When I travel the country speaking to high school and college students about exactly what they need to do to become financially successful in life I always begin my presentation by asking three questions:
"How many want to be financially successful in life?"
"How many think they will be financially successful in life?"
Read:5 tips for building an emergency fund
Almost every time I ask the first two questions every hand rises in the air. Then I ask the magic third question:
"How many have taken a course in school on how to be financially successful in life?"
Not one hand rises in the air, ever. Clearly every student wants to be successful and thinks they will be successful but none have been taught by their parents or their school system how to be financially successful in life. Not only are there no courses on basic financial success principles but there are no structured courses teaching basic financial literacy. We are raising our children to be financially illiterate and to fail in life. Is it any wonder that most Americans live paycheck to paycheck? That most Americans accumulate more debt than assets? That many Americans lose their homes when they lose their job? Is it any wonder that most Americans cannot afford college for their children and that student loan debt is now the largest type of consumer debt?
What's worse is what our children are being taught by their parents, the school system, politicians and the media. They are teaching our children that the wealthy are corrupt, greedy, have too much wealth and that this wealth needs to be redistributed. What kind of a message do you think that sends to America's future generation? It is teaching them that seeking financial success by pursuing the American Dreams is a bad thing. The Occupy Wall Street movement was a manifestation of this "wealth is bad and needs to be redistributed" mindset.
Here are some statistics from my five-year study on the daily habits that separate the wealthy from the poor.
72% of the wealthy know their credit score vs. 5% of the poor
6% of the wealthy play the lottery vs. 77% of the poor
80% of the wealthy are focused on at least one goal vs. 12% of the poor
62% of the wealthy floss their teeth every day vs. 16% of the poor
21% of the wealthy are overweight by 30 pounds or more vs. 66% of the poor
63% of the wealthy spend less than 1 hour per day on recreational Internet use vs. 26% of the poor
83% of the wealthy attend/attended back to school night for their kids vs. 13% of the poor
29% of the wealthy had one or more children who made the honor roll vs. 4% of the poor
63% of wealthy listen to audio books during their commute vs. 5% of the poor
67% of the wealthy watch 1 hour or less of T.V. per day vs 23% of the poor
9% of the wealthy watch reality T.V. shows vs. 78% of the poor
73% of the wealthy were taught the 80/20 rule vs. 5% of the poor (live off 80% save 20%)
79% of the wealthy network 5 hours or more per month vs. 16% of the poor
8% of the wealthy believe wealth comes from random good luck vs. 79% of the poor
79% of the wealthy believe they are responsible for their financial condition vs. 18% of the poor
The fact is the poor are poor because they have too many Poverty Habits and too few Rich Habits. Poor parents teach their children the Poverty Habits and wealthy parents teach their children the Rich Habits. We don't have a wealth gap in this country we have a parent gap. We don't have income inequality, we have parent inequality.
Parents and our schools need to work together to instill good daily success habits as follows:
Limit T.V., social media and cell phone use to no more than one hour a day.
Require that children read one to two educational books a month.
Require children to aerobically exercise 20 - 30 minutes a day.
Limit junk food to no more than 300 calories a day.
Require that children set monthly, annual and 5-year goals.
Require working age children to work or volunteer at least ten hours a week.
Require that children save at least 25% of their earnings or gifts they receive.
Teach children the importance of relationship building by requiring them to call friends, family, teachers, coaches etc. on their birthdays and to send thank you cards for gifts or help they received from anyone.
Reassure children that mistakes are good not bad. Children need to understand that the very foundation of success in life is built on learning from our mistakes.
Punish children when they lose their tempers so they understand the importance of controlling this very costly emotion.
Teach children that seeking financial success in life is good and is a worthwhile goal. Children need to learn what the American Dream is and that it is something to be pursued in life.
Children need to learn how to manage money. Open up a checking account or savings account for children and force them to use their savings to buy the things they want. They need to learn that they are not entitled to things like cell phones, computers, fashionable clothes, flat screen T.V.s etc.
Require children to participate in at least two non-sports-related extracurricular activities at school or outside of school.
Parents and children need to set aside at least an hour a day to talk to one another. Not on Facebook, or on the cell phone, but face to face. The only quality time is quantity time
Teach children how to manage their time. They should be required to create daily "to do" lists and these lists need to be monitored by parents. The goal should be to accomplish at least 70% of their tasks on their daily "to do" list.
Wealthy people do certain things every single day that sets them apart from everyone else in life. Wealthy people have good daily success habits that they learned from their parents. These daily habits are the real reason for the wealth gap in our country and the real reason why the rich get richer. Unless we teach our children good daily success habits, and level the playing field, the rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to get poorer.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Rich Habits. It has been republished here with permission.