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Ask Dave

Wealthy But Not Spoiled

Ryan wants to know how to not spoil a child when you're wealthy. Dave says you explain to them that they aren't wealthy.

QUESTION: Ryan in Los Angeles wants to know how to not spoil a child when you’re wealthy. Dave says you explain to them that they aren’t wealthy.

ANSWER: You explain to them that they’re not wealthy.

I remember one time we finally scrimped and saved after we had gone broke and were climbing back out and starting to build a little bit of wealth and finally bought a nice car, and one of my kids was lying in the backseat going, “Hey, we’re doing pretty good, Dad!” I said, “We aren’t doing anything, Junior. You’re broke. I’m doing pretty good, but you haven’t got anything. You’ve got nothing.” That was a pretty consistent message around our house when the Ramsey kids were growing up.

The second thing is we taught them work. Work is a mandatory thing if you’re a Ramsey. That starts when you’re a small child cleaning up your room or helping mama with the dishes in the kitchen. It moves all the way up into the teenage years where you start an entrepreneurial idea or you’re cutting grass or you’re working at the mall or you’re babysitting or you’re doing whatever.

The third thing we did was based in our faith. As evangelical Christians, we continually taught our kids that we don’t own anything. The money is not there just for your pleasure. We manage it for God. The first rule of that is to take care of your own household, and it’s okay to have some nice things, but this is not all about you having pleasure. It’s also about giving—extraordinary levels of generosity. Teach them who owns it. Teach them to be givers. Teach them to work. And remind them they’ve got nothing.