Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

Are We Too Proud To Become Rich?

Why Aren’t We Wealthier?

I think part of the reason is because we are too proud to do work that we consider beneath us or we are trained to believe that we aren’t able t0!  This is especially true of kids from the working and middle classes.

Coming from a middle class background, even going to McDonald’s was a luxury that I didn’t experience often.  This is in contrast to my kids who actually stick their noses up at McDonald’s.  They prefer sit down restaurants like Red Lobster or Olive Garden.  While these restaurant are really cookie-cutter chains and just a small step above McDonald’s, it was big luxury to me growing up.  In fact, I didn’t go to either restaurant chain until I was in college on a date.

But even with the advantages that my kids have today with respect to their upbringing, are they doomed to live paycheck to paycheck, never developing any great wealth?

Why I ask this is because they are constantly bombarded with messages from the media (TV, movies and songs) that make fun of jobs like McDonald’s or similar types of jobs.  But doesn’t it make more sense to make your mistakes at a McDonalds than at a Fortune 500 company?

The media makes it seem like you’re a loser if you have a job working at McDonald’s!  TV movies and shows glamorize the lottery winners, or the ones that get inheritances, or worse yet those that get rich by theft.

In real life it’s different!  Sam at FinancialSamurai.com started out working at McDonald’s.  He learned at an early age what a tough job is was.  He also learned how to get along with people (both other employees and customers) and how a team makes it all work.  Perhaps in some small way, this is one of the reasons that he is so successful today?

Warren Buffett is another example!  He wasn’t to proud to work hard selling gum and by having a paper route before he was 18.  There was no shame!  I think it’s good to know what it’s like to work for a living!  There is value in start out small, while soaking in the entire business system and processes.  If you can see behind that basic work task, it can be a great learning experience!  No matter what they say on TV

What do you think, does TV hurts people’s work ethic?

-MR

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27 Responses to Are We Too Proud To Become Rich?

  1. My mother taped an article on my bedroom wall when I was in middle school. I never took it down. It was titled

    “Your Grandparents had a word for working at McDonalds — Opportunity”

  2. It’s not just that fast food jobs are a shorthand for “loser” in the media, it’s also that we’ve been sold a bill of goods by our parents’ generation that gave us what are perhaps unrealistic expectations. The “self-esteem” movement seemed enlightened at the time, but when you’ve been raised to assume that it’s almost inevitable that you’ll turn out to be a success as long as you get good grades and graduate from college, you miss out on learning some of the real-world lessons that will actually get you there. Your motivation is less than it could be, because you feel like your chances of failing are so small. And one day you find yourself like me, with a very mediocre job and a college degree gathering dust.

    • I hear you on that! I have a childhood buddy that I blogged about that has a doctorate in chemistry gathering dust.

      Sometimes it’s the working up to a skill that as important as learning about the skill. Learning to paint is easier if you paint as you learn about the techniques instead of learning for years, then later trying your hand.

  3. Agreed! Instant gratification is too easily portrayed in the entertainment media. While in college, I cleaned houses and did construction, while Mrs. 101 was a nanny. Our boys might say that we like to point this out a little too often 🙂

    • lol, I can imagine my kids pointing out my monologues on such topics too 😉

      I’m constantly amazed how TV portays adults as dullards and always incorrect. “My fairy godparents” was truly horrible, but not too much different than other kids shows…

      Sad huh…

  4. I like the idea of your post, but I wanted to correct one thing. McDonald’s is a Fortune 500 company and is nearly a Fortune 100 company. They also have Hamburger University, which is a wonderful training management program. They are also famous for being excellent logisticians.

    Not only are your kids not too good for them, they shouldn’t rule out having a high end corporate career with them either.

    • You are correct, there are definitely some high end jobs at McDonalds, but I’m talking cashier, and shop worker, not corporate headquarters. So I’m talking about probably 85% of the workforce (if not more).

      As for my kids being to good for them, it’s just that their tastes have evolved. Mostly from having too much McDonalds meals in the past. Who doesn’t prefer lobster, shrimp or steak to a hamburger?

  5. I think that everyone should have a McDonald’s-type job in their life. That way, you will always appreciate how difficult the job is, and treat those in the service industry better as an adult.

    The proverbial ‘do you want fries with that?’ line I think is supposed to motivate people to want to further their education and not have to rely on minimum wage jobs. However, there is also the flip side in that these types of jobs are definitely looked down upon by society in general.

    My childhood was like yours MR! I went to Red Lobster once growing up with my parents, and it was because my dad got a bonus. Ironically, I didn’t like it and preferred Burger Chef!

    • lol, I’ve never been to Burger Chef, perhaps I would prefer that over lobster too (but I doubt it).

      Having work many different types of jobs while going thru school, I agree! I’ve learn a lot from all the different types. And since I’m a people watch much like yourself, I found the experience sucky but rewarding all at the same time.

  6. Our article yesterday was on tv.

    I never worked a menial job and my mom never wanted me to. I’m doing fine. The first guy I had a crush on spent a long stint working at McDonalds and I think he even made it to manager… that didn’t stop him from flunking out of 3 different colleges and eventually joining the military. DH’s parents strongly believed that he needed to work fast food in order to do well in college, which he did, but he would have done well anyway because his personality is the sort that would have.

    His little sister got fired from fast food job after fast food job, even though she enjoyed them. I’m not sure what lesson she learned from that. She also got fired from her first teaching job, but seems to have matured a lot since.

    I think that thinking your kids need to work fast food is a class thing. There was no question that I was going to go to college and I was going to do well in college and follow my muse. Not get a high paying job, as that isn’t the purpose of college in my household, but follow my muse. Learn a lot. Become a more cultured person. Lucky for me my muse is highly remunerated.

    We also didn’t eat much fast food growing up and I can’t even stand the smell of McDonald’s. Yuck. We eat at good (though generally inexpensive) restaurants about once a week.

    • I didn’t read your article yesterday on TV (check your logs ;)), but if it works for you that’s great.

      I think that working in different environments develops your appreciation for people in ways that you wouldn’t understand if you didn’t experience such situations. I have to admit that I’ve never worked at McDonalds (perhaps that’s why I’m not as well off as Sam). But I think there is an elegance in working there for a short period of time, to learn how the world/business works and thinks.

      Contrary to my example above in my post, I don’t really equate hard work as working for someone else. I would prefer my son or daughter start out with a simple entreprenuerial pursuit (like selling on ebay). Here is an old article that defines my direction (encourage my kids to be entrepreneurs).

      I guess do we what we see growing up, and since my family is full of entrepreneurs, that’s what I want my for kids.

      Unfortunately, I happen to be the “black sheep” of the family, but hopefully my kids will get the entrepreneur bug like the rest of my family.

    • There’s no direct correlation between working “menial” jobs and success. It is important for teens to work. Like other commenters pointed out it teaches you how to work as a team, how to deal with different types of people. It teaches you that workplaces have boundaries and rules and your actions directly impact business, and various other skills that will make you successful later in life. It just so happens that the most of the work available to teens are in the retail/service industry.

      If you were able to develop great work ethics without working in HS, great, me too. However, I’ve worked with a lot of teens and trust me, with some you HAVE to teach them the basics (like show up on time).

  7. Having worked at a retail store and grocery store I know that value of menial work. It sucks but even then I compare it to my office job and I actually prefer working those other jobs. I also know the value of a dollar having made $7 / hour. It’s amazing how much more I get paid now and why I won’t go for a job that pays less unless I really have to.
    It seems like a lot of college graduates feel that since they have a piece of paper that it qualifies them for everything under the sun. Nothing is farther from the truth. Then again their loss is my gain and it means an easier time if I ever need a second job or down on my luck.

    -Ravi G.

    • You sound a bit like me. I’ve been around, that’s for sure. And I understand that sometime those working menial jobs or hard labor isn’t cake work like those who have never experienced it think that it is.

      Can you imagine what the world would be like if nobody took away our garbage every week?

      Hat tips to those that make the world function!

  8. Fast food is generally the only jobs teenagers can get. That experience teaches great long lasting lessons. I learned more from my summer and part time jobs than some classes in college.

    • My first job was when I was 15 but I was almost 16. It was in the grocery business and it was a cut throat environment. It was unionized and even though I had to pay union dues, I never got any benefit from it. And everybody at the store hated us because we were much cheaper than union rates. It was a horrible experience, even though I did learn a lot…

  9. I definitely think the media harms kids’ view of reality, and that includes the idea of getting a part-time job early on. When I was just shy of 17, my mom helped me get a job at a pizza shop – if it wasn’t for her help I probably wouldn’t have gotten that job. I worked there for three years and learned the value of a dollar (and how to pound out pizza crust. 😉 )

    Today kids are bombarded with visions of grandeur which is completely delusional – the only way to squash this vision is by turning off the television and giving them something productive to do, like a part-time job. Even if that kid is going to go off to college, part-time jobs instill a good work ethic. 😉

    • Wow, I think it would have been awesome to work in a pizza shop as a young kid! I worked as a busboy in a chinese restaurant for the summer when I was in college once. It was a great time!

      I’m going to have to limit the time that my kids watch TV. Actually my son is starting to outgrow it, but a nudge might help. My daughter is too busy currently making books and other creative thing 🙂

  10. I worked at McD and have a lot of inner pride for doing so. It reminds me where I came from, my embarrassment when I worked the counter and wanted to hide when the girl I liked walked in, and so forth.

    I’m a proud McD ex employee!

    • It’s funny how we look back and remember those embarassing time with fondness.

      While my first job sucked (bagboy at a grocery store), most of my other jobs were interesting and borderline enjoyable.

  11. Oh, after McDonald’s freshman year, I ended up applying to two temp agencies. One job had me stuffing envelopes for 8 hrs a day (sucked!), one had me move boxes for a company that changed offices for a couple weeks (ouch my back), and two other jobs i was a secretary in an office to do whoever’s bidding.

    I can’t believe I totally forgot about all these other jobs I held in high school! I just wanted some experience to show colleges I wasn’t just bumming around. Of course, I wanted some gas money too!

    • Sounds like you had some well-rounded experiences. I worked a lot of jobs during the summer between semesters. Occasionally working multiple jobs at once.

      While most weren’t that fun, I do look back fondly of the people I worked with. They were great, and I’m surprised that I miss them. I should have kept in contact…

  12. I put up those door hanger fliers for a pizza parlor when I was in Jr. High with my dad and brothers. Later on I worked in my parent’s restaurant.
    It was hard work and I though college would get me out of those kind of jobs and it did. Now I’m doing a well paid desk job that I don’t like very much. Now, I think working for yourself doing “menial” jobs is a lot better than working for someone else.

    We never went out to eat much when I was young. We went to Sizzlers maybe once a year or so and that’s about it.

    • I had an uncle that would buy me a few shares of stocks every year. Occasionally, my parents would send me out to Delaware (he lived there) for the summer, and occasionally (but rarely), my uncle, aunt and I would go out somewhere nice to eat. I would always order cheap because I thought I didn’t like steak because the type my family had at home was rough and tasted bad.

      Funny who things change when we get older…

      Thanks for sharing your story!