Before becoming a parent, I had some ideals set out for my journey into raising tiny humans into full-fledged, productive, and capable adults. You know what I’m talking about, things like ‘I’ll never bribe MY kid with candy to get them to do something’ or ‘I’ll never yell at MY kids’ or I may have been so bold as to think ‘I’ll never let MY kids watch TV so I can have time alone.’ All of these delusions were created from watching other parents and judging them before I had any idea what I was doing. After about the first week, most of this was gone! However, there are a few remaining poles left holding up my parenting tent, and one of those is to raise my kids to be financially responsible.
As a guy who likes the outdoors and adventure, I’ve taken my kids with me to a few not-so-kid-friendly places in the wilderness. There’s a juggling act that happens when you take younger kids to something that they shouldn’t do, but you really want to do. We often find ourselves uttering those famous words do what I say, not what I do. This makes sense for occasions like this because we’re protecting them, right? All the while, I’m secretly hoping that they will soon follow in my footsteps, or perhaps even I’ll follow in theirs as we walk a trail, cross a waterfall, or climb a canyon wall.
So what does all of this have to do with teaching your kids about finances? Perhaps the best way to teach our kids what it means to be financially responsible is to show them. You could talk to them endlessly (and perhaps you should) about stocks, portfolios, debt ceilings, investments, budgets, etc., but the best way to actually teach them is to demonstrate to them how it works out in real life.
Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Whether he’s specifically talking about money or not, the principle is the same for teaching our kids. Where we sow abundantly, there will be a greater harvest. Hands-on teaching with our kids is definitely harder work. It means more questions, opinions, and time, but imagine the harvest you are preparing in their lives! What a gift to give them.
But what if I don’t have good habits myself? Well, I’m glad you asked. The simplest form of fiscal responsibility I’ve ever been taught and perhaps one of the best building blocks to start with is the 10-10-80 principle. With this principle, you will GIVE 10% of your income back to God, SAVE 10% for the future (be that retirement, unforeseen expenses, or planned vacations), and you will live off the 80%. While 10-10-80 may be simple, it is amazing to see how starting somewhere, anywhere, with financial responsibility is so important.
If we want our kids to become full-fledged, productive, and capable adults, financial responsibility is something we should be teaching them from a young age. The best way to teach them is to be able to say do as I do; walk with me, and I will show how this works.
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