Teach Finances to Your Kids

It’s your responsibility to teach finances to your kids.

Teach Finances to Your KidsI grew up as a pastor’s kid. Here’s what I learned about finances:

  • Taxes made dad angry and mean
  • Money problems made my parents yell at each other
  • Being a pastor didn’t pay very well
  • Dad emptied my passbook savings to pay our bills
  • Grandma bought us what we wanted and needed

As I grew older, I learned that:

  • Dad was secretive and controlling with finances
  • We hadn’t given tithes and offerings in years
  • We weren’t paying taxes the last few years before dad filed for bankruptcy
  • Dad had opted out of Social Security and was not saving toward retirement
  • The money was being spent on dad’s porn habit

I grew up with no real intentional education about biblical stewardship, saving, investing, paying bills, debt, or doing taxes. I did have one pretty awesome entrepreneurship experience selling homemade cupcakes to construction workers, but that’s probably a different post.

Now that I’m a pastor, I’ve learned that I could easily make the same mistakes. And for a long time, we were living beyond our means, I was neglecting tax planning, and I found myself resenting the pastoral call… “Why couldn’t God have called me to a job that made decent money?

Once we became intentional about paying off our debts, understanding our taxes, having an emergency fund, and investing and saving for the future, I found that my attitude became better. I enjoy pastoring more now that my finances are under control! (Thanks, Dave Ramsey!) Click To Tweet

Not only have I become passionate about empowering other pastors toward financial wholeness, I’ve also become a little fanatical about teaching finances to my son.

Here’s what we’ve done. It may not be exactly what you would do. But I hope this list helps you to think about how you can be intentional and teach finances to your kids.

Ages 3-6

Allowance and Commission

Very early on, we decided to give Nathaniel money on a regular basis. We gave him an allowance for the express purpose of teaching him how to put the money regularly into his Giving, Saving, Spending Bank.

We did not pay Nathaniel commission. Commission is paying your child for the chores they do. This can be very useful for creating a work=money link in the brain. But it can also teach a child not to contribute to the household unless there is an economic benefit.

I don’t think we made a conscious decision NOT to pay for chores, we just didn’t do it.

At any rate, we paid an allowance and helped Nathaniel divide it into three parts: Giving, Saving, Spending.

Giving, Saving, Spending Bank

Teach Finances to Your KidsWhen Nathaniel was about 4 years old, we bought him “My Giving Bank” by Larry Burkett. This bank is divided into three separate compartments: 1. A Bank (for saving), 2. A Store (for spending), and 3. A Church (for giving).

We would give him $3 and help him put one in the bank, one in the store, and one in the church.

Every week when we went shopping, he would bring the money from the store and try to spend it.

Every week when we went to church, he would empty the money from the church and give it as offering.

And the money in the bank just sat there growing and growing, saving up for something at a later date.

When Nathaniel would get more money ($20 as a gift, for instance), we would help him put at least 10% into church, at least 10% into the bank, and the rest into the store. Sometimes he would want to put more in the church or the bank. And that was okay, as long as he had his reasons.

As he grew older, we increased his allowance and he would establish savings goals and learn to differentiate between tithes and offerings. But this was a great way to start things out.

The Moonjar Moneybox and Money Savvy Pig do the same thing.

Ages 6-8

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Could you come up with $400 in an emergency?

in an emergency
Rich Legg/iStockphoto.com NPR

“If a financial emergency struck — say, a health problem or a car that needed repair — would you be able to come up with $400? According to the Federal Reserve Board, 47 percent of Americans would have trouble doing so — they would have to sell something, borrow money or simply couldn’t pay.”

$400 in an emergency? Of course!
Without borrowing it? Sure, just put it on my credit card! (um…)

Yesterday on Weekend Edition, NPR reported the startling findings that almost HALF of US Citizens couldn’t come up with an emergency $400 without borrowing it or selling something to get it.

And think of what “in an emergency” means:

  • $400 is a simple car repair.
  • $400 is an airline ticket to your Aunt Ruth’s funeral.
  • $400 is Fido’s vet appointment.
  • $400 is a chipped tooth.
  • $400 is Jr’s emergency room visit.

Before we got control of our finances, a $400 emergency would have caused us to go into a panic! And then we would have sucked it up and charged it on our already-maxed-out credit cards.

This is why we have a $1,000 starter emergency fund before we do anything else. Click To Tweet

Before you can save for college, before you can budget, before you can start aggressively paying off debt, before you can invest, before you can vacation, before you can be truly generous, you must have a baby emergency fund. If you don’t, every little $400 emergency will set your whole plan back by a year!

These 47% of Americans aren’t all poor people. These are the American middle class. And they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Here’s another quote from the interview:

“We have been taught that a middle-class existence is … maybe a $250,000 house, and a vacation every year, and a car for each adult, and education for the children. And, indeed, those are the very metrics that the commerce department has used in defining what a middle-class life is. But as I point out in the article… the price tag for that middle-class life is $130,000. Only 1 in 8 Americans makes $130,000. So the middle-class life that we’ve all been taught is ours — if only we work for it — is out of the reach of all but a very small number of us.”

So some of this is about contentment:

Would you be content living a lifestyle you can actually afford? Click To Tweet

And some of this is about processes:

Are you doing the right things in the right order to win with money? Click To Tweet

If you find that you wouldn’t have $400 in an emergency, you may need help with contentment or help organizing your finances. Who do you know that could help you with that?

Why we stopped our debt snowball

debt snowballThe debt snowball is a powerful way to pay off your debts fast! It’s motivating to pay off your smallest debt and then roll that payment into paying off your next smallest debt. As debt after debt gets paid off, the debt snowball gets larger and picks up more speed to pay off your big debts.

Click here to use our debt snowball calculator

Over the last 30 months, we’ve been able to pay off over $40,000 of debts, including medical debts, credit cards, a car loan, and a student loan! We only have about $12,000 left until we are finally debt free! (applause)

But we’ve stopped our debt snowball. We’re no longer paying off our debts fast. And we stopped on purpose.

Why? Is it because we love our debt and want to keep it around and keep feeding it?

No. We stopped our debt snowball for two reasons:

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Don’t Give Up

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

– Galatians 6:9

don't give up

Don’t give up!

Budgeting is hard at first. It takes a while to get it right.
Getting out of debt can be a boring, grinding slog!
Putting money away today for retirement doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
Tithing can be scary when you don’t have any extra margin.
Writing and publishing your book are daunting tasks!

Don’t give up on doing the right things. You will finally have a lot to show for your efforts if you just keep going!

Sometimes you just need someone to be there to cheer you on and motivate you to keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough. Do you have a coach or mentor to keep you on track?

Savings Goal Calculator

Savings Goal CalculatorSavings Goal Calculator

Don’t buy stuff you cannot afford! Instead, save up and pay for it with money you actually have! Use this Savings Goal Calculator to help you figure out how much you need to be putting away every month to save for that dream vacation, car, mortgage down payment, dinette set, appliance, or computer.

Your vacations are much more relaxing when you know you’ve payed for them with money you actually have. Your car drives better when you know it’s actually yours. If you’re paying on credit, you risk losing your new dinette set when you can’t keep up with the payments. Save up and pay up with money you actually have. It will give you a sense of freedom and financial wholeness!

Go to the Savings Goal Calculator

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