a single wide trailer that looked like it was completely dilapidated. One of those 2 bedroom ones with the 2nd bedroom so small that a twin bed you would barely have room to walk to the closet. One of the windows was duck taped to hold it in. In front it had one of those giant satellites (when they were still in style). The dish was brand new. I was amazed.

  42. I agree with all of these except #15 (and, not coincidentally, #15 is the only one that applies to me). Renting versus owning is a complicated calculation, and is hardly as simple as you suggest. We are currently living in the LA area for a fixed term (a postdoctoral fellowship for my wife; we’re three years into a four-year position.) We moved in late 2006, with housing prices at their peak (and we knew they were badly overvalued, not being fools.) Given closing costs and so on, we would have been idiots to buy rather than rent knowing we would be moving in less than five years, and now, with housing prices in our neighborhood down by 33% (and our rent still exactly the same), we’re happier than ever with our decision.

  43. What if you exhibit every trait on this list, but still manage to sock away 25% of your income into investments for the future and keep a separate pool of emergency funds on hand?

    Then what are you?

    Someone with hobbies.

  44. Insightful Blather says:

    Wow. Really insightful, and I really appreciated the detailed evidence that backed up your observations. Watch out Suzi Orman!

  45. I would like to see a list of traits of the financially independent.

  46. They also don’t read articles like this one.

  47. aelfscine says:

    Alternate Names for this Article:

    People Who Spend Any Money Ever
    People the Author Doesn’t Like

  48. aelfscine says:

    A further thought – a big consideration for these things too is how much upkeep someone requires. For example, I have a flat-screen tv, but I also have no family to support, just me. I’m buying food for one, not five, paying medical bills for one, not five, etc. I don’t make a lot of money, but I live in Oklahoma, where living expenses are very minimal – i.e., I don’t need a lot of money to pay my bills.

    Another thought on buying vs. renting – last year I was living in an apartment and my hot water heater died – they came and replaced it that morning. My mom owns a house and her hot water heater died – $700.

    If I owned a house, again, it’s just me, so I’d be doing all the lawn mowing, leaf raking, and maintenance myself. I’d be paying property taxes. Replacing anything broken out of my own pocket. Bugs? Rotting wood? Deck needs sealing? My problem, my time, my dime. If I had a family, then sure, a house would make a lot more sense. But for a single guy, not so much.

    • I’d like to second the benefits of renting from other commenters:

      1) It’s generally cheaper than a mortgage on a monthly basis.
      2) The rent does not fluctuate like a mortgage – especially if you live in a town with rent control.
      3) Most people don’t factor in property taxes in the cost of owning a home. Divide the property tax by 12 and add to your monthly payments.
      4) Renters usually don’t pay garbage and water.
      5) If having equity (aka more debt) is a big advantage to buying a home, then you probably bought a home for the wrong reasons.
      6) As one poster mentioned: home ownership = maintenance. Termites? your problem. Structural integrity? your problem. Leaky faucet? your problem. You get the idea.
      7) Most landlords are ok with any minor living improvements to a home (paint, refinishing, gardens, etc) as the low cost upgrades brighten your rental an improve the property value for your landlord.

      Yeah, someday I will own a home myself, but am in no rush for the reasons stated above.

  49. Who knew that when someone picks up the tab and or tip, that the well to do others are thinking ‘what are they trying to prove’. I always just thank them, think it’s a nice gesture, and pick up the tab the next time. Well, no more, now I know to make everyone pay and make sure they don’t tip much, so that I’m not judged. Luckily I’m not an overweight renter while picking up the tab.

  50. Okay, not able to reply to your reply of Imelda’s comment, but when she says “poor people,” I think there *are* commonalities between the NSWTD and what she means.

    I read Ruby K. Payne’s book about poverty not too long ago (but the name escapes me), and some of the traits you list fall under traits she lists for people who are living in generational poverty — an emphasis on entertainment, for example, which applies to everything from owning “gadgets” and flat screens to blowing money on eating out. She also points to some traits like poor impulse control and inability to make plans (or think in a narrative fashion, from start to outcome) that you recapitulate as “doesn’t think about retirement,” or “no fiscal planning.” Many people blow windfalls or tax refunds on their relatives who will just waste it, because windfalls are rare but interdependency is permanent. If you’re not very literate or well-educated, you may just buy unhealthy foods with what money you have because it will be enough to feed everyone and if soda and hotdogs make your kids happy, well, you may not be able to provide much else that will (this also goes to the Christmas trait you mention).

    Poverty itself is incredibly hard to escape, because it’s not just a matter of earning enough money, it’s about getting command of your future and your own emotional resources and not getting sucked back into the dynamics that keep people poor.

    It’s very easy, for those of us raised with a middle-class “scrimp and save” “buy a house” “invest” mentality to say that the poor should know better and not buy a flat screen TV and Xbox. But if vast numbers of middle class, college-educated Americans (of whom more than a few are from poverty) have fallen for the trap of revolving credit, how are people who may have barely graduated high school, and grown up in a subculture with values that are easily exploited by credit card companies, supposed to have overcome it?

    • Farina – is this your own writing, or a quote? (It’s fabulous!)

      Poverty itself is incredibly hard to escape, because it’s not just a matter of earning enough money, it’s about getting command of your future and your own emotional resources and not getting sucked back into the dynamics that keep people poor.

  51. @Jon I mostly agree with you, but…

    “2) The rent does not fluctuate like a mortgage – especially if you live in a town with rent control.”

    Really? Why would a mortgage need fluctuate at all? I know some people have interest only mortgages or things like that, but we have a fixed mortgage and it’s… well… fixed. Yes, our property taxes might go up, but even that’s not certain with lowering property values (good for us since we’re not planning to sell our house). And I don’t expect huge increases anyhow.

    Meanwhile, rent around town definitely HAS gone up. It goes up when property taxes go up, but even when they don’t then there’s increases to cover increasing salaries. Five years after buying our house, our mortgage is much cheaper than renting a comparable place — even with so many places on the market.

  52. I once had a house-mate who hit 24 of these as a lifestyle (I was the one who purchased the flat-screen TV, so he didn’t bother).

    Here’s some of the other things he did habitually:

    1) Buy 2 large hot-chocolates or sodas, drink a third of one, and leave them both to go cold/flat on my kitchen counter or dining room table overnight.

    2) Shop for food, stash it in the kitchen, then eat-out almost every night and let the stored food sail past its expiration date. I had to throw out over a hundred dollars of expired food every few months.

    3) Complained about his finances to me. When I suggested he get a copy of Quicken or something to begin tracking his expenses, he moaned that this wouldn’t help him. Soon he started calling me “Quicken boy” prejoratively, until a month later he calculated with wide-eyed amazement that he was spending over $100 a month on breakfast alone.

    4) Once announced his plans to improve his credit score. He did this by signing up for four of those “pay $89 to get a card with a $400 limit” offers designed for people with terrible credit. He then used them to shop at 7-Eleven, Dunkin Donuts and other fast-food places until they reached their limits. After he moved he failed to update them with his new address, and went for months without paying the bills. In an average month, on FOUR different cards, he’d get dinged for:
    * $29 late-payment fee
    * $29 over-limit fee
    * $10 monthly maintenance fee
    * About $5 in finance charges.
    On the months when he did stir himself to pay a bill, he got dinged another $7 for an “online payment convenience fee”. One month, he clocked nearly $80 in fees and charges on one card alone.

    5) Went for years without paying any taxes because his employer paid him off-the-books. Eventually the IRS caught-up with him and began garnishing his wages for several thousand dollars worth of back-taxes.

    The last I heard from him, he was living in a residential hotel. He wrote a long complaint on his Livejournal that he had been turned down for a car loan, but he couldn’t understand why. His reasoning was that a 520 credit score was “average” because it was halfway between the lowest possible and the highest possible.

  53. Norberth says:

    When you mention little or no college education or to summarize … lack of knowledge and refinement that only higher education can bring about, I take it that perhaps you don’t really see yourself as a member of the group that you are singling out. To solidify your point impeccable grammar is of course expected. Why is it then that you use “well to do’s” to refer to the plural of the “well to do” group?

    I would add to your list that just plain ignorance (with all of its side effects) is a more salient qualifying reason for the not so well to dos, as you like to call them.

    • I’ve spent my time as a Not So Well To Do. If anyone catches me resembling a lot of these traits then I hope I’m called out for it because I’ll probably need the wake up call!

      Ummm, yeah…sometimes my grammar is off.

  54. The list sounds more like A) a minimalist who is trying to force their beliefs on everyone, or B) someone who’s jealous. To cite:

    Flatscreen – these days you can get them for a few hundred bucks at Walmart, less than a comprable tube was before flat panels drove them down to $10.

    Premium channels – these are $5-15/mo per package depending on provider. The fact these are listed tends me to think “B” is more likely. If $15-60/mo is a big deal, you need a new job.

    Eating out often – mostly lazy since people can’t cook, but some merit.

    Cars, gadgets, computers, phones – everyone has their vices; same could be said about people who go skydiving every weekend, or anything else. Just because you have little interest in material goods doesn’t mean noone else does. Reasons vary more than the stock market.

    Overweight – isn’t something like 50-60% of the US population overweight? This is a ridiculous fact to attach.

    Doesn’t own a home – Have you SEEN housing prices lately? Anyone who doesn’t own is winning and lucky – sounds like someone who bought and is hating it now/jealous of the freedom of renters.

    No online high-yield acct – This is just silly, more proof you’re trying to force your own beliefs on others…kinda sad. This is so specific it’s funny: my parents are millionaires and don’t have an online savings acct.

    17-25 I’ll give you. My guess is you had those and just went off on a rant/tangent for the other 16.

    Everyone is different, everyone has their own priorities and lives their lives differently. I have numerous degrees and get odd looks from my bosses as to why I’m putting so much effort and focus into school – yet none realize anyone with the qualifications I’m building isn’t an executive within 3 years. Does that make my approach better? No, just better suited to my lifestyle/goals – something you should learn.

    I do agree debt is the devil, but I’m also well aware of how I live my life, why, and where I’m going – it’s entirely mine to decide and control, and my skill if I succeed, my fault if I fail.

  55. I’m reading some of the negative comments from folks who don’t agree with your general point here, and it legitimately sounds like they don’t enjoy being reminded about it. They can try chipping away at the particulars all they want, but the broader theme here is rock solid.

    Maybe #26 could have been “is in denial about their issues and snaps at anyone who calls them out”.
    .-= Matt SF´s last blog ..5 Healthy Dishes from the Victory (Suburban) Garden for Under One Dollar =-.

    • Lawl – if everyone was a saver, the economy as you know it would cease to exist. 🙂 Who cares if people want to spend rather than save? Let them – it’s not your money…unless of course they get bailed out, so they get to spend and get free handouts…oh, hey, maybe we found the logic behind this post! 😉

  56. It’s funny to read comments on here because nobody seems to want to attack the very basis of the problem here.

    Some people are driven by money and want power, status, and material things.

    Some people don’t care much for money and would rather have few material things, finding happiness in such pursuits as knowledge or meaningful relationships or art.

    The list is just a clue-in to what people waste money on. The “extras” of life that aren’t exactly necessary and are more or less a money sink.

    Do you need cable in every room if you only watch TV an hour or two a day? Do you need to have an updated model of your car every couple of years? Car models don’t change significantly year to year and if it still works there is no purpose to update it.

    Do you need to wear the latest fashion you see in magazines? Like those ads where every piece of clothing on the mode is listed with the price? Are you that dependent on others to tell you how to dress that you need to pay 100’s of dollars to look like people in magazines. Think about it, that’s how these companies make money off you while they profit many times over. How? Sweatshop labor. While it cost them a few dollars to make your jeans, you pay $150. Ask yourself, why do you continue to line these people’s pocket?

    Oh yeah, because you want to be popular and in-fashion.

    Eating out is a waste. Always. Learn to cook yourself and you will notice you can live off nothing. Quit frying food in pounds of lard and butter. Use olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil if you absolutely must fry. Steam vegetables are good. Buy generic brands (there is absolute no difference between generic and name-brand aside from generic being cheaper).

    Absolutely don’t buy a computer every few years. Consider what you use a computer for and try to understand that a new computer isn’t going to make your web-browsing any faster. A quad-core processor sounds impressive when you talk about it, but unless you do high-end video encoding you are likely to never utilize most of the processing power. Eight gigabytes of RAM is not going to do anything unless you deal with large memory applications like image processing and video encoding. LEARN TO UNDERSTAND THE PERFORMANCE OF PARTS BEFORE YOU BUY. http://www.tomshardware.com will clue you in.

    For God’s sake don’t waste. You’d be surprised what you can mcguyver out of random raw materials that you chose not to throw out. Think like a functionalist. If you still get plastic bags for your groceries, double them as trash bags. Never use paper plates or plastic utensils. Use Tupperware to store leftovers from dinner to eat for lunch the next day. Every single resource you have is valuable. Think–every time you misplace a pencil you’re wasting money. If you work for an hourly wage you’re literally throwing away some of your time worked.

    When it comes to credit I maintain the idea that you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have. Have planned credit plans where you get a credit card for the purpose of building your credit. Keep up with the charges and make sure to pay the bill on time. Don’t be suckered into credit cards with high interest rates (preferably with no interest whatsoever).

    Quit trying to maintain this ideal that spending money is good for the economy so it’s justified that you are spending money. Wasting money on things with no real value is worse for the economy. Be hesitant about spending, save what you can, and live smartly and efficiently. Don’t live off impulses or you’ll be crying in the end.

    And you will be crying in the end.

  57. Reading the above and some of the reply comments, i disagree with the root cause of the NSWTDs’ welfare being that they are in poverty, or their welfare is due to a generational gap. The above traits are raised in the modern day American culture. Think back starting with high school, the traits and qualities that were (and still are) promoted by peer and staff were not academic achievements but rather material and physical. nobody praises the debate team or the honor roll kids who were buried in their studies. But team sports is emphasized, cheerleading/football. Think about “Home Coming”, was there any other larger event say except Prom- where again the jocks are usually celebrated. Also those with a car, video games, name brand sneakers, designer jeans were the “coolest”. And is it a real surprise that these extroverted, excessive, non-conservative, non-ambitous, “no long-term planning” habits would change from high school to college, and from college to beyond? The children who had strong foreign ethnic backgrounds were mostly indifferent to such a value system. sure we all made fun of the nerdy russian/chinese/indian/equadorean kid/etc. Many of them come from relatively poor families and yet are NOT trapped by the poverty mind sets that some comments above suggested that they should have had to “overcome”. Therefore, is it a surprise that although asians are a minority in our country (look at the last census, they are less than one-third the latino population AND less than one-third the african american population), they are consistently excluded from quotas and affirmative actions at the university level and beyond, e.g. med school, law school, etc. Do they have bigger brain mass? No one yet has shown that to be true! I truely believe it’s in our culture’s values, and what we praise and promote in our youths. Acting and behaving stupidly has nothing to do with poverty or a generation gap. Saying so is an insult to the working poor, or those who are from a different generation. Tell those immigrant kids to stop achieving because they are from a poor family or their parents are from a different generation… Wait, i think we should correct our value system instead.

  58. Meg from FruWiki says:

    @Shun (et al.)

    Apologies in advance for what will be a long-winded reply. I’ve been following the MANY comments and there’s a lot I want to respond to.

    I agree that much of this is VERY cultural. In the U.S. and many other countries, there is definitely a license — even expectation! — to have/do these sort of things. As someone who now lives more simply, I still feel pressure when around “normal” people who say things like:

    “Why do you live so POOR? You can afford heat and paper towels!” “You can’t get rid of cable — what will you do for entertainment!”
    “Get it! It’s ONLY $1!”
    “Your house looks so Spartan! You should buy something to put over there!”
    “Don’t be so cheap!”
    “Live a little!”

    And it’s not just people who are poor or dumb. Even financial “experts” are WAY wrong and otherwise smart, respected people parrot “common wisdom” (e.g. I remember “House values always go up! You can always refinance!”). But some of us can afford to be wrong and some can’t. So yeah, I can hardly blame people with less time, less resources, and even — yeah, I’ll say it — less smarts, for buying into what is “common wisdom”.

    And that’s exactly why it is important that we do challenge these “values” and general way of thinking. It’s not like there are an abundance of good role models out there when we’re talking about traits that describe U.S. society (et al.) in general.

    But I also believe that we should be compassionate about it — not just poke fun of people who couldn’t afford the same mistakes we’ve also made and don’t live up to some grand ideal of self-sacrifice that most of us wouldn’t live up to either if tested. And we must acknowledge that each case is different, each person is different, and yes, there are indeed faults in “the system”.

    I believe it is a broken system when you depend on the government for basic things but when you get a small raise you lose FAR more income/resources than you gain. I’ve known people who got so discouraged by that game that they stopped trying to “help themselves”. Why even try to get a job or a better one or a raise when you lose NEEDED govt. benefits well before you can support yourself fully? When you’re worried about how to feed yourself and your kids, that’s not being lazy. That’s being practical. And while I think as individuals it’s better to look for ways to help yourself than blame the system, I think as a society we should do our best to fix it so that people are rewarded for hard work — not punished when they really are trying but still really do need help.

  59. Phillip says:

    I’m a NSWTD for sure. I love gaming and I own an iPhone since I love the features on it. I own a large HDTV as well. That said, gaming is my hobby, I think a person regardless of status should be allowed to have a hobby. Besides, for the stuff I received I got almost everything at discounted prices. For example, I bought three gtx280s for “only” $650 back when they were retailing for over $500 a piece. As far as the TV is concerned, I traded some tech work to knock a few hundred dollars off of the price. I bought a broken 360 for $45 and fixed it into a working 360.

    I definitely eat out more often than I should. Probably a product of both my wife and I both working along with my going to school full time, along with not having much desire to cook after all is said and done.

    Of course I am overweight as well, which matches, though I do put in some exercise every week. I went hungry a lot when I was younger, and when I was on the streets I was thin from having to walk everywhere. So when I became more economically stable I tended to put on weight. I’ve lost probably a hundred pounds over the last couple of years, but I am hardly skinny, and never will be. I have 19″ biceps and a bit of a gut, I am just one of those beefy guys and I would have to cut to the extreme to make much more headway. All the same, I fit that description in so far as I am overweight.

    I also don’t have a degree yet, but I am a junior at uccs going after my electrical engineering degree. I am 30 as of last month and I should probably have my degree by now.

    I don’t care about style or clothes in the least. So that is one thing I guess.

    We drive cars until they disintegrate out of necessity. Though we are paying on a 2004 saturn. Not exactly something we are thrilled to be seen in, but at least we aren’t embarrassed anymore.

    I have personal responsibility for some things and not others I suppose. I had a bit tougher start than most, which made it difficult to get a good start. Spent some time on the streets after I turned 15, had an insane mother (she stabbed me and pulled a gun on me) and no father, had a kid with my wife when I should have been in school, and worked my wife through college into a job that doesn’t pay particularly well (veterinary technician).

    Never really had any of those doors opened for me that a lot of more well to do people get. No money for college, so I was limited to schools that could be covered by grants. I had to work two full time jobs for a number of years while my wife was in school.

    I can’t help but think that with a better support system and perhaps a better network of my parents friends, I might have had an easier time of it. Hell, if not for the small doors opened by our government via grants, I wouldn’t be able to do anything with myself whatsoever other than likely work myself to death until I die (barring some wonderfully lucky opportunity).

    We have no investment plan, and only a very rudimentary budget as it has taken me quite some time to get into any sort of habit and curb some of my impulsiveness. I am still quite impulsive sometimes due to the way my childhood was, I imagine.

    On the bright side, I have been with my wife for 12 years and I couldn’t be more in love with her and we are very happily married and share everything. So I have that at least, which is pretty uncommon at any level of income.

    So I’m a piece of crap I suppose with no hope at all of making anything of myself, and I should have just pulled myself up by my bootstraps earlier on and not used any government money to attend school, even though I had zero support system and zero doors to walk through.

    I am just a NSWTD and I am a horrible person because of it. I’ll try not to die in front of your limo when I finally keel over. I hate to inconvenience anyone with my life.

    • Whoa, why the negative outlook? Maybe you didn’t have all of the best doors opening in front of you but it sounds like you are making the best of it (sometimes I wonder where the opportunity doors even are!).

      At no point have I suggested that people who resemble these traits are horrible in any way. They are just traits that I see in people who aren’t getting by but don’t realize it. If you resemble too many of these and you find yourself behind more often than not than ask yourself why and what you can do about it.

      • Phillip says:

        Yeah, I could have had a trust fund so I could have gone to a better college without having to pay off so much debt for the next twenty years. That might have been a start I suppose as far as open doors that would have been useful. Or perhaps a friend of the family that might be able to hook me up with a decent paid internship. That would have been useful too.

        Spent a long time being absolutely miserable. Is it any wonder that I do the things that now make me happy? I suppose with a happy, stable upbringing it would be easy to put off purchases and be extremely disciplined about living and expenses. However, it isn’t some switch that can be flipped with ease. Not just something that can be fixed with an attitude adjustment or with a tired cliche such as the “personal responsibility” mantra. Nobody who has anything got where they are by themselves, and nobody is solely responsible for their success or failure. These things pivot greatly on our environment, our natural talents and of course the learned ability to recognize opportunity (and a healthy dose of luck of course). It is fun to feel elite. I understand that, I really do. However there are solutions outside of the realm of “bootstrap pulling”. Less convenient solutions that require time and money, but that are much more effective none the less.

  60. #’s 1, 2, and 6 stand out to me because I used to be a cable installer for a few years and it always blew my mind how so many people who live in ‘projects’ and section 8 housing have 45 in – 65 in flat screen tv’s and I am installing them with the HD package with all the premium channels.

    Go figure, I would go back to those same addresses to disconnect all of their services a month later for non-payment! If they’d have opted for limited services, they’d probably still have it!

  61. Guy Gagnon says:

    Hi Team,

    Thank you for the easy to follow format. Straight to the point Boom!

    My Favourite points were 20 about those who hate their jobs. I’m a recruiter and developer of business owners by trade and it is amazing how many people not only hate their jobs, but the income from those jobs isn’t even enough to pay the bills. And you’re right… the excuses! ‘I can’t give up my benefits.’ etc.
    What benefit! I think people are just afraid to step out into the unknown and fail.

    The 25th is good too. Ties in with the job. ‘My job doesn’t pay enough’ is another excuse they use and avoids them taking responsibility.

    People just need to get of their buts, put systems in place and take responsibility. They are where they are because that is exactly where they want to be. If they wanted to be in a different financial position, they would change. Period.

    Anyway, great post.

    Wishing you all the greatest of Blessings,
    .-= Guy Gagnon´s last blog ..Book Review: Automatic Wealth by Michael Masterson =-.

  62. Markus F says:

    Interesting point is 15) – in the future we’re very likely to see a shift towards more people renting accommodation rather then buying. As affordability becomes more stretched renting a house is likely to become more popular – in many European countries it is the norm to be a tenant and to rent a flat or house instead of buying it.

  63. Individually these habits might not be seen to have such a large effect but taken together, they really do mess up your financial situation. Very good list.
    I know the eating out habit is something some people try to break out of by brown bagging it for lunch.

    • Exactly! There is nothing inherently wrong with most of the items on the list on their own. But if you start resembling too many and you are finding your finances getting out of control then you need to take a good look at what is really going on.

  64. FinancialBondage says:

    What a great list! I thought about getting a flat screen. A 13″ one to sit near the computer on my desk. $130. I did not do it. I’m doing more important things first, like attacking the $2,400 in credit card debt- which was $0 until the transmission needed an overhaul 7 months ago. ouch!

  65. I agree about the over gifting. I have seen a lot of NSWTD people who give like they have their finances is great shape when they are struggling to pay for the basics. Sometimes I feel bad taking their gifts knowing they are “splurges”.

  66. Just saying…
    Two of the most “well to do” people I know never attended college. On the big front- wouldn’t Bill Gates be considered well to do?
    I see this as a moving object these days. Unless you are going into a profession that warrants future education- it is not as important to propagate this myth as it once way… unless you work for a university.
    All teachers went to college. I see few who are well to do- unless they married well or teach in the Northeast US.

    • I do mention that college isn’t for everyone. Also, you can’t take any one of these traits and apply them, you need to look at them as a whole and see if you resemble a number of them.

      And using Bill Gates as an example is a bit unrealistic. Gates attended Harvard and dropped out, not to sit around and play Pong, but to create Microsoft. Very different from the average person without a college education.

  67. Not so well offs all tend to smoke and drink fairly often…ignoring not only the health concerns but the cost of their habits.

    Stopping by the local gas station 5X per week for a pack of cigs, large soda, candy bar and 3 lottery tickets tends to add up over the decades….

    • Totally agree. Smoking is bad for both your finances and health!

      And stopping off at the gas station to buy anything not car-related is probably spending too much as well.

  68. Great post! I would add the following:

    1. Watches a lot of TV and thinks that what happened last night on Jersey Shore is really important.

    2. Drinks alcohol in restaurants and bars.

    3. Complains a lot about about their job, the economy, traffic, and other people.

    4. They don’t have a blog or their own business. They have never written a book. They have never tried network marketing.

    5. They do nothing to improve their situation. They do nothing to improve their future.

    6. They are not interested in improving themselves by learning anything new.

    7. They do not read books.

    8. They say that they “don’t have time” to do anything that might help.

    9. They sleep until noon on weekends.

    10. They are cynical.

  69. I am loving this site!! I am guilty of being a single parent, trying to make it easy for my children. So I have really sacrificed. I bought me a brand new NIssan, loaded. I plan on keeping it for 25 years though!!!!! The other two cars I have unloaded, I gave to my kids who were very happy and appreciative!! They love their mommy!!

  70. Wow, this was right on the money. I think you might know the same people as me, ha! The sad thing is these people aren’t willing to admit something is wrong, even to themselves.

  71. Guilty of 12, 15 and 16. 16-because the true “high-yield” savings accounts have disappeared. 12-because we are self-employed web designers with very heavy computer use. 15-because we recently moved back to Alabama and are saving a 20% down payment.

  72. I know a couple that the husband makes good money and the wife babysits from home. The husband brings home around 4 to 6 grand a month and the wife brings in about 600 month. The live in Fairplay Co. in a 2 bedroon 2 bath home with 3 kids ranging from 4yrs old to 15 yrs old. They just filed bankruptcy and their home is going in foreclosure. He inherited a large sum of money, 53,000, to pissed it away within 6 months. They save nada, instead buying new clothes, eating out constantly, ski passes (which are not cheap) putting their 2 older kids in sports (which is payed for by an ailing grandparent), spending grips of money on birthdays and holidays, getting tickets all the time, traveling from Co to Az to see concerts (husband), vacations, the only thing I can consider wise spending is their food spending, which is getting bad, they are behind on ALL utilites……….I could go on and on. They are expecting their children to receive schlorships to attend college, which is a crap shoot at best. I try to give advice……..quit eating out, quit buying new clothes, quit with ANY unnecessary spending, which they do a great deal of. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE……….anything you would advise telling them?

    • Glen Craig says:

      Here’s what I have found – you can’t really give advice to people in this situation. At least not until they truly are ready to make a change. Otherwise they see it as preaching. If they really want to change their lifestyle, and it is a lifestyle change, then you can help guide them with some advice on the things you do.

      It’s like the old saying – “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force them to drink.”

      Unfortunately, some poeple need to really hit the bottom before they can pull themselves out of the funk. For some, this takes longer than others.

      I hate seeing people in situations like these that are so extreme. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    • I just can’t fathom that situation. That guys monthly income! 2 months of that is more than I earned last YEAR! I think you people really need to realize what “poor” really means.

  73. Great list. I prefer to eat at home and decide to consume healthy foods that will save me from spending medical expenses in the future. Gadgets that are quick to become obsolete are also out of my spending sight.

  74. I agree with this list! Unfortunately, #21 seems to be turning into “little or no post-graduate education.” I’m a nurse that just re-located across the country. Ever interviewer wants me to get a masters of science in nursing.

  75. What a great list! These traits sound familiar. I know a lot of people like this — a LOT of people. And what I love about the list is that its not filled with cliche “don’t buy a BMW” traits. It’s filled with relate-able, recognizable traits: flat-screen TV, grabs the tab for the whole table, buys lots of new gadgets and clothes.

  76. Excellent post!!

    I have firsthand experience that point #1: Big flat screen tv is true. I have a friend that works in the well drilling field (drills water wells for people without public water). He went to a customers house and we shown the customers big screen tv. It was 80 inches. When my friend fixed the problem with the well, the customer looked at the bill and complained how much it was and being short on cash. It’s a good thing that the big screen tv means more to him than drinking water for his family!

  77. Hey maybe im wrong but i personally have not seen people act like this. I personally come from a wealthy family but just do ok for myself. I dont portray any single one of these traits nor does my family. I feel lucky and blessed for everything i do have. I mean who doesn’t want to save money when ever they can? Unless your just filthy filthy rich. If i saw somone buying Tvs and trying to pay my tab when out to dinner when they had no buissness being at a expensive restaurant like that in the first place i would call them out on the spot and put an end to their nonsense if thats how people are acting. I just cant even comprehend some of these Traits and am almost glad i have not seen 75% of them in people i know. It would truely disappoint me and i feel bad for you people who do deal with these unfortunates..

  78. All I have to say is: U mad bro?

    OK I have some more to say. The truth is that everyone exhibits one or two of these traits, except for the ultra-cheap. So noticing one or two of these traits in people who are struggling financially, then deciding that everyone who struggles financially must have these traits – well, let’s just be glad you aren’t doing a study or anything.

  79. The ruling principle of the universe is balance. A friend of mine had an aunt who saved every penny she had. She never went on vacations, had never traveled oversees or did anything except work and save. Was she secure? Sure, but she died on Christmas day at 65 never having truly lived.

    There has to be a balance. Absolutely save and have a cushion in case of bad times. Pay your bills and live within your means, but make sure you LIVE. Money is meant to be spent, either now or later. It doesn’t make sense to NEVER splurge.

    You’ve got one life to live and no matter how much you save, you can’t take it with you.

    • I agree. But I think it’s hard for a lot of people to figure out what that balance is. You have to be aware of your spending and why you do it.

      That said, having all the money in the world and not using it to enrich your life is a waste.

  80. The chief trait of not so well to do is to please others. They tend to focus their energy on creating fake prestige and keep up with the Joneses.

  81. Super Frugalette says:

    Love it. Nice job!

  82. Victoria Lindsay @ LendNotBorrow says:

    Great article!
    I’ve noticed that people who are “not well to do” always feel the need to rationalize a purchase. They need to hear themselves give an excuse on why it was ok to buy. Those who have it make no excuse and have no need to.
    Keep up to GREAT work!

  83. Annoyed says:

    I am currently in a situation like this, however this is a lopsided issue. I recently got married and moved and have been living paycheck to paycheck for the past 4 months. My wife and I did not get to have a decent honeymoon because we were cash strapped, and there was no help with the wedding as well. Now I know we need to save money for other expenses and life’s little emergencies, but we just can’t get ahead. She had wanted to go on a Walt Disney World honeymoon, but we really can’t afford it at the moment. I just wanted to pay my day to day- month to month bills, and save back some for a rainy day. So what happens next is a huge month long argument about going anyway. We finally settle on a really short trip still costing us $500.00+ . She is now complaining about never being able to catch up or get ahead and worry about every little dollar we spend for groceries for the week. The argument ensues again with my stating the obvious about the trip. I need help on this one. What am I supposed to do ?

    • Set a goal. Make you honeymoon a goal you can set your eyes on. Make it concrete. Look at your finances and figure out what you can save every week. Find places you can trim and cut out in order to put more money towards your bills then your honeymoon.

      In setting your goal, put a time frame on it. Like, ‘we aim to go on our honeymoon 9 months from now.’ Doesn’t have to be 9 months, whatever it is that will let you achieve your goal.

      You can even use an online site to help you out like Mint or Adaptu.

      When you know exactly what you need to do it will help you get to your goal. You can a least tell yourself why you need to sacrifice now and look forward to your awesome trip.

      And the trip will be awesome if you save up for it and earn it.

      I know what paycheck-to-paycheck is like. It feels like being choked. But you CAN get out of its grip.

  84. So many people always wonder why I don’t have a TV or a brand new phone, why I don’t go shopping for clothes more than 2x a year (and only to replace what I wore out), or have more than 1 credit card. I was simply brought up to not ever have debt (except maybe a car payment, and to pay that off ASAP), but I guess that’s not the norm anymore.

    This one lady I know, she is over her head in credit card debt. I’m talking $30k or more, and yet she loves to buy new things, especially for her kids and grandkids. Her husband is so frustrated with her because he pinches pennies, buys himself a used car (but she gets a new one) and yet she still goes on trips without him to visit her kids. I’m definitely going to send him this article as a wake up call that she is never going to let him save his money.

  85. I agree with the article except for the poor as an AKA to the not so well to do’s. There’s a difference. I know people that fit this bill very well. Obviously if they took your advice, they would be in a healthier financial position. As far as the blatantly “(poor!)” people I know; they scrimp and save and cook at home, they can be resourceful and stretch whatever they have to last beyond the life expectancy. They have other situations that hinder their progress, such as employment, inappropriate education, status or mental issues. The poor I know, already know to refrain from the gaudiness of life but don’t know how to maneuver themselves upward.

  86. I am guilty of only two of these traits and I’m ridiculously broke. I don’t eat well because I work a lot and am busy taking care of my family and I don’t exercise because of the same. It is an intersting concept, but it would be more interesting if you wrote about people who are broke and doing 99% of things the right way. I have no cable, none at all. I have no “toys”, none. I have to cook so I can eat. I have a new TV that was given to me after my 19 yr old tube TV died. I have a 97′ car, paid for since 2004. I have a mortgage that is much cheaper than average rent in my area. I work 3 jobs and have a B.A. I eat out about once per month with my wife as a treat. I have a simple work provided cell ph. I have no computer or internet. I have barely enough clothes to make it through 3 days of work without washing. I have not taken a trip or been on any vacation in 4 yrs. Okay, fix me genius. Oh yea, did I mention I had twins when I prepared financially for one baby – and there we go! Lesson for all of you. You are welcome.

    • Lol, lesson learned. I really hope he has a suggestion for you, that article would be much more beneficial for my circle.

      • Same here. This article was worse than useless, it was insulting. When are folks going to realize that most poor people in this country are not idiots? We are just poor. It is simple math, when you are living as frugally as you can already and your income is <= expenditures, there is not a lot you can do about it except stop eating or live in a box where you don't have to worry about pesky things like rent, electricity, or running water.

        I honestly hope that this so-called "author" has to live for several years the way I have had to live my whole life – making barely over minimum wage, renting and scraping by with barely enough for food and electricity.

  87. And these collective character flaws justify offshoring the NSWTDs’ employment opportunities to pay their way out of their condition to China?


  88. Having grown up poor myself and still struggling with it, I think some of you may not realize that some of these traits are just as much effects of being poor as they are causes. Of course if you’re very low income, you’re not going to have much savings or own a home, because you’re too busy buying toilet paper, beans, and rice with your income. Not everybody who’s poor does these things because they want to; sometimes, it’s a last resort. By the way, yes, I have a college degree. These days, if you’ll look around, you’ll realize that’s quite a joke.

  89. I grew up poor and can relate to what Tammy said above, when you literally came from “nothing to eat”, “no place to live” it takes some pitfalls before you realize that money is ONLY a tool not a ticket to paradise, tv, car etc etc. and that if you want anything in life, you will have to dig low and deep and scrimp away any little bit you can get.. these people on this blog will tell you ideally to only spend 25% on rent, with most of us that would get us a card board box with a sleeping bag. Ideally we would move to the midwest, or some *(ithole little town that won’t cost that much, away from family and friends, not get into a “relationship” because that person might need help. And work 3 jobs.. hopefully after about 5-7 years or so, might MIGHT be able to move back home and buy a house. Or if you did go out a little bit it will take longer. That means your 20’s are gone for nothing. We are a nation of employees. We need figure something else out, because money doesn’t stretch like it used to, with inflation and taxes, they tell you save save save when your dollar won’t be powerful at the end of the day (RETIREMENT), ie. your half a million saved up at 70 yrs old will be “low income” in 35 years. Once they took money off the gold standard in the 1970’s it’s been funny money ever since. The only feasible way I can see myself getting anything good by my 60’s, is thru buying real estate and owning a business, something I can leverage at least to make money, or borrow against to grow business, but I come from nothing. I cannot get a guarantee loan from friends they are broke, saving money painfully slow for a down payment for a house, no bank will give me a loan for a business until it’s been successful for 1-2 years, they say I need something to leverage to use their money. So I am saving for something to ‘leverage’. a house.

    and paying down the student loan at 34 years old! yeah, 3 yrs college. No Degree. I ended up dropping out because family needed some help and I was able to work. But that is Excuses according to you. Well, in the real world, old poor parents need help to live. I support 4 people and no kids. Me, my man, and my parents. And I always wanted a family.

    Until my dream of owning a bar is here, in 10 years or so.. I’ll be scrimping, eating well, but not sure if my sacrificing and living this crap lifestyle, holes in my clothes and shoes, and bologne sandwhichs at work lunchs is really worth it in the long run. goodbye 20’s and 30’s, maybe I can truly live in my 40’s.

  90. Sister,
    Well wishes on your aspirations. So many people feel like they have the answer for others but they don’t acknowledge the problems. You having to take care of parents, something many families face, rich, broke and poor. It’s difficult to focus on endeavors when you have something like that on your plate. As someone else stated, it’s not impossible- thank God. But it is much more harder to balance working enough shifts to bring in a reasonable income, family participation and career enhancing pursuits like school as opposed to being in a solid career where you can work from home or design your own schedule and/or hiring someone to help out when needed.

    Again, keep up the great work that you’re doing-Here’s to enjoying our 40’s. hopefully by the time we get there, it’ll be the 20’s, lol.

  91. Hey Glen awesome article! I can say from personal a lot of the things youve listed are true, it’s given me plenty of stuff to try and watch out for myself. I also found this website that goes really well with what you’re talking about here, it’s all about how to sae money on electricity. It has some really detailed and simple ideas and is definitely worth a look. Click here if you’re interested.

  92. Here’s a big how-not-to-get-rich rule I have found in my own life: be in the arts. I guess it’s not an ironclad rule, because some (maybe 1 in 100,000 or even 1,000,000) in the arts do get rich. But it’s an almost guaranteed high road to poverty. For one thing, one’s desire to write, act, paint or whatever tends to make one unfitted for life in a mainstream profession.

  93. Great list! Another factor is the inability to exercise self-denial when necessary. It leaves NSWTDs vulnerable to aggressive marketing like cable providers use. I get almost weekly pitches in the mail from various providers. They even pitch when I make calls for service to my Internet and Cable providers. The offers always sound affordable. But they want a decision now to get the special offer, using the fear of missing out to seal the deal. The rule of walk away and come back the next day before making major purchases is necessary to avoid this sort of pitfall, something too few people can do.

  94. Great article with a lot of really good points (including the commenters)!
    I actually stumbled across your article after realizing that I’ve put myself in a NSWTD jam. I work 3 jobs (one office and 2 side businesses). I have been supporting myself 100% since I was 17 years old because I grew up in a neglectful household. I had to teach myself everything. I had to go through learning about leases, loans, credit, taxes, budgeting, saving, 401ks, health insurance, etc, etc, all by myself. It was kind of scary (and really I had NO idea how much I didn’t know) but luckily I got a job with a bank and have worked in that field for almost 8 years now.
    Because I grew up in a household that was somewhere between Well To Do and NSWTD I had no idea what my monthly spending/savings should look like. My friends were all college kids with parents who would support them in case of any emergency so they weren’t much more help. My boyfriend came from a VERY NSWTD family.
    I cringe when I look back at all the money I wasted on crap I don’t even own anymore. The boyfriends and friends I let take advantage of me. The poor decisions I made. However, I don’t think this comes from not caring. I think it’s truly ignorance. NSWTD’s see the WTD’s spending highlight reel, not the behind the scenes that makes it possible. I also believe there is a huge lack of education on money and budgeting. Working in the credit industry, I realize some people truly don’t understand how checking accounts work and how most people don’t pay bank fees on a regular basis. I am a recovering NSWTD hoping to work hard to become a WTD.
    Here’s my list of NSWTD habits I’ve seen from others and even myself.
    Payday/”Security” loans… Or any sort of high interest loan.
    Pawn shops
    Spending bonuses and tax refunds without saving
    Retail Credit Cards (like department store cards)
    No retirement planning
    Doesn’t take preventative measures on health or car
    Doesn’t plan ahead for meals, expenditures in general…
    In fact I think the biggest difference between WTDs and NSWTDs is planning.
    “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

  95. I ran across this page while I was trying to find an answer to why it seems that those of a lower socioeconomic status seem to talk on their cell phones constantly. The cleaning staff in our building is a good example of this. They are nice ladies, they work hard, emptying trash, vacuuming, etc. but they ALWAYS have their cell phones wedged between an ear and a shoulder, jabbering away. I’ve also noticed that the counter help at many retail establishments will maintain a conversation on their phone while checking you out, bagging your purchase, etc. Just curious to see if anybody else notices the same. Me? I live debt-free. My house and cars are paid off and I pay my credit card off every two weeks. I have now gone over 10 years without paying any credit card interest. You would think I would know better, but one thing that has snuck up on me is my family’s communications costs. I have a semi-employed wife, a daughter in college, and a son in high school, and of course everybody (but me) has to have iPhones or they’ll curl up and die. We have basic cable, cable internet, and our home phone service bundled through Time Warner as well. I am apalled that all of these communications bills combined now total $410 per month!! My electric bill, water bill and gas bill combined are only half that!! Shame on me.

  96. Jacinta Richardson says:

    Cal, I can’t answer regarding your family (you should ask them), but I can give a partial answer for your cleaners, checkout folk etc. Menial work is menial. It does not require a lot of brainpower to do a great (or acceptably mediocre) job of washing the floors, taking out the trash, cleaning the toilets, or to process a customer at a retail establishment. The work is repetitive, easy and most importantly mind-shatteringly boring.

    But it pays some money and money pays the bills. So one does the work, and relieves the tedium by conversing with someone else at the same time. Humans have been doing that for millenia. Menial work is always less unpleasant when you’re doing it with a community, it’s just that we now have electronic devices to make it easier to carry on a conversation with someone else even when we’re forced to work on our own.

    They’re probably on the cheapest plan they can find, but a lot of cheap plans are good deals if you don’t need data.

  97. shay.p lies says:

    This article is about me… I have a college degree in practical nursing which at the time was my Passion. My ex girlfriend wrote this Shayetta pi***. She hid the fact that she blogged but I knew, she thought herself better than me because she has a four yr degree. She has FULL BLOWN AIDS WHICH SHE DIDNT INFORM ME OR HER EX BOYFRIEND ABOUT AND SEVERAL OTHER SEXUAL PARTNERS. I unfortunately contracted the virus her mom sisters and other family members took hiv tests for her and submitted them to the police. She is highly manipulative and uses that to harm others she has been fired from a job at wendys for theft, but she lied for over a yr saying that she quit.she tried to use me I gave her money and paid her portion of a cell bill that she begged me to get for her but she refused to pay it. I cooked all the time. And we ate out a lot at her request and mine equally. The furniture and Tvs that I have are from a trust that was left from my deceased father. Ive had all of these items for over 3 yrs. I have invested in stocks and my money has grown I even encouraged her to invest and open a bank acct. But she refused because she had outstanding pay day loans I’ve never had a pay day loan mind you. And if I ever did if you have an emergency and your savings aren’t enough use it properly. She beat me all the time giving me black eyes bruises and choking me until I almost passed out. She is a pathelogical liar that has outlandish views of what makes a person valuable in life. She has no regard for human life and blames me for not letting it go that she intentionally infected me with HIV. Shay doesn’t see that 4 yrs or more of education doesn’t matter who you are as a person does. I think anyone would agree that spreading HIV intentionally is the worst thing that you can do. I lately have been reading her BLOGS and her sisters and friends actually create several email accts. and names and go on and comment so she can get more hits on her blog. She is a master of deceit never getting things the virtuous way she’s always looking for a scam to cheat. If she only looked on the mirror and realized that all the American eagle and vans and tatoos and 300 hundred dollar cell phones DO NOT GET YOU MORALS AND VALUES. When people die mourners talk about the good deeds they did. But she gets this attitude from her mother her family now pick on the weight that I’ve lost due to the Hiv medications. I asked her to get tested for hiv and all STDS but she refused. My family lawyer spoke with ex girlfriends and she disclosed her status to some of them. That sums up what type of person she really is….rich people don’t always work hard or get it honestly look at Enron. But she would probably disagree or blame the victims. And thousands of lives were destroyed. Look in the mirror you have committed the worst crime ever murder you lie and steal to get ahead. But who you are and what you stand for will come out. You told me you don’t believe in equality and that says it all. Blog about you you’re a narcisist only worrying about you and the visad that you show to the world. Your family wants me to get over it and your mom told me to “deal with it”, which is cruel I’m a single mom of a 5 yr old daughter. You’ve had HIV for years and it should’ve been my choice to be involved with you, you have no right to play God. But now I’m going to continue and fight for victims rights. It’s convenient for you to not be accountable but I know that I can’t just hide because I don’t want you to victimize or ruin anymore lives. Use your BLOGS to be selfless and reach people that you normally wouldn’t to address a good cause like honesty accountability and empathy. Riches don’t make you a good person murdering three and helping 10 others doesn’t cancel each other out. You actually see the anger and defensiveness come through in her response to to readers that disagree with these critical selfish views. You lived with me I paid my own bills I have a portfolio and a 401k I will always be ok because I know how to live and take care of myself. You are money hungry you’re 28 still roomating so you won’t have to grow up and pay full bills so you can buy songs American eagle Levis vans hats tatoos and xbox games. To all of the readers if you’re not wealthy she is far from making 10hr she has a flat screen too same size as mine.don’t let society and self rightous people like this box you in. Live love and be happy and most importantly treat others the way you want to be treated

  98. shay.p lies says:

    After my family and friends read this we laugh!
    Shay rents a apartment with her sister at 28

    She has a 300+ cellphone

    She doesnt have a bank acct. because she owes pay day loans and banks money

    She splurges and buys tons of shoes jeans clothes she owns an xbox she buys games for her phone had a Nintendo ds

    She recieved foodstamps

    She loved to splurge and go out and would start arguments when it was explained to her that it couldn’t be afforded….her reply was she is tired of not having fun

    She bought a flat screen

    She pawned items

    She smokes drinks and is almost 200 lbs

    She takes her fam out after borrowing money from others to make it seem like she has it

    She has cable with dvrs and internet the largest package

    She knows nothing about finances or buying homes she goes online and researces these things to sound knowledgeable and highly versed when it comes to the topic shes blogging about

    She complains about her job and switches accounts around so that she can make commission

    She splurges on gifts for her family and then complains when her money is gone

    She is delusional and conceited….the truth is she hates herself for growing up poor and not having food all the time and having AIDS so she finds things that she can make others feel bad about. She is the face of EVIL intentionally giving HIV to me and exsposing several other sexual partners and her family even took a HIV test in her name so that she could submit it to the police so that I would look like I was lying. She knows how to work any system just like she and her family and friends create 10+ email addresses and fictious names in different languages so her Blogger pages will look as if she is getting several hits she was never taught to get things honestly and ONLY HONESTLY she was taught to DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN STEP ON ANYONE RUIN ANYONE LIE CHEAT AND STEAL YOUR WAY TO THE TOP.But people see through you you’re far from being better than anyone YOURE A REMORSELESS MURDERER!!!!!

  99. wow I guess I better start working on some of these trats i have been exhibiting, jim

  100. shay.p lies says:


  101. Fine, except the part about ASSUMING that anyone not well off financially DIDN’T go to college, grad school, teaching license, pharmacy tech license, whatever, or maybe ALL OF THE ABOVE. And possibly found that all that education left them so much in DEBT and “overqualified” for what few jobs these days are actually HIRING that they’re underemployed and underpaid. NO, I have a 20-year-0ld car. I have a 7-year-old Macbook. I have just recently acquired an iPhone THREE, which I fought tooth and nail to acquire the cheapest possible pay-as-you-go monthly plan for so I wouldn’t fail the credit-check required to get a CONTRACT. I get all my clothes used from Goodwill HALF-PRICE-SALE days and other charities. I periodically “treat” myself with something 80% off from the OUTLET MALL. I get my food staples that I have to COOK, from food pantries. I commute a ridiculous distance to the ONLY school district that would HIRE me as a substitute teacher, from the only roof over my head that would TAKE me without a CREDIT-CHECK. Oh, and yeah, I went to Yale, not some online correspondence school that has no credibility within the job market. I have a 7th-12th grade Math teaching license from the State of New York – not some state in the South where public education is a massive JOKE. Yes, MATHEMATICS, not some fluff major like Art History or Medieval Architecture. And yet I bust my butt to bring in money amounts of “somewhere around broke” and I thank my lucky stars I could even get what little employment I have seeing as how other more-recently-graduated Yalies got stuck moving back in with hopefully-still-living parents because they found NO employment whatsoever.

    So don’t just assume it’s because of lack of education!! Heck, maybe it’s because of TOO MUCH education or the “wrong” kind (Ivy League was “wrong”?)

  102. If you are going to need your money back at some point, don’t loan it to a friend just because their situation is even worse than yours. Kiss it goodbye because if they are doing worse than you and you’re not doing great there is a reason they are doing worse than you. I know from experience.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Good point. Whatever amount you give them it probably won’t be enough to change their habits that got them into trouble in the first place. Not that you shouldn’t help a friend out, just that you need to be realistic when lending the money out.

  103. While I honestly do agree with most of these, I don’t think generosity should be overlooked. There should be moderation though. You shouldn’t look at someone picking up the tab to have a weird, hidden agenda. Maybe he makes more than the rest, or his friends are currently unemployed.
    I’m very grateful and more than likely to pick up the tab for them, in return when I have the chance. I am not sure people do this to show off anymore. You won’t look rich, you’ll just look like an idiot or a pushover. You do it once in a while and not all the time.

  104. Also, stingy people are GROSS and boring.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Haha, fair enough. True generosity, when you can afford it, is a great thing. But some people go out of their way to put in more money than they need to and you know it’s more than just wanted to be generous since money always seems to fly out of their hands and then you hear later on how their finances aren’t in order.

  105. A lot of my friends are like these NSWTD according to your observations and I am making it my observations too except for numbers 9 and 10. The one thing that makes me sad about these people is that they pulled out their 5-year old from pre-school because they cannot afford to pay for the boy’s school fees (in pre-school for crying out loud), but the wife is posting pictures of her latest shopping trips at Macy’s every two weeks buying Coach and Michael Kors purses and shoes. She has new designer duds every two weeks. One of my friends is also going to the junior college and she and I are in the same class. I don’t understand her logic behind not being able to afford to buy her textbook and would rather borrow mine and photocopies the pages when she can very much afford Louis Vuitton and Coach designer purses and shoes. I buy all of them lunches once in a while when we go out to dinner, but they cannot buy me lunch. They would invite me to have lunch and dinner at their houses and try their cooking. What in heaven’s name are wrong with these people?

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