For Christmas, one of my older brothers gave me Dave Ramsey's book: The Total Money Makeover.
Yes, the book is as cheesy as the title makes it sound. That aside, it does convey a lot of good information, once you get past the infomercial presentation.
So after reading the book, I've been looking over my financial situation. It could be better, but it's definitely not bad. I have very few expenses and I'm approaching the end of paying off all of my debts. Course, life would have been better had I not incurred the debts to begin with. I don't feel too bad, I had a time without any health insurance, low income, and huge medical expenses. So I know where my debts came from.
I still have huge medical expenses, but I now have health insurance that pays for most of it.
That said, I also am aware that getting to a financially stable point in life can be hard.
Dave Ramsey's methodology is basically: have an emergency fund, get out of debts (or even better don't get into debt), stay away from debt, build a larger emergency fund, build a retirement fund, save for big expenses, keep gaining money and almost always live on a shoestring budget no matter what your income is so that you have money for the hard times.
That's just a quick summary, but I think it encompasses the general idea.
Now this past week they pulled me from actually talking to people to have me just process application. (It doesn't make sense to people, but the more workers talk to clients, the longer it takes to get assistance out.) While processing, I was noticing how many people are applying mostly because they made some really bad financial decision. Most of the decision are because they have some poor behavior when it comes to money. Things like declaring bankruptcy for the third time, running S-Corps where they pay themselves a salary that is twice what the company brings in, have rent or mortgages that are 75%-300% of their income, and the more common habit of buying things they think they need but don't really need.
It really comes down to what other social workers have been telling me for years, wealth is behavior more than anything else. The haves are haves because of the habits they have developed that let them make and retain wealth. The have nots are where they are at because of habits that don't make money or retain wealth. Knowledge and education has a little to do with it also, but a person habits and mentality towards money matters far more than education. (Trusts me, there are plenty of very poor people out their with PhDs despite what academia sells.)
Obviously, people can change behavior. Plenty of people go from the mentality of poverty to the mentality of the wealthy. The mental shift is part of the rags-to-riches story that gets glossed over by most storytellers. People who become destitute and manage to get out of it, often have gone through some behavioral changes.
Course, there are feast and famine families that I see a lot of. These people don't change their behavior, so when they have money, it gets spent nearly as soon as it comes in. Hence people that are on welfare even though they have a multi-million dollar home and drive a BMW.
But stlll, if Cinderella remained a princess for the rest of her life after marrying the prince, it was because she kept all the lessons from being a servant with her.