The Millionaire Next Door

Teach Your Children Well- Part II

In my last blog, I took on the diet police.  I argued that child obesity is more a function of the lack of parents instilling discipline and moderation in their children’s lifestyle than it is fast food companies and their products.  Children benefit from parental guidance in all aspects of their lives. 

The following letter is a testimonial to what I am discussing in these two blogs:

As a child from a home of “self-made” millionaires, I enjoyed [The Millionaire Next Door] as it triggered childhood memories.  My parents instilled certain wonderful values and could actually write a book themselves about “frugality.”  At the time we were growing up, my [three] sisters and I did not find “frugality” a user-friendly term.  Can you imagine four girls even considering sharing a room or their clothes?  So, you can only imagine the anguish it caused when we went to McDonald’s as a treat and had to split our food – a pack of french fries!  Now we laugh about such episodes – then even Ronald McDonald could not put a smile on our faces!

To my parents I say thank-you for showing me frugality and what is truly important in my life.  To my sisters I now would give you a place to stay, the shirt off my back and my entire pack of McDonald’s french fries.

In a May blog, I wrote about a millionaire couple who had 3 children.  They followed my Rule No. 1 for raising productive children [from The Millionaire Next Door]: never tell children that their parents are wealthy.  And more recently whether you are wealthy or not, Stop Acting Rich, especially around your children.  As this very frugal millionaire mom said: . . .my kids ask me if we are poor because I make them order from the $1 menu!

What should you do the next time your youngster insists on the super quarter pounder with cheese, supersized fries and an extra large shake?  Tell him that you are going to order off of the “millionaire menu!”  It begins and ends with a dollar. 

6 thoughts on “Teach Your Children Well- Part II”

  1. FB @

    For me, there’s a fine line between being frugal and being cheap, ESPECIALLY if you have the money to spend and enjoy. It’s a disease to save too much to the detriment of your enjoyment too, you know…

    A balance is best

    Those parents had the money to spend on 4 packs of fries every 4 months (instead of 1 pack every month between 4 girls)… but instead they sat on the money, and while it’s a good example of frugality, I think it’s taking it too far.

    Either go, or don’t go, but don’t cheap out when you’re there.

  2. Sam in Pittsburgh WV

    The dollar menu is the Only meny I spend $ on…..although I would not want young people to eat fast food too much – a little is ok….the dollar menu suits the public best….

    I would tell the kids to save their money and buy the company stock…it has a $25 increase per square year to date….thats what I would tell them – if I chose to have children…

  3. FB, I know about the issues you have with cheapskates. Your blog makes that very clear. I have some of the same issues because being cheap equates with being cynical. The cynic sees the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

    It’s kinda hard to become a millionaire, though, when you measure just the cost of things. Unless you were born with that proverbial silver spoon in your mouth, becoming a millionaire requires some kind of risk. The cynic avoids risk at all costs.

    I have a toddler at home and I sometimes need to go overboard with the lessons I teach him in order to create a lasting impression. I think this woman’s millionaire parents were doing much the same.

    The McDonald’s french fry experience has stuck with her and her sisters and I imagine they’ll be raising children who appreciate the value of a dollar…just like you do.

    My hat’s off to you for how you eradicated so much debt in so little time. Just remember, you couldn’t have done it had you not stopped worrying about what other people thought of you. Our definitions of cheap are to be used to determine our own personal standards, not everyone else’s.

  4. Something else to think about...

    Would frugal people go to McDonald’s at all? Unhealthy food can lead to health problems that reduce quality of life and cost lots of money and time spent under medical care. Better to still be enjoying life (in financial security, of course) at 100 than dead at 75 after having spent most of the last 10 years in hospitals and doctors’ offices.

  5. I understand being aware of your spending, but being cheap is going too far. What is the point of storing it up just to have someone else inherit it and spend it the way they want? I have a family member who is incredibly cheap and miserable. He is the saddest person I know.

  6. You are all missing the point. When your kids are adults, they won’t care about whether or not you “splurged” for the supersize happy meal. They’ll care about whether or not you were able to pay the college tuition, or help them with the down payment on their first home. Parents who can do those things don’t waste their money at McDonald’s which isn’t helping their children financially or healthwise.

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