Why 97% Will Be Poor After 2020
When I was a young man, the world of money was fairly straightforward. For the most part, you could do ok if you followed the old advice of go to a good school, get a good job, buy a house, save money, and invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
As I got older, the world of money became more and more complicated. The dollar was taken off the gold standard, creating volatile swings in its value. Defined benefit plans, aka employer-funded plans, were abandoned in favor of defined contribution plans, necessitating investment in the stock markets by employees not financially educated. The financial adviser class rose as a result. And the world of money became increasingly global, making it harder to keep up on the markets. The result has been a baby boomer generation that is not ready for retirement, and a looming financial crisis.
One would have hoped that the baby boomer generation would have at least learned from their mistakes and focused on financial education for their children, the millennials, but they did not.
Below are the reasons why every generation today is at risk of losing everything in the face of the current economic climate.
They don’t teach money in school
Growing up, my family lived in an older house that we rented, two blocks from my new school, next to the Hilo Library. The land our home was built on is a parking lot today. I had never felt poor until I went to a school with rich kids.
That is why, when I was nine years old, I raised my hand and asked my teacher, “When will we learn about money?”
Caught off guard and ﬂustered by my question, my teacher, an older woman near retirement, stammered for a while, then ﬁnally replied, “We don’t teach money in school.”
There was more to her reply than simply her words. It was the tone, the energy behind her words that communicated her message. Not satisﬁed with her answer, I asked again, “When will we learn about money?”
Still a bit ﬂustered, she said, “Go ask your father why we don’t teach money in school. After all, he is the head of education.”
My father just chuckled when I told him about the upset in class. He was smiling when he said, “Son, never ask a teacher a question he or she cannot answer. Teachers must know all the answers. They are not trained to say, ‘I don’t know.’ You embarrassed her.”
“But why doesn’t she know anything about money?” I asked.
“Because teachers do not need to know anything about money,” he said.
He must have seen the confusion on my face because then he said, “Because they have job security.”
They don’t teach money in school simply because they teach kids to become employees and rely on a paycheck.
They are taught to be employees
This month, kids across the country are headed back to school. But this year, the classroom is, for most kids, their own homes. But that doesn’t stop the schools from teaching them to be slaves—to a paycheck. They will learn to think as my poor dad did. Don’t take risks. Don’t find unique angles. Don’t think outside the box.
In my day, kids didn’t go back to school until after Labor Day. After all, it’s a holiday that celebrates employees who work themselves to the bone and get a three-day weekend as a reward. “Get back to work” is the message the kids received this way, and that’s true to form because schools are designed to make kids great employees, not entrepreneurs.
They are taught to stick to a strict schedule. They are taught to do extra work outside those hours. They are taught to not question authority or established systems. They are taught to work alone and that working as a group is cheating. And they are taught that the kids who follow these ways of doing things get the top marks.
Kim and I don’t have any children. But we do have lots of friends who do. These friends are very rich and successful. Though their kids go to school and learn all these same things, I notice a different quality in their kids. Their kids are entrepreneurial in their thinking and aren’t afraid to question accepted ways of doing things. For instance, one friend’s kids spent their summers finding lost golf balls on the golf course, cleaning them up, and selling them back to the golfers. They made a lot of money doing that in a lot less time than they would have if they had a normal, respectable summer job at McDonald’s.
The reason for this, of course, is that these parents work hard to teach their kids and provide a counter-narrative to what they learn at school. And they teach them how money, business, and investing work.
But perhaps most of all, rather than discourage the hair-brained schemes their kids come up with to make money, they allow them to chase wild ideas and both make mistakes as well as enjoy great successes. We should all be so lucky.
They Save Money for Retirement
Nixon’s in 1971 to take the U.S. dollar off the gold standard is one of the reasons so many people are in debt, just as the U.S. government is in debt. When the rules of money changed in 1971, savers became losers, and debtors became winners. A new form of capitalism emerged. Today, when I hear people saying, “You need to save more money,” or “Save for retirement,” I wonder if the person realizes that the rules of money have changed.
While the poor are the victims of money, the middle class are prisoners of money.
In describing the middle class, rich dad said, “The middle class solves their money problems differently. Instead of solving the money problem, they think they can outsmart their money problems. The middle class will spend money to go to school, so they can get a secure job. Most are smart enough to earn money and put up a firewall, a buffer zone, between them and their money problems. They buy a house, commute to work, play it safe, climb the corporate ladder, and save for retirement by buying stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. They believe their academic or professional education is enough to insulate them from the cruel, harsh world of money.”
In today’s economy, the old advice is the worst advice. Millions of people who “save for retirement” for years, hoping their money will return multiplied—millions of people my age, Baby Boomers—will soon ﬁnd out they do not have enough money to support themselves after they retire. That’s because the money that was taken out of their paychecks went to fake assets, making the rich richer—and leaving them holding the bag.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily