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.

Infidelity – A Bad Habit That Could Put You and Your Family in the Poor House


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In my Rich Habits Study 32% of the wealthy were divorced at least once and 46% of the poor were divorced at least once. While part of the reason the divorce rate was higher for the poor was due to already existing financial problems, 53% was due to infidelity. And 9% of the poor who were divorced, had extra-marital affairs with colleagues at work. The vast majority (67%) of the poor who got divorced due to infidelity at work, lost their job as a result. Two of the individuals who lost their jobs were making in excess of $400,000 at the time of their firing and were unable to find employment in their industry, which precipitated their fall into poverty.

Infidelity in marriage, that leads to divorce, not only undermines families, it can throw the entire family into poverty. Cheating on your spouse can put you and your family in the poor house and, consequently, it is most definitely a Poverty Habit.


The Words You Use Affect the Way Others Perceive You


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I remember my first job in NYC. I was 21 and interning for Bankers Trust right across from World Trade Center Building #1. I was finished with my work day and headed down the two story long series of escalators which delivered all of us down to street level. There were four of these escalators, two that went down and two that went up. While on one of these down escalators I ease dropped on a conversation two bankers were having in front of me. To this day I have no idea what they were talking about. But what I do remember was how impressed I was. They used words like Michelangelo used clay or paints. It bothered me that I did not understand the words they were using.

That summer I decided I was going to learn ten new words a day. So I pulled out the dictionary, took out a binder, some paper and a pencil and began writing down words I didn’t know. I did this every day for about two months. As summer came to a close, I was now the proud owner of 500 new words. And I started to use these words, weaving them into conversation. I remember playing pool in the rathskeller back at college. There was a very pretty girl in the group. She knew some of the guys I regularly played pool with. We were all discussing Poland, which was in the news. They were going through a revolution there. I remember sharing my opinion with the group about this revolution. I test drove some of the new words I learned over the summer.

About an hour later, as I was walking out the rathskeller, the pretty girl accompanied me up the stairs. She never did this before. I confess, my heart was beating like a rabbit. She said to me, “I didn’t realize you were so smart.” We became fast friends after that and had many more conversations. We came very close to dating but I never had the ask a girl out on a date confidence to ask her out. I’m of Irish decent and, at the time, I was working on my eighth year of puberty. I still looked like a man child and felt ugly and very awkward back then.

I kept that word binder, but confess that I lapsed in my devotion to learning new words. When I was finishing up my study on the daily habits of the rich and poor in 2008, I discovered that one of the Rich Habits the millionaires all seemed to have was a daily devotion to learning and self-improvement. So I found my old word binder, dusted it off and renewed my study of words. It has helped me enormously in communicating my research in the books and articles I’ve written as well as in the numerous media interviews I’ve had.

The words we use every day create perceptions. They are like magnets, drawing to us all sorts of people. Rich people had figured that out long before they became rich. The more words you know, the better your ability to communicate what you know. Words create perceptions. If you want to create the perception that you are smart, you must increase your knowledge of words and use them in conversation. Learning new words helps you grow as an individual. They increase your confidence. They transform you.

Start your word binder today. Devote just fifteen minutes a day to increasing your vocabulary. Add five new words a day to your arsenal. People will take notice. Words will elevate you and draw the right people into your inner circle.

Delayed Gratification vs. Immediate Gratification


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It’s so easy to do the easy. It’s so hard to do the hard. The other night I came home from work, hungry, tired and in need of some R&R. Dinner was waiting for me on the counter. There was a cold beer in the refrigerator just screaming out at me. I went upstairs, took off my work clothes and then I saw my sneakers staring at me. Before any of the demon voices in my head started talking, I took my sneakers, put on my shorts and headed downstairs to my basement. I got on my stair master and for the next 40 minutes I sweat. When I was done I walked into the kitchen, heated up my dinner and cracked an ice cold beer. That dinner tasted so good. That beer, so cold and delicious. As I ate and drank, I felt happy.

It’s so easy to give in to temptation. But sacrificing, by delaying gratification until something important gets done first, makes the thing you delayed gratification on infinitely more rewarding. Our lives are the byproduct of our behavior and the choices we make. When we choose the easy, life’s immediate pleasures lose their flavor. When we choose the hard, life’s eventual pleasures are heightened.

Always choose the hard. Hard and Happiness share more in common than a few letters. They are life’s yin and yang.


You Are Under My Control


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I hate to tell you this, but your life is not under your control. Your behavior, your thinking, the choices and decisions you make, what you spend your money on, what you eat and drink, who you associate with, the T.V. shows you watch, the Internet sites you visit and so much more. Your life as you know it, if you’re like most, is one big zombie life.

We are all being bombarded, every day, with outside influences:  T.V ads, Internet pop ups, tweets, text messages, newspapers, the books you read and the habits you’ve adopted all influence your behavior and thinking. And there is only one way to regain control of your life.

AWARENESS. If you want to take control of your life it starts with AWARENESS. You must become aware of those things that are influencing your thinking and behavior. Here’s a process to help you do just that. Take out 7 pieces of paper. On each piece of paper write the following heading:

  • Sheet #1 – My Daily Habits
  • Sheet #2 – T.V. Shows I Watched
  • Sheet #3 – Internet Sites I Visited
  • Sheet #4 – Tweets/Social Media Messages I Read
  • Sheet #5 – Topics I Read
  • Sheet #6 – Topics of Conversation I Had With Others
  • Sheet #7 – Ads I Viewed

On each separate sheet of paper make 7 columns, one for each day of the week. Now the fun begins. Every day write down and track each of your habits, T.V. Shows, Internet Sites, Tweets/Social Media Messages, Reading Topics, Conversation Topics and Ads Viewed. You can customize your headings on each sheet or add sheets to include other categories you feel are having an outside influence on your behavior and thinking (i.e. radio, movies, podcasts, webinars, talking on the cell phone, etc.). The purpose of this exercise is to identify those things that are influencing your behavior and thinking.

By the end of the week you will have a comprehensive list of most of the things that influence your behavior and thinking. Once you know what is influencing you, only then can you take control of your life by identifying and then eliminating those things that are having a negative influence on your behavior. Put a Negative sign “-” next to each item that you believe is negatively influencing your behavior and thinking. Change is only possible with AWARENESS. Once you become aware of those things that are negatively influencing your behavior and thinking, you can eliminate them from your daily life.


Why You Must Surround Yourself With Other Successful People


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If you want to succeed in life, you absolutely must surround yourself with other successful people.

  • Successful people are successful  because they have expert knowledge and skills in very specific niches. Unsuccessful people lack expertise in any one niche.
  • Successful people surround themselves with other success-minded people who are also experts in their field. They have developed strong relationships with those successful people, whom they can tap at a moments notice. Unsuccessful people have relationships with unsuccessful or average people who also lack expertise.
  • Successful people know how to get things done in a cost-effective and expeditious way. Because they lack expertise or the ability to tap into other experts, unsuccessful people tend to complicate things, which ends up costing you time and money.
  • Successful people immediately add value to your life or to your business through their expertise or contacts. Unsuccessful people immediately add complications and problems to your life or your business.

Stay away from unsuccessful people. They cannot help you become successful in life. How do you know when someone is unsuccessful without looking at their bank statement? Unsuccessful people are easy to find if you know what to look for:

  • They have a glaring character flaw I call Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. This is the Poverty Habit of shifting gears from one obsession to another, year after year. They claim to be many things, having an expertise in multiple areas, which is virtually impossible for them because they never stick to one thing for very long.  As a result of this lack of long-term commitment, this absence of persistence, they lack expertise in any one particular area.
  • They are struggling financially because they don’t make enough money in their self-proclaimed field of expertise.

Seek out only successful people who have devoted themselves to unique niches for many years. Ten years or more, focused in one area or in one discipline, is a good benchmark. Never engage anyone for any initiative that is important to you without obtaining at least 5 references from individuals who used their services within the past twelve months. Make sure none of those references are family members. And make sure you ask the references specific questions whose responses will raise red flags, such as:

  • How much more money did they help you make?
  • How much more product or services did they help you sell?
  • Did you get the sense that they were struggling financially with their business while you were working with them?
  • Are you aware of any clients or customers who suddenly terminated their relationship with them?

Successful people will fast track your success, reduce costs, free up your valuable time and open doors to opportunities for you to make more money. They shorten the time you have to push that ball up the hill and make the effort less arduous. They help clear the brush away from your path towards success.


Who Are You Attracting Into Your Life?


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Birds of a feather flock together. We’ve all heard this saying many times before. In my study on the daily habits of the rich and poor one common thread among the rich was their desire to associate with other success-minded people and one of the traits of the poor was their desire to associate with those who were also struggling financially. It seemed to me that the poor subscribed to the misery loves company crowd because of this birds of a feather inclination people seem to have.

What I found interesting in my study was the fact that 177 of the rich were self-made. Thirty one percent of these 177 came from poor households and 45% came from middle-class backgrounds. Yet somewhere along the line these two groups decided to defy this birds of a feather inclination. They decided to associate with individuals outside their natural comfort zone – successful people. Why? They knew something everyone else didn’t: you attract specific people into your life by mimicking those people:

  • To attract successful people, you must be success-minded.
  • To attract positive people, you must be positive.
  • To attract visionaries, you must be a visionary.
  • To attract persistent people, you must be persistent.
  • To attract enthusiastic people, you must be enthusiastic.
  • To attract kind people, you must be kind.
  • To attract disciplined people, you must be disciplined.
  • To attract gifted people, you must be gifted.
  • To attract compassionate people, you must be compassionate.
  • To attract loyal people, you must be loyal.
  • To attract dedicated people, you must be dedicated.

When you adopt certain thinking traits you will attract like-minded people and you will repel unlike-minded people.

I have been pursuing success these past seven years and I can tell you that many people have joined my Rich Habits movement. And many of these same people jumped off that bandwagon. Why? Because they did not share the traits of persistence, vision, dedication and enthusiasm that I had adopted along the way. Unknowingly, my newly adopted traits eventually repelled those who lacked the same traits – those who would drag me down, distract me and hold me back.

If you want to succeed in life, you need to adopt those traits that will attract success-minded people. The byproduct is the creation of a team of like-minded, success oriented people. So let me ask you, who are you attracting into your life? If you’re not happy with who is in your life, you need to work on you first. Once you adopt the traits of success-minded people, you will find yourself attracting other success-minded people and repelling those who would drag your down and hold you back.

35 Things the Rich Know About Every Relationship

80% of the wealthy call their contacts religiously at least once every other month just to say hello. There are two purposes to this call. The first is to keep the relationship alive through constant contact. The second purpose is about gathering certain information. In other words, it’s a reconnaissance mission.  They are calling to gain intelligence on their contact. The more information they can obtain about their contact’s family, friends and life, the more valuable that relationship becomes to them. Rich people have been doing this for years. They understand that one day this information will pay dividends. Oftentimes, these dividends represent some monetary or financial gain or help open some door for themselves or a family member.

35 Things the Wealthy Gather on Their Contacts:

  1. Basic contact information: name, address, phone, email, Twitter, Facebook etc.
  2. Are you married?
  3. If yes, what is their spouse’s name?
  4. Do you have any children?
  5. If so what are their names?
  6. Birthdays of contact, spouse and children
  7. Interests/Hobbies of contact, spouse and children?
  8. Schools contact, spouse and children attend/attended?
  9. What are they most proud of?
  10. Do they know any celebrities or important people? Who?
  11. What do they do for a living?
  12. What does their spouse do for a living?
  13. What do they like reading?
  14. Do they read blogs? If so, what blogs?
  15. Previous employment of contact and spouse?
  16. If their children work, what do they do, where do they work?
  17. Political affiliation?
  18. Religious affiliation?
  19. Where did they live before their current home?
  20. Do/did they or any member of their family play sports? If so, what and when and do they still play?
  21. Do they like sports?
  22. Do they drink alcohol? If so, what do they drink?
  23. What’s their favorite foods?
  24. What type of car do they drive?
  25. What are their goals?
  26. What groups, non-profits or community organizations are they affiliated with?
  27. Where do they like to vacation?
  28. What did their parents do for a living?
  29. Where did they grow up?
  30. Significant achievements/accomplishments?
  31. Favorite celebrities?
  32. Licenses, designations they may have?
  33. Strengths and weaknesses?
  34. Do they exercise? If so, what do they do?
  35. Who are their important relationships: attorneys, CPAs, financial advisors, religious etc.

Tip o’ the Morning to Ya – Call Someone, Build Stronger Relationships


Rich Habits Word of the Day

Allegory – Fable, parable.

Rich Habits Fact of the Day

George Harrison, with “My Sweet Lord,” was the first Beatle to have a Number 1 hit single following the group’s breakup.

Rich Habits Lesson of the Day

Life Event Calls:

One of the strategies the wealthy use to build long-lasting, valuable relationships is the Life Event Call. These calls are made to clients, customers, patients or any contact you value, in order to recognize a particular event that occurred in the contact’s life. An example would be if a client or their spouse had a child, a graduation in the life of the contact, a promotion, new job, death or illness. Life Event Calls put your relationships on steroids. They grow the roots to the relationship tree deeper and faster than any other relationship-building strategy.


Tip o’ the Morning to Ya – Be Honest Yet Tactful



Rich Habits Word of the Day 

Grifter – Fake, fraud, huckster.

Rich Habits Fact of the Day

U.S. Constitution is made up of 7 Articles and 27 Amendments. The most popular and well-known Amendment is the 1st Amendment which set out the five freedoms: Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly & Petitioning the Government.

Rich Habits Lesson of the Day

Speaking your mind turns out to be not such a good thing. Only 6% of the wealthy say what’s on their mind. 94% filter every thought that comes out of their mind before it comes out of their mouths. The reason? The wealthy indicated that saying what’s on  your mind often hurts other people’s feelings and can damage important relationships. 69% of poor people have the Poverty Habit of saying what’s on their mind. Consequently, they often struggle maintaining relationships.