One of the most basic desires of any parent is to create a life for their children better than the one they had. We recognize that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Perhaps your grandparents immigrated to America and scrapped out a living, your parents were the first in their family lineage to own a home or you were the first to finish college.
We want more for our children than we had and that’s only natural. However, we know that giving our kids “stuff” is not enough. The Bible instructs us to “teach your children diligently” the ways of following Jesus and with that comes a lot of practical things. We want to leave our kids with knowledge and understanding that will serve them through their entire adult life.
How should we teach our kids about money?
Teaching our Kids Values
When I was growing up, there was no such thing as Bitcoin, ApplePay or Venmo. Mortgage rates were near double digits and any stock that was tangentially involved with the internet was a sure bet. The financial landscape has changed drastically since those days. But the Bible hasn’t.
Too often we want to teach our kids the nuts and bolts of money; how to make change, how to count money, how to keep a check register etc. While these skills are helpful and put your kids within the proximity of money, chances are they’ll be teaching you how to complete financial transactions in a couple of decades!
What won’t change is what the Bible says, what the role of the Christian is in light of eternity and that Mammon, the God of Money, will always be lurking around trying to distract you and your child’s heart from pursuing your calling.
We do a lot better teaching our kids “why” we do things rather than “how”. Why do you give money to the church? Drive the car you do? Work as much or a little as you do? What does your family value? Why? How is that reflected in your money decisions?
Focusing conversations with your kids around values instead of mechanics will serve your kids beyond their life into eternity.
Small bite-sized conversations
As a banker, I once had a client bring their 18 year-old son into the bank. They sat him down at my desk and explained to me, “He’s going away to college I need to teach him about money.” She expected a 45-minute meeting with a banker, opening a bank account and depositing some money, to teach her child everything he needed to know.
Money is a lot more about habits than it is knowledge. Our money decisions are rarely based purely on logic. We live our lives one money decision at a time. We reflect our desires, values and bias in our constant money decisions. This can be a blessing or a curse. If our kids form habits that are healthy, generous and lead them to contentment, they will likely find themselves in a better financial place. If our kids form habits that are greedy, wasteful or lazy, it may be their undoing.
Where do you think your kids will form their habits?
Having small conversations as you’re going to the grocery store, making decisions about work or housing, or even just paying a bill, invites your child into the framework you are using to make money decisions. What you will find as you attempt to invite your kids into your “money habit logic” is that there may be less logic than you thought.
Why do you shop at that store? Why do you work that job? Why do we live in this house?
Taking the opportunity to have those conversations in small bite sized chunks and answering questions as they arise will sow habits into your kids that a one-time conversation won’t.
Teach by Living
I know parents who give everything to their children and parents who make them work for everything. While both extremes have a heart that wants the best for the kid, holding the tension of these two is important.
We do want what’s best for our kids. Our kids will have a more comfortable life if they have better clothes, plenty of food choices or access to all their favorite movies, music and video games. Our kids will probably be more “successful” by the world’s standards if they learn to work and scrap for everything they get.
But my goal for my kids is not that they have a better life here on earth, but that they learn to live “on earth as it is in heaven.” Of course, I don’t want my kids to live in harsh conditions and of course, I want to teach them a work ethic. However, before any of these things I want to teach them to love and be loved by God.
There’s no shortcut to discipling your kids. Money habits are caught more than taught. Your kids will see right through you if you preach fiscal austerity yet spend recklessly. We have to take a good hard look at our spending habits, saving goals and generosity and ask: Am I being discipled by Jesus or the culture?
What values am I communicating to my kid as I live my life?
Free Curriculum to Teach Kids About Money
Every curriculum I’ve seen on money either teaches kids to obsess over getting more money, or only teaches mechanics such as balancing a checkbook and making change. I wanted to familiarize my kids with money concepts so that we had a common language to have conversations, but I didn’t want to teach them that “more” was the basic money goal. I wanted to ground them in the Biblical framework that I use to think about money in a way that impacts real practical decisions.
I want my kids to wrestle with what they value, what God is calling them to and how their money is a tool for the mission, not the end goal in and of itself.
So, I built the Mission Minded Money for Kids Curriculum. It’s a six-lesson course that familiarizes your kids with money and gives them a solid Biblical foundation in how to think about it. I taught this course to a homeschool co-op. The parents loved it. The kids had a blast and it has fostered conversations between my kids and I about money.
I’ve been working hard on putting this curriculum in an easy-to-teach format and I think it’s ready.
I’m giving it away for free, because I am passionate about changing the way the church talks about money and I believe that our best shot is to start with the next generation.
If you want a free PDF of the Mission Minded Money for Kids Curriculum, join my weekly newsletter below and I’ll send you a free downloadable copy right away.