Ron Blue, author and President of Kingdom Advisors, graciously offers his perspective on how we can start early with money management. “My Lil Money Jars are the perfect starting point for parents to begin to teach children the basics of wise money management. This system will encourage parents of young children to take advantage of teachable moments around money with their kids. I heartily recommend the jars!”
My wife, Judy, and I raised five children. Well, maybe I should say Judy raised five children and I helped. This was especially true in the early years of our family’s life. I was a hard driving, travel laden business executive with a lot of appointments to keep. One time, Judy and I were discussing the possibility of being called to ministry in Kenya. (Mind you, this was in the mid 1970’s, long before the internet or cell phone made the world so much smaller). Judy’s bottom line was this, “It really does not matter where we live. My job will be the same. I will feed, diaper, love, and discipline small children whether we stay in Atlanta or move to the bush country of Africa.” Wow. That puts a mom of young kids job in perspective, doesn’t it?
Since I am the “money guy,” I always tend to relate life back to money, in one way or another. So, how do preschoolers and financial smarts relate?
Let me take you back to Africa. One time, on a trip to Africa, I travelled far out into the countryside to visit with a church pastor there. He lived in a mud hut with a thatched roof. His toddler aged daughter sat on a heap of earth in the yard, playing intently with a Duracell battery. I was touched by their poverty and by their heart for the Lord. My question to this man was, “What is the greatest challenge for the growth of the Church in your area right now?” I expected him to say poverty or transportation or something like that. Instead, he answered, “Materialism. If a person has one cow, they want two. If a person has a thatched roof, they want a tin roof. If he has one acre, he wants two. ETC., ETC., ETC.”
So, Judy was right. Even the temptations in Africa were the same! Humans have basic needs, and humans face fundamental temptations. Your little boy or girl needs to receive the same provisions, the same lessons, the same encouragement, and the same Jesus that little boys and girls all over the world need to receive.
So, money and financial know how go great together, because every kid will have to grow up needing financial know how! You, the mom, get the gift of being their first teacher in this very important arena.
You get to orient their heart toward the most fundamental truth of all: God owns everything, and we are just His managers. Every Cheerio, every doll, every ball, every shiny dress up outfit and football jersey belong to Him. As your child cares for their possessions (batteries to bats), you can remind them that their loving Heavenly Father provided them with those resources and that how we take care of them is part of how we say, “Thank You!” to Him.
You also get to teach them as you go through life. You are the teacher; they are the observer. In Deuteronomy, God told the Israelites that the best way to teach their children was to do it as they “went along” in life. “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Teaching kids about money management happens as you go. As you go to the grocery store and to the mall. As you eat lunch at home instead of going out to eat. As you treat your family to a special dinner after a special event. As you shop for birthday gifts for their siblings with them. As you pump gas and as you tip the people at Moe’s or Starbucks. As you give your tithe on Sunday and as you receive a special gift from your good friend. It happens as you go.
- Money is a tool to accomplish other purposes and goals.
- Every spending decision is a choice among several alternatives.
- Longer-term thinking yields better decisions.
When we, as adults, budget well, we also reinforce our knowledge of those principles. There is so much synergy that comes from teaching children on a small scale the lessons that we know are true on a grand scale. God is glorified and our children are edified in the process.
In conclusion, I want to encourage you. Every moment with children is a teachable moment…for them and for you. Sometimes they will fail. Sometimes you will fail. Sometimes those moments will be roaring successes for both of you. But, those moments will happen hundreds of times in a day and countless times before your little one heads off to encounter the world at large in a school or work setting. By being teachable before the Lord, by accepting His grace in parenting, you can effectively model wise financial choices as you go.