I know where you are coming from. When my father left my mother, she didn’t have career prospects in this country, so we lived off of the meager child support payments he’d forced my mother to accept, a mere fraction of what she was due according to the law.

So we made do. And we tightened our belts, pinched pennies, and shopped sales and clearance racks. This stretched our money to cover our family of four, however, budgeting did not allow for savings or retirement planning for my mother. Her needs took a back seat to the needs of her children. She entered the golden years of her life with no financial savings and was completely dependent on social security.

Our experience is not uncommon, it is utterly American. Since the beginning of America’s Golden Age, that period following World War II that made us the wealthiest nation in the world, there has been an ever growing rift between the upper and middle economic classes. The biggest reason for this is a difference in financial education.

We’ve all heard the saying “It takes money to make money.” However, we are also privy to a multitude of stories about lottery winners and professional athletes who, despite receiving millions of dollars, lose it rather than grow it to a point of infinite wealth. This can only mean that the truer proverb is “A fool and his money are soon parted”; it clearly takes much more than money to make money.

Henry Ford was once asked what he would do if he lost every cent he had, and he confidently replied that he would have his wealth back and more in a couple of years. He is not alone, for in building their businesses, the wealthiest entrepreneurs in America learned the skills necessary to build great wealth from humble beginnings. Again, we see that it is not money, but something within us that can not be lost nor taken away, that is the true origin of wealth.

The wealthy have knowledge that separates them from the middle class. It is this knowledge that is the root of Henry Ford’s confidence that he could build his wealth again even if he had to restart from nothing. It is the knowledge that could give YOU the same confidence and more importantly, the means by which to lift yourself up from where you are, to a place where you could have everything you can imagine.

Dream big! As big as you can, but know that if you continue to have the middle class mindset, you will have great difficulty attaining what you dream of. You can not depend on others to look after your prosperity and retirement. Once upon a time, companies provided comprehensive retirement plans that took care of their retired employees for the rest of their lives, and the Social Security system promised to care for those taxpayers who contributed and reached retirement age. As company profitability became more important than company honor, the defined benefit (DB) retirement plans disappeared, replaced by the defined contribution (DC) plans such as the 401K that exist now. These plans require that the employee contribute to the plan, and what is present in the plan at the time of retirement is what can be withdrawn; live too long, and your plan will inevitably run out of money. Will Social Security make up the difference? Only if it still exists; through mismanagement and a practice of the government “borrowing” from the Social Security program, the latest estimate is that Social Security will be completely exhausted by 2037, four years earlier than previously thought, according to Martin Crutsinger, an Economics writer for the Associated Press.

It must be accepted that there is no bailout coming for us. There is only a simple choice. You can continue along in your ignorant bliss while other people “invest” your money as they see fit (or worse, as benefits THEM). Or you can learn to take control and make the decisions that will bring prosperity to YOU and your loved ones. Take it upon yourself to SECURE YOUR FUTURE!

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