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.

The Power of Worry


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There’s a huge difference between chronic stress and worry.

Chronic stress is an elevated level of anxiety that shuts down part of the brain (pre-frontal lobe), disabling your ability to think clearly. Chronic stress also depresses the immune system, making you vulnerable to viruses and bacteria and susceptible to diseases such as cancer.

Worry, on the other hand, is a mild form of anxiety that does none of those things. We tend to think worry is a bad, negative things. But research shows a little bit of worry can actually help you to succeed in life. Researchers at Ontario’s Lakehead University, led by Alexander Penney, surveyed 126 undergraduate students about their feelings in regards to anxiety, depression and worry. Students who ranked high on the verbal intelligence scale tended to worry more often.

Why is worry good for you?

  • Worry keeps you alert and aware of your surroundings. it forces you to pay attention. This is a good thing because being aware of your surroundings allows you to see opportunities that others miss.
  • Worry forces you to constantly think about solutions to your problems.
  • Worry pushes you outside your comfort zone. It empowers you to experiment with new ideas in the hope of finding that working solution that will solve the problem that is causing you to worry.
  • Worry nudges you to learn more. It alters your behavior in a positive way by pushing you to become more knowledgable about the problems problem that are causing you to worry.
  • Worry allows you to think about every conceivable outcome, good or bad, on actions you take and decisions you make.
  • Worry forces you to pay attention to the details. The devil is always in the details and can derail goals, projects and initiatives.
  • Worry stops you from procrastinating. It forces you to get things done. It not only pushes you to take action, it also pushes you to complete your tasks.
  • Worry helps you prioritize what’s important and what’s unimportant. It helps sharpen your focus on doing the things that matter, that produce results that matter.
  • Worry allows you to plan for the future. If your worried about your future you will take action. If you’re not worried, you won’t.






Earn Your Way Out and Stop Being a Wage Slave


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According to the data from my Rich Habits Study, 96% of those struggling with poverty, hated their job. Other independent studies indicate that the total percentage of workers in the U.S., poor and non-poor, who hate their job is somewhere between 71% – 90%.

So, let me ask you a question. Do you hate your job? Do you start to feel that knot in your stomach around 6 pm Sunday night? Do you wake up Monday morning and think, “oh no, it’s Monday”?  Well, you’re in good company. Being a wage slave is no fun. It’s not a life.

There are only two ways of escaping wage slavery:

  1. Live Below Your Means (Spend Less Than You Earn) or
  2. Expand Your Mean (Earn More Than You Spend).

Both ways are hard. Both ways take time. In the first escape approach, you sock away 20% or more of your net pay, prudently invest that savings and, over time, those savings compound. Eventually, you’ll have enough money saved to enable you to quit your slave job in 25 – 35 years. If you’re in your early 20’s, that means emancipation sometime between your mid 40’s or mid 50’s, depending on your earnings.

In the second escape approach, you either get a 2nd part-time job or you pursue some side business. In both cases, once again, you prudently invest the savings and, over time, those savings compound. Eventually, the compounded savings from the part-time job will enable you to quit your slave job in 25 – 35 years. In the case of the side business, the time line for quitting your slave job will be significantly less. Somewhere between 5 – 10 years, depending on the profitability and your passion for that side business.

It’s up to you to adopt a plan to escape your slave job and take action implementing that plan. Human beings were not intended to toil away in a job they do not like. It’s simply not in our DNA; our human pre-programming. Human DNA is unique among all living things for a reason we, as of yet, do not comprehend. That pre-programming, that special software, speaks to us every day. And it says, “create, grow, expand, evolve and be happy.”

Make a plan today and take action. And when you do, that is when you will find true happiness.


I Am Who I Think I Am


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We all have a vision of the person we are. We create that vision in our childhood through osmosis, our vision being influenced by our environment – the people who surround us. So, in a real sense, we are who others think we are. That can be very good or it can be very bad. For the vast majority of those struggling in life, it’s a very bad thing.

Most never take the time to script out the person they want to be. That’s a mistake. When we take control over the person we want to be, the historical influence others exerted on our vision, begin to fade away. When we script who we want to be, we alter whatever vision we previously programmed ourselves to embrace. Scripting the vision of our perfect self is transformative.

At the beginning of 2012 I was struggling in my author business. My book, Rich Habits, had sold only 1,000 copies, typical for most self-published authors. Most self-published authors never sell more than 1,000 copies of their books in an entire lifetime. But I wanted to be a successful author. I wanted to get my Rich Habits message out there. I wanted to positively impact the lives of millions with my research. So, I took a page out of my self-made millionaire playbook (Rich Habits) and scripted my perfect life for the first time.

In my ideal, future life, I decided I wanted to be J.C. Jobs, the main character in Rich Habits. J.C. was a famous self-help author who transformed the lives of millions. He was a frequent guest on T.V. shows and radio shows. He wrote thousands of articles in magazines ad newspapers around the world. He was an icon who freed millions from the slavery that is poverty. And he successful and he was happy.

It’s now nearing the end of 2015. So did my scripting work? I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s what’s happened since the beginning of 2012:

Rich Habits is closing in on 50,000 book sales. Rich Kids, a book I released at the end of 2014, has won two major literary awards and became a bestseller in June of this year. Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, my latest book, will be released shortly. I have been on 14 national and regional T.V. shows and over 2,000 radio stations primarily in the U.S. but also in Canada, Australia and the U.K.. My research has been profiled in dozens of national and international magazines around the world as well as hundreds of online sites, blogs and newspapers worldwide. I have been interviewed by close to 200 podcasters in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., Mexico, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Israel, New Zealand and a few other countries. I am not J.C. Jobs yet, but I’ve come a long way.

What happened? Every day for 18 months, I continuously read and improved upon the script I created at the beginning of 2012. At some point, I think it was in early 2014, I began to finally see myself as J.C. Jobs. I began to believe.

Scripting works. It brings to the surface the dreams that must be realized in order for you to become the future you. Those dreams infect your subconscious and conscious mind like a virus. They inspire you to develop goals. Goals are the action steps behind each dream. Each dream is like a rung on the ladder of success. Every dream you realize, moves you up the ladder and gets you closer to the top. When you reach the top, you become the future version of you.

Who do you want to be? Do you want to be who others think you are? Or, do you want to be someone entirely different?  Scripting gives you the template for your ideal, perfect life. It’s your GPS to a new life. Scripting provides the dreams, that give birth to the goals, that will help you climb your ladder of success and transform you into who you want to be.

Nice People Finish Rich


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We’ve all heard stories about nasty rich people who treat employees and other subordinates poorly. But make no mistake about it, they are the exception to the rule and they represent a small fraction of the wealthy in the world. The vast majority of the wealthy treat others like gold. In return, they foster a devoted following of individuals who will knock down walls for these wealthy individuals.

Unless you are one of the rare few who possess some unique skill that allows you to get away with bad behavior, you had better make a habit of treating everyone you meet like they are the most important person in the world. Making enemies of people will only hold you back. Doors will slam shut at the sound of your name once you get a reputation of being abrasive and caustic to others. Work hard, work smart, pursue your dreams and make everyone you come into contact with desire to do business with you because nice people do finish rich.

Take a Spending Sabbatical


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Spending money on things does not create long-term happiness. Accumulating money does. It gives you peace of mind and a feeling that you are on the right path in life. Try one or more of these strategies to create a new financial you:

  • For one month save 5% of your income.
  • For one month be cheap.
  • For one month track everything you spend.

You might like it enough to turn it into a habit that will transform your life.

Spend Your Way to Wealth


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What secrets about managing money do the rich know that the average person doesn’t? I spent five years trying to answer that question. I asked 233 millionaires 144 questions and discovered the rich have certain spending habits that helped them get rich:

1. Track Spending – Know where your money is going. Look at your bank statement and credit card statement every month. You’ll uncover certain expenses for things you are not even using, such as club memberships, subscriptions, automatic charges for services you’ve never used. Oftentimes these automated charges occur after you enroll in some “free” promotion, where the free part expires after a promotional period.
2. Periodically Audit Expenses – Many expenses can change over time. Insurance costs often change. They can go up or down over time. Make sure you are paying the lowest insurance rates for homeowners, auto and life insurance. Check your health insurance. You could be paying for dependents who left the nest, are on their own, and have coverage through their employer. Cable and Internet costs can increase without you being aware of it. Calling your cable or Internet provider to secure the lowest fees available should be an annual process. Periodically shop cell phone plans. Increased competition in the cell phone industry is driving down monthly rates. Make sure you are not paying more than you have to.
3. Purchase Good Quality Used Cars – New cars lose value as soon as they come off the lot. Buying good quality used cars allows you to take advantage of this loss in value anomaly prevalent in the auto industry. 44% of the rich in my study purchased good quality used cars. Typically these are cars coming off a lease. They may be two or three years old. At 125,000 miles most cars will require some annual repairs. Expect to incur about $1,500 a year in repair costs when you hold on to cars beyond this 125,000 mileage mark. That is still significantly less than you would spend on a loan or lease for a new car.
4. Use Coupons – Even the wealthy in my study engaged in this money savings habit. 30% of the rich used coupons to buy food. Why pay more than you have to on groceries or other expenses?
5. Shop at Goodwill Stores – Many goodwill stores carry high quality clothing. You may have to spend a few extra bucks on tailoring, but it is well worth the additional cost. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
6. Keep your housing costs below 30% of your monthly net pay. Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, most of the rich do not live in mcmansions. Sixty-four percent of the rich in my study live in modest homes.
7. Bargain Shop – Far too many make spontaneous purchases, paying much more than they otherwise would. That’s a Poverty Habit. Shopping for bargains and taking advantage of sales events is a Rich Habit.
8. Stick to BYOBs – There are many restaurants that do not sell alcohol, beer or wine and allow you to bring your own spirit of choice into their restaurant. Restaurants markup liquor sales by as much as 100%.
9. Take Advantage of Credit Card Reward Dollars – Many credit cards have attached to them Rewards Programs. Typically, these Rewards Programs generate Reward Dollars that you can use at participating vendors. For example, the American Express Reward Program gives you about .88% back on every dollar you spend using an American Express credit card. One of the participating vendors with American Express is Barnes and Nobles. 50,000 American Express Rewards Dollars translates into $500 in Barnes and Noble gift cards. You can buy 25, $25 Barnes and Noble gift cards and give them out as gifts for birthdays, holidays, etc., and it will cost you nothing.
10. Interest-Free Financing – Sears, Home Depot, Lowes and many other retailers offer up to 24 months of interest free financing if you become a credit card customer. You must ensure that you pay off the interest free purchase within the free interest period and you must make your monthly payments on time. If you don’t you risk being back charged for ALL of the interest you were saving on the purchase.

Gene Management


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Genes are chunks of software that can be clicked on or off. The mind drives the body, which drives the genome. Whenever you are stressed by life you become more vulnerable to infections, cancer and heart disease. Your thinking, therefore, can turn on certain genes. This can be good or bad, depending on your thinking. If you are mired in negative thinking in the form of worry and doubts you are manufacturing stress. Stress turns on the gene CYP17, which converts cholesterol to cortisol. Cordisol is also known as the stress hormone and one of its side effects is a weakening of the immune system. Other habits that can turn on bad genes are:

  • Eating too much junk food
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Envy
  • Depression or sadness (unhappiness)
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Victim thinking

Adversity is a Test


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Adversity and success are lovers. They are bedmates. They rely and depend on each other. Adversity pushes you, challenges you, tests you. It makes you better. Adversity is the progenitor of growth. Without adversity you would never grow into the person you need to be in order to be a success.

But adversity often stops people in their tracks. It tests their commitment to their goals and dreams. If your reason for pursuing success is not powerful enough, adversity will derail your pursuit of success. You must have a WHY that drives you every day in the pursuit of your dream. That WHY creates the passion that will carry you through adversity. Your WHY must be very personal and omnipresent. Adversity reveals if your WHY is powerful enough. Adversity is a test.