The Millionaire Next Door

Teach Your Children Well-Part I

The diet police are up in arms again.  In essence they are proposing that the government take action so that our children will be discouraged from patronizing fast food restaurants. Imagine banning Happy Meals?  From this writer’s point of view this is un-American!  I believe that the diet police are made up of malcontents who are misguided.  Fast food companies are not the cause of childhood obesity. Generally speaking, children who are overweight eat more than those who are not overweight. Overeating is also related to indulgent parents who facilitate overeating. 

Just like hypereating is a danger to one’s physical well being,   hyperconsuming is a danger to one’s financial well being. So what does this all have to do with millionaires? Most millionaires eat and spend in moderation.  They are well disciplined. In fact, it is rare to find any of the millionaires whom I have interviewed one on one or in focus groups to be overweight.  I have found that the typical millionaire, a male, is 5’10” tall and weighs 184 pounds. Decamillionaires are about an inch taller and 3 pounds heavier.  After reviewing this data,  I was prompted by the numbers to review my latest copy of the Forbes 400 issue. Looking at the pictures of the wealthiest 400 people is telling. Bill Gates is hardly overweight nor is Steven Jobs or Larry Ellison. One must be well disciplined to achieve the status of a Forbes 400 designation.  This discipline extends to the consumption of food. 

The habit of eating in moderation among the wealthy in America was not developed via government mandates and laws. Most economically successful people tell me that their disciplined lifestyle including consumption habits originated from their upbringing. In other words, the parents mold the child.  They are the ones who dictate how much the child eats and where he eats. 

Today a good number of millionaires patronize fast food restaurants. In fact 47% of those in the $1M-$5M net worth category reported eating at least one meal inside a McDonald’s within the last 30 days before being interviewed. Forty percent of those with a net worth of over $5M did the same. If anything these numbers understate their patronage since my question did not ask about drive-in or take-out orders. 

What can I say about children who are taught the benefits of discipline, frugality and moderation? They are much more likely to become economically successful and satisfied adults than those who were raised in an atmosphere void of these characteristics. 

5 thoughts on “Teach Your Children Well-Part I”

  1. Excellent post. It’s only natural that if a person is a great manager of money that they’d be really good at taking care of their own bodies.

    Eating healthy is hard. Yet it takes a disciplined life to do it and can definitely be related to building wealth.

    I am 1/2 through “Stop acting rich” and I’m loving it. Keep up the great work sir.

  2. Any parent knows, the kids just want the toy. It’s really really really hard to actually get them to eat more than a couple french fries.

    Keep your laws off my happy meals!

  3. Discipline and self-control are waning traits in this country. And the government seems to provide subsidies for their absence while penalizing those who employ them.

    When I was a child, I asked my grandmother is she was poor during the Depression; after all, she took in boarders at her home and my mom slept on a cot in the laundry room. My grandmother hissed “We were not poor; we just didn’t have any money! Poor people have ‘poor ways’!”

    The lack of discipline and self-control are leading indicators of “poor ways”.

  4. I really liked the article ‘Teach Your Children Well-part1′. I’m really big on teaching our children financial management. But the part about the fast food is not necessarily true.

    My wife eats a lot of fast food and she only weighs 90 pounds. She’s trying to gain weight and can’t keep it on. Body metabolism has more to do with weight.

    My best advise for teaching our children is not to really say anything about money management until they ask, BUT we should show them by example. Children pay more attention to what we do than what we say. Case in point: how many times have you told your child not to do something over and over again.

    When you go shopping pay cash. When you go shopping just window shop to teach them about urges and that you don’t always have to spend money just because you went to the mall. Keep your financial house in order so you and your spouse will never have arguments over money. That’s a real lesson that talking about can never teach or sink in.

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