5 Fundamental Principles for Teaching your Children about Money Management
~ Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;
(Proverbs 3: 9) ~
The Victoria Day long weekend in Canada is the unofficial return of the cottagers and tourists to the area I live in. It also marks the beginning of yard sale season. While I dread the cars parked illegally all over the city and people wandering in and around traffic, many people enjoy sifting through the items that people have for sale. My street holds an annual street sale and each year my wife participates. This year was different as Simon and Sophie declared their interest in selling lemonade and muffins. Even though I really dislike yards sales, I was quite happy to help my young entrepreneurs.
The night before the yard sale we began baking the muffins; we cheated a bit by purchasing pre-made mix. Both the kids helped with the first few batches and in the creation of posters advertising their prices. As we worked away, the kids began to talk about what they would like to buy with their earnings. It was interesting to listen to how they viewed money: what they thought they could purchase with it and how they would divide it up. At no point in their conversation did they mention saving money or giving some away. Consumerism was definitely beginning to have its influence on the twins. During the yard sale, my wife noticed the kids bragging to each other about how much money they were making. These were not traits we wished to encourage. Thus, it became clear to my wife and I that financial management lessons were in order.
Proverbs 3: 9 is a verse that I have often heard Christian money managers reference in their radio clips, presentations and literature. Why? These verses begin with the right mind set – that everything we have belongs to God. He provides us with talents, abilities and energy to live our lives. As we generate income, we need to recognize that we need to give Him the first fruits of our labours. That means giving a portion of our income before we focus on our own needs and desires. This does not come easy for everyone, but like exercise, you get better at it with practice and discipline. By putting God first in our finances, we recognize that God provides for us, giving us what we need. Jesus reaffirmed this in Luke 24: 22-34. In this passage Christ reminds us that God looks after the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. They do not sow or reap, yet God cares for them. He then reminds us how much more precious we are to him. So why worry? I believe that proper money management, regardless of how much you have, is a demonstration of our faith, faith that we know God gives us what we need and when we need it.
The challenge for me was to put my understanding of Proverbs 3:9 and Luke 24: 22-34 in words and concepts that my children would understand. After the yard sale, I sat down with the twins to talk about what they had achieved through their hard work. We counted and divided the money into two equal amounts. I asked them, “Whose money is this?” They quickly responded that it was theirs and then quickly changed their minds saying it was mine. We spent the next few minutes talking about how God provides us with everything we need and how everything that we haveHe has given us. They were able to understand that by giving money back to God we could help the church, helping people in the community and around the world like our World Vision child Ona. We then moved on to the piggy banks that we had bought the kids for when they were ready for this very discussion. Both children spent time dividing the money into portions: one portion for donation/church, one for savings/investment and one for spending. The percentage of what was in each pile wasn’t relevant at this stage; rather we wanted them to see the visual representation of each pile. Whether they fully understand what I was teaching them has yet to be seen but I laid the foundation for future financial discussions.
Whether you would follow the same process or ideas that I did with my children or not, I think there are five fundamental principles that Christian parents should follow in their discussions about money with their children:
1. We need to acknowledge that everything that we have comes from God
2. We need to give him give him the first fruits of our labours, before looking after ourselves
3. We trust that God will look after our needs
4. We should be satisfied with what we have
5. We should use what God has given us responsibly…in our giving, our spending and our savings