As you begin to articulate your values around money and wealth, decide what you would like to pass on to your children, and what no longer serves you. (UBS)

Family wealth education begins with parents being clear about their own money values, current financial situation and hopes for the future. Thinking about your own feelings, experiences and behaviors related to money, and then modeling your priorities, can help you be deliberate with the lessons you teach your children.

As you begin to articulate your values around money and wealth, decide what you would like to pass on to your children, and what no longer serves you.

When children first learn to walk, parents often want to prevent them from falling, but too much oversight can inhibit their progression. This also applies to children learning about money; they need a safe environment to make mistakes and build their knowledge.

Successful teaching techniques include:

  • Guide and supervise, don’t direct and dictate
  • Compliment good behaviors, and use mistakes as a learning opportunity
  • Be consistent, fair and willing to listen
  • Model the behaviors you want to see
  • Meet regularly to discuss these topics

Age-specific guidance

Raising children is an art, not a science, and only you know best how to approach these conversations based on your childrens' ages, personalities and levels of maturity. Do not be discouraged if you haven’t started. Much of the guidance below applies across age categories. In terms of the content itself, focus on what resonates most with you and your family.

Starting early: It is never too early to start teaching children about money. Young children absorb everything you say and do, so be deliberate about how you talk about and interact with money in front of them. Decide in advance how you will handle purchases, from the small ask for a candy bar at the checkout line to the bigger requests for birthday and holiday gifts.

Elementary school: Studies have shown that, by first grade, children can rank their classmates and peers in wealth based on the houses they live in and the cars their parents drive. Even if you are not talking to your kids about money, they are perceptive and picking up cues.

As you continue to build upon earlier lessons, consider incorporating digital tools to reinforce your teachings.

Middle school to early high school: If you haven’t given an allowance yet, now would be a great time to do so. Tweens and teens are increasingly more independent with evolving wants, needs and opinions—so it is really important to think through the purpose and parameters of an allowance. Consider what items your child should be responsible for and then back into the weekly number. Revisit this number each year and invite your children to negotiate with you. This is great training for their future careers.

Encourage children at this age to open checking accounts in their own names. This is a great place to deposit pay checks from summer jobs, and can be used for expenses at school and other wants and needs.

Late high school: Keep the lines of communication open, as they will be on their own soon, and you will want them to come to you or another trusted adult when they need guidance around money.

Young adult: As your children transition into young adulthood, you can still support them in developing healthy money management habits as they aim for financial independence.

Be realistic

When taking on the challenge of teaching children about money, the bottom line is to remain patient with yourself and be realistic. Teaching children about money and wealth is complex, and there is no one right way to do it. Start with your values and move forward from there.

Once you get past the basics of budgets and investments, think about what truly matters most to you:

  • Is it gratitude for what you have? If so, emphasize service, empathy and giving to others in need.
  • Is it saving wisely for the future? If so, offer to match whatever your children put in their “Save” jar or savings account until they reach a certain age. Then, together, come up with an investment plan for those funds.
  • Is it self-sufficiency and resilience? If so, ask trusted friends to spend a few hours with your children each year to discuss their careers and the journeys they took to success, including the bumps and bruises along the way.

It takes a village—so use yours, have fun and don’t stop learning yourself.

See the full report - Introducing: Teaching Children about Money at Different Ages & Stages , which includes more specific recommendations for each age group.

Produced by the UBS Family Advisory and Philanthropy Services, Americas.

Useful resources:

Take the conversation one step further, by sharing the accompanying worksheet.

UBS Money Talk Toolkit—consists of four sets of cards with questions that invite reflection and sharing; use the Early Experiences and Influences decks to think about your own experiences with money and wealth.

Ask your UBS Financial Advisor about this toolkit and any other pieces referenced in this article.

For additional information and any questions you may have, please reach out to your UBS Financial Advisor and visit