Raising Financially Confident Kids Book sitting on a white shelf with basket of bright colored tulips

Values are More Often Caught than Taught—Plus a GIVEAWAY!

Bents, characteristics, abilities, and tendencies are the conduits through which you can pass your values to your kids. But exactly how do you make the pass? Though your life. The way you live.

Kids learn most effectively through observation and imitation. It’s the witness of our lives, more than anything we say, that is taken in slowly and cumulatively by our children.

Raising Financially Confident Kids Book sitting on a white shelf with basket of bright colored tulips

Children drink in everything around them. They see the way we act with others. They listen to everything we say. They observe the way we handle our money. They hear what we say on the phone and the way we deal with salespeople. Children compare what they see with what they are told and in the case of a clear conflict, they usually go with what they see.

There are many ways to communicate your values to your kids. There are formal lectures, specific talks, books and discussions on what has been read; reprimands, reminders, various kinds of discipline and punishment, and religious education with all of its related activities.

All of these ways of communicating with your kids do count for a great deal, but they cannot come close to your children observing their parents living out their values consistently, specifically, and diligently day in and out. That’s the surest way to pass on to your kids the values and principles they need to guide their lives—values that will take root in their hearts, not simply stick on the outside until they can get away from your authority. Truth be told, values are more often caught than taught.


It’s easy to get so hung up on the mundane side of parenting—cooking, cleaning, carpooling, taxi driving—that we forget about the single most important job parents have to do, which is to successfully pass on our values to our children.

Equipping children with values is not the same as making them obey. Parents can get a kid—even the dog—to do just about anything, provided they exert enough external pressure. Threats of severe consequences motivate immediate compliance but aren’t likely to produce long-term commitment. When the child or teenager is free of the external pressure, his behavior reflects his true values—the condition of his heart; her true character.

Kids who leave home having never taken ownership of positive values, such as integrity, responsibility, courage, and respect, don’t make the transition into the real world very well. They bounce around and make all kinds of foolish choices. Often, they suffer long-term consequences simply because they do not have a positive, strong value system. They have nothing to guide their lives.

But how exciting and gratifying it is for parents to observe their children “catching” their values and choosing to do the right thing simply because it is right, not to escape external pressure or to earn a reward.

One of the most important lessons you can teach your kids is how to handle their money. Unfortunately, for most of us, giving our kids a financial education is an afterthought. Where do you start? And what if you don’t feel financially confident yourself?

In my book, Raising Financially Confident Kids (Kindle, Paperback), I tell my husband’s and my story—how we were miserably in debt, unemployed, clueless and basically without hope, parents of two very young children. Even in the face of that misery, we came up with a plan because we were terrified our boys would turn out like me (don’t miss the Epilogue!). We put it into action mostly without knowing what we were doing. But to our amazement—more like shock and awe, to be honest—it worked. On our way to getting a financial life, our kids got one, too.

We found hope, we did get out of debt and our boys—both adults now—have carried with them the values of living below their means, saving and giving. We raised financially confident men who have steered clear of debt and found their place in the world. 

Over the years, I’ve heard from thousands of families who have read this plan, adopted it with their children and are now experiencing very similar kinds of success. They’re sending kids into the real world with the values, knowledge and practical experience they need to live financially confident lives.


Yay, another Giveaway! I have an autographed paperback copy of Raising Financially Confident Kids to give away, today. If you’d like to see it in arrive in your mailbox, leave a comment below. We’ll pick a winner tomorrow, Friday, June 29, 2018, by replying to that person’s comment. Hurry! With such a short window of opportunity, your chances of winning are greatly increased.

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79 replies
  1. Valerie Victorino
    Valerie Victorino says:

    I have a 16 year old granddaughter that I have been working with so that she understands the power (and value) of money. And her education! This would be SO HELPFUL!!!

  2. Susan Ellis
    Susan Ellis says:

    This would be great for my grandchildren..I just started talking to them about saving some of their money towards retirement even at their young age…I just wish someone had informed me!

  3. Chanitele Cordle
    Chanitele Cordle says:

    I have Grandchildren that I would love to share your book with. I taught my kids the best I could, but your book sounds like it has so much more to learn!

  4. Caroline Lennek
    Caroline Lennek says:

    Raising financially aware children is more important today than ever. The rapid rewards available via technology serve as a powerful enticement for spending. We need to balance the equation between wants, needs, spending and saving for our children to become financially independent and secure. Very grateful to see this one published!

  5. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    It’s amazing how many people mention grandchildren…..there are so many grandparents now responsible for raising them. My husband and I have two of ours and I’m hoping that I’ve learned, and will continue to learn, from past mistakes! I want to teach them all that I can about being good stewards of their money so they don’t fall into the same patterns that we did when we were raising their parents!

  6. Barb G
    Barb G says:

    Mary I’ve been reading you for years! With five kids, a dog, and 2 part time jobs, this book looks like a must read!

  7. Pamela King Gourley
    Pamela King Gourley says:

    Who doesn’t want financial success for their children? I would like to see confident, responsible and courageous children in my household. Your book will help me with that. Thank you for offering a giveaway!

  8. M. Grant
    M. Grant says:

    My husband and I broke the family cycle and have been living debt free since 2012. Thanks for your help in getting us to where we are today, Mary and team! We now have a 3.5 year old and want her to go out into the world debt free and teach the same to future generations! This book looks like a step to assist in that direction!

  9. James Boren
    James Boren says:

    It’s a tough world out there. And so necessary to convey and instill financial responsibility with our progeny. I’m sure this book will point the way and provide sound advice to our most precious asset…our children.

  10. Sharon Madison
    Sharon Madison says:

    I grew up with grandparents who saved and reused everything. Paid cash for everything. My grandchildren are growing up with parents who use debit cards for everything and want instant gratification. This is not criticism, just reality. Your readers are the choir you are preaching to, but we need to capture the new generations who desperately need guidance.

    I’m a retired Home Economics teacher. It was easier to teach my (non-related) students than relatives. But my subject area wasn’t really valued enough– “anyone can do it”, “parents can do it”, etc.

    I want more than anything, to change that attitude. One book at a time.

  11. Sheila Ortman
    Sheila Ortman says:

    I would LOVE to have this book. My boyfriends sons are teenagers and they struggle with this. I would like to help him, help them. I can also use it to help with my grandson 🙂

  12. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    I want to read it for me and then share it with my son in the Army and my daughter who will graduate this year about to spread her wings and got to college.. I love your column and it has helped me in so many ways

  13. Cynthia Campbell
    Cynthia Campbell says:

    Our children were young adults when we hit our financial brick wall. They were old enough to realize and understand our struggles as we began living a completely different lifestyle and embarked on our journey toward financial health by employing knowledge gained from your books and daily emails and columns. We were the epitome of how “not” to be from a financial perspective as they grew up. Thankfully both children (and now their spouses) paid attention, learned from our mistakes, and are leading financially responsible lives; I am so proud of them! One son is newly married and the other is married with two children. I would love to provide our son with a road map to continue financial responsibility in my grandchildren. Mary, thank you so much — you have no idea how much your books, columns, and daily words of encouragement and helpful hints have meant to me over these past years. I am thankful my sister introduced me to you through your books. In our family, we often reference “Mary says” and everyone, of course, knows who “Mary” is. You are a valued and much respected member of our household and extended family. We all appreciate you more than you could imagine!

  14. Laura Anderson
    Laura Anderson says:

    I would love to gift this to my grandchildren…via their parents of course. It’s so important to begin teaching them at as early an age as possible!

  15. LouAnn Crook
    LouAnn Crook says:

    Thank you Mary for giving us so many years of your life! I have been around since Cheapskate Monthly!
    I’d love to gift this book to a new mommy I know. : )

  16. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    What great advice. My daughters are in the procees of leaving the nest 1 by 1. I see some of the values going along with them – resourcefulness, not afraid to ask for help, saving money for the “next chapter” – to name a few.

  17. Sarah Reever Morlock
    Sarah Reever Morlock says:

    Through the support of DPL, we have successfully paid off student loans and gotten through 2 periods of unemployment. We now have 3 and 5 year old boys that are starting to learn ( I hope) that money doesn’t grow on trees and there are limits to what they can get. They have much more to learn and I would love to get ideas from your book about how to teach them more about responsible use of money and things. My husband and I are financially stable right now with just mortgage debt and 1 more year of car payments (0% interest). Thank you!

  18. Baer Dueck Carol
    Baer Dueck Carol says:

    I would like to win a copy of the book for my seven grandchildren…to teach them all about how to manage their money…..& not make many of the mistakes we as parents made raising our children…

  19. Rebecca M. Powrozek
    Rebecca M. Powrozek says:

    I truly admire your dedication and for educating all of us through your experiences. I have gotten all of 4 sisters and my parents to sign up for your emails and we all love them! It would be amazing to win this book, and to share with my sisters and sister-in-law for their children!! Thank you for this opportunity!

  20. Susan Esteban Schwartz
    Susan Esteban Schwartz says:

    My daughters are working hard with their children to help them understand the importance of money management and future financial independence. So many of the materials are so difficult to read and understand, but your daily blogs and books are sensible, easy to understand and doable! Thanks for your hard work communicating great ideas!

  21. Debbie Reynolds Ball
    Debbie Reynolds Ball says:

    My granddaughter is almost 12 and this would be an awesome time in her life to learn the finer points of being financially confident! Sure do appreciate all you do to help us ALL learn these tips and techniques. I am so excited to tell you that on July 12th I make the last credit card payment. I will have paid off (to the tune of almost $65,000) credit card debt and how freeing it is!

  22. Cheryl Deuser
    Cheryl Deuser says:

    I would love this for my teenage son. He will be getting a job soon and earning his own money. A great time to get him on track!

  23. Sue
    Sue says:

    My children and grandchildren could use a good lesson. Perhaps we were too strict and put too much emphasis on saving because our children have no concept of this

  24. Leigh Languein
    Leigh Languein says:

    This information should be taught in school too! Or mandatory reading at home! Would love a copy instead of borrowing from the library.

  25. Claudia McMurray
    Claudia McMurray says:

    Your daily emails are something I don’t skip even when I am busy. Would love to have this book to share with my four grandchildren. I’m ashamed to say we did not do a very good job with our own children, but my daughter and son-in-law are trying the envelope method to get out of debt.

  26. Marie
    Marie says:

    We didn’t do the best job teaching our kids financial principles when they were growing up and one of our sons graduated from college in 2008 with a load of debt and the economy collapsing. There were no jobs in his field for recent college grads. His debt rose. I gave him “Debt Proof Living” and a few years ago he texted me a copy of the letter that said his college loans were paid in full with the comment, “Thank you for giving me Debt Proof Living. It changed my life.” He just got married this year and he and his bride are trying to start a family. I would love to give him this book for his yet-to-be-born kids.

  27. Stephanie Lebron
    Stephanie Lebron says:

    We’re fostering at 15 year old with issues. Here’s something that could potentially impact his life most positively! He can learn old time values, responsibility, and the importance of managing finances, all while moving toward his life-time goal of horse ranching.

  28. L B
    L B says:

    Thank you Mary for your continued practical advice. What may seem “old-fashioned” to many in today’s world is in fact a positive and conservative way to live your life. I love that God used your difficult circumstances to help others over the years.
    I’m looking forward to reading your new book and helping to guide the foster children who come into my home!

  29. Judy
    Judy says:

    I am financially responsible, and have reaped the rewards. I would love to have this book to teach my granddaughter. Thank you for the chance to win.

  30. Maureen Bordzuk
    Maureen Bordzuk says:

    Would love to give this book to my daughter and son-in-law so that mt grandson will have a good understanding of what it is to be financially confident. It might even help my son-in-law, who is a bit more reckless with money than my daughter.

  31. Stacy L.
    Stacy L. says:

    I would love to be entered to win this book. We are starting early helping our children learn financial responsibility. They are 3 & 6 and recently opened their own savings accounts. They were very excited to find out how much they had in their piggy banks and luckily are too small to understand anything other than this is just how we all save 🙂

  32. Mary Norton
    Mary Norton says:

    I have two grandchildren ages 15 and 12 who really need to learn how to be financially confident. This is one of those things that they cannot learn in school but would be a blessing to them for the rest of their lives.

  33. Brooke Lynn McWethy
    Brooke Lynn McWethy says:

    I used Mary’s method of snowballing payments to pay off over 6oK in credit card debt. Now I have a six year old and a nine year old. I try to explain, and show my current financial values.

  34. Marsha Lane
    Marsha Lane says:

    I just told my neighbor about this awesome tool to teach her 8-year-old grandson about managing money. They are having him divide his money into 8 categories, including saving and investing as 2 of the categories. I think this is over the chid’s head and he’ll soon get discouraged as the investing category is a ‘hand’s off” area that he doesn’t see any purpose for. Giving this book to my neighbor will help them better equip their grandson in money management….with a definite purpose! Thank you

  35. de casey
    de casey says:

    I have 4 kids that are almost grown, the youngest is 17. One fateful day I get a distressed call from my sister (who is mentally handicapped) call me and tell me her husband in in jail because he violated their daughter and son. He is a LAZY good for nothing except two beautiful children that are now mine. He never worked and thieved all his life so now I have to turn the tide. The book would help me with trying to give them a better understanding of finances. THey are 14 and 10. It is a hard road but I know that by the grace of God the seeds that I plant in their heads will smother all the weeds he planted.

  36. Cyndi Kirk
    Cyndi Kirk says:

    I help teach parents at our church how to raise responsible children with a good work ethic, and some wisdom in making choices about money. Having this book would be a wonderful addition to our lending library and useful for teaching parents in the classes. I have learned so much from you, Mary, and I think it is true that our children “catch” what we, as parents, open up and share with them. Looking forward to all your great ideas!!

  37. Kay
    Kay says:

    I would love to have this book. My son just graduated college in May 2018. I myself didn’t teach him about finance, cause I too am learning how to deal with. We now have his school loans that we have to pay back. This would help me teach him how we can get out of this financial big hole. Cause I was never taught about finance from my parents. Thank you.

  38. Mo Ray
    Mo Ray says:

    Back in 1992, I moved from Maryland to Florida with a 2 year old baby upon promises from my soon-to-be-ex that he would take over the marital debt. I had been working in DC and my office indicated they were going to open a satellite office in Boca Raton. I came to Florida, and lived it up for three weeks, before going into the office to start the next part of my life. I went into the new office to fill out paperwork, but was told that unfortunately, that office would not be able to support my DC salary. I suddenly found myself broke, without a job, and without Florida law experience (so no other law office would hire me). Thankfully, I was a bartender, and that skill is employable anywhere. My daughter was well cared for during for the couple of hours that I missed before her bedtime by a husband/wife couple that I worked with at the country club. Working nights, I made good money. However, then the transmission on my car went out. I found myself not being able to get to work, so I was trying the taxi thing, but that was too expensive, and public transportation did not take me to where I needed to get to, so I made an arrangement with a friend who had lost his license (DUI). I would have to get going earlier than normal, and get home later than normal, but I took that person to work, then drove myself to work, and vice versa after my shift. When I left Maryland, I didn’t think to close credit card accounts for stores that were northern stores and not located where I was moving. That turned out to be a big no no. I found out that not only had my ex not paid the marital debt we had when I left, as he had agreed to, but he also charged up my Wards and Woodward and Lothrop cards to the max, and neglected to make any payments. He never returned the clarinet my older daughter had rented for music lessons either. No, instead he let judgments get placed on me without my even knowing. The last straw with my ex was that he let our home go into foreclosure (again without any notice to me whatsoever). My accident settlement had paid the down payment for that home, so now I had effectively lost everything — and on top of everything my credit was shot. I had been partially living on credit cards, and they were getting hard to repay. I filed papers to request child support to help me with my daughter’s and my bills. The ex quit his job to avoid paying me anything. I was lost and didn’t know what to do. Your constant advice helped me to not only turn around my financial situation, but I saved enough to buy my first home on my own. I didn’t go hog wild decorating it, and only paid for needed repairs, because you’ve said if you cannot pay for it with cash, you cannot afford it. So I kept working hard and saving, and saving. Eventually I was able to buy a second home and rent the first one, and then another one. I also paid cash for 3 acres of lakefront Georgia vacation property. The lessons that you teach can turn around even the most drastic of bad debt situations. I am thankful for what you do for others, and especially what you’ve done for me. I have grandchildren now (toddlers and babies). I’d love to have the book, if I am chosen.

  39. Lori Fuller
    Lori Fuller says:

    This sounds like a great book! Our daughter moved across the country to go to college and has moved even further since graduation. We paid her college expenses but always guided her with her ‘spending’. She is now working, funding her 401k, has a fully funded emergency fun and we are talking about her IRA later this summer. She asks for advice but she usually knows what we will say! This would be a great book to give to her so she can raise her eventual children to be financially savvy as well. Thank you for your great column and wonderful, spot-on advice!

  40. Lynne Powell
    Lynne Powell says:

    I learned to manage my finances the hard way. My husband was the one who ran up the credit cards for things and services we didn’t need. I couldn’t pay enough each month to break even. When I finally got him to give me his credit cards I began to make headway. Unfortunately I did not want our kids to witness the struggle so they didn’t learn from our mistakes. My son is financially irresponsible and now I’m seeing by those same traits in my granddaughter. I’d love to have this book for her.

  41. Tina Schrader
    Tina Schrader says:

    I would love to win a copy of this book. We have six children and unfortunately failed the oldest two by not understanding finances very well ourselves. We are working hard to change that and I would like to make sure my other children go out into the world well prepared.

  42. PattiHath
    PattiHath says:

    SO very true. We went through wealthy times and poor times with our boys and they definitely caught more than we taught. Many blessings on a book that’s sorely needed in these difficult times!

  43. Lara
    Lara says:

    My husband and I have 7 kids, between the two of us. Six of them are adults now and most of the time are not making good financial choices. We could use some advice for the youngest. He is adopted and only 2 years old, so we have a chance to redeem ourselves!

  44. Julie Faughnan
    Julie Faughnan says:

    I tried to teach my three sons the value of savings and staying out of debt, but this book would have been a God send! It’s not too late for my nephews so I am going to buy a copy for them! Thank you for all the terrific tips and info!

  45. MoreFreedom2
    MoreFreedom2 says:

    Yes, kids learn from our actions. Sad to say, I’ve seen far too many politicians and leaders who say one thing and do another engaging in “Do as I say” but not as they do. They are terrible examples for our children and future generations.

    An ethical life respecting boundaries is the way to go. You can look in the mirror, rest easily, and look back on your life with few regrets if you do. And that is a great example for others. And there are a lot of people who do.

  46. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    I have a 16 year old son, who has started asking questions about investing and giving. It made me so proud. I just wish I had that kind of thought process at his age. I have never read your book about “Raising financially confident kids”. I would like to get a copy to help me with my 13 year old daughter. I hope I can raise her to have the same philosophy as my son. Each one is definitely different. Thank you for all you post and discuss. You really have some good stuff on your site.

  47. Randy Lake
    Randy Lake says:

    Mary, we followed your advice many years ago which helped us stay out of debt. We started with the envelope system way back then and subscribed to your newsletter which was mailed to us each month. Our kids caught on and when they moved out, we purchased subscriptions for them and they are doing well today. Now we want to teach the Grands, all 3 of them.
    Thank you Mary!!!!

  48. LHL
    LHL says:

    I’m glad you’re getting this out there, I didn’t have good financial rolls growing up, as even though my parents got their house paid off, they always struggled with everything else and never planning well. My husband had a horrible financial example with his parents filing bankruptcy 3 times. It has set us up for many years of struggling and making mistakes over and over again and not being where I would have liked to have been at this point in our lives.


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