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A thought-provoking question

When you see a man cruise by in his $65,000 BMW 550i, what do you assume about him?

Kiplinger’s Magazine editor Knight Kiplinger posed this question to a group of high school students. Their answer? “He’s rich.”

And a man who drives by in a ten-year-old Chevy? “He’s struggling.”

The BMW, however, is probably leased (perhaps for three years, no money down), so we can infer only that the driver earns enough to handle a $1,131 monthly lease payment. We know nothing about his net worth, which may be great … or may be almost nonexistent.

And the man in the old Impala? Maybe he is struggling financially, but there’s another possibility: His income is just as great as that of the dude in the Bimmer, but he’s not saddled with a lease payment — and he’s investing the money in mutual funds that are growing at 10% a year.

The message in all this: The biggest barrier to becoming rich is living like you’re rich before you are. Why? Because all that discretionary spending — the chic apartment, frequent travel and restaurant meals, consumer electronics, fancy clothes and cars — crowds out the saving that will enable you to be rich someday.”

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