Teaching Wants vs. Needs to Children of Wealth- Susan Schoenfeld

3 min readApr 22, 2022


Image from Unplash by Andre Taissin

Susan R. Schoenfeld, CEO and Founder of Wealth Legacy Advisors LLC serves as a ‘thought partner’ to families of wealth through personal attention and human spirit.

Susan is an award-winning Thought Leader; she provides guidance on legacy, next generation, stewardship, governance, leadership succession, and philanthropy. Susan recently spoke at the Tacoma, WA Estate Planning Council’s virtual event.

“A rule of thumb for allowances is don’t make it a reward for doing chores, but rather convey that chores are expected as a member of this family; we all pitch in. Some of us make the beds, some of us take out the garbage, some of us go to the office and some of us are in charge of our family foundation. We all have our responsibilities in the family and whatever chores the child is expected to do are expected as a member of the family and don’t get rewarded with an allowance.

“It’s a way to start educating the kids on the concept of Wants versus Needs. We’ve all heard kids say, I need that latest video game or iPhone, but the answer is no, you don’t need it, you want it. What you need is shelter, clothing, the basic needs, everything else is really a Want. And teaching them the difference between Wants and Needs is a wonderful way to use the allowance: we as your parents will pay for the things you need, the allowance is a way for you to pay for things that you want.

“It is also a great vehicle to teach your children budgeting. You may have heard of the 3-jar concept of allowances: there is a jar for Spending, a jar for Saving, and a jar for Giving. You encourage your children to allocate every allowance into the three jars. My suggestion is to take that a step further. Assuming that giving is part of your family’s culture, I suggest having the parents match all funds deposited into the Give jar, and making the Give jar a little bit bigger than the Save or Spend jars, and also having the jars be clear, so the child can see the Give jar growing exponentially faster than the other two jars.

“Someone told me recently that she gives her 6-year-old 6 quarters every week for allowance, and encourages her child to put two quarters in each of the three jars, and every month or two she matches what her child puts in the Give jar. I said, your child is only 6 and has a relatively limited attention span. If you match it right on the spot, they will see that Give jar growing faster than the other two.

“Although the primary purpose of the 3 jars is to teach children is to teach them that responsibility accompanies their privilege, it also teaches them delayed gratification and budgeting, that they have to save up for that extra toy or that extra candy. This may be something I really want but I don’t have enough money yet, but if I don’t buy myself those other little goodies I’ll have a little extra left over and it will add up so I can ultimately buy what I really want.”


Susan Schoenfeld, a public speaker & thought partner to families of wealth and their advisors, is an author and award winning thought leader. Susan’s decision to switch from being a successful estate planning attorney and CPA to becoming a trusted family advisor and thought partner was inspired by families of wealth asking her searching questions beyond estate tax planning. As a conflict-free advisor who provides no investment, tax or legal advice and sells no product, Susan shares her insights directly with wealthy families and with financial services experts. She is active as a keynote speaker and a leader of break-out sessions and workshops at conferences throughout the US.




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