Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Do you think like the middle class or the wealthy?

Among this week's Carnival of Personal Finance at Broke Grad Student is a short, yet impactful blog post. Blogger Moneymonk compares the thoughts of the middle class with the thoughts of the wealthy. And all four points related to the middle-class mindset apply to (gulp!) me.

In essence, Moneymonk (and one of the post commenters, Finance Girl) highlights that the middle class focus primarily on financial security. Those who build wealth successfully focus on financial prosperity.

It's a subtle but important difference. Wealth-builders are more willing to take on greater risks, such as starting their own businesses or buying investment properties. Those in the middle-class take on less risk, by working for someone else (which, admittedly, doesn't seem that less risky in these days of mass layoffs and rising unemployment) or putting their money in a tangible, relatively low-risk asset, such as their home.

I work at a large company, and M and I are diligently saving to move up from our townhouse into a single-family home. The one place where we are taking greater risk is in our 401(k), which is invested 80% in broadly diversified stock funds. Essentially, we have a middle-class mindset, with just a pinch of wealth-building. This realization isn't quite enough to make me want to change what we're doing. But it does get me thinking.