We’re not trying to raise great kids, we’re trying to raise great adults.
As Christian parents, we want to build into our children a biblical worldview about money. There should be ongoing lessons on getting, giving, and saving money in God’s way.
Kids should also understand – probably more caught than taught – that you can’t serve both God and money and that our treasures are truly in heaven.
I’m blessed to have several concrete memories regarding faithful finances, of committed giving to the church and not building your kingdom on earth.
I recently read a book called Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt. I thought I would share a few of my thoughts and practical ideas below. Here are nine ideas for helping your kids get a Godly grasp on finances.
Be A Giving Family
The best cure for being controlled by money is to give it away. There’s no threshold of how much you have before you begin giving. Giving isn’t about the amount, but the heart, so you have to start now. Teach your kids to give away a portion of their income – birthdays, allowance, even some of your own money. (READ: When Should Your Child Tithe)
Living frugally is one of the best gifts you can give to your children. There is no reason to go overboard with stuff. In fact, extravagant living can cause harm to a child. If you want to be extravagant, be extravagant with things that don’t cost much money – time, eye contact, being home, simple experiences, dinners together at home, etc. (Read: Seven Ways To Parent With Frugal Extravagance)
Simplify The Christmas Season
Simpler Christmas seasons set a great tone in the lives of kids. Life is not about stuff. but about loving God and loving others. Gifts are fun, children should give to each other and members of the family and friends, but simple is so nice. Children should learn to be resourceful, intentional and simple with their gifts.
One commercial isn’t the problem, it’s the 400 commercials per day that create the tipping point. Typical children in our culture don’t have a chance. They crave, desire, and “need” in a way that can’t even be quenched. There is such a push and market toward children and they don’t even know it’s happening to them. One simple way to help your kids grow in a high-class way of relating to their money is to diminish commercial intake. Mute the TV during all commercials. Limit time on screens. You’ll be surprised how some little shifts will help children stop wanting so much.
Your children should understand the principles of saving money. You get your paycheck, give the first portion to God, put it another portion into savings, and then live on the rest. Give them practical, age-appropriate tools to make saving a lifelong habit. Small piggy banks when they are younger, bank accounts, and money markets when they are older. Help them grow in the discipline of saving.
Teach The Problems With Debt
Debt, especially unsecured debt like school, credit cards, going out to eat, etc., sucks the life of any individual. You no longer can make the decisions you need to, you’re no longer free to follow God’s call wherever it may take you, and you’re no longer able to use your money as you see fit. It truly becomes someone else money. The Bible has a lot to say about debt, such as Proverbs 22:7, in essence, debt enslaves. Here are some other problems with debt:
- Debt Advances Dissatisfaction – Buying on credit feeds instant gratification and we are less happy with things for which we did not have to work.
- Debt Destroys Options – You can’t make clear decisions when you have so much debt – no going back to school, going on the mission field, etc.
- Debt Destroys Relationships – Most marital fights are over finances and most young couples don’t want to begin a family with so much debt over their heads.
- Debt Is Equal Opportunity – It always brings misery.
“Debt is a terrible thief — hazardous to your wealth” – Mary Hunt
Live Within Your Means
In a world of credit cards, teaching your children to live within their means has life-altering effects! Instant gratification is the way of the culture, but kids can learn differently. Be content. Happiness is not found in stuff, in fact, once you have the “thing” you’ve purchased beyond your means, your happiness and contentment level goes down! You now have to deal with the repercussions of paying more than you can afford on the back end. (Read: Four Ways To Teach Your Children To Be Content)
Teach Kids The Problems With Entitlement
Entitlement is an epidemic. Make sure you teach your child they need to work to live. It’s part of God’s design. A sense of entitlement in a child will be a detriment to their ability to put their hands and mind to good use and balance life with work and play. Give your child the gift of work and discipline – it will serve them well in life!
Teach The Difference Between Needs And Wants
This may be obvious, but needs are different from wants. Helping kids learn this important principle at a young age is a huge benefit to the child and the whole family. Somehow, by the grace of God, our kids have never stood in the grocery store aisle or the Target toy aisle asking to buy this or that. I think I can safely attribute that to my wife who always said, very lovingly, yet confidently and practically, “You don’t need that stuff.” Haha! She started that phrase when they were young and bam, they’ve learned at last one key to a solid financial life — there is a big difference between needs and wants. I hope it helps them as they continue into adulthood.