You Don't Have to Be Smart to Be Rich

The results are erratic across all three questions, but they suggest that persons with a lower IQ have a little more difficulty in each of those areas. But smarter persons also get into trouble. For example, 17.5 percent of those with an IQ of 75 or below missed payments, compared to 11.8 percent of those with an IQ above 125.

Lousy Savers, Big Spenders

That, of course, can be a transient situation, unlike the gradual accumulation of personal wealth. Is there anyone out there who has never encountered financial difficulties for at least a few weeks?

Left unanswered is this basic question: If intelligence is irrelevant, why do some people end up with more money than others? Some economists have suggested the most likely driver behind the accumulation of wealth is personality. Some are penny pinchers. Some are big spenders.

Most people, Zagorsky said, are lousy savers. Their net worth consists mainly of equity in their homes, and cars on which they've made most of the payments.

"You can earn at any level, high, low or medium," he said. "You can spend at any level. There are some people who are relatively low on the amount of income, but still manage to save every month."

But his research shows that most folks don't have much in the way of personal savings. So what's a body to do? Save more, spend less, end up with a golden egg. That's sort of the financial equivalent of that formula that leaves so many of us overweight, exercise more, eat less.

How Much are You Worth

Easy to say, sometimes hard to do. But Zagorsky offers a couple of tips to help folks at least get on the right track.

"Step No. 1 is really sit down and figure out where you are," he said.

Most people, he added, are way off when they come up with hard figures that reflect their net worth. And here's the good part. Most of us are worth more than we think we are. A lot more.

"If you and I sat down and actually calculated it all up, there would be very, very large differences," he said. "Seventy percent of all people are richer than they think."

On average, he said, people are off by "62 cents for every dollar of wealth they actually have."

I'm no economist, but that sounds like most of us are worth a third more than we think we are.

So that ought to make "step No. 2" a lot easier. "Once you figure out where you are, make sure you actually do some savings each year. As long as you are saving some money you are moving toward that final goal with slow and steady progress."

So with all his expertise, Zagorsky ought to be worth a bundle, right? He's a college professor, and they take home a nice paycheck every month, and he understands economics. So how's he doing?

"We're not poor, but we're not wealthy," he concedes.

That's a pretty smart answer. And he probably exercises more and eats less.

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