One evening, the bar was unusually crowded. People started patronizing the place before dinner time and soon the place was full of middle-age adults who know each other for a long time. It was a reunion party and they were all friends graduated from the same school at the same time.

The obvious way to find out how a person is doing financially is to look at what car he/she drives. David, a senior engineer in a multi-national-corporation who used to be the top student, drives a Japanese car (middle range type). Frank, who persistently failed English language test, drives a Europe-made luxurious sedan. It is an S-Class Mercedes Benz to be specific. Apparently, Frank has the money, earns the big bucks from his businesses. He is the director of several companies.

I bet that you will find someone like Frank and also David during your reunion party. Is there a correlation between academic success and financial well-being?

Book worms are nerds

Academic success may guarantee you a higher-basic-pay-job. But thereafter, your certificates are practically useless. To advance in a career or business, we require a different set of skills. Beside hard works, you’ll need communication skill, selling skill, leadership skill….you name it. Technical skill can only bring you so far.

Graduates has ego

A degree holder has an inflated feeling of pride in his/her superiority. That’s an inevitable ego boost. When you have high ego, it stops you from doing the necessary things that may secure financial success.

Were you at the top, or at the bottom?

If you used to be among the best in school, look at where you are now? Is there someone who did worse academically is richer than you now?

I know quite a few classmates who are doing great now, definitely better than me. The fact is that I was the top three students in school last time.


Personal finance author and trainer

    28 replies to "Why the worse classmates are wealthier than you?"

    • […] Related post: Why the worse classmates are wealthier than you? […]

    • adr lee

      True friends would not compare & stand by your side thru thick & thin. It was my 1st
      re-union early this year, I got no ego, jealous or show off feelings therefore I will not feel any also. What has passed is passed I can’t go back into time to make any changes. We should be happy we reached this far in life & there is still a long way to go. Where there’s a will, there’s a way for the things you always you wanted, it’s not too late. Do what you do best & enjoy life.

    • Benson

      A good article indeed, whether we admit it or not, “A” student work for “C” student.

    • Zen


      For me too i don’t consider evaluating a person’s wealth by looking at what car they drive. For example a self-employed business consultant (IT) who earns RM20k per month can drive a moderate car like Vios that makes up around 5% of his income. Another business owner who earns an average net profit from business around RM30k per month but owns a 5-series BMW that makes up to around 18%. of his monthly income. In this case, the self-employed is more wealthy because he has 95% of his money saved while the business owner save only 82% even he earns more a month. Translate that 95% and 82% to RM19k and RM24.6k, they are actually not much different, but the car brand makes so big different.

      I’m not comparing business owner and self employed here, or which one is better. I’m just trying to say car alone can’t really judge a person’s wealth.

      Just my opinion

      • KCLau

        Hi Zen,

        Of course looking at the car a person drive doesn’t accurately estimate a person’s wealth.
        It is just one of the easier way to compare.

    • winterheat

      It is too naive and simplistic to conclude that to be rich one must not be educated. It is also the same kind of thinking that some people conlude that you have to be poor to be happy.
      Remember money cannot buy happiness – it is as if we have to choose either money or happiness or in this case either to be rich or to be educated. Why cant we have both. I want to be educated and rich. I also want to be rich and happy. Why not? They are not mutually exclusive.

      Just because there are some rich people who is less educated doesnt mean that all uneducated people are rich or all educated people are poor. I can also think of a lot of highly educated people who are very rich. Remember the top scorers in the A class who are now specialists or doctors ?

      In conclusion, we have to ask what is the purpose of an education ? Is it to make us become millionaires? Or is it to make us be well rounded thinking human beings who do not look at things superfically and jump into the wrong conclusions.

    • Er Chong Yee

      Agree with what KC said. Anyway just to add some about $0.02 (after tax) as well. We do have people that good in academic but not good in money making. We also have people that not good in study but good in earning money. Anyway, we have to always remember, why not we make ourselves good in both? Is that possible? Isn’t it better? I believe there are plenty of rich people in the world, that really seriously rich are highly knowledgable, smart and wise.

    • […] presents Why the worse classmates are wealthier than you? posted at KCLau’s Money Tips, saying, “Discusses if there is a correlation between […]

    • […] school, do well, get a good job? That’s what your parents taught you, right? Well, KCLau presents Why the worse classmates are wealthier than you? posted at KCLau’s Money Tips, saying, “Discusses if there is a correlation between academic […]


      strongCarnival of Everything About Personal Finance – 7th Edition…/strong

      Welcome to the 7th Edition of Everything About Personal Finance! We’ve managed to collate a lot of articles from the contributing authors. I’m sure there’s at least one interesting article for everyone.
      I’ve read one interesting article …

    • […] do well, get a good job? That#8217;s what your parents taught you, right? Well, KCLau presents Why the worse classmates are wealthier than you? posted at KCLau#8217;s Money Tips, saying, Discusses if there is a correlation between […]

    • Len Penzo

      I enjoyed your article, but I do not believe you can judge how a person is doing financially based upon the car they drive – at least not in the US! 🙂

      In the US, there are far too many people that have big fancy cars that can barely afford to make the payments. What is really funny is when you see people with fancy cars who live in dilapidated housing. They are only fooling themselves though.

      On the flip side, many folks who are well-off financially choose to drive very modest vehicles. I for one, could afford to drive a very expensive car, but I choose to use that money for other things – so I drive a well-maintained 1997 Honda civic! 🙂

      Thats my $0.02 (after taxes),

      Len Penzo dot Com

      • KCLau

        @ Len,

        In Malaysia, the situation is quite different. Although there are exception of course.
        Honda Civic is not a cheap car in Malaysia. A new one is selling for ~RM113800 – more than 3 times annual salary of a fresh engineer.
        A Mercedes Benz C200 is about RM220,000. Even a senior engineer couldn’t afford to have one.

    • […] presents Why the worse classmates are wealthier than you? posted at KCLau#8217;s Money Tips, saying, Discusses if there is a correlation between […]


      Yes I was bookworm, I was damn nerdy. Yes I am a graduate, I have a damn big ego. And I am even better than you, I am the top 2 in class :p

      The pattern is like this, the top ONE in class usually do well, very well. Then those flunker make it too, each in a very different way. Then the rest of the No.2 to all those who graduated, still thinking what they should do in life now.

    • FastSwings

      strongStock Market Fast Swings from – July 23, 2009…/strong

      Welcome to the July 23, 2009 edition of Stock Market Fast Swings from This is addition has a great set or articles on topics ranging from credit cards and index fund investin……

    • brook

      Because they are not idiot after all just that they are not good at education we/most people have underestimate them. These people are more friendly thought

    • B@L@

      we should not blame our malaysia education, the most important things is how far we want go in our life. some of us very much happy with the money they earn and some of them not. if you want something very badly….we can get it as long we try till the end. why people always blame the education? even there is few of my friends, when i am aproached them to share but most the time they not interested. Do you think the education playing big here? surely nope. as long they can pay the monthly expenses and they very much happy.

    • evaeba

      I met some of the contractors and they are millionaire now. They are not well educated but really rich.
      It is the fault of our education system. We are trained to be a labour. So we always follow the formula in the books and follow the advise of our parents to become a slave of the company. So the marks become the measurement of a person.
      But for the person that fail, there enroll in society life earlier and aim the money as a value of success. They always have courage to fight compare to the book womb, they don’t care about whether success or not, just hit their head on wall, feel pain then reverse, feel syok then go forward, this is how they learn.


      strongThe idiot is richer than me!!…/strong

      Article discussing if there is a relation between academic success and financial wellbeing….


      strongThe idiot is richer than me!!…/strong

      Article discussing if there is a relation between academic success and financial wellbeing….

    • shchoy

      I agree… to add on,
      our education system is too focus on theory instead of practical

    • LOKE


      what you said is true at least to some extent…

      A very obvious example is most of the companies’ bosses are not highly educated but most of the people working under them are very highly educated…

    • Lim

      I totally agree. I have previous school mates that were in the arts class. For me I was in science class. We alsways look down on those in arts cos they consider trouble makers most of the time, ponteng school, involve in ganterism … but now a lot of them are doing way better than me. pai seh man. So … in future tell your kids to study hard but if they don’e have good results don’t pressure them so much. Let them do what they want as long if it’s not illegal.

    • Tan Soon Vee

      In my opinion,car does’nt enough to prove whether a person financial success or not lol :D.Please bear in mind some people just like to show off others with a sport car but stay at the low cost flat/apartment =_=” The better way to condemn their financial status is look for what property/real estate that own by particular person. ^_^”

    • Voyager8

      Why bother?

      There are always people richer than us, and there are always people poorer than us.

      I read about the following in a book:

      One day, David met an angel and he is offered a wish. David said, “I want to be a millionaire”, and he got 1 million worth of gold.

      However, when he went home, he found out that the same angel then given 5 millions worth of gold to his enemy, Frank. David was so upset on that.

      Several weeks later, David met with the angel again. “Why you give Frank more than you give me, and he didn’t even have to ask for it?” he asked. The angel replied, “yes, my dear. Whatever I give to you, I will also give to Frank 5 times more than yours! Now you can make another wish, what would you like?”

      You know what is David’s answer?

      He said, “I want to be in 1 billion debt, so Frank will be 5 times worse than me. Hahaha…”

    • wm

      What you say it’s so true. Sometimes I also paiseh go out with old school friends. I can vouch that a few dropouts in my accountancy classes are making much much more than a typical acountant in a corporation. (and you’re correct to assess by looking at the car they own)

    • Azman

      I really hates re-union !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.