Interview: Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey And Rachel Cruze

Career Resources


I recently spoke to Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze, as they were releasing their new book “Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money“. Ramsey is America’s trusted voice o”.n money and business. His four New York Times best-selling books –Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership – have sold more than 7 million copies combined. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 6 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations and iHeartRadio. Cruze is a seasoned communicator and presenter, who has been speaking to groups as large as 10,000 for nearly a decade. You can follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelCruze, online at or at In the following interview, they talk about how they came together to write the book, how a parents money habits can impact their childrens, their best financial tips, and more.

Dan Schawbel: Why did you both come together to write this book and why now?

Rachel Cruze: When I was younger, I would travel with dad to his different events and hear him teach people common-sense principles for handling their money. People would always come up to me and tell me that they wish they knew these lessons when they were younger. And for many years, people have been asking my dad how he taught me and my siblings about money and how they could do the same.

Throughout Smart Money Smart Kids we show parents how they can intentionally teach their kids about money. I give my perspective as a child growing up in a household where these lessons were taught, and discuss how these lessons have affected me as an adult. Dave shares his perspective and addresses the challenges parents face.

We’re seeing the devastating money mistakes that teens and young adults are making simply because they were never taught how to handle money. Handling money is a life skill that needs to be taught just like brushing your teeth or bathing. By teaching their kids these principles from an early age, parents can help their kids avoid making financial mistakes as adults.

Schawbel: What impact can a parents money habits have on their children?

Cruze: I often say that more is caught than taught. Parents need to realize that their kids are watching them. You’re setting an example by the way you handle your money, and your kids will pick up on this. If you run to the mall and go shopping every time you have a bad day, or if you sit down and create a budget with your spouse each month, your kids will notice this. So make sure you’re modeling good money habits for your children. Some of the best lessons I learned growing up were simply from watching the way my parents interacted with money.

Schawbel: How can students pay back their student loans quickly? What are the drawbacks to not paying them back for years?

Cruze: Too many young adults are drowning in student loan debt. Your largest wealth building tool is your income, and when it’s tied up in monthly payments it’s hard to start saving for things like a house or retirement. So it’s important to get rid of your debt quickly.

Get a job – any job. You might not be able to get your dream job right out of college, but it’s important to start making an income. And then pick up an extra job or two to make some additional income. You also need to make sacrifices. You may not be able to go on vacation, live in the nicest apartment or buy new furniture. But if you make sacrifices now you’ll be able to get rid of this debt and live with a lot less financial stress. Making these sacrifices and working overtime isn’t easy, but it’s worth the sacrifice.

Schawbel: Why do parents avoid the personal finance conversation with their children? Why don’t schools teach it?

Cruze: A lot of parents don’t feel equipped with the knowledge of how to teach their kids, what to teach them or at what age to start teaching them. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Take simple, every day lessons and turn them into teachable moments.

Teaching kids about money is also more than just math and numbers; it can be an emotional topic. Parents think that if they’ve made mistakes in the past, or if their own finances aren’t in the best shape, they can’t teach their kids these lessons. But I’m living proof that’s not true. After hitting rock bottom financially and deciding to change the way they handled their finances, my parents used that as an opportunity to teach us how to avoid the same financial mistakes they made. And other parents can do the same. Start getting your own finances in order, and use those moments to show your kids what you’re doing and why.

It’s crucial that teens and young adults learn how money works and how to handle money responsibly. More high schools and colleges are beginning to offer financial literacy courses to help them learn the basics about budgeting, debt, retirement and much more. Our high school curriculum, Foundations in Personal Finance, has been taught to more than 1.3 million students in more than 16,000 schools. And our college curriculum has been offered at more than 350 colleges to more than 45,000 students.

Schawbel: What are the top three pieces of financial advice you have for your children so they can better manage their money as they grow older?

Dave Ramsey: Our children are now grown. Our youngest, Daniel, is graduating from college this spring. The top three financial lessons I recommend are:

1. Be intentional. If you’re going to win with money, you have to be intentional. Many people get into financial trouble because they don’t know where their money is going or what they’re spending it on. Create a written budget each month so you can be intentional with where your money goes.

2. Avoid Debt. Debt robs you of your income and causes immense stress in people’s lives. Without debt you’re able to spend and give freely.

3. Save. There are three things you save for: large purchases, emergencies and retirement. By saving for these things you’re not only able to avoid debt, you’re able to set yourself up for long-term financial success.