keys for raising financially responsible children - hand stuffing dollar bills into a piggy bank

Keys for Raising Financially Responsible Children

Estate Planning is by nature a multi-generational undertaking. One of the primary reasons you plan is so you can leave your estate to your children and grandchildren. Once wealth is generated, it is important that it is not only preserved, but also nurtured, so it can increase. At Phelps LaClair, we have learned through experience that parents who raise financially responsible children will pass on an inheritance worth far more than mere money.


Every parent wants to see their children succeed. You want your ceiling to be your child’s floor. In our age of instant gratification, the expectations are high for early success. When we have everything available to us right now, it becomes habitual to expect that we can be instantly satisfied. But does that foster success in life? Unrealistic expectations often lead to failure and discouragement. In order to grow healthy families, it is necessary to teach children how to exercise self-control and patience.

A famous experiment by Walter Mischel, called The Marshmallow Test, proved the relationship between early self-control and later success. In the experiment, a group of four-year-olds was presented with a plate of marshmallows. They were told to wait for 15 minutes until an adult returned to the room, then each child could eat two marshmallows. If they couldn’t wait, they could eat only one. Several of the children ate a marshmallow within 30 seconds, some waited for a few minutes, and several waited the entire time. Mischel followed the children through high school and into adulthood. Those children who waited the entire 15 minutes did significantly better in school and in their careers, earning better grades, higher scores and higher salaries. The ability to delay gratification in order to receive a better reward paid dividends throughout life for these children.

Financial Responsibility

Teaching self-control and delayed gratification to your children starts early. There are several things you can do to help your children learn. When you go to the grocery store with your young children, resist the urge to give in to their requests for impulse buying. One way to do this is to decide beforehand what “treat” they want and stick to that. You are teaching them planning, decision making and self-control.

As they grow older and begin to receive an allowance, another important lesson to be learned is how to save real money. Some parents require that 20-25% of their allowance goes into a savings account or piggy bank. The rest they can spend as they wish. This gives them confidence in managing money, while at the same time showing them the value of saving (delayed gratification).

When older children begin to earn money, they begin to understand their value in the workplace. Because you have taught them financial decision making, self-control and delayed gratification, they will be able to navigate greater and greater realms of responsibility. And when the time comes to receive an inheritance, they will be able to skillfully manage the wealth you have left them.


For more in depth estate planning, come in for a visit. Phelps LaClair is ready to help you plan for your family’s secure future. And if you need specific advice, as a second-generation success story, we’ll even give you more keys for raising financially responsible children.



Images used under creative commons license (Commerical Use) 02/11/19   Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

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