As we teach our children to know and love God and follow in His ways, encouraging them to honor God with their money is an important task that cannot be neglected. One of the roles my husband plays in parenting is teaching our kids about money management, since he is both knowledgable and interested in the topic. We have also learned from other parents and resources and implemented some basic strategies to help get our kids off to the right start. I have asked my husband to share the following information and resources to encourage you in this endeavor!
Are differences in spending habits a frequent source of conflict in your home? How well do your children understand the value of hard work and the value of a dollar? Do they give generously and save for the future? As a psychiatrist, I am often presented with young adults who expect their parents to not only buy them a car or the latest smart phone, but then pay to repair or replace it when they damage it. One parent may blame the other for enabling their child, while the other points out the careless spending habits of the first. Meanwhile, their older twenty-something year-old isn’t enrolled in class, hasn’t gotten around to finding a job, and stays up late playing video games. The parents are initially shocked when I conclude, “Your children aren’t the ones with the problem- you are. They’ve got it made!”
Each similar story that comes my way further motivates and convicts me to raise our own children differently. As Jesus reminds us in Matthew 12, a house divided cannot stand.
In order for parents to be united in teaching their children biblical money management, they must first practice what they preach. No wonder the Bible contains over 2300 verses instructing us on how to handle money and possessions!
If the thought of tackling this task seems daunting, fear not. Here are three practical resources to help you get your family, including your children, on the right track with money management.
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1. To first get your own house in order, I highly recommend beginning with Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, and/or going through the Financial Peace University course offered at churches nationwide. Both provide a biblically-grounded, step-by-step pathway to financial freedom.
2. I recommend reading Smart Money Smart Kids, co-authored by Dave Ramsey and his daughter, Rachel Cruze. This entertaining and informative book addresses topics such as allowances, saving for a car and college, and the trap of credit card debt that ensnares students and parents alike, all from the unique perspective of both parent and adult child.
3. Also from Dave Ramsey, I highly recommend Junior’s Adventures Story Time Book Set. This six book collection introduces the concept of budgeting through the ‘envelope system,’ where all money received is divided into envelopes marked Give, Save, and Spend. They teach elementary aged children to pro-actively find extra work to do when they want something they cannot afford, save up for it, and pay cash for it rather than going into debt because they cannot wait to have it. They teach responsible spending, delayed gratification, the joy of sharing with others, and the importance of honesty and integrity. Our kids and I love reading these books (over and over!), and I have enjoyed watching them implement the concepts.
After reading the books mentioned, we implemented the following strategies to teach money management:
1. We allow our children opportunities to earn money, apart form their daily chores. While some parents may choose to give an allowance, we feel that basic chores are a part of contributing to the family, and we do not pay them for these tasks. We give them extra, optional chores such as picking up sticks in the back yard, cleaning door handles on kitchen cupboards, and cleaning out mudroom shoe cubbies to earn money.
2. We pay them for their work using the envelope system. If one child works longer and harder than another, that child is paid more. If they receive $5.00 for their work, our kids get out their envelopes, and they put one dollar in give, two-three in save, and the rest in spend.
3. We let them choose how to give and spend their money. Our kids get the satisfaction of choosing where they want to give their money to the Lord as their tithe. Whether it’s church offering, school chapel, or towards a gift for someone in need, they find joy in giving the money they worked hard to earn back to God. Likewise, if there is something they would like to buy, they must find out how much it costs and decide whether it is worth saving for. They value the item much more when they must save up for it rather than just receiving it as a gift.
4. We teach them the importance of saving part of what they earned for a long-term need. The “save” envelope is for a long term need that will take time to save up for. Our children are saving for college and their first car. Although it’s far away at this point, they enjoy putting money in this envelope and watching it grow.
Our children are bombarded with peer pressure and advertisements to always want more and are rarely introduced to the idea of saving and giving God part of their income. They hear messages that debt is not only normal but necessary.
It is our responsibility to prepare them to recognize these negative influences and stay the course toward Biblical stewardship and financial freedom. Even if you were not taught sound money management principles growing up (they are rarely taught in schools) there are resources to help guide you, and you have the ability to potentially change your family’s legacy for generations to come.