Say the word, “budget” to a kid and you are a spoiler of fun. Our concept of being a wise steward can be relegated to the status of B-O-R-I-N-G and placing loved ones in a state of deprivation if we fail to see the rewards for godly stewardship and forget to have fun in the process.
Our flesh wants what it wants, but it does not always want what it needs.
Discipline (another spoiler word!) in the area of spending is not just for adults. Wise parents will recognize that they are taking part in the training up the future generation and helping to establish their children’s children’s future spending legacy, as well.
Although the marketplace wants to lure new buyers being raised in our household, they also want responsible buyers. Recently, my 15-year-old got her first job with Chick-fil-A. As she became excited about the prospects of what she could buy with her new found wealth, the bank set up an ATM card for her and a mandated savings account. Right then was a teaching opportunity about the importance of saving a portion of her pay every time she received her paycheck.
But that illustrious debit card . . . oh my! Here is when that spending power needs to be harnessed. Hmmm. Here are a few examples to get the ball rolling . . .
1 Corinthians 4:7 “What do you have that you did not receive?”
Reminding children of all that their gracious God has bestowed on them and the purpose of His provision helps them to be faithful stewards. Teaching our children to recognize our dependence on God our Provider and His expectation that we spend His resources well for His glory is crucial.
Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your wealth then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”
When children learn early on that everything they have comes from God, they learn that He should also be the first one they give back to. God also wants a cheerful giver. Equally as important as tithing is helping our children to give toward other causes or ministries they care about. Sponsoring a child or contributing toward someone’s mission trip are wonderful ways of making the fruit of their giving tangible. Parents must model this lifestyle, too.
1 Timothy 5:8 ” But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
An ugly word – entitlement – can leave children with the impression that everything they make is theirs, for their spending pleasure. Parents have a golden opportunity to begin to shift some of the financial responsibility of their children’s expenses to their kids little by little so they can learn how to manage real life “boring” necessities.Driving a car? They can help chip in with insurance costs. They want a cell phone? They can help by paying for it. Although children might have misgivings about this at first, we can help them understand that by becoming more responsible they are earning more rights and freedoms, too.
Luke 16:10-11 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”
Teaching how to find good deals on products they typically consume helps children to stretch their spending further and potentially promote generosity. Suddenly they become aware of overpriced items when they have to foot the bill and the principle of valuing what they are spending their money on is formed.
So where is the fun?
Okay, maybe it is not a hilarious time for all, but being wise with our funds sure is a lot more fun than being in debt. But there can be entertaining ways of managing their money, after all.
Paying an allowance for tasks done above and beyond normal chores serves as a joyful incentive. Letting children pick a fun activity for the family because they contributed? Even more fun.
But there is also an enjoyable budgeting activity that Ron and Judy Blue have, called the Envelope System, which offers children an active role in planning their spending and – I daresay – it is fun, too. According to their Envelope System instructions, “Beginning about age eight, give each child a recipe file box containing five letter-sized envelopes: a Tithe envelope, a Save envelope, a Spend envelope, a Gifts envelope, and a Clothes envelope. In each envelope put the cash amount that you as parents have budgeted for the item in question for the current month. Then let the kids have control and responsibility for the use of these funds. Some moms and dads might think of this as an allowance. In reality, you’re simply turning over certain areas of the family budget – items you’d be paying for anyway – to your child as a way of developing his or her financial skills. That’s the important point to bear in mind.”
Utilizing the envelope system or whatever method you prefer – jars, budget tracking systems – are a great step in learning to plan financially. But in the technological age we live in, apps can also make the budgeting and saving process engaging. There are even free apps that children can use, like Mvelopes, which can be downloaded for free.
Applying God’s word to this area of finances in our lives will reap many rewards – now and eternally. Using whichever system works for each personality, children learn that larger purchases cannot be purchased on a whim, but need steady planning. Achieving financial goals is very satisfying and is a disincentive for wasting money when it is so hard to purchase things of value. In the end, children learn to manage their money instead of their money managing them and a path to generosity for the glory of God is forged.