By Cathi Brese Doebler
We were at the grocery store as I helped guide my son’s tiny little fingers to the cost labels. “See this number?” I asked, “This number tells me how much it costs to buy this. Down here,” we moved our fingers, “is the number that tells me how much it costs per pound.” Then I showed him how that product and another one both had “per pound” costs, and asked him which product had the better price per pound. Smiling, he pointed to the correct product. “Good decision,” I encouraged him. We grabbed one for our cart.
Sometimes, a simple lesson in the middle of a mundane task can be the best lesson of all.
From the time children are young they can learn life lessons. In addition to teaching children about sharing, kindness, numbers, and letters, they can learn the value of money management.
From the time my children were four years old, they were given an allowance, starting with simple tasks. One of the first things on their allowance list was for them to make their bed every day. They also could help me water the plants, set the dinner table, and clean up their toys. For each completed chore, we’d add a check mark to their list. I would pay them with coins because it was easier for them to see how we would split up their allowance into three piles. One pile (80% of their earnings) was for them to spend or do whatever they wanted with it. One pile (10%) was for them to put in their savings. The final pile (10%) was for them to give. They could choose to give it at church or a charity.
The first time I tried doing this, I had the three coin piles in front of one of my children. After listening to my explanation of what each of the piles were for, he shook his head. “No,” he said, “I don't want to give any away. I want to keep it all.” Such a natural response!
“God asks us to give back some of what we earn. We get to share with others when God provides for us. If you’re not ready to share some of what you’ve earned, then I’m afraid you are not ready to earn an allowance,” I said.
He thought about that and then realized he was ready to share! Later, he decided to save his “giving” for a bible for the children at the mission our church sponsors; it took him a year. What a great opportunity for him to see the words of Malachi 3:10 at work, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
Spending their own money
As my children grew older, they quickly became aware of the cool toys and gadgets their friends had; they wanted those gadgets too. Here was another opportunity to teach my children about the value of working for and using their own money.
My oldest son spent a long time saving money from his allowance and gifts. He watched friends who had the Nintendo DS long before him, knowing we were not going to buy one for him. It was a lesson in patience. When he finally had enough to purchase his DS, he took excellent care of it!
There are opportunities from the time your children are young to teach them about money and God’s Word regarding money. Learning these lessons early can help your children make better decisions about money all their lives.
Cathi Brese Doebler is the author of “Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family: How to Thrive on Less Than Two Incomes!” You can find out more about Ms. Doebler, her book and her blog at www.DitchThe.com