How to Raise a Millionaire – What the Greatest Generation Did (Part 2)

If you are reading my efforts, you probably want to become a millionaire or you already are one.

If you want to become one, and if you have children, you probably are trying to instill your values in your children – the values that are driving you to want to be a millionaire.

If you already are a millionaire, and if you have children, you may be wondering how you need to raise your children (or maybe your grandchildren) differently than you were raised – because they are being influenced by wealth in ways you weren’t.

To address these questions, I will be writing a series of posts (interspersed with posts on other topics) with ideas on how to raise children to be millionaires.

I am an elder boomer, child of the Greatest Generation. My parents didn’t know it but they were raising a future investor. Here are some of the things they showed me as I was growing up – things that helped me become what I am.

They showed consistency.

Both of my parents worked in concert on the messages and interactions they had with me. The message they sent was work hard, study hard, work before play, use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. They sent us a consistent money message as well – save for what you need, don’t spend money on frivolities, don’t get into debt, don’t try to keep up with the Jones. Some parents inadvertently project different messages about money to their kids – causing money confusion and anxiety in children.

They showed me discipline and rewards.

Discipline was also consistent and was administered by either parent when the infraction occurred. Dad had been whipped with a bull whip (butt end), so both parents used hands on bottoms to discipline me. Rewards were also consistent – you could tell they talked to each other about what the rewards would be. Examples? 25 cents for each A on the report card. I learned that a job well done was rewarded and that a job done poorly or not done was not rewarded.

They demonstrated equality.

In their era, most of the fathers handled the finances. In our family it was a joint effort. Mom was the one one taught us to balance our checkbooks. In most families at the time, the husband was the only one working. When I was in high school, Mom not only worked, she earned more than Dad. In addition, she was the one with, not just a college degree but also a masters – while Dad only had a high school education. Both respected the other. Neither downgraded the other for what they lacked. They taught us that, even if others had more or richer belongings, we were just as good as (but not better than) they were. I learned that society’s gender based roles were rubbish and that money or the lack of money does not make the person.

They practiced self reliance.

They neither expected, nor hoped for, handouts from relatives or the government. If they needed something, they sat down and figured out a way to make it happen. Needing a lawn mower and not having funds to buy one, Dad made his own wooden electric mower. Wanting to travel, they both learned how to do that on a shoestring – sleeping in our car – a Nash with seats that folded to a bed or staying with relatives in the destination city and making picnics by the side of the road along the way instead of eating at restaurants. If a sidewalk was desired, they laid the forms and poured the concrete. If the house needed painting outside, we all worked together to get it done. I learned to be competent and self-confident in my ability to care for myself.

They demonstrated entrepreneurship.

In the summers, Mom sold The World Book encyclopedia sets door to door. After we moved from our little house to the bigger one next door, Dad and Mom became landlords and rented out the little house – for years it provided a nice income stream. They showed us how to get involved with our own entrepreneurial ventures such as selling greeting cards door to door or plums or washing our Aunts cars for an extra 50 cents per car. I learned to search for and take advantage of opportunities.

They allowed decision making.

I controlled how I spent my money (unfortunately most of it went to the corner confectioners store on treats in my grade school years). I decided what to wear, how to fix my hair, and etc. I developed skill and confidence in my ability to make my own decisions.

They showed a preference towards action.

Instead of sitting back and complaining about being poor, they figured out what actions to take to get themselves out of the situation. Mom saved money by growing and canning our food. Dad tried a lot of different methods to get extra money – like flipping a house or learning to be a stock trader. I learned that thinking about something (although beneficial) doesn’t get you there, you have to take action to get results.

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