Nov 302015
 

Some people are so poor they can’t even afford to pay attention. ? But jokes aside, this is an important issue. About 15% of Americans, and 10% of Canadians live in poverty. Since each country has its own criteria for defining the poor it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two. However, I have a simple solution to reduce both country’s national poverty rate to effectively 0%. 😀

The Current Problems Around Poverty

North America has an abundance of wealth and there is enough food and other resources today to go around for everyone who lives here. But there are barriers in place that prevent some people from becoming financially literate and a self sustaining part of society.

  • A lack of practical education. 

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Education is the best chance for a poor person to get out of poverty. The current public education system does a great job of testing our memories, but not so much on teaching us how to critically think for ourselves in the real world, especially when it comes to the application of mathematics and financial knowledge.

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Jan 272014
 

Income inequality, or the gap between the rich and poor, is a major concern. A recent study discovered that the richest 85 people in the world have as much total wealth as the combined wealth of the poorest 50% of the world’s population (3.5 billion people.) Economic inequality is all around us. In last week’s article a few readers subtly brought up the income gap between men and women. However, just because something is statistically true doesn’t mean it has to be our reality.

Earlier this month General Motors, which is the 2nd largest automaker in the world, announced that its new CEO Mary Barra will be paid a salary of $1.6 million per year. She is the first female to head a global automaker. Woot! Girl power! 😀 She started her career inspecting fender panels on the ground floor of a Pontiac plant at only 18 years old. She used the money she saved up to complete her electrical engineering degree, and returned to GM to work as a senior engineer. She showed so much potential that GM sent her to Stanford Business School so she could get an MBA and become a manager at GM, which she did. In 2011 she was appointed senior vice president for global product development, and now in 2014, she is CEO and taking home the big money 🙂 Congrats Mary!

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It may have taken her 33 years to do it starting from the very bottom of the corporate ladder, but it shows that success is not as impossible as some might think. There are many articles out there that discuss the problems of income inequality or wealth disparity, but they don’t propose any good solutions. I don’t have a silver bullet either, but I think we can start by giving everyone the confidence and knowledge that “We can all choose how we want to live.

Economic mobility can depend on location, but for the most part it’s highly probable that if we consistently work hard then we can improve our financial lives regardless of what kind of background we come from 🙂 I don’t think Mary’s situation is unique to hard working individuals. I believe most people who work their butts off like Mary will become financially successful. The only exception is if they live in a developing region controlled by oppressive regimes. If you are Bongani Nkozanza living in Botswana, Southern Africa making $1.00 a day working at a diamond mine, then I’m sorry, but you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than ever making a six figure salary 🙁 But chances are, you probably aren’t reading this article either.

We all know I don’t make 6 figures yet today. But if I started to save and invest more aggressively, then my total annual income (rent, dividends, wages, etc,) would be easily over $100,000 a year some time in my 30s. But Mary worked much harder than me. She survived the rigorous MBA at Stanford! She sounds really smart, unlike me. I can barely even spell MBA 😛 I have a friend who is a junior analyst at Raymond James Financial. He works harder than me and will probably make $200,000/yr by his 30s. Lots of medical school graduates make $300,000/yr in their 30s. If these young professionals continue to push themselves throughout their careers, then by the time they reach Mary’s current age (early fifties) they will easily make $500,000 a year, and some will even earn over a million like Mary. 14-01-grumpycatsixfigures, economic inequality

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Aug 172013
 

Is the United States of America still the land of opportunity or is it becoming more difficult for people at the bottom to live the dream? The answer depends on where you live 😉

Upward mobility measures the likelihood for people to move up their economic status. A recent study published by the Equality of Opportunity Project shows that some US locations have adequate upward mobility compared to other countries. However, other parts of the US have lower levels of economic mobility than any developed country based on current data.

The researchers looked at how many children from families in the bottom 20 percentile of the income distribution ended up rising to the top 20 percentile. They discovered that where you live can make a difference on your upward mobility.

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