Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth: The 8 Secrets of How 5,000 Ordinary Americans Became Successful Investors -- and How You Can Too!

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How did a secretary, a firefighter, a retired naval officer, a housewife, a construction worker, a schoolteacher, and a pharmacist become wealthy? Bestselling author Ric Edelman has studied the wealth-making habits of these and 5,000 other ordinary Americans. What he found is revealed for the first time in this book: the eight great secrets to attaining wealth.

This extraordinary book is filled with the advice of everyday people--people like your own friends and neighbors--who ...

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth

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Overview

How did a secretary, a firefighter, a retired naval officer, a housewife, a construction worker, a schoolteacher, and a pharmacist become wealthy? Bestselling author Ric Edelman has studied the wealth-making habits of these and 5,000 other ordinary Americans. What he found is revealed for the first time in this book: the eight great secrets to attaining wealth.

This extraordinary book is filled with the advice of everyday people--people like your own friends and neighbors--who entered the world of personal finance, often with no real plan at the start, but who found ways to accumulate astonishing amounts of money.

A rich, irreplaceable lifetime of wealthbuilding experience is now at your fingertips. Here you will learn to arrange your finances and make your investment decisions so you can reach your goals and achieve financial security. Including:

  • How to turn your mortgage into a wealth-enhancing tool;
  • Why small investments work better than big ones;
  • How to max out on your employer-sponsored retirement plan;
  • Your investments: when to hold them and when to fold them;
  • Financial news: when to pay attention and when to turn it off;
  • Plus, of course, much, much more.
Let your neighbors lend you a hand. And let Ric Edelman guide you through their lessons. So come along for an eye-opening journey with thousands of ordinary folks who found their way to extraordinary wealth.

Five thousand of your neighbors found hard-won financial success using the same eight secrets to attaining wealth. The lessons they learned through many years of life experience, and lots of trial and error, can now be yours!

After studying the habits of thousands of financially successful people, bestselling author Ric Edelman found that they shared eight fundamental methods for attaining wealth. Now you can adopt these same eight strategies yourself.

Let the extraordinary experience of ordinary investors--along with Ric Edelman's expert analysis--help you create your own financial success story.

Bestselling author Ric Edelman has studied the wealth-making habits of these 5,000 other ordinary Americans and reveals his findings in this extraordinary book that outlines in eight easy, practical steps to secrets to achieving and maintaining wealth.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Author Ric Edelman decided to analyze the investing habits of ordinary Americans who achieved significant financial success, in order to share their secrets and insights with the rest of us. His resulting book distills the strategies and experiences of 5,000 wise Americans into eight secrets that anyone can use to improve their financial standing
Bill Erbach
I don't spend any time tuning 'into the media about personal finance. If you're investing for the long term, what's the point of studying the daily Dow reports?
Michael R Burke
Get as much of a mortgage as you can for as long as you can. Using someone else's money is always better than using your own.
Jody Pearce
Save on a regular basis, even if it's $10 a week, and invest it into a good mutual fund. But just save something. Get, good financial advice from a planner; ignore your friends' advice.
Duncan Campbell
The best thing to do is be aggressive with the money you're not going to use for a lot of years. If I don't need it for twenty years, it goes in stocks.
Paul B. Farrel
If you follow these simple rules, you will not only accumulate wealth for yourself but you will enjoy a much happier and healthier life. —CBS MarketWatch
Michael R Burke
Get as much of a mortgage as you can for as long as you can. Using someone else's money is always better than using your own.
Jody Pearce
Save on a regular basis, even if it's $10 a week, and invest it into a good mutual fund. But just save something. Get, good financial advice from a planner; ignore your friends' advice.
Duncan Campbell
The best thing to do is be aggressive with the money you're not going to use for a lot of years. If I don't need it for twenty years, it goes in stocks.
Bill Erbach
I don't spend any time tuning 'into the media about personal finance. If you're investing for the long term, what's the point of studying the daily Dow reports?
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062702470
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.55 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Ric Edelman, C.F.S., R.F.C., C.M.C.F., is a bestselling author, PBS television personality, syndicated columnist, and nationally recognized television and radio host. He hosts ricedelman.com, has produced a popular series of video- and audiocassettes, and is on the faculty at Georgetown University. He lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife, Jean, and their weimaraners, Dojar and Liza.
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Read an Excerpt

Secret #1

They Carry a Mortgage on Their Homes Even Though They Can Afford to Pay it Off.

If you had enough money to pay off your mortgage right now, would you? Many people would. In fact, "The American Dream" is to own your home -- and to own it outright, with no mortgage. Imagine owning your home without having to send a check to a mortgage company or bank every month! Being so fortunate must evoke such a sense of security, satisfaction, and well-being that you could only dream of it! Imagine the feeling you'll enjoy when, after 30 long years -- 360 monthly payments -- you finally make your last payment, and the house is yours forever!

If The American Dream is so wonderful, how can you explain the fact that thousands of financially successful people -- people who have more than enough money to pay off their mortgage right now refuse to do so?

Consider these facts derived from my survey research. Of the respondents:

The average home value is $255,700; the average mortgage balance is $142,000. Even though 100% have the ability to own their home without a mortgage, 83% carry a mortgage anyway.

100% have the ability to send in extra money along with their monthly payments, to eliminate the mortgage ahead of schedule -- but 90% choose not to. Instead, 85% of the respondents have a 30-year loan and no one in this group sends in extra principal payments or participates in bi-weekly mortgage plans.

Clearly, these successful Americans are not bothered by carrying a big, long mortgage. Compare yourself to them. If you have a mortgage and are struggling to pay it off, or if you're dreaming of the day when you make your final payment, you're trying to do something that financially successful people do not do.

What do they know that you don't?

It's vital that you understand what's happening here. And we begin with the fact that talking about mortgages is not a conversation about economics or finance.

It's about emotions.

You "love" the idea of owning your own home. You "hate" your mortgage. If you're like many, you may even "fear" it. All of these are emotional words; none of them are financial. Yet, a mortgage is a financial tool -- not an emotional state of mind.

Why, then, do you feel the way you do about your mortgage?

Blame it on your parents.

Just about everything you've learned about money, you've learned from your parents. Even though Mom and Dad never said a word to you about money, they had lots to say about mortgages -- especially when you announced you were planning to buy your first house. "Make a big down payment," they told you, "and keep the mortgage payment low." "Pay it off early, child. You don't want that mortgage hanging over your head."Indeed, your parents and grandparents made it very clear to you that mortgages are bad, something to minimize, or to avoid whenever possible. A necessary evil at best. But what they never told you was why they felt this way about mortgages. It's important you understand their perspective or you'll fail to understand why their advice is bad for you. So let's look at mortgages from your parents' and grandparents' point of view.

Why People Fear Mortgages -- and Why You Shouldn't:

Our story begins in the 1920s. Back then, houses typically cost $5,000. Sure doesn't sound like much, until you consider that the average annual income in the US. was $1,434 in 1925. Consequently, few people could afford to pay cash for their homes--just like today. So, people borrowed the money from banks--again, just like today. But the loans were structured differently back then. A common clause in the loan agreement gave banks the right to demand full repayment of the loan at any time; if you failed to repay your loan when asked, the bank had the right to take your house from you and sell it to recoup its money.

So although the terms called for you to send $24 to the bank every month to pay off that $4,500 balance over 30 years, you knew you suddenly might be required to repay the remaining balance in full at any time. You didn't worry about that clause, because you knew that having the bank ask you for $4,500 in cash, well, they might as well ask for the moon.

Then came October 29, 1929.

When the stock market crashed, millions of investors lost huge sums of money. Problem was, it wasn't their money they had lost. You see, most investors back then had bought stocks with borrowed money -- money lent to them by their stockbrokers, called a "margin account." Under rules then in effect, you were allowed to buy $100 worth, of stock by giving your broker just ten bucks; your broker would loan you the other $90. So when the Crash hit, knocking 30% off the value of everyone's stock portfolios, a typical brokerage account that previously was worth $100 now contained stocks worth only $70. But the investor had borrowed $90 to buy them! This led to a "margin call," where the broker would tell the investor that because his account had exceeded the "margin limits, " he had to come up with more cash. If the investor failed to do so, the broker would begin to sell some of the investor's stocks, and the broker would continue selling until enough cash was raised to meet the margin call.

Selling off the portfolio was the last thing the investor wanted his broker to do. The stocks were already down 30% -- this was the worst time to sell. So, to avoid the margin call, the investor went to his bank and withdrew enough cash to meet his broker's margin call. The investor had to act quickly, because under stock exchange rules, margin calls must be fulfilled within 24 hours. Therefore, in the days following the Crash of '29, a lot of investors went to their banks and made withdrawals.

It didn't take long for the banks to run out of cash.

When they did, word quickly spread. Bank depositors stampeded the banks, demanding their money. To get more, the banks started calling their loans due. They sent telegrams to their borrowers, demanding they pay off their loans immediately and in full. Because these homeowners didn't have the cash -- you might as well ask for the moon -- the banks foreclosed and put the houses up for sale in a desperate attempt to raise capital.

It didn't work.

With no one willing or able to buy the houses, banks found themselves owning virtually worthless real estate. Unable to satisfy depositors who were demanding their cash, the banks closed their doors, many of them never to reopen. With investors unable to get their cash from their banks, they were unable to meet their margin calls -- so their brokers started selling out their holdings. But everyone was in this dilemma, so the brokers couldn't find buyers for the stocks. With no one willing to buy, the brokers had to continually drop the stocks' prices.

Ultimately, the Great Depression saw the stock market fall more than 75%, from its 1929 highs. More than half of the nations banks failed. Tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs as companies went bankrupt. And millions of homeowners, unable to raise the cash they needed to pay off their loans, lost their homes. The American Dream had become a national nightmare.

But not for those who owned their homes outright. These lucky few were immune to the banks' collapse, With no loans to repay, they got no telegram demanding full payment. As their neighbors went broke and lost their homes, with thousands committing suicide, those who owned their homes outright succeeded in keeping them. They might not have found work, or had much to eat, but they kept a roof over their children's heads.And thus was born America's mantra: Always own your home outright.

Never carry a mortgage.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Secret #1
They Carry a Mortgage on Their Homes Even Though They Can Afford to Pay it Off 3
In Their Own Words 19
Secret #2
They Don't Diversify the Money They Contribute to Their Employer Retirement Plans
Instead, They Put All Their Contributions Into One Asset Class--the One Few Others Choose 33
In Their Own Words 65
Secret #3
Most of Their Wealth Came From Investments That Were Purchased for Less than $1,000 87
In Their Own Words 95
Secret #4
They Rarely Move From One Investment to Another 105
In Their Words 115
Mind Over Money: Why Investors Make the Mistakes They Do 125
Secret #5
They Don't Measure Their Success Against the Dow or the S&P 500 155
In Their Own Words 161
Secret #6
They Devote Less than Three Hours Per Month to Their Personal Finances
And That Includes the Time They Spend Paying Bills. And Budgeting?
They Never Bothered 169
In Their Own Words 179
Secret #7
Money Management is a Family Affair Involving Their Kids as well as Their Parents 193
In Their Own Words 201
Secret #8
They Differ From Most Investors in the Attention They Pay to the Media 215
In Their Own Words 219
In Their Own Words
The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made 227
The Smartest Thing I Ever Did 253
The Obstacles I Faced 271
My Advice For You 283
Afterthoughts
In Our Own Words 301
My Own (Final) Words 305
About the Author 307
Index 311
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Interviews & Essays

Why Ordinary Is Extraordinary

This book is unlike any personal finance book you'll ever see. True, like some other books, it reveals how successful people got that way. But unlike other books, this one does not focus on the superelite of Wall Street or neighbors of yours who own successful businesses. Instead, you'll get to know ordinary Americans -- people just like you -- who have somehow managed to accumulate wealth despite the fact that they never earned all that much money or achieved the highest levels in business, politics, or the arts.

Instead, these people are middle- and upper-middle-class citizens. They are schoolteachers, government employees, computer analysts, lawyers, physical therapists, office managers, doctors, journalists, graphic designers, and musicians. They are your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and relatives. And they are similar to you in age and marital status, with similar incomes and expenses, with kids and pets -- and with similar goals and aspirations.

Like you, they want a comfortable home in a quiet neighborhood; kids who get through college, marry, and have children of their own; and enough money left over to care for their elderly parents while retaining enough to feel secure during their own retirement.

But unlike most others, these ordinary Americans have done something extraordinary: They somehow have managed to achieve all of these goals, while accumulating enough money to be able to live out their lives in comfort and financial security.

How Did They Do It?

Inside the pages of my book, you'll discover the actual real-life practices and habits of my firm's 5,000 clients, the people who participated in the making of this book. It won't be me who guides you; it'll be them. Will you see clear patterns and trends among this diverse group of people? Yes. In fact, you'll see eight specific habits that were common to nearly everyone who participated. Each, in my opinion, reflects the biggest factors influencing why my clients produced the wealth they now have. And that means you, too, can achieve financial success as easily and as surely as they did. You can do it without having to undergo major upheavals in your life. You don't need to quit your job and open a convenience store. And you don't need to become a day trader.

When you read this book, prepare to be surprised. The strategies you see are not what you might expect, and, in fact, they may seem counterintuitive. I urge you to keep an open mind.

Expect to see yourself in two ways. First, through the many stories my clients share, you'll see that you're not very different from them, and this will show you that you can do what they did. Second, after examining their experiences, you're likely to exclaim, "Uh oh! I'm doing the opposite of what they did."

You'll discover how easy it is to stop doing what you've been doing wrong and start doing what you need to do, so you too can achieve financial success. Not only is the list remarkably short, but the actions required are so simple that anyone can do it -- including you. The success stories of these people will empower you, like it has them.

--Ric Edelman

One of the nation's best-known financial advisers, Ric Edelman is founder and chairman of Edelman Financial Services Inc., a professional group of financial planners, investment advisers, insurance counselors, mortgage experts, and business consultants who manage more than one billion dollars for individuals and businesses worldwide. He is on the faculty of Georgetown University, is a member of the NASD Board of Arbitrators, and was appointed to the SEC's National Roundtable on Savings and Investing. He is the author of two national bestselling books, The Truth About Money, named 1997 Business Book of the Year by Small Press Magazine, and The New Rules Of Money, as well as an award-winning monthly newsletter, Inside Personal Finance with Ric Edelman. He is the popular host of radio's "The Ric Edelman Show," which airs on WMAL-AM radio in Washington, D.C., and "Money University," which airs weekly on America's Voice cable network.

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2008

    Good Book for The Average Joe

    So many people in this country love to make excuses about all the reasons they cannot save. This book shows that if that is you, you can and should change. Edelman discusses numerous clients of his that make average livings, some two income households, who have done nothing more then make sure they save every month. The end result is that they are rich and retiring comfortably. If you think you can't save or don't have any money to, read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2005

    A must read!

    I only wish I had read this book 10-years ago. The advice and suggestions from the book are so simple, yet effective. What I especially love about this book, is that its based on case-studies, its based on ordinary people just like me, who have achieved financial independence. For years I thought I could never be able to own my own home, this has shown me that there is a way. A way not only to owning my own home but also to secure my financial future and that of my family. Thanks very much Ric Edelman!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2004

    Solid advice

    I think the investment advice and associated mathematical examples were hard hitting and on the mark. It was a good wake up call for me, and I am glad I read it (in fact, I don't think it took more than a few hours). That being said, the material could have been covered in a magazine article, or a short booklet. He added lots of quotes from people who had been successful - it was okay at first, but really dragged on (maybe he added them to fill enough pages to create a book). I ended up skipping some of it at the end. The chapter on not paying off your mortgage was good, although it contradicted something I read in another book on the same topic. At this point, I am not sure who to believe, but it is interesting that this book was before the market crash of 2000, and the other book advocating paying off your mortgage was after the crash. If you find a cheap copy (like I did), it is worth your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2002

    Okay, Okay. You're Right.

    How would you feel if someone told you to not ever pay off your home, or to not overemhasize diversity in your retirement portfolio? Exactly. I also tried to resist some of the points made about investing in this book but it provides too much evidence for not accepting the proposed points of view. This is arguably the best book on personal finance I have ever read. It is thorough and straightforward, almost to the extent of giving foolproof advise on accumulating wealth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2002

    Entertaining read for those who want to make money.

    If you are new to investing or trying to revamp what you're already doing this is a really entertaining read. Ric's wit and wisdom is scattered throughout the book as well as personal stories from "Joe American" that grew wealth using very simple principles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2001

    Good basic principles

    When I first ordered this book, I was excited that I would read about how average Americans became millionaires. After reading the first few pages, I was dissappointed to discover that those referred to in this book are not millionaires. They are not even young. However, this book has good basic financial advice that everyone should incorporate into their lives. I especially liked the book's philosophy on home mortgages which totally differs from my parent's view.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2001

    Inspirational!

    Everyone has had problems with money in the past. Either people don't have any or they don't know how to make it grow. Well, the author answers all your questions in this book. Put all other financial books aside. This one is for keeps!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2001

    A fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Repub. party

    Trent Lott chuckles warmly every time he relates the one about the junk Lindsay Graham tacked onto the Florida Everglades bill. Seems that just before he and his little band of 'Beltway Merry Pranksters,' as they fondly call one another ( Graham, Orrin Hatch, Connie Mack, Henry Hyde, and Ol' Jesse Helms), went into session to vote, they hammered out a little 'strategy' in the hideaway Congressional Lounge over some dozen rounds of friendly mint juleps ( Jesse's favorite). Only they secretly had Graham's spiked with Ouzo, a 180 proof Greek wine with an oily textural consistency, and red kool aid. Lott claims that this is the story behind Graham's only real ability: He can homicidally strangle his vowels from beginning to end, mercilessly and endlessly going on and on. 'Shux,' he grins, just a big old country boy, 'We made him the way he is today. Cain't take him nowhere, but he still votes jes' like I tell him.' 'And he knows where the big money is, that's a fact, ma'am.' spits Senator Helms in a paroxysmal semblance of a toothless grin. 'Ain't nuthin' wrong with a boy who does jes' what he's told. That damn Newt should have been like that. Big Jackass. Like t' had him killed oncet.' WHen asked why, the answer came, 'He offended me, sir, he offended me greivously. And ain't he got a sister?' But Orrin Hatch to the rescue: 'I think the good senator needs his nappie now.' Mack shoots back, 'Hell, ain't that what session is for?' They all laugh, except Hyde, who admonishes the younger men to 'remain decorous amongst these hallowed halls of history.' Mack shoots back again, 'Is that what they call havin' ta' pick your fat bloated carcass off of a underage secretary? Being decorous? Whooooeeeee! Let's all go out and get decorous tonight, boys.' And it goes on and on, something like that, all the way through the book. Makes you realize Mark Twain was right when he said that 'Congress is America's only native criminal class.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2000

    Best of the Bunch

    -- the best book that I've listened to on personal investing. It contains some excellent advice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2000

    Fantastic reading!

    A 'wealth' of information.Could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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