As a Christian financial advisor, I’m asked what I teach my own children about money. While budgeting may seem like an obvious answer, I believe instilling strong values in our children is far more important when it comes to making wise financial decisions. In this blog, I will share with you the eight things I teach my kids about money which have helped shape their mindset toward earning and spending.
- Be others focused.
I teach my kids to think about others, not just themselves. Serving others is the best way to earn an income, and being others-focused helps them become good employees or business owners who serve the community. A fundamental truth about earning an income in a capitalist society is that you must serve somebody somewhere.
- Take responsibility.
Taking responsibility and not blaming others for their financial mistakes is crucial. This teaches kids to persevere and not give up when faced with obstacles, which is important for earning income. I promptly squash any victim mentality statements like “It’s not fair”, “I never get to”, “I am too little” and the like. Instead I teach lessons based on the past and reveal opportunities in their future.
- Find a need and fill it.
I encourage my kids to look for ways to help others and be confident when doing so. This helps them identify needs and take actions to fill them, which adds real value to someone’s life and teaches my kids to be selfless. Being others focused helps, but this step encourages them to take the actions to fill the needs they see.
- Segment money into give, save, and spend.
I teach my kids to divide their money into three categories: give, save, and spend. This segmentation helps instill good financial habits early on and teaches the importance of being intentional with their resources. A budget is not necessarily needed, but this simple segmentation is.
- Always give first.
Giving generously and selflessly adds a purpose to income and teaches kids the joy of giving and that true wealth comes from being a blessing to others. All of us can grow tired as we work to earn an income. Making the income about something greater than ourselves (giving first) gives us the extra energy and motivation to “keep on keepin’ on.” It gives purpose to the generation of income.
- Save second.
Saving money for emergencies and future goals is crucial. Consistent savers win with money and are able to take advantage of opportunities that arise. As a result, I teach my kids to always put money into savings (no matter the amount) to build that habit. My children will be savers!
- Do not spend more than what you have.
Living within their means and being conscious of their spending is essential. Careless spending can be dangerous, so teaching my kids to spend wisely is important. Yes, a budget can help with this, but the bottom line truth about a budget is that you don’t spend more than what is coming in. Rather than confusing or overwhelming with a budget I harp on this truth.
- Be the solution instead of asking for a solution.
I encourage my kids to have a strong work ethic and to not expect things to be handed to them. By working hard for what they want, they’ll learn the value of money and appreciate the things they have all the more. When they ask me to buy something I typically direct that request into a conversation about how they can work, earn an income, and pay for it themselves. As they embark on that income-making journey I encourage and take actions with them where appropriate.
The themes associated with these eight items are selflessness and ownership. Instilling values of being others-focused and taking responsibility are crucial for making wise financial decisions. By teaching our children these eight things, we are equipping them with the tools they need to be successful in their financial journey.
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