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, Jeffrey Hayzlett — primetime television host, speaker, bestselling author, and chairman of the C-Suite Network — tells Renick his childhood money memories and shares advice on teaching kids about money.

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Learning the Value of Hard Work
Jeffrey Hayzlett

A Childhood Money Lesson

Sam X Renick: What is the most important money habit you learned as a child? Please share the story behind how you learned the habit and tell us about the impact it has had on you throughout your life.

Jeffrey Hayzlett: The most important money lesson I learned as a child was the value of saving your money and budgeting. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot. I’ve lived in trailer parks. Early on, I discovered I was really good at sales, so I got a job selling subscriptions, baseball tickets, or whatever would get me some money. My very first job was delivering flyers.

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.

Hayzlett: The value of hard work. Hard work means you get rewarded for it and that you must earn your money. Nothing is ever handed to you.

A Money Mistake

Renick: What was your biggest money mistake as a child or a teenager?

Hayzlett: Buying into fads — fashion, records. I wanted them. I didn’t need them, but I wanted them.

A Smart Money Decision

Renick: What was one of the smartest money decisions you made as a child or a teenager?

Hayzlett: Saving for a rainy day. I learned to anticipate and save for something bigger that I really wanted. I saved up my hard-earned money to buy my first rifle. And I bought it on layaway, too. Also, I saved up to buy my first bike — a banana-seat bike. 

Teaching Kids About Money

Renick: A variety of surveys indicate that teaching kids about money is a challenge for parents. What would you say are one or two of the primary reasons parents find it difficult to talk personal finance with their children? And if you have a suggestion on how they can overcome the obstacle, please share that as well.

Hayzlett: As a parent, you always want your kids to have more than you, but I think that could be a mistake many parents make.

Your kids should have to go through some of the same struggles you went through because denying them that struggle makes it too easy for them.

I’m not saying stand by and watch them drown. But they need to struggle at some point if they want to be successful later in life.

Personal Finance and Schools

Renick: Why do you believe there is not more personal finance being taught in schools?

Hayzlett: I think it’s shortsighted of institutions to not teach personal finance. But it’s not all up to the schools. Parents should teach their kids about personal finance, too. I was taught to balance a checkbook and keep a balanced account, and I was even instructed in proper phone etiquette. I think this is a lost art that many students could currently benefit from and don’t.

A Final Thought: What If the Research Is Wrong?

Renick: Cambridge University research indicates that adult money habits are set by age seven. What if the research is wrong and adult money habits are formed earlier, perhaps around the age the “give mes” set in? What does this mean for families, schools, and the financial education industry?

Hayzlett: I think it’s important to start things early in life. The earlier, the better. Kids should be learning the value of good habits early on. Once they get older — well, as the saying goes, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

Take Action

Have a talk with your kids or a friend about the importance of making saving and investing a habit.

Discover more about Jeffrey Hayzlett at his website.