During this holiday season, I often reflect on how I was raised. My father never bought a thing on credit; he even paid cash for his house in 1968. I’ve followed in his footsteps, and everything else I buy, I buy with cash, with the exception of upgrading my car every five years. Even then I pay the car off in less than six months.
Christmas really reveals that we live in a consumptive society, and we are continually eating up our potential savings to pay for stuff that has very little meaning and soon becomes clutter. And it’s not just adults.
I once organized the toys of a six-year-old — the toys filled four rooms! Children cannot assimilate massive amounts of things, and if you drown them with toys and stuff, they will expect it all through their lives. When life does a downturn, and it usually does sometime during their lives, overindulged children will not have developed the character to say “no” and do without.
Here are some straightforward ideas that I think will help you begin training your child in the art of managing money:
- Decide at an early age to tell the relatives to cut back on the number of gifts at Christmas. Graciously set a limit for your loving relatives.
- Allot your children an allowance at an early age, and teach them to manage it.
- Give them a checking and savings account at an early age, and show them how to manage it. January is a great month to start saving that Christmas cash!
- Teach them how to tithe.
- Inspire them to give in excess of their tithe. Read your kids stories of generous people. Encourage them to share with their siblings. God loves a cheerful giver — it’s the antidote for consumerism.
- Educate them in how to save. In this high-tech day of computers, invest in a basic Quicken accounting software package. Quicken will help your children track their money, their budget, and their investments.
- Coach them in how to invest. Stocks and bonds are good choices. Integrate money management into their basic math course. A good book for this would be Math and Money Management by Thomas Camilli.
- Help them get part-time jobs or start a business in delivering papers, walking dogs, shoveling snow, or mowing lawns.
- Purchase some good books on this topic for you and your kids to go through together. Some good places to start would be “M” is for Money: Money Management for Kids by Eileen Tucker Cosby; The Kids’ Money Book by Jamie Kyle McGillian; or Money Puppies: America’s #1 Money Management Book for Kids by Donald Kulp.
As I have said many times before, children love order and as you begin training them in managing their money and their stuff, they will love you for it in the end. And there’s no better time to start than Christmas.