400 Richest Americans … Then There’s Me

The list of the 400 richest Americans was released this week. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be finding my name on that list anytime soon. After all, it was only yesterday that I was rejoicing when I read that Wal-Mart and Target may soon offer $4.00 prescriptions.

It’s tough to feel wealthy in a town where the 2nd richest American lives just miles from me. With his estimated net worth of $53 billion and my estimated net worth of $I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT IT,000, we might as well live worlds apart. Apparently Buffett not only has been carrying on a long-term love affair with his new wife Astrid Menks, but also with numbers. When he was 13, he filed his first tax return and claimed a $35.00 deduction for his bicycle (apparently because he delivered newspapers on the bike). When I was 13, I was just trying to figure out what time of day I needed to apply deodorant for the maximum protection against odor. While young Buffett learned to hunt for undervalued stocks, I was hunting for knee socks that didn’t suck the blood out of my calves. This year, Buffett is $6 billion dollars richer than he was last year. Remove about nine zeroes from Buffett’s number, and you’ll know my income in 2005 (after expenses of course).

It’s hard not to feel some sort of envy when I read that list of the richest Americans. "What is the deal with my numbers?" I ask myself every year when I scan the names and then I remember I am really bad at numbers, but I do know that all it takes is one good idea and VOILA! I’ll be lying on my bed on a cold winter night with all my money wrapped around me to keep me warm. The third richest American, Sheldon Adelson borrowed $200.00 from his uncle to sell newspapers at the age of 12, eventually making his fortune from trade shows. Unfortunately, I didn’t even know what a trade show was until last year, so that idea is out for me. Bill Gates’ high school buddy, Paul Gardner Allen, is the fifth richest American with an estimated net worth of $16 billion. My Mom was right. She told me, "Choose your friends carefully and you’ll go places in life." I guess I was sleeping when she added, "And maybe you’ll be rich too." Apparently, hanging out with the cool kids was the wrong choice. Note to self (although it’s much too late) – nerds are the cool ones.

I know, I know … money isn’t everything. It’s not that fun to buy a football team or to own my own personal jet with a cute pilot or even to throw a party for all my Hollywood friends at my weekend home on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I much more fun staring at my checkbook balance every payday while wondering, "Where the heck did all the money go?"

My fortune is probably never going to be in real estate or oil. I’d probably have to enjoy working with numbers to even have a fortune. Quite frankly, I’m too busy lurking in front of my local Wal-Mart pharmacy until the prescription discount comes to my town to worry about what stocks are down or how much money my money market made or that IRA stands for something else other than Irish Republican Army for goodness sake. I never regretted taking that neighborhood paper route until now. Apparently getting up at the crack of dawn and delivering newspapers as a 12-year-old was a stepping stone to becoming one of the richest Americans,

If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have cared if my deodorant worked or if my knee socks were too tight … ‘cause I would have been wearing money for an outfit and my nerdy boyfriend would have loved me even if I did have those dorky ridges in my calves and smelly armpits.

This is why young people should always listen to older people like me. You learn so much.



About Vicky DeCoster

Award-winning humor writer Vicky DeCoster is the author of "From Diapers to Dorkville," "Husbands, Hot Flashes, and All That Hullabaloo!" and "The Wacky World of Womanhood." She has been published in over 60 magazines, books, and on several web sites. Vicky lives in Nebraska with her husband and two children where she loves to laugh every day. Visit her at www.wackywomanhood.com.
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