Alex Rodriguez, Kevin O'Leary, LeBron James and Barbara Corcoran have more in common than a high net worth. They're all parents — and they want to make sure their children learn the right values and can be successful themselves as adults.
"When you have rich kids," says Corcoran, who turned a $1,000 loan into a $66 million real estate empire, "you have to be very, very careful. It's complicated not to let them feel privileged."
Here are the money lessons these rich celebs think it's important to instill in their kids.
The former MLB star and founder and CEO of A-ROD CORP takes advantage of daily car rides to teach his two daughters, age 10 and 14, about money and business. "Every day when I drive them to school, they get a business lesson," says Rodriguez. "I always teach them something about real estate, about the stock market, about being frugal."
While his car ride business lessons don't always go over well — "of course, they put the radio up … they're definitely sick over my lessons," he says — Rodriguez is in it for the long haul. As his mentor and friend Warren Buffett says, "teaching kids sound financial habits at an early age gives all kids the opportunity to be successful when they are an adult."
NBA star LeBron James had a very different upbringing than his own kids: Before he exploded onto the basketball scene, he and his mom were living in the projects of Akron, Ohio, and struggling to make ends meet.
Today, in his 16th season in the NBA, James is the highest-paid player in the league. As a result, his three kids are "beyond the top," James says on an episode of UNINTERRUPTED's podcast, "Kneading Dough." "They will never understand that there's a bottom, and that's the challenge."
Parenting is "very difficult," he admits, and no book gives you all the answers. His philosophy is simple, though, and fairly hands-off: "You just give them life goals, you give them challenges — and at the end of the day, they're going to have to walk their own path, just like we did." That's because, he adds, "no matter if you came from the top of the top or you came from the bottom of the bottom, you still have a road to travel."
While his kids — LeBron, 14, Bryce, 11, and Zhuri, 4 — will never understand what it was like to grow up poor, he tries to keep them as grounded as possible.
The main lesson that he wants to pass along to his kids is to "appreciate what they have," he says, and not take money for granted: "Don't just think that it can always be accessible to you." After all, they haven't earned any yet, he says.
At this point in his career, "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary "can afford to take my kids to any city anywhere on Earth every weekend," he tells CNBC Make It. He could buy them first class plane tickets if he wanted to, too. Instead, he flies first class and makes his kids Trevor and Savannah fly coach.
The self-made millionaire recalls: On one occasion, "we were getting on a flight to Geneva. It's a long flight, and Trevor said to me, 'Dad, why is it every time we get on this flight, I have to take a left and go sit in the back of the plane, and you take a right and go to the front? [You] sit in a big chair and they roll roast beef on a trolley by you, and I'm back in 69D.'"
O'Leary had a simple answer: "I say, 'Trevor, you don't have any money.'"
"My son is making the connection between money and personal freedom," O'Leary writes in his book, "Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money." "I think that's the greatest gift I've ever given him: to help him see that connection. And I constantly reinforce it by doing Mean Dad things like making him sit in those crappy economy seats."
Self-made millionaire and "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran says she "couldn't care less" about what her two kids think about her and her business: "What I care about is they grow up and not be spoiled rotten."
The secret, she tells CNBC Make It, is to encourage them to earn their own money from a young age: "Getting a kid a job early on, versus another day camp or something, is more important than education in the schoolhouse, which parents are very willing to spend a ton of money on."
Corcoran's 13-year-old daughter works two hours a week at a dog spa, where she cleans the kennels and takes the dogs for walks. She recently got a raise from $10 an hour to $12.50 an hour and came home with $25 rather than $20, Corcoran says, and "she knew the difference was another $5 in the envelope. Her pride! That does more for a kid that any pumping up you could do for a kid as a parent."
Once your children are old enough, urge them to work, because odds are that a kid who learns how to hustle will be successful, says Corcoran.
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