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Stop Giving Your Kids Free Money!

Last August, when I was teaching financial literacy class at the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) Annual Youth Academy in Long Beach, California, I asked all my students to say “STOP giving me money! You are not helping me to become financially responsible. Give me work instead to earn money!” to their parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles when they went back home that afternoon. At first, they were shocked at the idea of not getting free money any more, but later, many of them were excited about working hard to make their own money they could feel proud of.

Money is Earned, Not Given

Parents know this, but many kids don’t. These kids take things for granted and even demand things from people around them as if they are automatically entitled to them. This is largely because everything is simply handed to them by their parents or other family members.

Consequently, the most common cause of childhood entitlement is the lack of education surrounding money, and parents of every income bracket are guilty of this—they give their children money, without making them work for it, and the children spend it (almost immediately!) without any understanding of where it came from, what it took to get it, and how to use it properly! By doing so, they can become Money Monsters!

For some reasons, some parents are afraid of the idea of having their children work hard; they treat their children like delicate flowers in the greenhouse, or even worse, put them on a pedestal and almost worship them. It’s no wonder those children never grow up to be responsible men and women—they never learn how to.

Give Your Children Age-Appropriate Chores And Reward!

There are many things that your children, young or old, can do to earn money, either in the house or outside the house. Be creative and work together with your children. Set achievable goals so that your children accomplish what you need them to accomplish and can feel proud of their own efforts, then reward their work. When we reward small accomplishments or actions, it drives them to do something bigger to get bigger accomplishments!

If this is your first time implementing this kind of concept with your young children, maybe you have to begin with just a couple of chores. Make the reward small but inspiring! As the days or weeks go by and your kids get better at doing this, gradually increase what they need to get done so they can earn more. Later, when they’re older or just wanting to earn more money, you can add more chores that they can do in the morning or after school.

Be Consistent With Your Reward System!

It’s very important that you use the reward system all the time! I’ve created a simple reward system chart that you can utilize right away for your little children and you can download it for free from my website Put the chart in the place that gets the most traffic in your home. In ours, that’s the dining room area, where we gather to eat, do homework and have family meetings. Having the chart in this room means that everybody can see it all the time, and it reinforces their progress. Kids begin to feel good about watching the chart fill up with check-off times, signatures, and the chores they accomplish every week.

In life, we usually start small to win big. Many of us begin at the beginner’s level to become masters of our goals, our values, our finance, and our lives. Learning at a young age that effort produces rewards prepares us to become masterful with our time, energy and money management to become Money Masters.

Sunny Lee is the author of “Is Your Child a Money Master or a Money Monster?” She is a respected and trusted financial advisor serving clients from all walks of life. She is the founder and CEO of Good Life Advisors in Torrance, California. She is also a member of the Million Dollar Round Table and a financial literacy instructor. She currently resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, with her family. Find more at


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