This is the first big holiday weekend of the summer and with it comes a spate of graduation soirees, reunions, picnics, and parties. This means there will be many opportunities to engage in chit-chat. However, finding topics that will not result in a fist fight might be a tad challenging. 


I have a suggestion. Talk about money. Everyone is interested in money – how it's made, who has it, who doesn't have it, how to get it, and on into the night. Pretty safe.


A good way to begin is to ask people what amount they would have to make to be considered rich. Business Insider has already done the calculations for this and determined that being considered rich depends (in large measure) on where you live. They've rated 51 major cities in this regard. 


Detroit, it turns out, is 51st on the list. If you make $52,498 you're considered rich. Richness in other Midwest cities varies: Milwaukee ($73,602), Indianapolis ($86,202), and Chicago ($100,868). On the other end of the scale at number one is Anchorage, Alaska where you need to make $161,724 to be rich.



When it comes to being considered rich, there is one group in America that has no worries – CEOs of major companies. “From 1978 to 2016, inflation-adjusted CEO compensation for S&P 500 CEOs rose 937 percent while the typical worker’s real wages grew only 11 percent.”


Among the leaders on this front were the CEOs of Aptiv, a maker of auto parts, whose CEO made 2,526 times more that its median employee, the CEO of Manpower Group at 2,483 to 1, Six Flags amusement park at 1,804 to , and Del Monte Produce at  1,465 to 1. (


You probably cannot attain CEO status by Memorial Day, but you can get rich quick in another way. This is a big garage sale weekend, so as you sift through treasures be on the lookout for any document signed by Button Gwinnett. He was the most obscure signee of the Declaration of Independence. The most recent Button Gwinnett signature sold at auction went for $722,500.


Why? “There are only 51 Button Gwinnett signatures known to man. Forty-one of these autographs are in libraries and museums. There are only 10 autographs in the world you could possibly buy, so the demand is incredibly high.” The only signature worth more to collectors is William Shakespeare. (


Another way to get rich, albeit a bit slower, is to spend less than you make. One way to do this is to keep an eye on your credit cards, something most Americans do not do. “Only 39 percent of credit cardholders...know the interest rates on all the cards on which they owe money. About two-thirds of cardholders have carried a balance within the past six months. The average American owes $6,354 on credit cards. If you owed more than $6,300 on credit cards, it could take you more than 20 years — and you'd pay $7,910 in interest — if you only paid the minimum each month.” (


Another long-term path to richness is to invest wisely and one of the latest investment trends is – water. “A few funds are showing that investing in utilities and water infrastructure and technology companies can pay off, especially for long-term investors looking to diversify their portfolio. Several exchange-traded funds invest in water-related stocks. Their investment rationale centers on the growth in the need to update the infrastructure used to treat and transport clean water. People are really starting to realize we have a global water problem on our hands. Global water demand is expected to grow by more than 50 percent over the next 30 years.” Water is the new oil. (


Some other folks may be anticipating getting rich by betting on sports, thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling that paves the way for legalized wagering on sports. Michigan is among the states scrambling to implement this. Politicians are salivating at the prospect of taxable revenues and speculate about funding for roads and schools. The number $1 billion has been mentioned.

Whether you are for or against legalized sports betting, it's a tricky subject and  here are some numbers to consider and discuss. “In Nevada, sports gambling made up 2.2 percent of total casino revenue last year (Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas). That yields just $15 million in state taxes.” (


Remember when the Lottery was instituted in Michigan with the promise that it would fund schools? According to Michigan Radio, a Lottery official stated about 2017: “Our contribution makes up about 7.5 percent of the school aid fund, which is a record high for Michigan Lottery at $915 million for this year.” Will people switch their gambling dollars away from the lottery and over to sports betting? (


On a more practical side, who knows how much increased money flow will affect games. The “non-profit” NCAA had revenues of $1.1 billion in 2017 with Division I schools getting $560.3 million. The television contract for the NCAA men's basketball  tournament goes through 2032 for $8.8 billion. The athletes share of this bounty is zero dollars. (


Then consider just this one thing. “The average NFL ref makes $200,000 a year for a job that is both part-time and seasonal.” As if fans of the Lions don't have enough fodder for conspiracy theories, eh? (


Finally, assuming you do everything right and you find yourself suddenly rich, on what will you spend your money? With the rugged northern Michigan winters in mind, I suggest purchasing a brand new vehicle. Luckily, Rolls-Royce has unveiled its first modern SUV. (


The Cullinan — named for a diamond that's part of the British crown jewels —- weighs 5,864 pounds, has a stainless steel grill, 22-inch wheel rims, and can wade through 21 inches of water. It's powered by a 6.75-liter, twin-turbocharged V-12 (12 cylinders), 563 horsepower engine that can go 155 mph.


Decked out with all the extras and accounting for the gas-guzzler tax, you can cruise out of the showroom for a mere $377,250, a pretty good bargain for a rich person like you. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and