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Could a Homeless Man Have a Higher Net Worth Than You?

My wife and I were driving in to work this morning, and we witnessed a scene that has become very familiar. As we were waiting to turn left on N. Military Trail, a scraggly man, approximately 45 years of age, slowly walked the median as he held a water bottle in one hand and a sign that read, “Ice Cold Water, $1.00” in the other. Based on the man’s clothing and cleanliness (or lack thereof), I assumed that he was homeless.

On average, I would say that this man makes $10 an hour with his water bottle sales. He most likely has no home and has very few possessions. Because he has no occupation and lacks many of the toys that we consider essentials, we often feel that we are ‘above’ him, but are we really?

Many of the individuals I work with are completely enamored with stuff. If you’ve ever read a Dave Ramsey book, you might say that they have ‘stuffitis’, the disease of “needing” and accumulating stuff. Since they love stuff so much, but lack the resources to make a purchase, they choose to rent their stuff. The structure that they call home as well as their transportation –rented and leased, leaving them with no equity and contribute nothing to their net worth (value of possessions minus debt).

After I considered these points, I thought it might be effective to place my thoughts into a table.

The average Student Loan debt in 2007 for an Undergrad Student was $22,700. This debt was for an important cause, don’t get me wrong, but its amount is deducted from your net worth since there is nothing concrete to show for it. Airing on the side of grace, I have decided to round this value down to $20,000. As for the Retirement Savings, the average for an individual under the age of 35 is $6,306. Once again, I was generous and assumed $15,000. And, since the average person cannot come up with $1,000 in a 24 hour timeframe (previous article reporting), I gave this person a savings of a thousand bucks (yes, I know, I am generous).

I’m sure you know plenty of people that live this way. How do you think they’d react if you told them that the homeless man outside had a higher net worth than them? Ha, I know I’d be ready to dodge a few punches. But, it’s true! If they own no property, no cars, and they finance all of the big ticket items in their house, they most likely have a negative net worth!

Rather than looking with awe at the Porsche-driving co-worker, perhaps you should remember their net worth and begin to focus on your own future, which will no doubt be filled with prosperity.



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I’ve known for awhile now that I have less monetary net worth than the homeless.
    Hard not if you are in debt and they are not, no matter how little they have.

  2. You forgot to mention that the homeless man might actually have a home. Or that in all likeliness he does not report his income to anyone and would obviously not pay income tax on that money. Also the fact that he is probably taking advantage of welfare programs. Including monthly checks, free healthcare, low income subsidized housing, EBT or free food. If the homeless man spends 40hrs/week selling his water and does in fact bring in $10/hr that works out to $1600/month of no tax money. That coupled with monthly income from the government and low cost housing, that homeless man might be making much more than you might think.

    • In writing this article, I wish I had some sources on the homeless. Maybe they have bank accounts with more money than we think! Who knows?

      The point is, if they have only $100 and no debt, then they most likely whooped a bunch of folks in the net worth catagory.

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