Two-thirds of American parents today think their children are spoiled. From toys and laptops to smartphones and cars, our kids have grown increasingly entitled in what they believe we should do for them. Kids may not appreciate the value of a dollar, but it’s hard to blame them.

After all, what have they learned about money? Managing finances is rarely covered in schools, and many parents don’t know where to start. How can they provide a strong foundation of financial knowledge for their kids with these gaps? What should they learn each year? How do parents teach a skill set to their children they never received themselves?

In Smart, Not Spoiled, financial expert and bestselling author Chad Willardson provides parents with practical tools, tips, and stories that will help them teach the kids in their life how to think about money. Chad explores the seven skills kids should know—and master—before they’re adults and helps readers improve the financial literacy of everyone in their household.

I recently caught up with Chad to learn more about Smart, Not Spoiled.

Published with permission from the author.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

I’ve been in the wealth management industry for all 20 years of my career. My wife and I have been married 20 years and we are parents of five children. My kids range from ages 6 to 17, and really I wanted to write a book that would serve people like me and my family. As parents, we know that it’s so important to teach kids to be smart, not spoiled.

A lot of people just throw out the blanket statement, “The next generation is spoiled and they don’t appreciate the value of a dollar.” But like I teach in the book, it’s not really their fault. They haven’t been taught about personal finance. It’s not taught in the schools. It’s not taught in most families and homes. Money is a taboo subject. In fact, studies show that parents are more comfortable talking about drugs and sex to their kids than they are about money.

So the purpose of Smart, Not Spoiled is to really break that taboo status of money at the dinner table and really help give families a resource guide with insights, stories, and activity ideas to teach their kids and the young people in their life how to be smart, not spoiled.

When we were leaving Disneyland many years ago with our big family of seven, I remember we had spent a lot of money. Obviously, buying Disneyland tickets but also food there at the park. At the end of the day, it was nighttime, the firework show was over and we were walking down Main Street to leave the park and take the tram ride back to the parking lot. There was a guy that was selling glow-in-the-dark Mickey Mouse balloons that were $16 apiece.

One of my younger children said, “Dad, can we each get the Mickey Mouse balloons so we can have them on the tram ride and take them home?” And in my mind, I was like, that’s the last thing we need. We don’t need another hundred dollars on these random balloons. We’ve spent enough money. So I said, “You know, we’ve had a fun day and we’ve spent all the money we’re going to spend on Disneyland today. So, we’re not going to get balloons.”

My child innocently pointed at the ATM machine over on the side of Main Street and said, “Well, just go get more free money in that big machine box.” It was like, “Oh my goodness, the kids don’t understand. With an ATM machine, they see you stick a card in and cash comes out.”

It was at that moment that I thought, I’ve got to do a better job at teaching all my kids, even the little ones, about money. I knew that someday I’d be writing a book like this.

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

At the end of each chapter, I give activity ideas for all ages. One of the actionable ideas we talk about is not paying kids an allowance. My wife and I have never paid our kids an allowance. We actually have a menu of opportunities that kids get to choose from and pick what they want to do to earn extra money above and beyond just their basic expected chores, like making their bed and brushing their teeth. It’s a great idea to really give your kids initiative.

Published with permission from the author.

How have you applied this idea in your life? What has it done for you?

In addition to the menu of options, my kids can go around the house and suggest a project to me or my wife. Let’s say they see a need to clean the bikes and refill the tires. They bring that project to me and I’ll offer a price I think is fair. In this case, I’d say $20. We also encourage them to negotiate if they think the work is worth more than that initial offer.

The idea was to put the onus on our kids to earn their own money and not just pay them a flat allowance for existing every weekend. We wanted to actually teach them that more effort equals more outcome and more opportunities, and it’s been fun seeing what they come up with.