Growing up in my middle class, working family, I didn’t stress too much about not having food in the fridge or in my belly. My mom and dad saved up every year just to load us up in the station wagon and take us on a family vacation, we lived in a modest home, and I squirreled away money for the future in my Squirrels Club account. I did not grow up with food insecurity, and while I know money must have been tight at times, my parents certainly didn’t convey that to us. I knew my dad would go sit at his desk and pay the bills once a week, and balance the checkbook down to the penny. So when it came time for me to open a checking account, he tried in vain to get me to follow his same healthy money habits (Praise the Lord for online checking).
In my own household, I live by a budget, cook meals at home, tuck money into savings each month, so that Cole and I can travel during the summer, and have lots of fun adventures together. So one of the favorite gifts I got Cole for Christmas (not his favorite gift, I might add) was a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Junior kit. There’s an activity book, a “commission” chart where he can earn money each week for helping around the house and doing his part, tasks like helping bring the mail in, feeding his animals, picking up his room and basically building good habits for adulthood. The kit also comes with three envelopes, one labeled “Save”, one labeled “Spend” and one labeled “Give”. If you are wanting to teach your kids the value of money, and how they have to earn it, and manage it, you need a system like this. It’s funny how when you put your ideas about money out there, people sometimes loudly disagree with me, and that’s ok. I have had people tell me that they don’t make their kids do chores, or they don’t provide their kids with a weekly “commission” (I like commission instead of allowance, because I get paid for my job) for doing expected things around the house, and even that I am ridiculous for living on a budget (that one kind of cracks me up).
The process has been fun to watch with Cole, because he sees his money adding up, and he stops and thinks about how much he can save in a week, in a month, if he will just be patient. We just came off of a no-spend month, which always makes us take stock in what is the most important to us in our life, time together, family time and church family time, not material possessions. One of Cole’s love languages is the gift of time, so he loves to just spend time together, and I am betting your children are the same. Time spent playing outside together trumps spending a crazy amount of money on stuff we simply do not need.
As we went through his lesson on Monday night, the scripture read “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have.” -Hebrews 13:5. Even though that chapter was about budgeting and spending, we do have to make certain to keep what’s most important in life, in focus. Contentment comes with time, and ten years ago, I spent every dime I made. Having a child changes you, you start thinking about what they are seeing and hearing, and you should try to model the best behavior that you can. You cannot get time with the people you love back, so spend time with them, on experiences with them, talking and laughing (and smiling, smiling’s my favorite). If you’re a parent you owe it to your children to teach them how to manage their money, so they don’t make the same mistakes you did (I am speaking for myself, I have done some pretty stupid stuff with my money).
So far Cole has saved quite a chunk, and spent a little along the way, $10 here and there, but he is marveling at how much he can save when he contributes to the family each day with his few small tasks. I was cooking earlier this week and he added up that he could make $45 if he did every task on his list every day (yikes for me) but “that would be impossible!! Who vacuums every day?!?!). Clearly I need to be modeling some other behaviors for him about home cleanliness a little more, ha.