This special series is part of CentSai’s commitment to financial literacy at every level. We’re collaborating with financial-education advocate Sam X Renick on a series of short interviews, videos, and tips. In this installment, parenting expert Dr. Denny Coates shares the most important money lesson he learned as a child — as well as a tip for parents and teachers — with Renick.

A Childhood Money Lesson

Sam X Renick: What is the most important money habit you learned as a child? Briefly share the story of how you learned the habit and what impact it has had on you throughout your life.

Dr. Denny Coates: When I was 15, I wanted a set of golf clubs — the best money could buy. In today’s money, the clubs would cost several thousand dollars.

I knew I would have to buy them myself, so I saved every penny I earned.

Eventually I was able to buy them.

The Most Important Money Lesson to Teach Kids

Renick: If you could teach a child only one money habit, what would it be? Briefly explain why.

Coates: The habit is a work ethic — to work to earn money for what you want, not to talk your parents into buying it for you. Why? Because that’s how it works in the adult world.