As a parent, you want the best for your children. When it comes to money, ensuring they understand the value of money without missing the deeper meaning of why having good money values is so important.

The book The Financially Intelligent Parent: 8 Steps to Raising Successful, Generous, Responsible Children, by Eileen and Jon Gallo, focuses on the idea that how parents spend money sends messages to their children about their values and priorities. Looking more carefully at how your children develop their values around money will help you become more aware of the values you communicate to children through your spending and other money-related behaviors.

If you are looking for ways to set your children up for success, establish a healthy relationship with money, and adopt good money habits, you need a plan. What is so helpful about this book’s advice is that it provides ideas for being more intentional in the messages you pass along to your children, encouraging you to focus on what you want them to pick up from you, rather than passing along unintentionally harmful messages or defaulting to letting them figure it all out for themselves.

If you are traveling down this road in your family—whether it’s with your children, setting the groundwork for future children, or you are looking for ways to help nurture your grandchildren’s future—here are some good ways to start.

Become a Charitable Family

When you are looking to instill good money values and habits in your children, you will want to step back and start with the bigger picture. Our relationship with money is about far more than saving, investing, and planning.

In many ways, good money values begin with painting a positive picture of what money and financial freedom can do for our lives and other people. Eileen and Jon Gallo suggest teaching your children to be generous through your volunteer and charitable activities.

If you do service work individually, talk about what you are doing and the people for whom you are doing it. If you can, find opportunities to volunteer as a family. When you get requests for charitable donations, discuss each charity’s goals, and have your children help you decide where to give.

By introducing the ideas of service and giving, you can teach your children that they have the power to make life better for others. It’s the best way to encourage their desire to build wealth and be responsible with their money so they can do more and create a meaningful impact in their community and the world around them.

Encourage Self-Motivation

On their blog, the Gallos refer to the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Its author suggests that internally motivated people are happier than those who rely on external motivations.

All too often, achieving money goals can feel empty and even begin to undermine your motivation. Getting a big promotion or raise at work, seeing an uptick in numbers on a balance sheet, or even buying your dream home are significant accomplishments, but they’re not going to make you bounce out of bed in the morning every day. But having a deeper “why” and working towards it will.

Will the promotion enable you to do more fulfilling work? Will the bigger account balance help you feel more secure or free? Will the dream home be the setting for creating and enjoying special memories?

By encouraging internal motivation, they suggest that parents can help their children become happier adults. Relying less on external motivators, such as paying children to do chores, and more on internal motivators, such as using chores to help children gain self-respect and take pride in their work, is more likely to create a lasting positive effect.

Develop a Strong Work Ethic

Most will agree that having a strong work ethic is important in life. No matter your path, your work ethic enables you to be successful in your career, household, and relationships. Laziness will not get you anywhere worth going.

Your work ethic consists of a set of values that incorporate the ideals of hard work and discipline. Forming and adopting a solid work ethic means getting focused, staying motivated, and seeing things through to finish what you start. By encouraging a strong work ethic in your kids, you’ll help them be more likely to accomplish their goals, financially and otherwise.

Keep in mind that most children’s primary work is school, so do what you can to help them begin building a positive association with work there. It is important to encourage them to “do their best” as opposed to “be the best,” as it is never helpful to promote unrealistic expectations or start them on the cycle of comparing themselves to others. Rest assured, they will be the best at something, even if it’s not science or social studies. Again, the idea is to help them always put in the effort to do their best.

Besides taking responsibility for their schoolwork, children should also be assigned age-appropriate chores and encouraged to take on part-time employment as teenagers.  A good work ethic is learned behavior, and parents are the best role models. Going too easy on your kids when it comes to work ethic will backfire; the earlier you start and the more positive association you can make with work as they develop, the better for everyone.

Good Money Values

Your behavior sends clear messages to your children about money; parents are the first and most influential role models.

Seeing the “big picture” elements of instilling good money values in children can make a big difference in approaching the part you play as a parent. When you step back and look at money values, rather than seeking overly simplified tips, it helps you to understand how important this responsibility is. If you want your children to learn how to earn, save, budget, and plan effectively, it starts with helping them create a positive relationship with what money means in their lives.

This is why becoming a charitable family, encouraging volunteer and philanthropic work is so important. It’s also why encouraging children to gain self-respect and take pride in their work will support their emotional and financial wellbeing over time. And it’s why helping them develop a strong work ethic can be a foundation for success and happiness in life.

Kids learn money values by seeing how you accumulate money, what you spend money on, and how you treat others. It’s your job to teach children that money is something they have and not something they are. Their net worth and their self-worth are entirely different things, but the more positive their relationship with money, the more likely they will be to reach their financial goals in the future and enjoy peace of mind for a lifetime.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Get in touch

Have a question?


    Need a second opinion on your portfolio?
    Get your free financial consultation today: