Do your kids think money grows on trees?
Before your kids are gainfully employed, it may not seem vital to teach them about money. But, all you have to do is think about how our society seems to revolve around money and you realize that you can never start too early.
If you want to save your children from the agony of worshipping the almighty dollar, you’ll want to begin early to put money in the proper perspective. Instead of simply giving your children a weekly allowance and then letting them try to figure out good stewardship on their own, teach them the basic principles you want them to value.
Marriages crumble from the pressures of aggressive bill collectors or they split because spouses can’t agree on what to do with their money. We need to talk with our children about money and model the right attitude about it. Our goal is not to scare them—but to help them gain a positive outlook about money, and to teach them healthy management habits.
Your children need to learn five basic abilities in relation to money: They are to earn diligently, spend wisely, save consistently, give cheerfully, and receive graciously.
Earning money gives your child a sense of worth. Even young children need to know they can make a valuable contribution. They have marketable talents. Even if the current market is only in your kitchen or backyard. Help your children know the satisfaction of earning their keep and help them realize that nothing is free except God’s grace.
Second, one of the greatest delights for a child—and for many adults I know—is to spend money. But we need to make that connection between earning and spending. Earning it yourself makes spending it more enjoyable. And when it’s their money, they get the final call on what they purchase It’s amazing how fast kids learn the difference between a wise investment and a waste of money when they’re spending their own hard-earned dollars.
Of course, on our list is saving. Consistently saving money—even if it’s just putting away a little bit each month. My kids love to examine their bank books. They marvel at how their accounts have grown as a result of their modest, but consistent savings plan. If your child learns to save something each time he gets some money, he has learned a valuable lesson—and, I might add, a lesson which many in this generation have lost.
Give cheerfully. One day years ago, my son Joel came and asked for money to see a movie. My immediate response was the dreaded teaching mode. He’d have to learn to budget his allowance like everyone else. “Joel,” I said, “I already gave you your allowance this week. What happened to that?”
“I put it into the offering at church,” he said.
“All of it?”
“Yeah, all of it,” he said.
You know what I did next? I gave him the money for the movie—plus some extra for popcorn. What father can refuse to reinforce a generous child? It only makes me eager to give more and more.
Finally, teach your children to receive graciously. Just as earning has a direct connection to spending, our joy in giving is multiplied because we know the pleasure of receiving.
For some of us, receiving is uncomfortable because we don’t like to show our needs or weaknesses. But our children need to learn that using the phrase “Thank you” demonstrates strength, not weakness. After all, receiving a gift means someone considers you important enough to give it to you.