Making Our Kids Money-Wise
by Grace Fox
Raising three children on our limited missionary’s income presented countless opportunities to discuss money matters. When our kids reached school age, we gave them a monthly allowance and then talked with them about managing it—how much to save, how much to tithe, and how much to use as discretionary funds. We discussed how to say no to impulse buying by postponing a purchase for a week and then evaluating whether or not they truly needed that “must-have” item. We also talked about the benefit of waiting for needed products to go on sale and about the value of good, hard work.
Those discussions made our kids money-smart, but other conversations made them money-wise by showing them how finances and spiritual principles intertwined. For instance, my husband and I stressed that we are not our own but God’s. Our body, time, talents, and money belong to Him. We’re to be wise stewards of these things knowing that He holds us accountable.
This cautionary mindset has benefited our children. It’s enabled them to live within their means while attending university and as they’ve married and set up house. It’s been both fun and gratifying to watch them make purchasing decisions rooted in a desire to be good stewards, and to see them live happily on a shoestring budget.
Coupled with talks about stewardship came discussions about giving generously to help people less fortunate. After all, we reasoned, if we’re stewards of God’s money and He commands us to help the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the defenseless, then wouldn’t He want some of His finances used to that end?
Our youngest was 10 years old when she watched a TV infomercial about child sponsorship programs. “Why aren’t we doing this?” she asked. “We need to help these kids.” Her passionate concern for the poor challenged me and my husband to finally take action on something we’d considered doing for years.
Child sponsorship has now been part of our family’s DNA for 17 years. My husband and I sponsor two kids, and each of our kids and their spouses sponsor one. Through this endeavor, our elementary-aged and preschool grandkids are beginning to understand how they can share from their monthly allowance to help people in need.
One of the most frequent money-wise conversations we held revolved around God’s ability to provide finances for His children. Never knowing what our salary would be from month to month meant trusting Him for funds to pay for routine expenses such as groceries, clothing, and gas. Then came the big bills such as orthodontics, a new transmission for the car, and funds for our kids to travel with their school band to a national competition.
In each situation, we told the kids—who were in upper elementary and junior high school by now—about the expenses facing us, and we prayed about these needs as a family. Sometimes we wrote the specific needs on a recipe card and left the card in plain view on our kitchen table to remind us to pray several times daily. In most cases, we thanked God in advance for what He was going to do. And in every case, He answered our prayers.
Again, those conversations stuck with our kids. When opportunities arose for them to participate in two-week ministry trips to Mexico, Germany, Haiti, and Romania, they trusted God to provide the finances. He did. When our son sensed God nudging him to minister for three years aboard Operation Mobilization’s seagoing bookstore, the LOGOS II, he trusted God to provide the necessary finances. He did. When each pursued university education, they trusted God to provide for their needs. He honored their faith by giving them scholarships and part-time jobs, and they all graduated debt-free.
We live in a commerce-driven society, and we need to teach our kids the practical skills necessary to make them money-smart. We also need to teach them how to connect the dots between money and biblical principles. Applying these principles makes them money-wise—an attribute every young person needs to thrive.
Grace Fox is a national co-director for International Messengers Canada (www.im-canada.ca), a popular speaker at women’s events worldwide, and the author of seven published books including Tuck-Me-In Talks With Your Little Ones: Creating Happy Bedtime Memories (Harvest House Publishers, 2014). She lives in British Columbia. www.gracefox.com
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