“Train a child up in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)
My husband and I made the decision a little over a year ago to give both of our children their own debit card. (They are 14 and 11) Little did we know that the little plastic card would prove to be a money saving venture as well as a wonderful life lesson. In an era of instant gratification and living above one’s means, we thought it prudent to allow them to have a certain amount of control over their own finances. Lest I mention the sheer joy on their faces when this little plastic card was placed in their hot hands. It was as though a whole new world expanded before them. The sky was the limit, fortunately their accounts have parameters. Based on their current income, the sky seemed somewhat limited; but freeing nonetheless. Our children make weekly the equivalent of their age in dollars with a raise at each birthday ifthey have attended to the demands of their chores throughout the year. They are paid biweekly much like the rest of the world. This gives them a sense of what it is like to manage income in a family by way of a budget.
We opened a checking account (spend) and a savings account. Their monies are divided into three categories: Save, Spend, Tithe. They take the money from tithing out of their spend allowance. The save and spend amounts are split 60/40 with the greater amount going into their savings. We allow them to use their ‘spend’ account freely. This is money used for treats, movies with friends, ballgames etc. Their ‘save’ is monitored with a more discerning eye. The ideal is to save for things such as a car, money for college, long-term goals. But the occasional trip or event comes up where they ask permission for us to transfer money into their spend account. When this happens we talk through the pros and cons and allow, with our guidance, them to make the final decision about a proposed purchase. They have become increasingly mindful.
When it comes to tithing, they realize the importance of giving back to the Lord what is already His. They are coming to learn that taking care of others above themselves draws them closer to the heart of the Lord. They are developing a willingness. A willingness that will carry them throughout a lifetime. A willingness to do unto others in the name of Jesus.
We have learned over the course of this year that our children can be wonderful stewards of their own money. When they have dominion over their finances their purchases become more thoughtful. They begin to think about future endeavors and above all they see how they can have an impact for the Lord through giving.
I think on some level the Lord has used this opportunity to instill in all of us the value of currency. It has made me acutely aware of all the little bits and bobs I was purchasing anytime we entered a store. The packs of gum, candy, trinkets, accessories, etc…they all add up! Now when we head to the market, my children decide how very important the aforementioned items are and if they are willing to part with their savings. Usually, they aren’t. And the even bigger bonus! They aren’t asking me for every little item under the sun. What used to be a stressful venture to the grocery has become slightly more delightful.
When we are given resources it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the Lord’s gifts no matter what our age. The sooner we learn to manage our finances the more we come to realize and appreciate the value of our hard work; what our needs truly are; and how to honor and bless the Lord with our decisions.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve on another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
Article Written by: Debbie Harper, Ph.D.