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Teaching Money - wise lessons

A wise old philosopher summed up the money dilemma pretty well when he said, “There’s too much month at the end of the money.”

Nothing raises the anxiety level quicker than disputes over money and the spending of it. While money is not the root of all evil, the lack, need, and greed of it has caused people to do evil things.

Money is nice. It pays the bills, buys groceries, and puts gas in the car. Money builds houses, clothes children, and finances vacations. Money also causes family arguments.

For instance, I’m always surprised at how much money it takes to keep our two grandchildren in clothes. Why do Gabriella and Sam always need new shoes and a couple of pair of jeans? Catherine gently reminds me that shoe fashions change monthly along with the weather and warm shoes and keeping up with the ever-changing trends are a must.

Then I remember that while at Carolina, I wouldn’t be caught dead without a pair of Bass Weejuns or a Madras shirt. No matter if I only had a few dollars. I would rather not date than not wear the “right” clothes. And most of the time I didn’t do either.

We don’t take money seriously enough. Humanity was not made for money; money was made for humanity. And a part of humanity’s money belongs to God. That’s good money management. My first regular job was in the fifth grade. I delivered newspapers twice a week and made three dollars. Thirty cents of that went to my church. I have not been without regular employment since then, and I still believe that a penny out of every dime I earn belongs to God.

Good family budgeting tries to instill that ideal in all family members. The best family budgeting of all says that another tenth should be saved. That leaves eighty cents out of every dollar for taxes, bills, house payments, groceries, clothing, and entertainment.

The key to success in all of this is keeping lines of communication open so that a budget is established and maintained. Money has a way of slipping through your fingers, and unless there is a disciplined effort to make your money work for you, rather than vice-versa, it will be gone before you know it.

Some children believe that parents have a magic faucet that spews out money endlessly. To dispel this myth, give your child an allowance. Then teach him or her to manage it so that some money remains for special things. Children must also understand that when their allowance runs out, there will be no more money until the next payday.

Budgets need to itemize rather than generalize. Examples of essentials are insurance, taxes, medical expenses, clothing, food, transportation, education, etc. Essentials come first. The real test of good budgeting is how you spend what’s left after the bills are paid. That’s called discretionary income and includes such things as vacations, recreations, and one of our favorite past times— eating out.

Why not give the 10-10-80 rule a chance in your house? Give the first ten percent of your income back to God, save ten percent, and live on the remaining 80 percent. It will work wonders for your family.

Baptist Children’s Homes alumnus, Dr. Ted Chandler’s recent publication Money-Wise Language Coaching addresses the need to teach children and teens good money spending decision making. He says that being money wise means being conscious of the consequences of today’s money decisions. What are the consequences if money is saved verses spent? How does saving affect today, one year from now, five years in the future, or 10 years from now?

Once a child is taught the “why” of good decision making, it can be practiced. The child learns to stop and think, “Should I purchase this trendy shirt or wait until I can afford a quality item that is better made, timeless, and will last longer?”

Teens also need to ask themselves: “Am I spending this money out of boredom?” “How long will I feel the emotional high of a little bit of ‘retail therapy’?” If spending is out of boredom, then one can be assured that the emotional high will be quickly fleeting. As parents and money mentors, the best way to teach money-wise lessons is to make sure we are modeling sound, financial decision making behaviors ourselves.

Remember that a key to a good budget is for all the family to communicate openly about how money is earned, how it is to be spent, bring satisfaction to every family member, and be used for the glory of God.

Written by Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer)

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