Are We Raising Our Children to be Poor?

Tip of the Morning




When I travel the country speaking to high school and college students about exactly what they need to do to become financially successful in life, I like to begin my presentation by asking the same three questions:

“How many want to be financially successful in life?”

“How many think they will be financially successful in life?”

Almost every time I ask the first two questions, every hand rises in the air. Then I ask the magic third question:

“How many have taken a course in school on how to be financially successful in life?”

Not one hand rises in the air, ever.

Clearly every student wants to be successful and thinks they will be successful, but none have been taught how. Not by their parents and not by their teachers.

Not only are there no courses on basic financial success principles, but there are no structured courses teaching basic financial literacy.

Is it any wonder that most Americans live paycheck to paycheck? That most Americans accumulate more debt than assets?  That many Americans lose their homes when they lose their job? Is it any wonder that most Americans cannot afford college for their children and that student loan debt is now the largest type of consumer debt? 

We are raising our children to be financially illiterate and that leads to financial struggles later in life.

Parents who are success mentors to their children, teach them specific good daily habits. And these habits put them on autopilot for financial success as adults. 

In my five-year study of the daily habits of the rich and the poor, I uncovered specific habits that contribute to poverty. Below are 16 of these Poor Habits, extracted from my bestselling books, Rich Habits, Rich Kids and Rich Habits Poor Habits:

  1. Not Reading to Learn – 63% of self-made millionaires in my study were required by their parents to read to learn. Their parents made them read two or more books every month on topics such as: history, biographies of successful people, science, self-improvement, etc. 97% of the poor in my study said their parents never made them read to learn and thus never forged this Rich Habit. 
  2. Gambling – 6% of the wealthy in my study played the lottery vs. 77% of the poor. Worse, the poor admitted to playing the lottery regularly. According to Nicolas Christakas Habits (Yale University researcher), habits spread like a virus within your social network. Children are constantly observing what their parents do. If parents gamble, their children will very likely gamble as adults.
  3. No Dreams or Goals – 82% of the self-made millionaires had a clear vision of who they wanted to be. They had dreams and goals that motivated them to forge Rich Habits which enabled them to realize their dreams and achieve their goals. Conversely, 97% of the poor had no dreams or goals. They lacked a clear vision of who they wanted to be in the future.
  4. Failure to ExperimentParents who push their children to experiment with different activities during childhood, increase the likelihood that their children will discover an innate talent or something they enjoy doing, which could lead to a lifelong vocation. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts institutionalize experimentation through their badge system. This enables scouts to explore things that interest them so that they can learn valuable marketable skills.
  5. Eating Unhealthy Food – 21% of the wealthy in my study were overweight vs. 66% of the poor. 78% of self-made millionaires ate little to no junk food (less than calories a day). 97% of the poor consistently ate too much junk food (more than 300 calories a day). Children eat what their parents eat. If their parents are heating junk food, their kids will eat junk food. Junk food includes fast food.
  6. Do-Nothing Habits – 63% of the wealthy in my study spent less than 1 hour per day on recreational Internet use. 74% of the poor spent more than an hour a day in the Internet. 67% of the wealthy watched less than 1 hour of TV per day vs 23% of the poor. 9% of the wealthy watched reality TV shows vs. 78% of the poor. Besides, TV and the Internet, time wasting habits also include Snapchat, Instagram, video games, etc.
  7. Absentee Parents – 83% of the wealthy in my study attended back to school night for their kids vs. 13% of the poor. 29% of the wealthy had one or more children who made the honor roll vs. 4% of the poor. When parents are engaged with teachers and the school. they become accountability partners to their children.
  8. No Daily Self-Improvement – The drive to improve was a hallmark of the self-made millionaires in my study. Daily self-improvement was a habit forged in their childhood years thanks to their parents. The poor in my study said their parents did not make self-improvement a priority growing up.
  9. Poor Money Habits – 73% of the wealthy in my study had smart money habits, long before they became wealthy. 95% of the poor did not. Many were, in fact, financially illiterate, as were their parents.
  10. Toxic Friends – 79% of the wealthy surrounded themselves with like-minded, upbeat individuals who were pursuing similar dreams and goals. Only 16% of the poor said they did this. Habits spread like a virus throughout your social network. How well do you know the friends of your children? Do they possess the traits or habits you are trying to instill in your children?
  11. Anti-Wealth Bias – 78% of the wealthy in my study said they believed the wealthy were good, hardworking and trustworthy individuals. They believed rich people create their own good luck through hard work, persistence, daily self-improvement, determination and goal achievement. 95% of the poor believed the rich were bad or evil. 52% of the poor believed the rich were rich primarily because of random good luck.
  12. Victim Mindset – 79% of the wealthy in my study said that they believed they were personally responsible for their success or failure in life. 82% of the poor believed they were poor because of factors outside their control, such as Wall Street, banks, the rich, government policies, circumstances they were born into, etc. Are you raising your children to take individual responsibility for their life circumstances? Do you, as a parent, constantly blame others for your poverty? Do your children see poverty as dictated by fate, which only leads to a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness?
  13. Entitlement Mindset – Children must be taught to work for the things they want, such as cell phones, video games, toys, etc. When they are given everything they want by their parents, it’s easy for kids to develop an Entitlement Mindset.
  14. Lack of Consistent Exercise – 95% of self-made millionaires in my study exercised aerobically 30 minutes or more per day, four days a week. Only 23% of poor did the same. Studies have shown that daily aerobic exercise improves brain health, brain efficiency and IQ. Children mimic the habits of their parents. Do you, as a parent, exercise daily? Do you make your children exercise daily?
  15. No Success Mentors – Almost all of the self-made millionaires in my study had some success mentor in life. Success mentors put you on the fast track for success. They teach you what to do and what not to do. They also teach you the habits you’ll need in order to succeed in life. The mentors of my millionaires were one of their parents (56%), a career mentor (24%), a teacher (8%) or someone else (4%). Parents are often the only shot most get at having a success mentor in their lives. Only 4% of the poor said that they had a success mentor growing up or in their careers. Are you a success mentor for your child? Do you actively seek success mentors for your children? You can find success mentors in the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, Big Brothers and other similar organizations. Are your children part of any mentoring organizations within your community?
  16. Negative Mindset – 63% of the wealthy in my study had a positive, optimistic, upbeat mindset. 94% of the poor had a negative, pessimistic, hopeless mindset. Studies, such as the Broaden and Build Study, have shown that a negative mental outlook inhibits and depresses the ability to focus, creativity and certain other brain functions. The expression of emotions and your positive or negative outlook on life are habits. Children pick up the habits of their parents. Are your Parent emotions and mindset negative or positive?

Thanks to something called mirror neurons, children are hardwired to mimic the habits of their parents. Good or bad, they will mimic your habits. If those habits are good, your children will forge good habits. If those habits are bad, they will forge bad habits. 

According to a Brown University Study, in which the habits of 50,000 families were analyzed, the author of the study, Dr. Pressman, found that most of our adult habits were forged by the age of nine.

In another study by Nicholas Christakis, he found that habits spread throughout our social network. Parents are a big part of that social network.

Since children spend most of their early lives with their parents, these two studies show the critical role parents play in the habits all of us forge in life.

We don’t have a wealth gap in this country, we have a habit gap. We don’t have income inequality, we have habit inequality.

If parents have too many Poor Habits, what’s the remedy? 

Teachers can fill the void. The school system can step in and instill in their students good habits. Habit education must, therefore, become a structured part of our education system.  

Furthermore, high schools should be teaching very specific financial education courses to students beginning in freshman year:

  • How to Pay Bills and Balance a Checkbook (freshman year)
  • How to Save and Invest Your Savings (sophomore year)
  • How Insurance Works – Auto Insurance, Home Owners Insurance, Health Insurance (junior year)
  • Understanding Student Loans (junior year)
  • Personal Income Tax Fundamentals (senior year)

Schools teach what they are required to teach. Unfortunately for our kids, financial success is just not part of the school curriculum.

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome


Tom Corley boats - cropOne characteristic of self-made millionaires is their ability to focus on one thing for a very long period of time. It may be five years, ten years or twenty years. That’s a long time. It requires a long time to succeed.

Unfortunately, for most, when something does not immediately pay off, they move on to the next bright shiny object. These Bright Shiny Object Syndrome sufferers never experience success because they lack dedication.

Just the other day I saw Facebook posts of two people I know who suffer from Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. They must be on to their fourth or fifth next big thing. They were very enthusiastic about their new venture. But I know in a year or two they will have lost all interest and moved on to the next big thing. That makes me sad.

Success requires grit, determination, devotion and a significant amount of time to overcome failures, mistakes and the obstacles, all of which lead to growth. Bright Shiny Object Syndrome victims never grow enough to learn what to do and what not to do. They quit and move on when the next bright shiny object catches their eye.

If you are struggling in realizing success in your life, let me ask you this: have you stuck to pursuing success on one specific thing for more than five years? If not, that is probably why you are not achieving success in life. Most individuals shift their focus to something else when things get hard. Unsuccessful people perpetually chase the next big thing because the thing they were previously pursuing did not immediately pay off, was too hard or was just taking far longer than they expected.

Success can take a long time. Those who succeed are relentless. They devote themselves to something and stick with it for a long time. How long? Until they succeed. Never quit. Never give up on your dream. Stop chasing every new idea that comes along and stick to one thing until you achieve success or die trying. Persistence is a trademark found in all self-made millionaires.

Is the Pursuit of Success Worth the Cost of Success?


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The pursuit of success requires many course corrections. Things go wrong. Most unexpected. These unanticipated events cost you time, money and create emotional stress.

If you have the financial resources, you are able to learn from those mistakes and make adjustments. You fine tune the process.

But if your financial resources are limited, those unanticipated events leave behind a trail of tears – memories that become railroad tracks on the brain.

While pursuing success, you are continuously filled with doubts and spend an inordinate amount of time ruminating about your failures and mistakes. In effect, you torture yourself by questioning all of the decisions that led to those mistakes and failures.

Until success happens. Success has a way of washing away all of those mistakes, failures, bad decisions and the emotional baggage you accumulate along the journey.

Success makes it all worthwhile. It provides a fresh coat of paint. It validates your efforts, your decisions and the innumerable mistakes and failures.

Success clears away all of your doubts and imbues you with a renewed sense of confidence because you survived the journey.

Is it worth it? Is the pursuit of success worth the cost of success?

For the self-made millionaires in my study the answer is yes. Success creates a legacy that benefits many generations of family members.

When you realize success, you are able to smooth the path for your children and your grandchildren. Their improved lives become your legacy: better education, more freedom to chose their path in life, financial security and increased happiness.

When you pursue success, it’s not just for you. You do it because, deep down, you know that your success will benefit many others.








Survive or Thrive?


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Your mindset lays the foundation for the life you will have.


Those raised in a household with a scarcity mindset see life as a battle for survival. As a result, you are focused on what you do not have – you focus on what you lack and you spend your life fighting to get by. You see the world, your environment, as a struggle for survival.


Those raised in a household with an abundance mindset see life as filled with unlimited opportunity. As a result, you are focused on possibilities – you focus on pursuing your dreams, goals and and spend your life becoming the person you need to be in order to realize your dreams and goals.

If you who were raised in poverty, you very likely have adopted a Survive Mindset. Those rare few who break free from the Survive Mindset and adopt a Thrive Mindset set themselves up for success. They seek to grow and improve every day.

The circumstances you were born and raised in are not etched in stone. The springboard for success in life is your mindset. How you see life will dictate the life you create. Do you want to survive or do you want to thrive?




There is Only One Purpose to Life


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After five years of studying the habits of millionaires, primarily self-made millionaires, I’ve identified the #1 factor to accumulating enormous wealth – pursuing something you are passionate about. It goes by another name – purpose.

When you pursue your main purpose in life, it fills you with passion. That passion acts like fuel. It energizes you to put in the hours and work hard. In my research, self-made millionaires worked an average of 11 more hours a week than the poor.

It’s not that successful people have a greater work ethic. They work harder because they love what they are doing. They’ve found their main purpose in life and when you find your main purpose in life it motivates you to work. You want to work.

But we’re using the wrong word here – work. What you do for a living ceases to be work when you enjoy it. Individuals do not become successful because they are workaholics. They become successful because they no longer “work”.

“But I don’t know what my main purpose in life is,” you say. Well, I have news for you. You do. Everyone has a main purpose. In fact, everyone has the same, identical main purpose. You just don’t know it. So, what is the common main purpose everyone shares?

To improve the lives of others by adding value to their lives.

  • When what you do for a living inspires others, you are pursuing your main purpose in life.
  • When you create a product that adds value, you are pursuing your main purpose in life.
  • When you provide a service that adds value, you are pursuing your main purpose in life.
  • When what you do for a living helps lift people out of poverty, you are pursuing your main purpose in life.
  • When what you do for a living helps others become successful in their lives, you are pursuing your main purpose in life.
  • When what you do for a living makes people happy, you are pursuing your main purpose in life.

When you boil it down to its simplest terms, each person’s main purpose is to add value to the lives of others. When whatever you do adds value, you are pursuing your main purpose. People will happily reward you financially when they perceive what you do for them as adding value to their lives. The more value you add, the more money your make. The more lives you add value to, the more money you make.

The formula for becoming wealthy is really very simple: More Value + More People = More Money

Your job is to figure out what your superpowers are, your strengths, and then figure out a way you can use your superpowers to add value to the lives of as many people as possible. The money will follow when what you do for a living adds real value to the lives of others.

Expectations and Hope – Two Very Different Things


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At the time I began my Rich Habits study I had one revenue stream – my CPA business. 

In my study I learned that the average self-made millionaires had at least three businesses generating steams of income.

So, in 2006 I decided to take a page out of my own research. Now I have six streams of income and this year I am adding a seventh stream.

One of the income streams is my author business. I learned in my author business that when I got major media publicity, I sold thousands of books in a matter of a few days.

In order to get that publicity, however, I had to spend 2-4 hours a day pitching the media. 99.995% of the time I got rejected or ignored.

In the beginning of my author business, I naively expected that the media would be interested in my research and my books. I knew my research was unique. But when they rejected or ignored my pitches, I became very depressed. I got so depressed that in 2011 I was thinking of quitting. Emotionally, I just couldn’t take the daily rejection.

But, for some reason, I didn’t quit. It dawned on me that the source of my depression was my unrealistic expectations in pitching the media and expecting a yes. So, I decided to change my expectations.

I now expect to be rejected or ignored every time I pitch the media. And when I am rejected, it doesn’t bother me in the least.

But here’s the amazing part. Every now and then someone in the media says yes. And when they say yes I get happy. By setting my expectations low, I became emotionally equipped to deal with the rejection.

This little shift in thinking has kept me in the game. I now expect failure and when I fail, my expectations are met and I don’t get emotional about it.

But while I now expect failure, I still hope for overall success.

Sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t. Expectations and hope, I learned, are two very different things.

Lowering your expectations does not mean giving up hope. It just means that you realize that the daily pursuit of a dream will be filled with obstacles, hurdles, rejection and failure.

Once you expect obstacles, hurdles, rejection and failure, you are emotionally equipped to deal with it. This keeps you in the game.

Eventually you figure out what to do and what not to do. And that growth equips you with new skills and knowledge that will one day allow you to overcome those obstacles, hurdles, rejection and failure.

If you want to be successful, you simply cannot quit on your dreams. You need to manage you expectations so that daily obstacles, hurdles, rejection and failure do not drag you down emotionally to the point of quitting.

You must also keep your focus on the big picture – the hope of one day realizing your dream.

Lowering your daily expectations while maintaining long-term hope keeps you in the game and empowers you to persist until you succeed. 



What to Do When You Hate Your Life

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Does your life suck? When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you smile or do you feel like throwing up on the mirror?

If you’re like most, you are probably not happy with your life and have no idea what to do to alter your current circumstances. You feel lost and helpless.

So, what can you do? How do you even begin the process of altering your current circumstances? [Read more…]

One New Habit Can Change Your Life


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Sounds ridiculous. How can one new habit completely change your life?

One of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study, who at the time of our interview was worth $17 million dollars, explained to me how one new habit transformed him almost overnight into a money-making machine.

Here’s his story.

He was struggling in his business and out of sheer disgust he decided to adopt one new habit of reading every day for a month. He said he had always hated reading to learn, so he set the bar low – 10 minutes of reading to learn every day in one area – selling.

On the first day he forced himself to a small desk in the basement of his home. It was more a picnic table than a desk. He pulled out a book on cold-calling and began reading. For the first few days, he absolutely hated it. But he kept at it.

After those dreadful first few days passed, the habit slowly began to form. On the fifth day, he read for 20 minutes. On the tenth day, thirty minutes.

By the end of the month he moved on to another book and was reading for over an hour a day. He documented many of the ideas he picked up from his reading in a notebook and began experimenting with some of those ideas in his business. Some of the ideas paid off and for the first time in his life his sales started to grow.

As the month came to an end, he felt compelled to attend a seminar on selling. He liked the seminar and then signed up for another one. Soon, he was attending one seminar a month. He filled his notebook with more selling ideas from the seminars and experimented with those ideas. Sales continued to grow.

He continued to read to learn and attend seminars over the years. And his sales continued to grow and grow and grow. And each year his business grew bigger and bigger and bigger.

After ten years, he realized he was a millionaire. After twenty years, a multi-millionaire. After forty years he was worth $17 million and sitting in front of me, a self-made millionaire, answering my questions. The self-made millionaire sitting in front of me during my study was a very different man than the man he used to be, the man who struggled in his business.

That one small habit change, reading just 10 minutes a day, had a domino effect on his life. It helped him form other habits, seemingly unrelated to his new reading habit: daily exercise, eating right, no more sitting on the couch watching TV at night along with many other habit changes. All contributing to his evolution into a self-made millionaire.

Our ritual behaviors are interconnected because all ritual behaviors are habits and all habits are controlled by the same parts of the brain. When you change just one habit, it bleeds out, affecting other habits.

The key to massive change is not massive change. It is small change. Small changes to our behaviors ripple through our brain and foster other small changes. Eventually, all of those small changes add up to massive change. All it takes is one habit.

Drag yourself to your one new small habit and stick to it for thirty days. You will hate it in the beginning. But, in time, you will love the effect that one small habit change has on your life and that one small habit change will spread like a virus, affecting other behaviors in a positive way and transforming your life.



High Achievers Are Habit Machines


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Cher, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Madonna, Matthew McConaughey, Kelly Ripa, President Obama, Michael Corbat (CEO Citigroup), Condoleeza Rice (former NSA Director) all have one thing in common: they are obsessed with habits.

High achievers are routine-focused.

Each of these individuals begins their day with 30-60 minutes of exercise. And, it turns out, exercise helps you forge other success habits.

Certain habits, such as daily exercise, helps build willpower muscles. The more willpower you have, the better able you are to stick to good habits.

If you want to become a habit machine start your day off with some form of exercise. This one Keystone Habit will carry that discipline over to the office or your place of business and give you the willpower to stick to success habits that will help you become a high achiever.

The Pygmalion Effect


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High expectations influencers place in you can have a dramatic impact on your future success in life.

The University of California, Los Angeles, studied data from a national surrey of 6,600 children born in 2001.

Professor Neal Halfon and his colleagues found that the expectations parents have for their kids pushes their kids to achieve important, life changing goals.

They concluded in their study that kids have a tendency to live up to the expectations of their parents.

In their study, 96% of children who were expected to go to college excelled on standardized tests.

This if known as the Pygmalion Effect, which states:

“What one person expects of another can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

This can be self-imposed. You can create your own expectations for yourself in life. This creates a good type of mild stress which has the effect of agitation you enough to steer you in the direction of your own personal self-imposed expectations.