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Free Money Finance


The Rich Invest Differently than the Poor

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 02:05 AM PDT

Here's an interesting article that says the investment choice of the poor is alarming.

It reviews a Gallup survey that asks Americans to choose the best investment from a list of choices. Sounds harmless, right?

Well, here's what causes the author to be concerned:

The most interesting thing is that there are some serious differences between the investment styles of the poor and the rich. First, the rich love real estate and stocks:

Upper-income Americans are much more likely to say real estate and stocks are the best investment, possibly because of their experience with these types of investments. Upper-income Americans are most likely to say they own their home, at 87 percent, followed by middle (66 percent) and lower-income Americans (36 percent). Gallup found that homeowners (33 percent) are slightly more likely than renters (24 percent) to say real estate is the best choice for long-term investments.

But lower-income Americans tend to favor gold:

Lower-income Americans, those living in households with less than $30,000 in annual income, are the most likely of all income groups to say gold is the best long-term investment choice, at 31 percent. Upper-income Americans are the least likely to name gold, at 18 percent.

Here's why they are concerned:

But there's another strong possibility as well: Lower income individuals tend to be less financially literate. Many of the poor surveyed by Gallup might simply not be as well-educated about stocks, bonds, and real estate investment trusts as the rich. After all, only 11 percent of those who make less than $25,000 a year have a non-retirement investment, compared with 60 percent of those who make more than $75,000. Gold, on the other hand, might seem like an attractive investment option if only because it is fairly synonymous with wealth.

Tied to financial literacy is familiarity. Because the poor have little money to spend, productive investments like stocks, bonds, etc. are out of reach. Gold, however, is the one of the few investments that are not.

Some thoughts here:

  • I would say stocks (in particular, index funds) and real estate would be the best investments as well. Of course, I'm in the upper level so I'm proving their points.
  • I think the familiarity argument is a good one. The mainstream press seems to cover gold so much that almost everyone hears of it now and then. So even if someone is just watching the nightly news, gold has a good chance of popping up. Other investments don't seem to be as well covered by the mainstream (non-financial) press.
  • Gold has an element of get-rich-quick that I think attracts the poor. I would say lottery tickets fall into the same category. Perhaps you disagree, but it seems to me there is a connection in thinking between these two.

So what do we do about it? Or do we even need to do anything about it? Does anyone care? After all, this is what people SAY, not what they DO. After 25 years working with surveys I know there's a big difference between the two.

Thoughts?


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