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The No. 1 Reason You’re Broke (& How to Change Your Fate)

Sterling White
3 min read
The No. 1 Reason You’re Broke (& How to Change Your Fate)

Want to know the number one reason that you’re broke?

You can work as hard as you want. You can hustle around the clock seven days a week, but you won’t change the dynamics of your finances and the amount of your free time—not unless you get to the root of the problem.

By no means am I a financial guru. However, I can tell you that I have personally seen a significant change in my income and real net worth by rewiring how I think about money—and grasping and practicing this one key fact: 

The top reason most people are broke and stay broke is that they’re consumers, not investors.

Some might make a good six-figure income and have a nice job title, car lease, and big house. Still, most of those people are very broke. Most have zero—or more likely a negative—net worth, virtually no free time, and little disposable income.

If you want to have more control over your time, have more financial security and freedom, or just put an end to being broke month after month, be an investor—not a consumer.

Related: 12 Reasons You’re Poor

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend money. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy nice things. It does mean that you invest first. Then you let your investments pay for all of these other things.

Anything I earn, I invest in myself or in real estate deals. I put my money into things that increase my worth and passive income, instead of buying things that go down in value over time.

Here are some examples of that.

college tuition


The most important investment you can make is in yourself. Ask any billionaire, and they’ll tell you it is the best investment you can make. Invest in your knowledge, skills, and performance, which will ultimately help you earn more, because you can bring more value to the marketplace. Obtaining skills (along with knowledge) are things that people can’t take from you.

However, if you’re considering investing in a college education, think twice before accumulating that bad debt. Those are years you won’t get back. Money is often spent on irrelevant information, and those loans will keep taking money out of your pocket for years to come.

Instead, consider books, seminars, events, and training with a mentor. This information tends to be more transferable to the real world. Do what you can afford, and as it pays off and increases your income, keep dedicating a part of everything you make to more learning.


Cars are easily one of the top two or three things that keep Americans broke. For most, it is inconceivable not to be driving the most expensive car they can possibly get a loan or lease for. That means they are always tapped out on their income. A big portion of their income every month goes into an depreciating asset. Buy a new car, and you are instantly throwing away half of the money on the price tag.

Now, once you have already invested, and if that money will be coming from passive income from investments and cash you don’t have anything better to do with, then absolutely treat yourself to a sweet ride.


The same goes for houses you live in. For most, this will be the biggest expense of their lifetimes. Buying a home can be a somewhat smart financial move. Still, few get how much they really pay for a home when they factor in interest and taxes and other fees and maintenance. Like cars, most max themselves out to the limit. They chain themselves to those big piles of bricks that can hold them back from many other things they’d prefer to be doing—like free time or the ability to pick up and move elsewhere.


Related: 4 Steps to Buy the Car You Want Within the Budget You Can Afford

Invest and let your investments in income-producing real estate pay for your own home. Don’t sacrifice your ability to invest for a home that is a burden as soon as you get those keys.


The number one reason people in America are broke is simply because they are spenders first. Those who aren’t broke are those who invest first.

This article shows some classic examples where you can change the odds in your favor and get control of your money. If you ever get stuck in deciding how to use a dollar, just remember to ask yourself whether that purchase or investment will take you closer to your goals. If not, it’s taking you further from them.

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What’s your opinion—is consumerism the top reason Americans are broke?

Comment below!

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.