A little boy says, "Guess what I'm thinking?". I say "when are we going to play monkey in the middle." The little boy says, "No. I'm thinking of when I am going to be a millionaire?". I ask him when he thinks that will be? He says, "maybe when I'm 10 or 12."

Anatoly Veltman writes: 

1. Can't be sure (but the way a few trillion ballooned to 14 trillion deficit), everyone may be a millionaire by then.

2. Can't be sure which prof. on my first day in Business School said: general goals (like becoming rich) don't get one there. It is a step-ladder plan of how to get there that may.

3. Can't be sure of precise spelling after all these years (was it Sir Brian Bixley?), but he introduced "marginal utility" to my Microeconomics 101 audience in an entertaining fashion of "villas at the cote d'azur" vs hamburgers. He further confided that his goal in life was to die with his debt maximized! I pray he hasn't delivered just yet — and is alive and well.

4. Can be sure of one thing. He, of all the lucky kids, will well receive his early lesson: The richest are not the people who have the most. They are the people who need the least.

Kim Zussman adds:

From Greg Mankiw

"De Gustibus non est Taxandum"

Bryan Caplan quotes a passage from Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow (which I have not read, but plan to):A large-scale study of the impact of higher education… revealed striking evidence of the lifelong effects of the goals that young people set for themselves. The relevant data were drawn from questionnaires collected in 1995-1997 from approximately 12,000 people who had started their higher education in elite schools in 1976. When they were 17 or 18, the participants had filled out a questionnaire in which they rated the goal of "being very well-off financially" on a 4-point scale ranging from "not important" to "essential."…Goals make a large difference. Nineteen years after they stated their financial aspirations, many of the people who wanted a high income had achieved it. Among the 597 physicians and other medical professionals in the sample, for example, each additional point on the money-importance scale was associated with an increment of over $14,000 of job income in 1995 dollars!In other words, one reason that people differ in their incomes is that some people care more about having a high income than others.

Russ Sears writes:

For kids, both money and numbers are largely abstractions. I would suggest that one of the important lessons a parent is to give to kids is to understand how money relates to the reality of "being very well off financially" or goals they set in general. From what I have observed most parents do not tie the kids life goals into what financial steps it takes to get there. While a young kid, parents want to teach their kids not to worry about money, that it is their responsibility to take care of them and supply their needs and wants. Both the epidemic now the norm of assumed "adultlescence" of young 20 somethings (why else would 26 year old need to still be on Mom and Dad's health insurance) and the now common "failure to launch" of young adults suggest that many parents are not doing their kids any favors by perpetuating this when their kids are in their teens.

I would suggest that parents talk about what is expected of the teen starting to go to college, and give a dollar figure to both the profession and life styles young teens and kids talk about when they talk about what they want to do when they "grow-up"; besides just encouraging them to dream and share these dreams.


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