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View Poll Results: In your family, which sibling is/was the most financially successful?
The oldest sibling 45 31.47%
Not the oldest sibling 80 55.94%
I am an only child 10 6.99%
I think your poll is dumb, but I want to vote anyway. 8 5.59%
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:20 PM   #21
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I'm the third out of four and "probably" have the highest net worth.

Older Brother by 4 years: Graduated from college and married a college grad. He's worked in the corporate nursery business his entire career, is still married, and raised one daughter. His wife was employed off and on and has now worked at the same place (city planner) for several years. He is four years older than me and as far as I know, they have no current plans to retire.

Older Sister by 2 years: Never went to college and married a union laborer right out of high school. Her DH eventually ran for office in the union and won so became a union administrator. They raised 4 children and are retired. My guess is that they are pretty close to DH and I in terms of net worth, but can't say for sure.

Me: DH and I met in college and both worked our way though. I worked in aerospace for several years before becoming a SAHM. DH has worked for the same aerospace company in planning, finance, and/or administration for almost 30 yrs. ER is on schedule in two years when he turns 55 (need to wait until age 55 to get retiree medical). We raised one son.

Younger Brother by 3 years: Late bloomer. Did not go to college right out of high school, but eventually got his degree by going to night school paid for by the company he worked for at the time. Is currently employed by a university as a facilities planner. Definitely the sibling that struggles the most financially, but still does fairly well by today's standards. His wife is a SAHM. They are raising two sons who are both in grade school.

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Old 01-07-2010, 11:18 PM   #22
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I don't want to reveal details about my siblings financial situation here without their knowledge, but will say that I am the youngest of three surviving siblings (two older brothers died before I was born -- they never made it to adulthood), and all three of us are financially successful. Hard to say who has bigger networth -- probably my brother, the oldest, but I think we are likely all pretty close. The thing that put him ahead is mostly being at the top of a very specialized field and going to work for a company that offered stock options (which allowed them to buy a beach house just before the options started to lose their value). DSis is also doing very well -- works in a technical field, lives well below her means and paid off her mortgage in just 10 years. DH and I holding our own -- we both choose to work, and our individual salaries are probably the lowest of the bunch, but combined we make a good income and have lower expenses (esp. taxes) due to living overseas. All of us follow our parents' model in being prodigious savers, and we certainly are all financially successful/stable.

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Old 01-07-2010, 11:52 PM   #23
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Youngest of three and most financially successful. My oldest has raised one great and one not so great kid, and my younger sister (still 9 years older than me). Has had a very interesting life and start a budding art career at age 50. Money isn't everything.
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:56 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
All of us have a 7 digit net worth if you use the PV of #1's DB pension. Not bad. We do have different first digits. What does it suggest? Nothing that I can think of.
Wow, 5 siblings with a 7 figure NW? I'm quite sure that no one in my family has ever saved half a million in their lifetimes. I have one aunt who is the envy of the family as she has had a cola'd city pension plus health sense age 58. She has very little actual savings but doesn't need any with a cola'd pension. My parents will retire in a couple years with likely under $250K saved. The rest of my family other than me has virtually no savings. My older brother, the only family member with a college degree other than my aunt, makes <$25K/yr after about 8 years at the same employer and likely doesn't even have 5-figure savings. He would argue that he's more successful than me though because he likes his job. He has lower mental stress than I have and far less physical stress than I have. I will likely retire 20 years earlier than him though.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:23 AM   #25
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I'm another in the youngest of three camp. I'd say I've got the most humor and the best character, and that may not be saying much. We all found ways to keep out of the poor house and beyond, were self-supporting right out of H.S. Frankly it doesn't matter who made the most money, particularly since there are only two of us now, and I'm not sure about the other's NW. I suspect that most relatives underestimate my NW.

I just heard one of my distant relatives and family became a statistic, losing their house to foreclosure just before Christmas; I would have never guessed they were in financial trouble. The family of five moved in with her mother who is divorced and spending much of her time at a nursing home visiting her mother. Her house is a McMansion on an acre of land.

I went for the fourth choice on the poll.
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:35 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Maurice View Post
Net-net: Bad poll.

Wow, I read that again this morning and it is really snarky. My apologies.

It would be interesting to see if there's any material difference by (all) birth order, though. My theory is that the youngest are the most financially responsible.
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:39 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by stevenst View Post
Gumby: I think you won't be able to reach any conclusions with this poll, but the answers have been very interesting to read.
I agree. And that's really the whole point of the exercise.
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:43 AM   #28
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Interesting thread reading all of the stories. I am an only child now, my brother died in his early 20's. I don't know who would have had the better NW. He was much more creative than I and might have hit some type of jackpot along those lines - he also was more intelligent than I (measured), however, my father told me I would be more successful as I had drive and ambition and stick-to-it-iveness. In any case, I think I've done fairly well - what has amazed me is now in a short time with prodigious saving habits, one can really increase their net worth. When my husband and I got married 5 years ago, he had a negative net worth. I brought most of the assets to the marriage, however, in just five years, we've really done well. He is amazed every time he computes our net worth as the 15 years before when married to his previous wife, he couldn't sleep at night worrying about his debts. We definitely live a different lifestyle from that. In addition, we've enjoyed life along the way traveling to places we want to go. I think the key for me has been ensuring I have options - i.e. a large enough savings account to move on if necessary; a mindset capable of enduring 'lean times' if necessary; the attitude of spending money and time on necessities and only those things I truly value - however, if I can find a way to do it less expensively then doing that. It's the little things over time that can add up - this economy issue has frankly not affected us too much, because we had the cushions from saving over the years.

I believe that my husband, the youngest of his clan, has the highest net worth of all of his siblings; he is the only one with a college education (and a masters); however, he was also the youngest of an immigrant family, so was the most adaptable to the US language-wise and culture-wise. Funny thing is, he is the one who visits his home country more than his siblings, who are more culturally oriented towards their home country.
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:40 AM   #29
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I'm the second child of 2. Most successful as far as I know. My bro hit me up for a couple thousand bucks to stave of foreclosure a couple years ago since he's been unemployed as much as employed during his adult life. He's kind of lazy, but he's smart, so makes decent money at tech places when employed (microsoft was the last employer).

In DW's family, she is 3 of 5, smack dab in the middle. Most successful sibling by far (financially). They all emigrated here during their childhood after living all their lives in a refugee camp. As a result, the older siblings had the distinct disadvantage of not having any formal education or speaking any English until the age at which most kids are in middle school. DW came here and started in 1st grade so had the advantage of a fairly normal education (starting out in English as a Second Language classes, of course). The younger siblings started school normally, also in ESL classes.

DW is the only one to finish an undergraduate degree, and then she went on to get a law degree (Juris Doctor). The other 4 siblings had a smattering of community college classes, and I think 1 graduated with an AA. The two younger siblings (who had a full education starting at age 5) didn't finish HS however eventually got their GEDs.

But they are all employed or employable and get by (paycheck to paycheck) ok. Living the American Dream as you would say. Though they might disagree and point to their empty checking accounts and pile of bills coming due every month.
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:53 AM   #30
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Only, so I guess that makes me the wealthiest and poorest. And I got almost nothing that I wanted even tho parents had money: they spent all their time trying to scrape that buffalo off the nickle they were so tight...ha!

There was an excellent book out on the birth order factor called, ironically, "The Birth Order Factor." But I can't find that specific one as it was the original and came out years ago, but has some good books it appears on this subject. And, yes, your birth order does really affect your personality:

Probably alot on the net about this, but here is a good looking article on quick glance for more information on birth order and how it influences your future behavior:

Here's another good one (very general, but you'll get the idea for an overview):

But I like this definition from Dr. Spock the best. I think he hits it more on the head than most websites. The only one I read was for the only child as that was the one I could relate to most, and I think he hit it on the head for us onlies. So here is his site:,1510,5550,00.html

Some of the posts that talk about how those who saved alot--despite having not such high paying salaries--and did well ultimately reminds me of that old movie with Peter Boyle "Joe." Joe is talking about his savings to this wealthy upper management (VP?) megacorp type. Joe crudely asks the guy how much he has in savings and the megacorp guy has little. Joe's saved tons and has alot more, because he is an unskilled worker living a lower middle class live, not trying to impress anyone and just worked and saved. Pretty funny scene if you ever saw it..and so true.
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:35 AM   #31
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I am the oldest of three and have the most financial success. The middle kid is my sister that is 4 year younger than me and she is also doing very well financially. I probably only make more than her because my career has a 4 year head start. The baby (sister) was 12 years younger than me and has struggled to do anything right. The older sister and I both graduated with engineering degrees and very high gpa's, while the youngest has trouble keeping a minimum wage job.

I blame this on how differently she was treated by my parents. My older sister and I received a lot of tough love and constant pressue to succeed. When the youngest came along, it was like my parents were in "grandparent mode" and spoiled her to death and never said a cross word to her. I think the parenting style was really the only difference. She is like a lot of young people today who think the world owes them something because "she is special".
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:42 AM   #32
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Not a good poll.... because men are usually more successful than women (where is my flame suit)....

And you just seem to want to ask 'the oldest or someone else'.... but there is a difference between the middle and the youngest... but not in this poll....

THEN, there is why they might be financially successful... my sister that is just older than me has raised two kids, put them through college, has a very nice house etc. etc... but my brother is more financially successful... but has never married, no kids, rented a one bedroom place most of his life... and OH, my sister got a lot of hers from her husband...

But hey... to each their own....
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:47 AM   #33
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Statistically this poll does not work. The numbers you come up with are effected by the number in each sample group. What I mean is there is only one 'Oldest' is a multifamily group. There may be 10 or more 'Others'. So for every 1 oldest vote you get, you will get multiple Other. So the fact that Other is leading Oldest is not surprising.

In my case Second Youngest of 5. Oldest brother had no money management skills, Second Oldest did OK, Third Oldest still working and cares little about money, I am retired, Youngest is on welfare, or close.
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:14 AM   #34
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It's just my sister and me, I am the oldest and wealthiest by far. I have more advanced degrees in a more lucrative field than she does. I pursued international career opportunities while she decided to stay close to home. I married well early (DINK) while her romantic life has been more tumultuous leading to a situation which has made accumulating wealth harder (SIK). I am a long term planner and she is not. I made financial independence a goal and work hard to make it happen while she hopes that she will be well off one day but doesn't take the steps to make it happen. She inherited my mom's bad spending habits.
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:16 AM   #35
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I'm the youngest of three brothers. Though none of us earned a college degree, we all trained into some well paying careers:

Oldest - Airline pilot after the military, followed by a career in air traffic control (now retired)

Middle - Highway engineering and construction

Myself - Electric utility operations

The oldest is in the best financial position (though I'm closing the gap)
Middle guy likes to spend money, not as frugal as oldest and myself.

Our parents modeled a good work ethic and encouraged us to be self-reliant. I can't recall any hint of favoritism in our household. We were all held to the same standards.
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:36 AM   #36
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My older brother lived at home with our parents all his life. He worked at Bell and then as an insurance underwriter. Started working at 17. Never owned a car. Never had a girlfriend. But he saved everything he made. Retired in 1982 to live off the high interest (he was 43).

I went to university (Masters) then got a job with a Fortune 500 company, rising to executive ranks. Took early retirement at 25 years, worked for another 10. I had a marriage with two kids and all the toys. I would guess that I caught up to him in net worth about 10 years after my divorce (in 2005).

I always believed that he was smarter than me. Although many people dismissed him as the guy who knew the theory of everything and the practical knowledge of nothing.

I don't see a pattern is financial success based on birth order. I do see differences in personality and risk-taking though.
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Old 01-08-2010, 11:56 AM   #37
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I haven't read the thread so somone else might have mentioned this already, but this poll seems unfair to the eldest, since if you have 10 siblings, the chances of the eldest having the financial success over the others diminish greatly compared to the eldest having only one sibling...
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:38 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by aaronc879 View Post
.....I have one aunt who is the envy of the family as she has had a cola'd city pension plus health sense age 58......
My Mom is in that same boat..cola'd DB pension from the municipality and had full health insurance until Medicare kicked in, and now the health insurance covers whatever Medicare doesn't.

Two of her three siblings always envied her, and were pretty jealous of her ability to retire @ 60 with the pension and ins., since they were both pretty much n'er-do-well's all of their lives. Her youngest sibling was completely the opposite....she always admired my Mom, and walk the same walk. She always had a good job...with full benefits. But, unfortunately, she passed away just one week before her retirement date.

I'm also in the same boat....cola'd DB pension and full health insurance from the municipality. Both of my siblings are envious of me having retired @ 50 in 2007. The oldest is envious, but happy for me.....not jealous or angry at all! The middle sibling, on the other hand, is not only envious, but jealous AND angry.....but that's just the way she is.

We all three were raised the same and were treated the same. It's just that we all three made different choices in life, and we all took different paths in life. Thus we've all gotten to where we are in life because of those choices. Two of us knew this from the beginning, and have dealt with it accordingly. The third is just now, after all these years, just starting to figure it out....maybe!
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Old 01-08-2010, 04:24 PM   #39
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My sisters all married well and are quite comefortable due to their smart marrying activities. My wife is doing ok; which is probably why she has stuck with me for almost 40 years.
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Old 01-08-2010, 04:44 PM   #40
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Think it might be a combination of how one responds to things - some portion of which might be learned behavior - and expectations. A first born would presumably see and learn how adults respond vs. how his less-trained siblings respond as well. Might mean the first-born could be more deliberate and less spontaneous.

I'd think expectations would be higher for the first child, untempered by reality. In my case, just hearing my pretty unemotionally demonstrative father call me his first-born felt and sounded special. Going to college was a given in my mind.

I'm a pretty dreamy lazy sort, so my grades in high school were horrible, while my more gregarious networking sister got great grades. By the time my ten year younger brother came along all that parenting stress was gone - he got to crawl around eating dust bunnies and dog food and is altogether a much more easygoing sort. His expectations for himself are modest, his financial achievements are modest, and he has a great time living very in the present. Unlike me, living my life years into the future.

I got lucky and met up with my gal, also a firstborn. Her father was perhaps less demonstrative than mine but had higher expectations for performance - there was not a good enough. She heard "why aren't they A pluses?" more than once. She responded by being a person who is never done, always strives to please, and is just dogged in the amount of effort she is willing to expend. Our partnership of firstborns joins my dreaming nature and laziness (which makes me very efficient in my expenditure of energy) with her desire to please and willingness to work. Both of us being thrifty and lucky the result has been financial success that is greater than that of our siblings.

Absent her partnership would I still have been more financially successful than my good grades sister? I think so - I have a few IQ points on her and am, as mentioned, lazy. Its easier to not spend and be thrifty than to work and spend - and my sister does love to spend. That said, I'm also male, tall, and have a deep voice - all things which I believe correlate to higher income!

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