By Zach Whitchurch
President | Wealth Advisor
Certified Private Wealth Advisor®
If there’s one thing that’s universally true, it’s that we all want to do right by our kids by teaching them things like kindness, respect, responsibility, and a solid work ethic. For those who have amassed significant wealth, it can be a fine line to walk between giving your children the life you’ve always desired and inadvertently creating kids who are spoiled and entitled. The good news is that being born into significant wealth does not automatically doom your kids to an out-of-touch or entitled life. There are ways to prepare your children to handle wealth respectfully and responsibly. Here are our top 5 tips for not ruining your kids with money.
1. Emphasize Values Over Money
A critical part of preparing your children to handle wealth comes in how you talk about it when they’re young. Throughout childhood, make a point to emphasize your family values and purpose as much as possible. Let your kids know that a person’s worth is not tied to how much or how little money they make or what type of house their family lives in; rather, there are intrinsic traits, like kindness, compassion, and empathy, that matter more than someone’s net worth. Wealthy habits are more than the amount of money that someone has, and much more about the person that they are.
Consider creating a family mission statement, or writing down your most important family values so that they can be frequently seen and referenced throughout childhood. This can be a great way to emphasize your family’s purpose, goals, and standards in a way that has nothing to do with money. Not only will this help to solidify the idea that your family represents much more than just a high net worth, but it will also help inform how you spend your money and what types of monetary actions align with your family values.
2. Instill a Strong Work Ethic
Pele, who to many is considered one of the best soccer players of all time once famously said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing and learning to do.” There really is no substitute for putting in the hard work yourself to give you a greater appreciation for what money truly represents. And your kids are no exception. Just because you’ve achieved financial independence doesn’t mean your kids should have every want covered with no hard work or sacrifice required on their end, especially as they get older.
Give your children opportunities for hands-on learning: insist on having your kids complete chores, such as cleaning within the home or helping with yard work or laundry. Or have them work a part-time job to earn spending money. If you own your own business, you could even have them help out with extra clerical or administrative work that needs to get done. Whatever it is that makes sense for your family, be sure to pair their real-life work with at-home conversations about why earning their own money is important.
3. Encourage Generosity
An effective strategy for avoiding entitlement in your children is to encourage generosity in both time and money. Yes, contributing to charity is an important part of giving back, but simply donating money is often not enough to truly drive home the impact that supporting worthy causes can have. Instead, try taking your kids to volunteering events that align with your family mission statement, and talk about why what you are doing matters. Hands-on experiences and a shared time commitment between you and your kids can be a great way to illustrate the importance of being generous with your time.
If all your kids know of generosity is cutting a check and attending a fancy gala, it can be easy for them to think that donating money equals cool experiences for themselves as opposed to life-changing impacts on other people.
4. Teach Wise Money Management From a Young Age
Teaching your kids about wise money management is something that should start at a young age. It doesn’t have to be long drawn-out discussions; rather, just letting them in on your thinking and decision-making as you go about your day-to-day life can be quite helpful. At a restaurant, explain why some food items cost more than others; at the bank, explain why the bank keeps your money and why you only take what you need from the ATM. These real-world scenarios help cement the whys and hows of money in your child’s mind.
On a practical level, here are some things you can do to teach wise money management as your children age:
- Give your 5-year-old money to buy something at the store so they learn the value of different items and realize that to obtain something like a toy, an exchange of money needs to take place.
- Try letting your 10-year-old figure out the cost of a new video game, plus tax, and help them save up allowance money to pay for it.
- Let your teenager buy their back-to-school clothes with a set amount of money.
- As they get older, you may even guide them in investing some of their hard-earned money, letting them make some of the decisions.
It may not seem all that noteworthy at first, especially when you have more than enough to provide for your children’s day-to-day needs. But we all learn best by doing, so allowing your kids to make decisions and even mistakes on their own can teach them valuable life-long lessons about how to use money responsibly.
5. Talk About How You Got to Where You Are Today
Telling your kids YOUR story: achieving financial independence is a success that should be celebrated, but more than likely, there were failures, missed opportunities, or struggles along the way. Be willing to share how you got to where you are today so your kids can see that financial success does not happen overnight. It is built on years of hard work and sacrifice, and it’s not something that should be taken for granted. The more you can paint a picture of who you were, who you are, and what you are striving to become, the more likely your kids are to appreciate what they have and what they need to do to make their own success.
It can be as simple as talking about the long hours you spent working on your start-up company, how worried you felt that you might not succeed, and the incredible sense of fulfillment you experienced when your hard work finally paid off. Or you can talk about why you made specific decisions, like choosing to go to an in-state university versus out-of-state, or how you decided to take that leap of faith and become an entrepreneur. One of the greatest moments of being a parent is working with your kids on how to make decisions.
Be open about what drove you to persevere even in the face of challenges. Share those moments that you experienced when times in life were hard, when they were good and what it took to make those changes in your life. Chances are it wasn’t just a desire for financial independence, but a dream to build, create, or be a part of something meaningful. These are the stories that can greatly impact your kids’ perspectives on why they have access to significant wealth and how that may not have always been the case.
One thing is for sure, each child is different and none of them came with an operating manual when they were born. Most importantly, take the time to sit and listen to your children. They want to learn and hear from us, but they also want to be heard.
We Can Help
At Solidarity Wealth, we work with successful founders, entrepreneurs, and executives. While we specialize in wealth management for highly affluent families, we do more than just that. We are here to walk through life alongside our clients, and help families in their pursuit of wealthy habits. We’d love for you to think of us as your go-to resource for financial guidance that helps you and your children find balance in your financial futures.
If you’re ready to see what wealth management can do for you and your family, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 385-374-1665 to schedule a discovery call.
Zach Whitchurch is the President and a wealth advisor at Solidarity Wealth, a privately held, independent wealth management firm that serves as a multi-family office to some of the Mountain West’s most successful families, technology entrepreneurs, and executives. Zach works with clients to develop both “Wealthy Financial Habits” and “Healthy Financial Habits” and thrives on helping them understand their finances by simplifying the complex. He uses his broad knowledge on a wide variety of topics to implement creative strategies for clients as he helps them feel both seen and heard, and supports them along the path to their dreams.
Prior to co-founding Solidarity Wealth, Zach was a financial advisor and a senior vice president of investments at Wells Fargo. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in finance from the University of Utah and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® designations. With a passion for psychology, he hopes to return to school for a PhD in behavioral finance. He is also a managing partner of Solidarity Capital, an income focused hedge fund. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his wife and four children and being active in both indoor and outdoor sports. He has also coached youth soccer for many years, and loves to read and learn about how the world works on a deeper level.
Solidarity Wealth is a registered investment adviser. This material is solely for informational purposes. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Solidarity Wealth and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Solidarity Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.