There’s a lot to teach your children. Along with the lessons that good Christian parents teach, money should be one of them. But what should you teach and when should you teach it? Here are some ideas to help you develop a financial education plan for your children.
The godly offer good counsel;
they teach right from wrong.” – Psalm 37:30
Psalm 37 is a favorite among Christians. Among the well known verses in this chapter is Psalm 37:4:
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.” – Psalm 37:4
But one of the main ideas of this Psalm is that we shouldn’t look to others and say, “God, that person is getting rich by lying and cheating while I follow your ways and struggle financially.” God says that while the wicked may have short term wealth, (not just in terms of money) their day will come. But more important than that, God provides instruction on how to be among the blessed. One of those ways is found in Psalm 37:30. As mature Christians, we are to provide counsel–not just in direct God issues but in financial matters as well.
What should you teach your children about money? As a country we’re poor money managers. (literally) Governments at all levels are spending more than they’re bringing in. As individuals we’re riddled with credit card debt, cars we can’t afford and expensive cell phone plans that break our budget. We’ve been lulled into thinking that because everybody is in debt, it’s OK. We as a country don’t have the money management skills we need because nobody taught us how. Break that cycle with your children.
As soon as they can comprehend: Start teaching your young children how to be charitable. Basic lessons on sharing toys with others, not getting upset when somebody else has more playtime than they do, and giving up personal luxury so others can be happy will develop into powerful mindsets as they get older.
Give them an allowance: Teach the Godly principle of working for a wage. As part of the family you should expect that they do some work for free but teaching the idea that a job done with excellence results in a bigger reward can be taught early. Once they start earning an allowance, talk about tithing and the importance of it.
Once they get a job: Their education should be a top priority but at some point, their financial education should include a part time job. There are numerous lessons God will teach them through their job. Getting to work on time, being a person of your word by not calling off, contentment in the fact that you’ll always feel like you’re underpaid, and interacting with people are only a few of the lessons. Maybe most important, the fact that they’re are working for God–not the boss they may or may not like. You as a parent are then charged with teaching them to save. After tithing, teach and constantly reinforce the fact that spending their money on food and other items that provide only short term gratification (shoes, the latest fads) will leave them constantly waiting for the next paycheck. A portion of every paycheck should be saved.
College: The goal should be to get an appropriate college education with the least expense possible. Graduating with student loan debt could cripple them later on. Teach the idea that it’s better to do without than it is to be in debt. It may be disappointing now but they’ll be happier later on.
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” 1 John 2:16
College Graduation: Talk about more in depth financial planning matters. The importance of insurance, saving 12 to 15 percent of each paycheck for retirement, having an emergency fund, and the fact that many of the world’s ways of managing money are a path to financial ruin. Tell them about Dave Ramsey and to follow his faith based teachings.
Children: Controversial? Yes, but get real with your children about their plans for their children. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it will cost $234,900 to raise a child for 17 years. That’s between $12,000 and $14,000 per year depending on their age. Children are a wonderful and worthwhile endeavor but they come with a large pricetag. If you plan to have a child, what will you cut from your budget so you don’t have to go into debt for their basic needs?
It will cost $234,900 to raise a child for 17 years.
Credit cards are the path to financial ruin. Teach your children from the earliest age that they should only buy what they have the money for now. If they want something, give them ways to work and save for it. Match their savings dollar for dollar so they can see the rewards of saving. This is a lesson you can continue to reinforce as long as appropriate.
Just as the rich rule the poor,
so the borrower is servant to the lender. – Proverbs 22:7
Later in life: As you age, talk to your children about the plans you’ve made for yourself. Your will, long term care, and other financial planning matters that will affect them. Use this as a way to encourage them to do the same for their life. Stress the importance of always being a couple of decades ahead in the financial planning process. One study found that 94 percent of parents don’t talk to their adult children about these matters. Don’t be one of them.
Once your child is of the age where they can comprehend basic financial concepts, go to work. Teach Godly principals of financial planning and as they age, continue teaching the lessons. They’re never too old to learn–or simply be reminded of–sound Godly practices. Don’t let your children grow up to live like most people live. The hard truth is this: most people aren’t living paycheck to paycheck because they don’t make enough. They’re living that way because they spend too much. Stress the importance of spending less and saving more.