Today, I wanted to share some things we are doing to train our kids to be wise with money.
First, people are more inclined to save money when they have dreams and goals for how that money will be used. We are already helping our 11, 8 and 6-year-old sons think about their long-term goals (like cars and college) and their longer-term goals (like buying a house or having a wife who stays home with their children).
Just this week our 8-year-old resisted the temptation to spend all of his birthday money as he thought about his goal to save some money for his summer vacation and the rest to add to his car fund. He will have to double his lifespan before he is ready to even think about buying a car, but the money won’t be there if he waits until he is 15 to start saving it. We are already planting seeds in their minds that it is important to pursue a career that allows them to be involved and available to their families, and at the same time meet the responsibility of being the sole bread winner.
We also talk to our kids about money A LOT in our every day situations. We left a drive-thru line a couple of days ago when we saw the prices. I told the kids, “This place will cost $4 per person and we usually spend $2. I can’t justify spending twice as much as usual. Think how hard Dad works for this money! We can’t waste it!”
They hear statements like these all the time:
“Everyone needs to order water at the restaurant. It would add $10 to the bill if we all got soda!”
“God provided this for us. We need to be responsible with it.”
We explain to our children how credit cards work, with examples that help them understand the benefits of cash-back and the high costs of carrying a balance. We tell them why we buy our gas at this station rather than that one. When we decide to wait to purchase an item until it goes on sale, we verbalize that so that our children know we are exercising patience to save money. They understand that if we spend money on one thing, something else cannot be purchased. They are not under the illusion that money grows on trees.
They know that we usually eat at home, because it is cheaper. They know that when we do go out, we choose places where kids eat free at certain times or on certain nights of the week. They hear us say, “I’m going to order such and such because it sounds good AND fits within my budget.” Even mom and dad keep an eye on economy when we go out to eat.
We also talk to them about bigger purchases, like our house or our car. We help them to understand what those things cost and why we chose one over another from a financial point of view. When we have financial needs, we pray about them as a family. We talk to them about our tithe.
The children and I talk regularly about how grateful we are to their dad, for providing for us and enabling me to stay home with them. I ask them to think how hard life would be for their dad if I didn’t guard the money he brings home, and that it will be impossible to achieve their own goals for family life if they marry a frivolous woman.
Our kids are not always wise in the choices they make with their own money. But they are learning. And when they fail, and blow all their money on something they don’t need, that’s OK. We use that as a lesson, too. I would rather see them learn that lesson at age 5 than at age 50.
As we take the time to verbalize our thinking and explain our actions, our children gain a better sense of how to handle money. They also begin to formulate the values that will shape their own families one day.
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