Teaching Our Kids Financial Truths

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

We're giving away a copy of Marybeth's book, "Learning to Live Financially Free" and "Total Money Make-Over" by Dave Ramsey.

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.


Blogger RefreshMom said...

This is a really timely post for me. DS turns 6 in a few hours and one of his gifts is a cash register (he and DS3 have recently started playing 'store' and having a grasp of the value of money) and a coin sorting bank. I was talking with a friend just yesterday about beginning to help him understand earning money and saving for things he wants. These kinds of tools will help us get off to a good start. We need to work on our church to give the children opportunities to give more often than just the VBS coin collection so they can start to learn the tithing concept.

(We're in California and would love to see you bring She Speaks or something to the west coast!)

Anonymous Lisa V said...

I grew up in a home that didn't talk about money and was definitely not taught how to handle money. Only now at 36 am I learning that debt and credit is not the norm. And I'm learning the hard way to the tune of being in 30K credit card debt. My husband and I are now learning to live within our means slowly but surely. I see all the silly mistakes I made first as a single woman and then in married life. I am determined for my 2 yr old to grow up understanding the truths you've outlined in today's post. Sometimes I'm so angry at myself for living the lie this culture feeds us. Even my 26 yr old sister said to me the other day "credit is the way of life". Scary stuff. Thank you for the post, it's a blessing as I continue on this journey to become Debt Free.

Blogger HL0517 said...

wonderful advice and not just for children. These are lessons we could all take advice and learn from. I have a son who is 2 and definately want to teach him responsibility w/ his money.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a lesson that I struggle with time and time again. Correcting bad financial decisions are so hard with all the media thrown at us. I have two college age students and I try to tell them about all the pitfalls of credit cards. I want to keep them from making the same mistakes that I continue to make. Thanks for the encouraging thoughts.


Blogger Sherry T said...

I've really been enjoying your "encouragement for moms" series, Renee. So many things you have spoken of have hit home with me.

We are definitely guilty of the eating-out budget buster! Marybeth has some great tips and I'd love to read more in her book.

Ottawa, Ontario

(I have two girls, 6 and 3.)

Anonymous Susan L. said...

I am loving your mom series! I want my children to grow up being good stewards.

Susan L.
Ava-10 months

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been using Dave Ramsey's books since we got married and what a life saver they have been for us!!! We have not had one argument about money! We always refer to "what would Dave do" if we can't decide. I highly recommend that every family get his books!!
Silas, 2 yrs
Lydia, 8 months

Anonymous Henrietta said...

Children are never to young to start learning about finances. My kids are 20, 22 and 26, and we are still teaching these lessons, especially through these tough economic times. Thanks for the encouragement.


Blogger Shannon said...

This IS all helpful advice. There are so many things we have dropped the ball on with talking/teaching our kids. Seems as if there isn't enough time in the day. But it is never to late to try.


Blogger Mollie said...

We have struggled with finances for 7 years now and are finally starting to see the light at the end of a dark tunnel. It wasn't until I had 2 babies in one year and wanted to stay at home with them that I realized how little the things we charged on those credit cards mean to me. I would give it all back to stay at home with my babies.


Blogger simmons said...

This really hit home with me since I am struggling with being content myself. How can I teach my kids to be content when I am not. I have 3 kids under age 5 and my 5 year old daughter already talks about wanting what others have. This concerns me a lot and I feel a great fear about how to handle it. I realize now it must start with me before I can truthfully teach them. Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is exactly what our whole family needs, and that includes mommy and daddy! Our oldest daughter is 13, our next daughter is 11,our son is 8, and our baby girl is 3. We need all the advice we can get! Thanks so much for all your encouragement!

Sarah Drohan
Newport, Ky.

Blogger Stacey said...

This is good stuff; with Kayla's home school curriculum I have divided one section called "Life Skills." One of those "life skills" is learning to live within means...shopping on a budge... this would be great to go along with that section!

Anonymous Pam said...

I am struggling with my 16yo over money issues. He seems to think just because he wants it and his friends have it so should he. I read somewhere yesterday that if you pull out your credit card you should have the cash to pay with it in the other. thanks for the great blog I look forward to reading it everyday Pam. ballfieldlady@hughes.net

Blogger Marybeth said...

RefreshMom-- one disturbing thing I learned from Dave Ramsey is that credit card companies are vying to be the emblem on these little cash register fake cards!! They know they need to get our kids "credit minded" and bent towards their particular emblem. Frightening!

Blogger Wendi said...

I know from experience that Dave Ramsey's plan works if you work it. While we were doing the plan we did great. Then we let things slip. Thankfully we are not back into our big pit but we are not as good as we could be.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would love these!
Dawn P
Houston, Tx

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great post on a very tough subject. Really do need insights on how to teach this to my kids. Especially when husband and I have very different backgrounds on way money is handled. I believe in no debt pay cash...he is all about buy now pay later. Don't want girls (ages 8 and 5) to learn his ways and he is slowly seeing the light since he came to the marriage with tons of debt and I have none. We have started living on a budget and rarely eat out. Not always easy but better than the alternative with lots of debt. We are blessed to both be employed in this scary economy

Kim in IL

Blogger tiggerdaisy said...

What a great post! As a financial counselor, I'm impressed by this practical and easy to use information for the family. I LOVE it!


Blogger TamdVMom said...

It is so important to teach our children to be good stewards of their money especially in our get it to me now society.

Charlotte, NC

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great information. I have been so blessed and challenged by your "encouragement for moms" series. Thank you for entering me in the giveaway!

Lubbock, TX
8 y.o. daughter
6 y.o. son

Anonymous Stephenie said...

My husband and I have been on the Dave Ramsey plan for a little over a year now. I highly recommend his books. Our kids use the Financial Peace Jr. envelope system. Thanks for devoting time to parenting, Renee.

Abby - 8
Matt - 7

Blogger Casey S. said...

My husband and I were not finacially prepared by either of our parents. It was a very hard lesson to learn. I too find this to be an important issue for us to teach or boys. From their allowance, I have a spend, save and share. From the save portion they buy gifts for each other on birthdays and Christmas (no more than $20) and the rest is for spending for a vaction, etc. The share portion is what is tithed. It is such an important piece of life that I believe maybe even should be taught early in school. Thank you for another great post.


Blogger JottinMama said...

Both of those books sound so wonderful!

Good stuff!

Blessings to you,
Kate :)
*We have a 2 year old boy and one on the way!
*We live in Ohio!

Blogger Joyful said...

I'm reminded of the saying that we need to cut our coat according to our cloth and only buy what we actually have money to pay for at any given time. We need to be wise stewards of the money God has entrusted to us - whether it be much or little.

Marybeth shares wonderful wisdom and insight here. Great encouragement and very practical.

Reminding myself everything I have is His,

Blogger natalie said...

I have a 3-year-old daughter and a son on the way in June. My husband and I are trying to get out of debt and to be good stewards of all that God has blessed us with, and I definitely want to pass that on to my children.


Blogger Cassie said...

Thank you for this post. This will be helpful as we teach our son Harrison (age 2) about financial truths. It was helpful to me as well!


We live in Simpsonville SC

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to learn more about this! My parents always taught us to split our allowance between saving, spending, and the church, but we didn't tithe, exactly. My kids don't get an allowance or anything like that yet, but I want to make sure that we have a plan before it begins, and it probably won't be long. Thanks for sharing!

Roxboro, NC

Anonymous Shelley said...

I am excited to hear from Mary Beth on this topic - I can't wait to read her book. Dave Ramsey talks about changing your family tree, and my husband and I are actively trying to do that. Our parents didn't know/teach us those foundational things and we have had to learn them as adults. I pray that our kids will learn some of these truths without creating messes first.

Blogger Michele said...

Marybeth's book looks great and I'm a Dave Ramsey fan, too. We can all take a closer look at how we spend the resources God gives us. Thanks for the reminder.
Mom to Carly, age 4
Charlotte, NC

Blogger Kim said...

These lessons are not only good for the kids but also for the adults. I look forward to sharing this book with my 2 DD (22 & 18). Even if I don't win a copy, I was planning on purchasing one when available.

Thanks so much for all you do.

Kim in Snowy Ohio

Blogger Kim said...

I have two daughters - 19 and 16 years old. We have tried teaching them the value of saving, etc. but my 19 year old has gotten herself into debt already. I am realizing only now that I didn't fully understand the biblical perspective on how to handle your finances and failed in passing that along to my daughters. I have not read any of Dave Ramsey's books but see so many recommendations here that I think I may pick up one. And I love Marybeth so I know her book is going to be great!
Thanks for the chance to win one of them.

NW Indiana (near Chicago)

Would love to know if She Speaks conferences or any of the Proverbs 31 Speakers will be coming to the Chicago area!

Blogger Happy Four said...

What a timely post in these uncertain financial times. We have some financial "things" we are dealing with...need I say more? and Marybeths' book would be such a blessing.

Thank you for these amazing posts. God is using them!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such great information that I wish I had been taught before my college years! My husband and I are working hard to get out from under large student loan debts. We're trying to teach our girls to be good stewards of their money now so they don't make the same mistakes we did.

3 girls - 9, 5, and 3

Anonymous Miriam said...

Thank you for timely financial advice. It helps me reflect on what "financial personality" I've inherited from my family: vacillating from being extremely frugal (ie.living without a phone for part of graduate school) like my mother or spending on impulse like my father (especially for books and "healthy" groceries). My husband comes from a much more even-keeled, frugal background and we need to balance out our unique tendencies/differences. Thanks for the Dave Ramsey recommendation.

Metamora, IL

Anonymous Shannon in icy West Texas said...

We have always tried to teach our sons (15 & 11) financial responsibility, especially since it was such a hard lesson for us to learn after we got married. My oldest is saving for a car while my youngest is saving for a trip he wants to take with a friend this summer. With faith and obedience, they will meet their goals while learning a very important lesson. Thanks for your messages - they are always such an encouragement.

Blogger Sarah said...

My kids are 3 and 4.5 months. I was really excited to see this post today as DH and I took the Financial Peace University course last year and we are debt free except our house.

Blogger Denise said...

I am really enjoying your series Renee! You and Lysa were amazing here in Houston last week! I can't wait to attend another conference with you!!

My husband and I have never tried any methods other than trying to make more than we spend but we really have no set idea on how to do that!!

Our son is almost 2, so we need to get our hineys in gear!!!


Anonymous beverlydru said...

Hi! I'm from Florida and my children are almost all grown (the youngest is in college). My oldest daughter (who is married)got on Dave Ramsey's plan last year and talks about it alot. I have listened to Dave on the radio but would love to read his books. I'm sure I woud pass them right on to our newlywed son. He takes after his dad and is (a miser) - oh I meant he's great at saving money. : )

Thank you for dropping by my blog yesterday. I hear you on the radio and feel like I know you and Lysa!

These books sound wonderful! We just have a baby right now, but I know that we want to teach her about money from an early age.

Meredith Abramowski from Illinois

Blogger Alexis said...

Thanks you for the tips! My husband and I plan on teaching our kids how to be financially wise since we had to learn the hard way and made many mistakes along the way! Our parents never taught us about finances and we do not plan to follow that path!

Atlanta, GA (two boys 5 on Thursday and 2 1/2)

Blogger Just me~ Bobbie Jo said...

What a good topic! I wish my husband and I would have learned this when we were growing up. This would have saved us when we got married. However, we are doing "right" by our kids and teaching them better. Our kids are 16, 14 & 12.

Blogger Heather said...

We are still learning these lessons too. I pray that we will instill the right attitude about money in our children now so they will be good stewards.

Heather in NC


Blogger lisasmith said...

Renee--Such good stuff!! We also want to teach our children to do better than we did when we first got married. Thanks!


Anonymous Leslie said...

Thanks for the notes for helping our kids and teaching them financial truth.
I'm hoping to get my kids helping me add up bills, so they realize they DO NEED to turn off the light! :)
When I was a little girl, my parents helped me with a checking account, helped me deposit the money into it, and helped me write the checks out for my dance lessons. Maybe that is why I'm a little business savvy today.


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. We LOVE the teaching of Dave R. With 8 children, ages 3-17, it's nice to know that we're not the only ones who appreciate teaching children to live within their means and about God's provisions. God Bless You!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am always blessed by you young ones. So much more savvy than we were in our early days. You have to be. As a speaker/singer and Mom to many, I had to learn to make every move count or I would get behind. God is and was, at the helm of my ship, or I could not have accomplished as much as I did. My day began at four a m with God, and ended when it ended. Thanks for all your valuable insight. Granny

Blogger sweettea said...

This post was a good reminder, Renee. Eddie and I didn't come into marriage with debt (thanks to our generous parents), so we have not known the struggle that many have had. We have tried passing these tips that MB has mentioned to our kids, but they seem to be falling on some deaf ears. :o( One of mine recently said, "When I get my credit card..." It made me laugh at the moment, but at the same time cringe inside because I know if they continue with this thinking, they're headed for trouble.

Do you think there's some validity in "personalities"? Some seem to be natural spenders while others are natural savers. The one spoken of above is always "broke", while some others always seem to have money...

Julie W.
Emily Anna, 12
Elisha, 10,
{Micah Rhys 1999}
Erynn, 8
Isaac, 22 months

Blogger sweettea said...

BTW, we have always done the envelope system with them, though it doesn't seem to have "hit the mark" with their hearts yet. I personally like it, especially if there's something I want to save for; it motivates me. Now if I just knew how to pass that motivation on!

We have eaten out a lot in these past few years, sometimes due to convenience (if your 30 minutes away from home, it doesn't seem practical to go home to eat) and some due to health issues (fatigue factor), but I do see this expectation in my kids. However, when we eat out, we still try to do the most cost-effective thing there-be it sharing meals, etc. Please tell me they'll eventually get it and appreciate it!?!

Julie W.

Blogger celia said...

Thanks for sharing this information with your readers. It is alittle late for me to teach these concepts to my sons, but I surely can teach my grandkids. I thank God for this site.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try to start my day with reading your devotional page. We have been trying for some time to apply living debt free. And eating out is a huge pitfall for us as well. Our children are 20 and 17. One is a sopohomore @ State and the other a senior in high school. With the mounting college debt we need all the "advice" and encouragement to stay on the right track. I enjoy reading your page each day and pray that you continue in your ministry.

Anonymous Amy L said...


I am a sningle mother of 3 boys aged 7and a 1/2, 11, and 14. i enjoyed reading your devotionals and they are pratical to every dya stuff like the treasure map and the bible. my tow younger sons recently got a news papper route, and im trying to share with them about tything, but theyr not getting it. i have been on social assistance and havent been tything but want to . iv recently applied to Osap to go back to school and figure to give thanks to god i would like to start tything a little bit each month.
we are in Ontario,Prescott area of the world.
god bless and take care. thanks again for the messages you share.

Blogger Jennifer said...

This contest may be over but oh well that article was well worth it even without the contest. I am a single mom of a 7 year old and the eating out and movies thing really hit home. We eat out pretty much everyday. Why? Because we eat very little, have very little time and by the time you factor in the amount it cost to purchase the food cooked, the amount we waste and the time I put into cooking it, McD's just sounds like the better option. Well in all honesty, if I would make a few changes it wouldn't be the better option on my pocketbook or my waistline lol. Anyways, I am going to start doing better with this and work harder on teaching my son the value of tithing. I have explained it to him but actually having him do it often goes by the wayside. Thanks for this article!!! Oh, and I am so excited to say that I am about to purchase the Dave Ramsey kit and start getting even better at finances!!!

Blogger Dori Cox said...

My 20 yr old is having financial woes, and this is a timely article for me, also. I wish I had a "money manager", as I am a single Mom who struggles sometimes paying bills. I just recently refinanced my home, to reduce my interest rate (PTL!) and pay off credit cards. I am cutting up several of them! And, I am going to work hard to save more than spend more. Thanks for your good advice!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a great post...I am the mom of 2 wonderful daughters (5) and (2). We live in SC. Not sure if this giveaway is over, but I would love to receive these items. Cathy

Blogger Denise said...

Thanks for your advice. I have struggled over "requiring my children to give some of their money" and suggesting it to them. I have never required them but now think I should. How do I start doing that now? They are 22,19,17,15, and 10.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying the posts this month. Thanks for taking time to share your ideas with others.


Anonymous Loren said...

What a wonderful post! I am getting married in 2 months and would love for my husband and I to start out on the right path and also start young and early with the right lessons to teach our children one day! Thank you for the advice. These tools will be very helpful for us!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to be included in the giveaway.

Love your blogs

Terri Schmidt

Blogger Kelly said...

I would love to be included in the giveaway for the books. I know the Lord has been dealing with me regarding credit card debt and to pay it off. I know I have bought into the instant gratification culture and now need to get off the merry-go-round, pay the cc's off and save up cash for purchases. I would love to read Marybeth's book!
I have three adult stepkids and six grandkids, ages 12, 10, 8, 3 and 14 month old twin girls! I want to be able to

Blogger The Paulsens said...

This is really close to my heart. My daughter is just turning 2 but we are already thinking of practical ways to build her character and knowledge in this area.

Lindsay, Omaha, NE

Anonymous B R King said...

At last, practical Biblical truths spoken by practical Biblical truth-speaking folks. How refreshing it is. I was taught many "sayings" as a youth; but, there was no explanations to follow. It was left up to me to figure it out; even if it took a life experience (no matter how harsh) to teach me. We need to preach/teach and then follow that with practical living. I know now how to help my children be a step further than I was at their age(which is 16,14,10). Thank you and May the peace of God be with you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this...I thought my children knew what a tithe was and realized they didn't I was so surprised...thanks for leading me to discuss this with them.

Blogger Momof3 said...

Wow how appropriate. We've been talking with our children (Haley 8, Zachary 6 and Jacob 3) explaining why we don't get to eat out all the time and why we can't have a toy at the store everytime we go like some of their friends parents do. It's really hard to get them to understand the value of money and how it doesn't grow on trees. We too have bought them a cash register and play money to try and explain some of the concepts too. I'd love to have a copy of the books and help with this explaination for our children. What great advice you've given and valuable lessons for everyone. Can't wait to share with my husband too! Thanks and keep up the good work.

Anonymous Babydoll said...

I am the children's ministry coordinator at my church, Mt. Olive SDA Church, and I teach young children. I am teaching them to give to missions [from money they earn], to help the needy here at home, and to care for the elderly. On many occasions I have spoke about children learning to tithe at an early age, so that giving will be natural for them. I will print your article and share it with their parents. Thanks!

Blogger nazyouth4god said...

This was a great blog with several truths. I think teaching our children about tithing and money is one of those overlooked areas and a place where we under estimate because they are too young to worry about such things.

nazyouth4god (at) hotmail (dot) com

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think our children are going to have some hard financial times ahead---we need to prepare them.

joleneraye (at) yahoo (dot) com

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to win this book, my family and I are in financial trouble, our marriage is hurting due to this and I'm praying/begging God to help us. We have 2 children 14 and 11 and I'm trying to teach them about money so they won't end up like us. I love your website.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As first time blogger, I'm not sure if I am doing it right. But here goes. I am a grandmother who wishes that all of this information was around when I was raising my 6. But I thing I can still make a difference in my grandchildren's life. Thank You

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your words of wisdom really hit home for me. I struggle with credit cards when I am feeling low or need a quick pick me up and then when the bill comes I hate myself for doing it, so it is a vicious cycle. I am doing better than before but it is hard when you haven't been given the tools early on in life. I see a pattern ahead with my children if I don't show them the right way to manage money and your message is what I need to start. Please pray for my family to be Debt free one day soon.

We have a boy 13 and a girl 6 and we are in South carolina

Blogger gunningfam05 said...

This is such a great thing to do with your kids.
With my 5/4 yr old.. they go out shopping with me alot.
I would love to implement some of this while we shop.
My daughter likes BK.. so I use it as a reward.. if she doesnt throw a fit while out..we can get supper at BK.. ( this is our once a month thing).. we dont do it every week.

I would love more ideas to use with them so that they understand.

Blogger Serenity Now! said...

Great ideas! I look forward to raising my kids with better financial smarts than I was raised with!

I'm in Alberta, Canada, my kids are 7 and 2.

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