Teaching Your Kids Financial Independence
- Tuesday, May 27, 2008
How Do I Teach Them?
I know that, by now, you’re asking yourself the “how?” question. “How do I teach them?” Our lives are busy, and teaching our kids Biblical financial principles is just one more activity to squeeze in between schoolwork and soccer practice. In response to this, the Bible itself gives us a great idea. It’s found in the Old Testament in the Book of Deuteronomy. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut. 6:6-7)
This is lifestyle teaching. If we could paraphrase this in today’s language, it might say, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you drive the van along the road, when you hang out having fun and when you go shopping.” This type of teaching is very natural and easy. All it requires is that you look for opportunities, or “teachable moments.”
Let me share an example. When my daughter was about 4 years old, we were shopping at a department store. I was admiring all the pretty sweaters and I realized I had an opportunity. I asked Emily, “Why don’t I just buy all these pretty sweaters?” She thought about that for a minute and answered, “’Cuz you don’t have the money?” I said, “Actually, I do have the money, if I empty my checking account and spend all of my savings account. Why don’t I do that?” She thought more about that and came up with “’Cuz you wouldn’t have any money left for Daddy and me.” I realized I had an opportune moment, so I talked about how we control our spending so we’ll have the money for other important things. I even launched into talking about her college savings account. That is lifestyle teaching. It’s easy and goes anywhere! Stores are great places to discuss money. Use them to your advantage. For more help, try Crown Ministry’s “Family Times Virtue Pack.” It comes with a CD of stories and songs for drive time, bedtime stories, and conversation cards for dinnertime discussions.
There are other methods of teaching fiscal responsibility beyond the lifestyle method. Sometimes our kids need concrete, focused teaching time on financial matters. There are several options and lots of resources. If you need a little help, ask! Perhaps your child’s Sunday School teacher would be willing to do a unit on God’s values about money. Ask their scout leader to do a badge on money management. If you’re part of a homeschool co-op, see if any of the parents would be willing to teach a class on finances. If you organize the class, someone else may be willing to teach it. In addition, many churches now sponsor financial workshops from Dave Ramsay, Crown Financial Ministries, or Good $ense Ministry.
Try instituting a Family Night for a few months. My friend Russ decided to keep his kids out of one evening activity and have a Family Night instead. He tells me it was a wonderful, fun time. He used a terrific book entitled Money Matters: Family Night Tool Chest by Jim Weidmann for great ideas on how to teach God’s principles of money management. For example, Russ cashed his paycheck in small bills. Then he made piles for each budget category so the children could see where all their money went. You could also take the summer and use another excellent book, Money Matters for Teens Workbook by Larry Burkett. This book comes in two age levels, one for pre-teens ages 11-14, and one for teens ages 15-18. I used this with my daughter when she was 11 and found it very practical as well as Bible-based.
I also use homeschooling to my advantage. I assigned the Money Matters book as part of my daughter’s math curriculum. That way she had to learn it. If it’s scheduled, it will get done! I taught Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace for the Next Generation at my homeschool co-op and enrolled my daughter. The National Endowment for Financial Education has a wonderful high school program that can easily be taught in the home. I have used it in a homeschool co-op class also.
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