A Publication of WTVP

The hardest thing about upward mobility—the so-called American dream—is attaining it.

Perhaps the second hardest thing is this: Once you’ve risen from a hardscrabble upbringing and gained financial success, how do you pass the traits that helped get you there—hard work, accountability, passion and discipline—on to your children?

The natural inclination is to give them all the things you never had—and to shield them from the worries you experienced growing up. But that won’t help them long term.

You can’t duplicate your humble beginnings for them. But you can teach your kids the skills they’ll need when they’re making their own way in the world.

One of my earliest memories is of being four years old and flipping a light switch in our home, only to have nothing happen. That’s when I learned about money and bills, and that if you don’t pay the electric bill, the lights won’t come on.

My children—ages nine, seven and four—haven’t experienced anything quite like that, but I still want them to understand money. One way I accomplish that is they get weekly allowances to cover their expenses, and they must budget everything for themselves.

When we set a limit, we set a limit. Mom and Dad aren’t going to bail them out if they are a quarter short on a toy they want. Here are some other tips for helping fortunate kids understand finances:

Parents want to give their children every advantage, and that’s just what you’re doing if you prepare them to better deal with real-world financial decisions. A little tough love now will go a long way towards preventing an unwelcome sense of entitlement from your kids and keeping them out from under a cloud of debt when they’re older.

I have the support of my husband—from humble beginnings himself—whose family routinely says “the best thing my father ever gave me was nothing.”

I admit that finding the right balance, when you do have something to give, is the key to providing a more comfortable life for your children without quenching that inner drive that we all are born with to make something of ourselves—something that cannot just be handed to you. iBi

Rebecca Walser is a licensed tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in working with high net worth individuals, families and businesses at Walser Wealth (