Did you know that Jesus talked about money as much as He talked about eternity? As we look for ways to help our kids connect everyday life to spiritual truths, I think it's really important to talk to them and teach them God's perspective of money. Today, I've invited my friend, Marybeth Whalen, who is also a P31 speaker, fellow blogger, mom of six, and author of "Learning to Live Financially Free", to share with us some important financial truths we can teach our kids.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“You should save for a rainy day.”
“Waste not, want not.”
We all grew up hearing these little sayings as children, but did any of us really know what they meant? I know I didn’t enter marriage with much practical wisdom about managing money, so I went to the world for answers. This is what I heard:
“Buy now, pay later.”
“90 days same as cash.”
“No interest until you’re too old to care anymore!”
And for a young, broke married couple, all of this sounded pretty good. In hindsight, I wish my husband and I had been more prepared for life from a financial standpoint. Since we weren’t, we have determined that we will do our level best to prepare our own children. Here are some principles we have discovered that are important to consistently teach our children:
Debt is not “normal” or healthy. The culture will tell your kids otherwise, reasoning that to carry a credit card balance and car loan, not to mention a mortgage, is normal. They will go even further in telling your kids that to have a healthy credit score, you must carry some debt—as long as you pay on time. You can go a long way towards countering that by teaching otherwise within your home. Let your kids see you save for things you want instead of financing them. Explain why you turned down that store credit card at the register—even though the cashier made it sound like they would save you money. Begin to discuss what interest is, and how much actual money is spent on interest. If you have made mistakes in this area, share that with them so that they will see the dangers of debt.
Tithing is essential. I have a friend who always tells her kids, “God honors those who honor Him.” While I am not preaching a prosperity doctrine here, I do think that kids need to understand the importance of tithing from an early age. The earlier a habit is started, the more natural it becomes. Require them to tithe ten percent of any allowance, babysitting money, etc. to your church. Divide their allowance money up right in front of them. Consider starting an envelope system with them, with an envelope for saving, spending and tithing.
Delayed gratification builds character. In our flesh we want it and we want it now! And yet, we know that waiting and growing through that process is more often how God works in our lives. This is certainly true of finances. You do your child a disservice if you don’t teach them to wait, as this is a necessary life skill that they will have to learn at some point. Better to learn this in the protection and nurture of your home. Purchasing something that has been anticipated and savored is a shining moment in a child’s life—with much more benefit attached to that item in the end, I can assure you! The next time your child tells you they want something now, ask them how much money they have, and help them ponder how much they will need to save. Help them think of some extra chores they can do to raise the money, then give them a goal to work towards, and help them plan how to reach their goal. Most times, they will either forget about the item (showing you it would have been a waste of your hard-earned money) or have a character-building experience. While it might take a bit more time on your part, the life lesson they learn is worth it.
Eating out and other forms of entertainment (movies, etc.) are special treats, not a lifestyle. I have noticed a certain level of expectation among children, especially in the areas of eating out and being entertained, to the tune of high costs and little appreciation. Through my husband’s financial counseling, he has determined that one of the number one budget busters for families is eating out and entertainment. We as parents have learned to reward ourselves in this way, reasoning that we “deserve it.” And our kids have picked up on that. A shift in perspective for the entire family can save money and provide a more realistic attitude. Examine your family’s attitude and budget in this area, and see if there are changes you need to make. Make going out to eat a treat instead of the norm, rent movies (they come out so soon after they are released now you hardly have to wait anymore!) and have a family movie night complete with popcorn and sleeping bags on the floor, or ask the kids if they would like to spend their own money to go out. We have started doing this with our kids and it is amazing how quickly they decide they don’t want to eat out!
Marybeth, this is great stuff! I can't wait to read your book and give away a copy today. If you have questions for Marybeth or something you'd like to share based on what she gave us to ponder today, please post your comment here and then hop over to her blog to win some aqua juice!
Today's Mom Give-Aways
To be part of these give-aways, click on "comments" below. PLEASE include your email so we can get in touch if you win. Also, I'd love to know the age of your kids and where you are from.