Source: Thomas Corley, RichHabits.net (February 3, 2017) – 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 always begin my presentation by asking 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 by their parents or their school system how to be financially successful in life. Not only are there no courses on basic financial success principles but there are no structured courses teaching basic financial literacy. We are raising our children to be financially illiterate and to fail in life.
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?
What’s worse is what our children are being taught by their parents, the school system, politicians and the national media. They are teaching our children that the wealthy are corrupt, greedy, have too much wealth and that this wealth needs to be redistributed.
What kind of a message do you think that sends to America’s future generation? It is teaching them that seeking financial success is a bad and evil thing. It is discouraging them to excel in life and pursue success.
Here are some statistics from my five-year study on the daily habits that separate the wealthy from the poor?
- 63% of self-made millionaires were required by their parents to read two or more non-fiction books every month vs. only 3% of the poor.
- 6% of the wealthy played the lottery vs. 77% of the poor.
- Only 16% of the wealth gambled regularly on sports vs. 52% of the poor.
- 82% of the self-made millionaires pursued a dream vs. 3% of the poor.
- 68% of the self-made millionaires said they learned success habits from their parents vs. only 6% for the poor.
- 21% of the wealthy were overweight by 30 pounds or more vs. 66% of the poor.
- 63% of the wealthy 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.
- 83% of the wealthy 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.
- 63% of wealthy listened to audio books during their commute vs. 5% of the poor.
- 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.
- 73% of the wealthy spent less than they earned during their entire work lives vs. 5% of the poor.
- 79% of the wealthy networked 5 hours or more per month vs. 16% of the poor.
- 92% of the wealthy believed they created their own good luck through hard work and perseverance. 79% of the poor believed the rich were beneficiaries of random good luck.
- 79% of the wealthy believed they were responsible for their financial circumstances. 82% of the poor believed if you were born poor you could not change your financial circumstances.
- 78% of self-made millionaires eat less than 300 junk food calories a day. 97% of the poor eat more than 300 junk food calories a day.
- 95% of self-made millionaires exercised aerobically 30 minutes or more per day, four days a week. Only 23% of poor did the same.
- 100% of self-made millionaires had a success mentor. None of the poor had a success mentor.
- 63% of the wealthy had a positive, optimistic mindset. 94% of the poor had a negative, pessimistic mindset.
The fact is, the poor are poor because they have too many Poverty Habits and too few Rich Habits. The best parents teach their children good habits that lead to success and the worst parents teach their kids bad habits that lead to poverty. In my books I share exactly what these habits are.
We don’t have a wealth gap in this country, we have a parent gap. We don’t have income inequality, we have parent inequality.
Parents and our schools need to work together to instill good daily success habits. They need to be teaching children specific Rich Habits that lead to success. Here are some examples:
- Limit TV, social media, video games and cell phone use to no more than one hour a day.
- Require that children read one non-fiction book a week and should be required to write a one page summary of what they learned for their parents to review.
- Require children to aerobically exercise 20 – 30 minutes a day.
- Limit junk food to no more than 300 calories a day.
- Teach children to dream and to pursue their dreams. Have them write a script of their ideal, future life.
- Require that children set goals.
- Require working age children to work or volunteer at least ten hours a week.
- Require that children save at least 25% of their earnings or 25% of any monetary gifts they receive.
- Teach children the importance of calling family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc, on their birthday.
- Teach children to send thank you cards every time someone does something nice for them.
- Reassure children that mistakes are good and not bad. Children need to understand that the very foundation of success is built upon the lessons we learn from our mistakes.
- Discipline children when they lose their temper so they understand the consequence of not controlling this very costly emotion. Anger is the most costly emotion. It gets people fired, causes divorce and damages valuable relationships.
- Teach children that the pursuit of financial success is a good thing; that pursuing wealth is a good thing and not a bad thing.
- Children need to learn how to manage money. Open up a checking account or savings account for children and force them to use their savings to buy the things they want. This teaches children that they are not entitled to anything. It teaches them that they have to work for the things they want in life, like cell phones, computers, fashionable clothes, video games, etc.
- Require children to participate in at least one non-sports-related extracurricular group at school or outside of school.
- Parents and children need to set aside at least an hour a day to talk to one another. Not on Facebook, not on the cell phone, but face to face. The only quality time is quantity time.
- Teach children how to manage their time. Teach them how to create a daily “to do” list. They can put their “to-do” list on their bedroom door so parents can check it each day.
Obviously, it is not possible to follow every Rich Habit recommendation I listed above. From my research, I learned that all it takes is one or two Rich Habits to completely transform a life. The reading habit, on its own, can set your children up for career success. The savings habit, on its own, can set your children up to be financially independent. The exercise habit, on its own, can set your children up for a long, healthy life. The happy birthday or life event calls, on their own, can set your children up to forge strong relationships. Pick just two habits to teach you kids and stay on top of them for six months. After six months the habits should stick.
Lastly, high schools should be teaching financial education to their students beginning in freshman year. It needs to be a multi-prong curriculum that includes the following courses:
- 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. It’s unfortunate, but financial education is not a requirement in most schools and, thus, it is up to the parents to teach their kids to be money smart.