The Millionaire Next Door

Rule 2: Raising Children To Become Productive Adults

A top 10 most often asked question:  How can I make sure that my children grow up to be economically productive adults?

My answer: There are no sure things when raising children.  But I have found that most millionaire next door types were raised by parents who were disciplined and frugal.  Parents in such cases typically ran their households like a well run, efficient business.  More often than not their children adopted a similar economic lifestyle. 

As an example, consider Dr. North’s case study from The Millionaire Next Door.  In spite of his high income [$700,000] and a multimillion dollar net worth [over $7M], he and his wife were great role models for their children.  Their consumption lifestyle was that of a household making a fraction of what Dr. North did.  Today all of their children are successful, economically productive adults.  As I wrote, 

Simply stated, they taught by example.  Their children were exposed to credible role models whose lives were characterized by their discipline and frugality. 

Dave only drove used cars and owned two credit cards.    He constantly preached the concept of  “waste not, want not.”  It was Dave who contributed heavily to the ten rules for raising productive children listed in The Millionaire Next Door.  Under Rule 2, No Matter How Wealthy You Are, Teach Your Children Discipline and Frugality, Dave is quoted:

Kids are very smart. They will not follow rules that their parents themselves do not follow.  We [my wife and I] were well-disciplined parents . . . .We lived the rules . . . .  They [the children] learned by example.   Actions speak louder than rules that are just words, not actions.

2 thoughts on “Rule 2: Raising Children To Become Productive Adults”

  1. Successfully achieving generational wealth is not an easy feat, but is certainly worth the effort.

    This concept hit home with me as I was touring an extravagant Vanderbilt home in New York and hearing how almost all of the Vanderbilt grandchildren squandered their inheritance from the formerly world’s richest man.

  2. This is a great reminder to keep it simple! It is easy to over complicate the process of teaching your kids life lessons. Maybe the easiest form of instructing your children is living a life worth following and explaining to them why you do what it is you are doing.


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