Over your lifetime is simply the manifestation of your monetary decisions. Keeping in mind that wealth is defined by assets minus liabilities, not by what you have compared to what your neighbors have. It's all about living within your means, building a small excess, using that excess to grow and multiply your wealth, and staying out of debt. It's true that people experience unexpected hardships, but experience later in life and wise financial planning can help prepare for those hardships and keep them from derailing your finances. 80% of millionaires in America are first generation, meaning that they built their own wealth, and did not inherit it. The statement is self-evident, people who are poor their entire lives are so because they make poor financial decisions.