There’s an old saying: “It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend that counts”. Making the right financial decisions can mean the difference between success and failure. There’s just one problem: when do you learn how to make the right decisions? Too many people learn these lessons the hard way and never quite recover. Wouldn’t it be better if we could learn these important tools early on in life?

A recent 2011 study, “State of the American Family” by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), found that less than 40% of people say their parents stressed the importance of saving money to them at a young age. And close to 80% say it’s important that we educate our children on finances to ensure a strong economy in the future.

So how do we get there?

To address this problem, some advisors have started providing financial literacy to their client’s children and grandchildren. This is typically done via individual meetings or through educational workshops designed specifically for younger people.

For example, Kids’ $mart Start, MassMutual’s financial literacy program for families, has19 individual workshops that provide important financial education starting with parents of newborns and continuing through kids age 18. The company also created a workbook that serves as a conversation starter between parents and their children. It encourages an open dialogue about a variety of financial topics over a series of activities in which the whole family can participate. Tools like the Save! The Game app, available through the App Store for use on the iPhone and iPod Touch, can help bring these lessons to a relatable level. Save! The Game leads players through a 3-D fantasy world where they collect virtual money while trying to avoid the iWannas — impulse items like candy, soda and toys.

The results have been powerful. Clients and their children see the tremendous value of instilling these important building blocks early in life. They feel empowered to make the right financial decisions to help protect themselves and their future. In the end, advisors solidify themselves as advocates for their clients and their families.

In addition to doing the right thing for their clients, these advisors have also seen some important side benefits. Since the advisor has developed a strong relationship with the children and grandchildren, he or she is more likely to continue working with the family as the assets move from one generation to the next. These advisors are more likely to get referrals because they are offering a service that most planners are ignoring.

It’s never too early to start learning important financial skills, and it’s never too early to build your relationship with your future clients.