How to Raise a Millionaire – What the Greatest Generation Did

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.

Parental Background
My parents were part of ‘The Greatest Generation’ – they were raised during the depression, participated in WWII and worked hard for success during the years the US grew into a world power.

Mom and Dad laying a backyard sidewalk

Dad was raised on a farm in the midwest – and wanted off the farm badly. He went to trade school to learn radio repair, then practiced it in the Army Air Corp during World War II. Following the war he opened his own radio repair business and ran it until I came along. He plugged away for years (up to his death) at an aircraft manufacturer– working on planes and on the Mercury and Gemini space craft programs.

Mom was raised in a big city, daughter of a first generation immigrant from Switzerland. Her father came over steerage, broke, but with a chef’s education from Europe. He worked hard and became one of city’s best chef’s. He did well, ending up with multiple properties. Mom was one of the few of her generation to pursue a college education. After graduation, she worked at several jobs before marrying Dad. After she had us, she (according to the custom in the US at the time) stayed home to raise us – but she also did substitute teaching, ran the PTA and participated in other volunteer activities. Later (when we were in high school) she pursued and obtained a Master’s degree, then went on to full time teaching for many years.

Here are a few of the things they taught me:

I am valued
They personally cared for me. They counted on my work efforts around the house. They listened to my concerns.

Be a problem solver
They let me make mistakes. They demonstrated that they made false starts when they were solving problems.

Be a saver
They were raised during the depression. As young adults, with one income from an hourly technician, they were poor. They always stressed saving for what I wanted to get. They gave me a twenty five cents a week allowance (for which I trimmed grass, ironed clothes, washed and dried dishes and other chores). My brother and I saved up to buy our very own second hand bikes.

Be a business owner
Dad spent every evening in the basement working out inventions – he invented an electric dish dryer among other things.

Mom taught us to make money by selling things. We picked the plums from our back yard plum tree, put them into pint boxes, then into our Radio Flyer wagon and peddled them throughout the neighborhood.

Listen to folk wisdom

  • Work before play.
  • Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
  • If you want it done right, do it yourself. Actually – they did most everything themselves – showing us it could be done. Dad built his own electric lawn mower. Together, they both built their own garage. Mom raised her own vegetables and cut, styled and permed my hair.

Be industrious
Homework always had to be done before anything else. Everyone helped out with family work activities. For example, we moved ourselves from one house to a house my parents had moved to the vacant lot next door. We moved ourselves using that Radio Flyer wagon and our backs.

Enough for now, although there are many more lessons I received from my Greatest Generation parents.  What did your parents do to help you become financially astute?


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