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How to Teach Kids to Spend Wisely

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How much should kids be spending, saving and giving? As parents, we can help provide our kids with a healthy understanding of where and how money fits into our life. Jacob guides us to practical ways to do just that.


What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

1 Corinthians 4:7


Money money money!!!  Of all the questions I receive from our summer staff, you might be surprised, one of the most frequent is regarding money.  What should I be doing with it?  How can I keep track of it?  How much should I be spending, saving and giving?  

This week is part 1 of a 2-part series regarding money and how we should spend, save and give of the gifts God has blessed us with. 

Below are some practical tools to help teach our kids specifically how to spend wisely:

  1. Verbalize what you’re thinking – Any time we are shopping (groceries, clothes, toys, etc.) verbalize our thought process.  Let our kids hear the wrestling between cost comparison (name brand vs. generic) and need vs. want.  Explain to them why we chose the generic brand or opted for the bulk purchase of paper towels.  This creates opportunity allowing them to ask questions about what they are hearing.  We are inviting them into the conversation we are already having about spending wisely. 
  2. Let them experiment – The next time we are shopping, give them some money, instructions and let them choose.  For example – if we are at the grocery store, can give our child $7, and tell them they need to buy cereal for the whole family for the week.  Instruct them on the specifics of what is needed and how long it needs to last.  Then let them make the decision!  (No changing their decision – even if we know the outcome later that week!)  This provides us an opportunity to have teachable moments about money, even after this experience.
  3. Money doesn’t grow on trees – As we have these experiences with our kids, remind them that once the money is spent, it’s gone.  We don’t get it back and there isn’t more money around the corner for them to just “go get.”  We can help our kids understand the value of earning a dollar by communicating in terms they can understand.  If they want to purchase a particular toy, tell them that it will cost them 8 times of taking out the trash rather than simply stating $15.  This will help them learn that spending money will personally cost them something.

As parents, we have the opportunity to help kids manage resources well.  Part of managing our resources well is determined by how we spend our money.  Take time this week to bring your kids into conversation, and let them experiment with spending money wisely.

Click here for another Family Matters devo regarding teaching kids money management.

Camper Corner

What are some things that can help you determine how to spend your money wisely?  Write down a checklist of guidelines that can help you make spending decisions.  What ways have your parents demonstrated healthy spending habits?

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