Nobody plans to become poor and yet a great many people end up poor. Here are some of the best known ways of ensuring a life of penury:

1. ‘We don’t need no education…’
If you drop out of school or fail to achieve a basic education then you will severely restrict your chances of employment. What is more it is difficult to acquire further skills if you lack the basic ones. However this method does not guarantee poverty as there are some exceptional people who, because of sheer hard work or innate ability, succeed despite little formal education.

2. Develop an addiction.
Addictions are good ways to squander wealth and health. Cocaine and heroin are fast routes to perdition. Gambling works really well too. The time-honoured choice is alcoholism which has ruined many a career and relationship. Yet there are exceptions. A tiny number of habitual gamblers win, some alcoholics can function for a long time. In the end the addiction usually wins.

3. Never save.
Savings help build wealth so a good plan for long-term poverty is to blow any extra earnings or bonuses on having a good time.

4. Borrow.
Borrowing to buy a house or get a degree can be an investment but borrowing for vacations, cars and general consumption is not very smart. A good way to become penniless is to max out your credit cards and keep borrowing more until the repayments overwhelm you.

5. Go directly to jail.
A proven way to avoid success is to get involved in crime, particularly early in life, and end up in jail where you can waste the years that could have been spent acquiring an education and useful skills. Petty criminals find it hard to get jobs, build relationships or retain wealth. Of course some criminals end up rich but they risk being eliminated by rivals.

6. Stay in a dead-end low-paid job.
A low-paid job is fine if you really enjoy what you do or if it is a route to something better. But many people hate what they do and earn barely enough money to survive. They are reluctant to take a risk, to learn new skills or to try something new. They stay on a road that leads nowhere.

7. Avoid work altogether.
Some unfortunate people are too ill to work but many able bodied people make a decision to live on benefits and to avoid work. Perhaps they intend to marry a movie star or to win the lottery but working their way up is not part of the plan.

8. Be born in the worst of third world.
If you are one of the millions born in very poor countries with no human rights, no education or healthcare and a repressive regime then you face enormous difficulties in escaping a life of poverty. Some do but the vast majority is condemned to extreme hardship.

Items 1 to 7 occur by choice. If you are fortunate enough to live in a developed country then you need to avoid these traps and then maybe do something to help those caught in number 8.

Author's Bio: 

Paul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on innovation, creativity and leadership.