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Kids Managing Money? You Bet!

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Take a look at these very helpful ideas from a camp dad we can use to teach our children how to navigate managing money. Another throw back from a couple years ago with timeless truths!


Deuteronomy 5:21 says “you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The first step to teaching kids how to manage money is to live it out ourselves as parents. My children enjoy the Sunday coupon clipping ritual even though they don’t yet understand why. But they also need to practice. In college before every semester my parents required a written budget be submitted.  We reviewed it together and agreed on a monthly income. They were gracious to support this phase of my life, and I was responsible to distribute those funds to cover rent, books, gas, and even a little fun with friends. Our agreement was that I had to work for any other big purchases and had to repay them for every C or below.

This week let’s look at some ways to pass the skill of managing money to our children and young adults.

  1. In early elementary school kids understand money gets things. The goal at this stage is to teach them it’s limited. Kids need the repeated opportunity to purchase things via allowance and when their allowance is gone they need to feel what it’s like to wait. They are practicing decisions of how much to spend based on what they have, not what they want. Christy and I often respond to our kid’s requests with, “That looks cool. How much is it, and how much allowance do you have?”
  2. Once kids start spending outside of parental supervision, such as going to the mall with friends, they need to practice trading short term desires for something better in the long term. Increase their budget to include some of the things you normally buy for them like school lunches, clothes, and movies. They will make some mistakes and miss some lunches. That’s exactly the mistakes they need to make when the consequences are minor.
  3. As young adults mature through high school into college, increasingly transfer their daily cost of living decisions to them. Show them how to write a budget, but let them practice executing. This can include saving for long term items such as car insurance or that new instrument for band.
  4. Plan to spend less than you make. Pay savings first. Set aside savings into a separate account so it feels like it’s already spent. Spend that hard earned savings on experience (like vacation or a trip to the zoo) over stuff. Developing relationships is more satisfying then having stuff – Jesus teaches us that.

 A word of caution. Bailing your kids out or paying for everything they ask for provides a much different lesson: spend however you want and we parents will cover the difference. On the contrary breaking a neighbors window provides an opportunity to borrow responsibly from mom and dad and pay it back in intervals (Exodus 22:25). The bottom line is managing finances is a skill partly taught but mostly caught by children.


Camper Corner:

Read Hebrews 13:5. Are you content with what you have? It is natural to want what others have. But remember we get great joy from loving God and loving others. Loving money or stuff will be a great let down.

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