The Simple Dollar has fantastic advice for those of you who don't want to die poor and in pain. Like, for example, this sobering snippet:
People who actively chose to be poor. These people are those who chose not to live a competitive lifestyle. Just down the road from where I grew up lived a person with a Ph.D. from Berkeley who basically checked out of mainstream life in the mid-’70s. He bought a small piece of land, built a log cabin out of the wood on that land, and spent all of his time fishing, hunting, and reading. He chose to be poor as a lifestyle choice. There were others like this as well who made their living quietly.
People who inactively chose to be poor. These people were the ones that played the lottery every week, followed celebrity gossip, and rambled on about how they were going to have big money someday, but just kept going to work in the same old factory doing the same old thing. They basically refuse to make choices that would raise them up from poverty for whatever reason. It is people from this group who you often see winning the lottery - then blowing it all in a few months.
People who choose to get out. The third group mostly is filled with younger people who see that this is a fool’s game and then try to get out of the situation. They do whatever it takes to go to college, get an education, and find work. What I often noticed is that these people managed to make the step to the upper middle class, but it was their children that did amazing things, as these people instilled some serious values in their kids and also gave them appropriate support.
Keep reading that article, and then subscribe to The Simple Dollar. Whether you subscribe to their ideas or not, at the least I can guarantee you a steady source of food for thought.