What The Rich Teach their Kids About Money , That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not !
I had two fathers, a rich one and a poor one. One was highly
educated and intelligent. He had a Ph.D. and completed four years
of undergraduate work in less than two years. He then went on to
Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern
University to do his advanced studies, all on full financial scholarships.
The other father never finished the eighth grade.
Both men were successful in their careers, working hard all their
lives. Both earned substantial incomes. Yet one always struggled
financially. The other would become one of the richest men in Hawaii.
One died leaving tens of millions of dollars to his family, charities, and
his church. The other left bills to be paid.
Both men were strong, charismatic, and influential. Both men
offered me advice, but they did not advise the same things. Both men
believed strongly in education but did not recommend the same course
If I had had only one dad, I would have had to accept or reject his
advice. Having two dads offered me the choice of contrasting points
of view: one of a rich man and one of a poor man.
Instead of simply accepting or rejecting one or the other, I found
myself thinking more, comparing, and then choosing for myself. The
problem was that the rich man was not rich yet, and the poor man
was not yet poor. Both were just starting out on their careers, and
both were struggling with money and families. But they had very
different points of view about money.
For example, one dad would say, “The love of money is the root
of all evil.” The other said, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”
As a young boy, having two strong fathers both influencing me
was difficult. I wanted to be a good son and listen, but the two fathers
did not say the same things. The contrast in their points of view,
particularly about money, was so extreme that I grew curious and
intrigued. I began to start thinking for long periods of time about
what each was saying.
Much of my private time was spent reflecting, asking myself
questions such as, “Why does he say that?” and then asking the same
question of the other dad’s statement. It would have been much
easier to simply say, “Yeah, he’s right. I agree with that.” Or to simply
reject the point of view by saying, “The old man doesn’t know what
he’s talking about.” Instead, having two dads whom I loved forced
me to think and ultimately choose a way of thinking for myself. As a
process, choosing for myself turned out to be much more valuable in
the long run than simply accepting or rejecting a single point of view.
One of the reasons the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and
the middle class struggles in debt is that the subject of money is
taught at home, not in school. Most of us learn about money from
our parents. So what can poor parents tell their child about money?
They simply say, “Stay in school and study hard.” The child may
graduate with excellent grades, but with a poor person’s financial
programming and mindset.
Sadly, money is not taught in schools. Schools focus on scholastic
and professional skills, but not on financial skills. This explains how
smart bankers, doctors, and accountants who earned excellent grades
may struggle financially all of their lives. Our staggering national debt
is due in large part to highly educated politicians and government
officials making financial decisions with little or no training in the
subject of money
Today I often wonder what will soon happen when we have
millions of people who need financial and medical assistance. They
will be dependent upon their families or the government for financial
support. What will happen when Medicare and Social Security run
out of money? How will a nation survive if teaching children about
money continues to be left to parents—most of whom will be, or
already are, poor?
Because I had two influential fathers, I learned from both of
them. I had to think about each dad’s advice, and in doing so, I
gained valuable insight into the power and effect of one’s thoughts on
one’s life. For example, one dad had a habit of saying, “I can’t afford
it.” The other dad forbade those words to be used. He insisted I ask,
“How can I afford it?” One is a statement, and the other is a question.
One lets you off the hook, and the other forces you to think. My
soon-to-be-rich dad would explain that by automatically saying the
words “I can’t afford it,” your brain stops working. By asking the
question “How can I afford it?” your brain is put to work. He did
not mean that you should buy everything you want. He was fanatical
about exercising your mind, the most powerful computer in the
world. He’d say, “My brain gets stronger every day because I exercise
it. The stronger it gets, the more money I can make.” He believed that
automatically saying “I can’t afford it” was a sign of mental laziness.
Although both dads worked hard, I noticed that one dad had a
habit of putting his brain to sleep when it came to finances, and the
other had a habit of exercising his brain. The long-term result was
that one dad grew stronger financially, and the other grew weaker. It
is not much different from a person who goes to the gym to exercise
on a regular basis versus someone who sits on the couch watching
television. Proper physical exercise increases your chances for health,
and proper mental exercise increases your chances for wealth.
My two dads had opposing attitudes and that affected the way
they thought. One dad thought that the rich should pay more in
taxes to take care of those less fortunate. The other said, “Taxes
punish those who produce and reward those who don’t produce.”
One dad recommended, “Study hard so you can find a good
company to work for.” The other recommended, “Study hard so you
can find a good company to buy.”
One dad said, “The reason I’m not rich is because I have you
kids.” The other said, “The reason I must be rich is because I have
One encouraged talking about money and business at the dinner
table, while the other forbade the subject of money to be discussed
over a meal.
One said, “When it comes to money, play it safe. Don’t take
risks.” The other said, “Learn to manage risk.”
One believed, “Our home is our largest investment and our
greatest asset.” The other believed, “My house is a liability, and if your
house is your largest investment, you’re in trouble.”
Both dads paid their bills on time, yet one paid his bills first while
the other paid his bills last.
One dad believed in a company or the government taking care
of you and your needs. He was always concerned about pay raises,
retirement plans, medical benefits, sick leave, vacation days, and
other perks. He was impressed with two of his uncles who joined the
military and earned a retirement-and-entitlement package for life
after twenty years of active service. He loved the idea of medical
benefits and PX privileges the military provided its retirees. He also
loved the tenure system available through the university. The idea
of job protection for life and job benefits seemed more important,
at times, than the job. He would often say, “I’ve worked hard for the
government, and I’m entitled to these benefits.”
The other believed in total financial self-reliance. He spoke out
against the entitlement mentality and how it created weak and financially
needy people. He was emphatic about being financially competent.
One dad struggled to save a few dollars. The other created
investments. One dad taught me how to write an impressive resumé
so I could find a good job. The other taught me how to write strong
business and financial plans so I could create jobs.
Being a product of two strong dads allowed me the luxury of
observing the effects different thoughts have on one’s life. I noticed
that people really do shape their lives through their thoughts.
For example, my poor dad always said, “I’ll never be rich.” And
that prophecy became reality. My rich dad, on the other hand, always
referred to himself as rich. He would say things like, “I’m a rich man,
and rich people don’t do this.” Even when he was flat broke after a
major financial setback, he continued to refer to himself as a rich man.
He would cover himself by saying, “There is a difference between
being poor and being broke. Broke is temporary. Poor is eternal.”
My poor dad would say, “I’m not interested in money,” or
“Money doesn’t matter.” My rich dad always said, “Money is power.”
The power of our thoughts may never be measured or appreciated,
but it became obvious to me as a young boy that it was important
to be aware of my thoughts and how
I expressed myself. I noticed that my
poor dad was poor, not because of the
amount of money he earned, which was
significant, but because of his thoughts
and actions. As a young boy having two
fathers, I became acutely aware of being
careful about which thoughts I chose to adopt as my own. Should I
listen to my rich dad or to my poor dad?
Although both men had tremendous respect for education and
learning, they disagreed about what they thought was important to
learn. One wanted me to study hard, earn a degree, and get a good job
to earn money. He wanted me to study to become a professional, an
attorney or an accountant, and to go to business school for my MBA.
The other encouraged me to study to be rich, to understand how
money works, and to learn how to have it work for me. “I don’t work
for money!” were words he would repeat over and over. “Money works
At the age of nine, I decided to listen to and learn from my rich
dad about money. In doing so, I chose not to listen to my poor dad,
even though he was the one with all the college degrees.
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