Forming a Child’s Thinking About Money

What do your kids think about money? Do they think it grows on trees? Do they feel that it’s the source of a lot of conflict at home? Do they think money is the meaning of life and the goal of their education? Do they think that they may some day make tons of it as a professional athlete? Do they ever worry about money?

Probably all of the above.

My hunch, as a father of five and grandfather of thirteen, is that your kids probably aren’t spending much time thinking about what God has to say about money.

They might not have considered the fact that He says that He owns it – all. (Psalm 24:1)

They might not have realized that wise financial decision-making is all about allocating limited resources among unlimited alternatives.

They might not know that a key financial goal for a Christian is to learn to be content. (Philippians 4:11)

Perhaps they’ve never thought about how their money can reveal their heart’s deeper struggles and joys. (Matthew 6:21)

Wouldn’t it be amazing to turn out children who are confident, surrendered stewards of the resources God has given (and will give) to them?

I believe you can!

While financial literacy is a part of the picture, equipping your kids to have a holistic view of money, intentionally teaching them biblically-wise financial decision making principles before they set off into the world and take on debt and responsibility, is a gift that you can give them. In my nearly 50 years as a believer in the financial services world, I’ve learned that there are really only three keys to giving someone this gift.

Key #1: Perspective

We all know that a Christian worldview is a difference maker for kids, in terms of their staying power in the faith and the Kingdom impact they can have in the world.

Perspective – our “why” – always determines how we act. The key perspective in financial stewardship is that God owns it all and that we are His stewards. Unpacking this reality and exploring how it applies to everyday life with your kids is a simple way to connect God and money in your home.

Key #2: Pie

Money is confusing and a huge topic. But, have you ever thought about the fact that there are really only five ways we can use money, and that the Bible speaks wisdom to all five?

I like to show people the pie diagram (below) to illustrate this. For instance, in our “live” wedge, the book of I Timothy offers three guidelines for an appropriate Christian lifestyle. It teaches that we should provide for our families, be content, and enjoy God’s blessings. This wisdom is timeless and transcendent. Once we know it, it provides a framework for us to make better lifestyle-related financial decisions.

Or, have you ever considered that debt mortgages the future? When we take on debt, we are relying on tomorrow’s bounty to give us today’s pleasures. This biblical financial truth is simple, yet transformational. Teaching kids about the power (and danger) of compounding interest provides a foundation from which they can make better debt and savings decisions, in the long term.

Teaching kids about the pie helps them to see that their financial priorities are simultaneous, not sequential. Learning to make integrated financial decisions will free them from the falsehood that our money is somehow separate from the rest of our lives.

Key #3: Principles

inally, you can teach your kids the five wise biblical financial decision making principles. These principles work at any income level, for any person, in any economic scenario. They are guidelines for financial success, whether your kid does “make it big” as a pro-athlete or whether they live on a modest income for the rest of their lives.

  1. Spend less than you earn

  2. Avoid debt

  3. Maintain liquidity or margin

  4. Give generously

  5. Set long term goals

You have a platform to teach your children some simple, yet profound truths about money that can change their future and that can open the doors to heart-level discussions along the way.