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How Do You Teach Your Kids The Importance Of Money?

Transforming Financial Education for Families: A Conversation with Chad Willardson

By Jason Gabrieli

In our most recent podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chad Willardson, the president and founder of Pacific Capital, and a renowned author and advocate for financial literacy among children. Chad’s impressive portfolio includes five bestselling books, such as “Smart, Not Spoiled” and his latest, “Wealth Wired Differently.” He is also the co-host of the “Smart Money Parenting” show and the co-founder of GravyStack and the Dinner Table Community. Our discussion delved into his innovative approach to teaching kids about money, the genesis of GravyStack, and the impact of financial literacy on future generations.

Introduction to GravyStack

Jason: Can you give us a brief introduction into GravyStack and the inspiration behind creating it? How did it come to be?

Chad: I’m a father of five kids. My oldest turns 20 and my youngest is eight. My wife and I have been married 23 years, and we often get asked about how to teach kids about money. I used to speak at school functions in Southern California about financial education and decided I needed to dive deeper as my kids got older. This led to writing my book “Smart Not Spoiled.” It went viral, highlighting a hunger for ideas on teaching kids about money. I met an entrepreneur interested in kids’ education, and together, we brainstormed what became GravyStack. We’ve developed an app that promotes financial education among children, which has now been live to the public for a few months.

The Challenges of Teaching Financial Literacy

Jason: How important is it for children to learn about financial literacy, and why is it not commonly taught in schools?

Chad: It’s crucial. Kids graduate high school knowing how to dissect a frog but not understanding loans, taxes, or retirement planning. Schools don’t teach it. GravyStack and the Dinner Table Community aim to teach families how to educate about money at home. Most parents weren’t taught these skills, so they don’t know what to teach their kids. We’re providing tools to help the next generation become financially competent from a young age.

Practical Advice for Parents

Jason: What are some practical steps parents can take to teach their kids about money?

Chad: The first step is to stop giving allowance. Instead, give your kids a menu of opportunities to earn money. For 15 years, I’ve given my kids a spreadsheet of tasks they can choose from to earn money. They learn to be resourceful and appreciate what they earn. For example, my son started a dog-walking business to save for an electric scooter, and my daughter ran a basketball clinic to fund a service trip to Africa. These experiences teach kids the value of work and money.

GravyStack and Smart, Not Spoiled

Jason: How do GravyStack and your book “Smart, Not Spoiled” complement each other?

Chad: GravyStack incorporates the principles from “Smart, Not Spoiled.” The app encourages kids to learn by doing, offering a “home economy” where they can choose tasks and earn money. It teaches initiative and financial habits that last a lifetime. We’re seeing kids create businesses and earn significant money by being resourceful.

The Future Vision

Jason: What is your long-term vision for GravyStack and its impact on financial literacy?

Chad: Our goal is to impact 10 million kids, making them financially competent before they turn 18. Families in the Dinner Table Community work on setting up family mission statements and values around money. We aim to transform how money is taught to young people, creating a lasting legacy of financial literacy.

Starting the Journey

Jason: What advice do you have for parents looking to start teaching their kids about money?

Chad: Start by reading “Smart, Not Spoiled” and visit It’s essential to understand that more is caught than taught. Your kids observe how you handle money and work. Be intentional about discussing money at the dinner table. Make it a comfortable conversation and set a positive example.

Chad Willardson’s insights offer a roadmap for parents seeking to raise financially savvy children. His practical advice and innovative tools like GravyStack provide valuable resources for families to navigate the often-overlooked terrain of financial education.

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