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Recently, good friend and parenting expert Nicholeen Peck invited me to be a guest on a weekly group call she conducts with parents. She asked if I’d share some ideas for teaching children about money and wealth.

As a home school father of six, entrepreneur and real estate investor, this is a topic very near and dear to me.

I accepted her invitation, but was a little apprehensive as to how my message would be received. In my business I train individuals from all over the world on how to invest in real estate. Typically, the people I work with are eager to improve their financial situation — get out of debt, quit going to a job they hate, and start making money doing something they enjoy. Some are looking for a better lifestyle and others are looking for a way to speed up retirement. Almost all want more time to pursue their goals and dreams and they realize that money plays a vital role in accomplishing them. In my training programs it is very natural and appropriate to talk about money, investing and wealth creation.

However, money and wealth are topics rarely discussed in academics or in the home. In fact, in too many homes and classrooms, money is actually demonized and demoralized, even if unintentionally. I’m amazed at how our educational system, and many of today’s parents, still cling to the Industrial Age model of: go to school, get good grades, play it safe and work for a company your whole life and someday retire with a pension and benefits. The problem with this model is it is behind the times. We now live in the Information Age with a new set of rules — rules that are being redefined more quickly than all other ages combined.

Whether you like it or not – or agree with it or not – our children need to be prepared for a future that is far different from the past.

The ideas behind succeeding in the Information Age challenge beliefs most of us have come to accept. You may be thinking, “Hey these beliefs served my parents and grandparents so why change now?” Many parents I encounter disagree with some of the ideas I present. They are dismissed as risky or radical or only available for a select few. The fact of the matter is that opportunity exists for each of us. There are more millionaires and billionaires created everyday than ever before – despite the negative perception of the economy we see in the media. Even though I know many will turn away from these concepts, some parents will accept them, embrace them and teach them to their children, giving them a huge head start in life.

My intention in writing this is to help you, a parent, grandparent or anyone who has an influence on children to recognize the vital role you have in helping
kids develop a healthy mindset about money. You can free them to grow into adulthood without the negative associations that we so often instill at an early age. Parents, teachers, religious leaders and friends consciously – and unconsciously – perpetuate harmful ideas about wealth. Know that I will only touch on a few ideas here and to truly comprehend this topic you must become a student of money. Immerse yourself in learning everything it takes to genuinely develop a millionaire mind so that you can also help your children do the same.

Negative programming about money is all around us.

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I am very sensitive to anyone who inflicts these damaging associations on me or my children. This is one of the very reasons why my wife and I home school our children. All around us — on television, at school, church, athletics, in peer groups — the world tends to demonize the rich. We often see rich people portrayed as greedy, selfish, exploiting the poor and destroying the environment, all in the name of profit. Somehow the American dream and capitalism are no longer noble pursuits.

The sad truth is that these myths are learned by our children at an early age. They are carried with them and influence their thinking about money and wealth into adulthood. To make matters worse, as a society we are obsessed with the rich celebrities, movie stars, athletes, and overnight successes so prevalent in the media. As if that’s not enough to distort a child’s perceptions, many parents encourage even more detrimental negative associations.

Have you ever been guilty of thinking or saying any of the following?

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“Money isn’t important to me.”
“You can’t be rich and spiritual.”
“We can’t afford it.”
“What am I, made of money?”
“Save your money for a rainy day.”
“Money is the root of all evil.”
“Get a safe, secure job with benefits.”
“I just want to be comfortable.”
“The rich should pay more in taxes.”
“That person doesn’t deserve to get paid that much.” “Big business corporate pigs!”
“Rich people are greedy.”
“Rich people only care about money.”

Here’s the danger: All of these statements create a negative frame of mind about money.

If our children learn that money is bad, then they will make sure they don’t have any of it when they grow up. Look, money isn’t inherently good or bad. It just is. In fact, having more money only makes you more of what you already are. If you are giving and generous, having more money will make you more giving and more generous. Likewise, if you are greedy and selfish, having more money will make you greedier and more selfish. The fact remains, to attract more money into your life, you must first develop a healthy attitude about it. In order for your children to develop a healthy mindset about money, you must model for them what that looks like.

Proper Perspective

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Before we go any further, I want to make something very clear. Having a lot of money in your bank account doesn’t automatically make you a success or even wealthy. True wealth is having abundance in all things — especially your relationship with God, yourself, family and others. Money is only one factor in the equation of success. It is extremely important in the areas in which it operates and extremely unimportant in the areas in which it doesn’t operate.

One of the worst beliefs about money you can have (and consequently pass on to your children) is that you cannot be rich and, at the same time, spiritual. It is also untrue that you cannot be rich and compassionate or you cannot be rich and also be an attentive, nurturing parent. An “either/or” mentality about money is false and will not serve you well.

Let me illustrate this point. Recently, our family watched the recreated Universal Pictures movie “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.” The movie depicts a boy named Ted who lives in a plastic town called Thneedeville run by a corporate zillionaire whose only concern is making money selling clean air while keeping the masses ignorant to the truth that trees are good. The message clearly is that you can’t be rich and care about the environment. You also cannot be rich and care about consumers. Both allegations paint an unhealthy “either/or” scenario. The boy, Ted, meets a man called the “Once-ler” who tells his story of how all the trees were destroyed. The Once-ler was “once” an aspiring young entrepreneur who discovered a market demand for the silk that grows on trees. He became an overnight success and, so obsessed with making money, destroyed every last tree in acquiring the silk. He even sang a song about his fixation with money at all costs.

My initial response was to immediately turn this rubbish off so as not to influence my children’s perception of the wealthy and capitalism.

Instead, I patiently watched (endured) the remainder of the movie and then took the opportunity to make this a teaching moment with my children.

After the movie my wife and I sat down together with our children and talked about it. I asked them if it was wrong that the young man was pursuing wealth by creating a product that people were willing to pay for. They agreed it wasn’t wrong. We proceeded to talk about how providing quality products and services is good, serves the world and blesses lives. We discussed that it is honorable
to solve problems and find solutions that will enrich people’s lives. In return, you deserve to be paid in direct proportion to the value you bring to the marketplace. Then I asked them if it was wrong for the young man to destroy the environment in the process. They agreed it was. We talked about how the environment is important and given to us by God and we should respect and protect it.

Then I asked if they could think of a win/win solution. I asked, “Is it possible to make money by creating products people want and need while at the same time not harming or even helping the environment?”

Suddenly, my children started coming up with ideas of how to not cut down the trees and still get the silk. They suggested planting 2 new trees for every one that was cut down or (I liked this idea the best) take the seeds and create a farm just for growing the silk and not even disturb the trees in nature. In a few minutes, and with a little concerted effort, my children recognized that 1). It’s not bad to become rich and 2). You can have both money and, in this case, protect the environment and finally, 3.) For a real entrepreneur, the question is never “either/or.”

My Story

I wish I could tell you that I have always had a healthy mindset about money. In my early 20s, I was offered the opportunity to someday take over the family business. It was a small utility construction company owned and operated by my father. Not knowing what else to do with my life, I decided to take a few college business classes to gain some much needed education. I found the topic of business extremely interesting and, although I was a C-student in high school, I devoured my business classes. Unlike the typical college student, I had no intention of graduating and working for someone else. I had my heart set on becoming an entrepreneur. Eventually, my brother and I ran the business together for a few years.

I worked hard and continued to learn as much as I could about business, marketing, leadership, success, money, and investing. Although I would experience bouts of success, it seemed my mistakes and failures were just as prevalent. Then in 2004, at the age of 27, I was introduced to real estate investing. I started slowly buying and selling houses part-time while working in the family business. I really enjoyed real estate and thought it could be my ticket to the big leagues. By 2006, I made arrangements to leave the family company and flip houses full-time.

For several years I would make a lot of money and then go periods of time without making much money at all. Sometimes I even lost money. I noticed that I had developed a roller coaster income where I had money – and then I didn’t. This cycle continued for some time until I finally realized that I was creating this situation. It wasn’t the circumstances or the economy or my partners. It wasn’t my contractors or employees. It was me creating the results in my life.

You see, it’s our inner game that creates our outer game. Although consciously I wanted to be successful, my sub-conscious, negative conditioning about money would inevitably result in self-sabotaging my goals.

This realization was a huge breakthrough and started me on the journey to radically altering my mindset. I replaced it with a positive mindset about money, propelling me to an abundant life.

It took some time and effort to overcome, but I have eradicated the powerfully detrimental financial beliefs I had developed. Now I guard my thinking like a king guards his treasure, careful not to let intruders come in and steal it away. Because I have been able to develop a millionaire mindset, my businesses and real estate projects consistently make me a lot of money – every day, every month, and every year.

As I look back on the journey, I am extremely humbled and grateful that God saw it in his infinite wisdom to put in my path exactly what I needed to develop a wealthy mindset at a relatively young age. I now understand that these principles and skills can be learned by anyone. I also know that the more deeply rooted the negative perspective, the more challenging it is to overcome and replace it with a millionaire mindset. Emotional connections with money are extremely powerful and require concerted effort and energy to change. I also now realize that if a child develops a millionaire mindset at an early age, he or she will produce far greater results much faster than we could have ever imagined.

As a father of 5 boys and 1 girl, I have made it part of my purpose in life to teach my children these principles – as well as other parents, kids and teens. I hope to convince you that it’s your responsibility to help your children attain the skills and attributes that will enable them to reach financial independence and become millionaires many times over!

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Stay tuned for Part 2 – “Why You Should Raise Millionaire Children” where Jerry will explain the 3 reasons why it is your responsibility as a parent to teach your children to become wealthy along with action steps to start them on the path of thinking big and living large…

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