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God-Honoring Money Habits For Kids

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2023 6:00 am

God-Honoring Money Habits For Kids

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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April 5, 2023 6:00 am

Matt Bell explains how parents can teach their children to budget, tithe, save, invest and serve with the money they have at an age-appropriate level.

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Listen on your favorite podcast app. But along the way, those heart issues are crucial because money is not just a spreadsheet sort of thing. It's not a calculator sort of thing.

It's a heart sort of thing. Where our money is there, our heart will be also is what the Bible says. Well, that's Matt Bell, and he's our guest today on Focus on Family, talking about how to teach your kids about finances. Even if they're as young as four, five, or six, they can start to learn now to manage their own money. And the conversation is going to help you set up your child for success.

Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, I know parents who have been really intentional about teaching their children about how to manage money. And most of them have done really well. They're adults now, if you can believe that.

I used to know these kids, but now they're adults. It doesn't always work that way, but predictably it will. And other kids that maybe weren't taught those principles might not be doing as well with those dollars. The point is the choices we make about money can have repercussions for generations. And our attitude that we teach our kids involuntarily, probably, it matters.

And today we're going to cover that, so you won't have the excuse, I didn't know what to teach my kids. Right. And we have a great guest, Matt Bell. He's a personal finance writer and a speaker. He's the managing editor at Sound Mind Investing.

His wife is named Jude, and they have three children, and he's written a great new book with Focus on the Family. It's called Trusted, Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. You can get a copy of that from us here at the ministry.

Click the link in the show notes or call 800-A-Family. Matt, welcome to Focus. Thank you. It's really an honor, and I'm just so grateful for the opportunity.

It's great. It's good to have you, and thanks for partnering with us on the book. It's always great when we have good content that we can provide together and hopefully change people's lives for the better, right? That's the goal.

That is the goal. Let me kick off with something you mentioned in the book, which is comparing your financial journey to, I think, one of my favorite parables, is the prodigal son. I've never thought about it in a financial context other than the one son squanders all his inheritance, so I get that part.

How did you relate to it? Yeah. Well, that's basically it.

I mean, it really checks a lot of the boxes of that parable. So when I was in my mid-20s, I inherited about $60,000 from an uncle. Total surprise. I had no idea this morning. Love those uncles. It was a good surprise.

I mean, I'm sad that he passed away, but for him to be generous to me like that was an unexpected gift, and I really had good intentions with that money. I thought, if I could do something unique, why don't I create a business that I would love to do all of my days? How old are you at this point?

I was mid-20s, so 24-ish, 25-ish, and I love to play golf. I love to travel, so I tried to think of a way to create a business out of that, and I created a newsletter for people who take golf vacations, which became this great excuse to go and play Pebble Beach, which I did, and play some of the great golf courses in North Carolina and even Southern Spain and Puerto Rico. So it was great. It was really everything I dreamed it might be except profitable. The most important part of a business.

Yeah. So I was loving life. When I was back home in Chicago where I was living at the time, I was enjoying some of the better restaurants and clothing stores and really just having a good time with what seemed like this endless supply of money. But it wasn't an endless supply of money. And so when the money ran out, I was so blind to what was happening with that money and so acclimated to the life I was living that I just kept funding that life on credit cards to the point where I would spend $20,000 in credit card debt.

So yeah, inherited some money, traveled to some distant countries to play golf in this case, squandered the money. My parents encouraged me to move home with them for a time, which I did, which I'm so thankful that they were there for me. But to go from basically living the life to living in my parents' basement in the small town where I grew up, that was really tough.

And I literally found out what it means to be depressed for a first couple of months out there. But through that experience, a good friend from college would become a Christian. After I graduated, he reached out and shared his faith with me. And that kind of set me on a path of exploring matters of faith. And 11 months later, gave my heart to Jesus.

And that was, somebody said recently, if you think back to that 60 grand, what that would be worth today if you invested in it. No, don't do that. We don't even want to think about that, Matt.

We're going to let you off the hook. But let me ask you about your relationship with God in that way. I mean, you made that commitment to Christ and then how it related to money. I mean, obviously, you're a money guy. I can kind of sense you're a numbers guy.

I think you probably like that. And people would say, you know, you look at the scripture, there's two things that are really talked about a lot, a relationship with God and money. So money matters.

Yeah, absolutely. How did that relate for you, God and money? Yeah, well, it was a huge wake up call for me. It told me, look, if you can take 60 grand as a gift and turn it into 20 grand of credit card debt, you've got a few things to learn about money. You're going the wrong direction. So I started learning.

I just became a sponge. And the first church I started going to as a new Christian, they had a stewardship ministry. I'd never heard of such a thing. I never heard of a church teaching about money.

I've heard of churches asking for money, but I never heard of a church teaching people about money. Stop right there. If you'd like to support Focus on the Family, no, go ahead. I'm sorry. So it was very eye opening for me. And I just had a hunger. I thought, wow, I'd love to serve in this ministry.

I think they were hurting for volunteers. I really should have been served by the ministry, but I got a chance to start serving in some ways where I couldn't hurt people too badly and just loved it and just love teaching people. And as I was learning and getting myself out of debt, I just, through that experience, I found Christ. I found faith and I found my life's work.

That's so good. You know, often I think in the book of Matthew, it's referred to as you can only either love God or love money. You can't do both.

You can't replace one for the other. Some people might be confused by that. What, what does the definition of loving money, we all need it. What does loving money look like? Yeah, I think a lot of people think that the Bible says that money is the root of all evil, but it doesn't say that.

It says the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And there is an important distinction there because, you know, money is a tool. Money is a gift. Money can be used for so much good.

Money is, it's impartial by itself, but we do things with money. We start to think ways about money. We get attached to money. We think money means something. And so that's where our hearts can get wrapped up in money and we can start serving money instead of using money as a tool. That's good. I mean, and it's clear you want to love God, not money. Absolutely.

And so, but it all revolves. I mean, this is how the economy works, right? As parents, it can feel daunting to consider how to start teaching your kids about money. Jean and I did the 10% for savings, 10% for tithe when they were little.

And, you know, then the other 80%, we'll talk about how to spend that wisely, right? Which usually ended up being something like the Death Star Lego build, but for $600. I was proud of Trent. He saved up for that one. And I think we met him halfway, but he had to save up three, $400 as a 12, 13 year old.

So that was good. But, but speak to that idea of the role of a parent to help their children better understand money. Sometimes parents, we're not thinking about, it's not on our radar.

I'm just trying to keep them off the screens today. Teaching them about money is something four or five steps down the road. Right.

Yeah. I like to think of, and tell people, look, there's so much at stake here. And there's so much potential here in teaching our kids at money. There's so much at stake here because it isn't that if we don't teach our kids about money, they won't learn. They will learn, but the consumer culture will be the teacher.

And that typically doesn't work out very well. And so there's a lot at stake here, but there's also a lot of potential here, meaning that if a young kid can start to understand money from a biblical perspective and, and search to develop certain financial, some biblically informed financial practices with money, the good that can be done is immeasurable. So I like to think about compounding or exponential returns, which is typically talked about with investing. You know, you could turn a hundred dollars a month over the course of 50 years. If it's invested the typical stock market return historically, that'll turn into $1.7 million. I did the math. I am. That's amazing actually. 1.7 million. Yeah.

Wow. And so that's exponential growth. And that same principle can be applied to so many aspects of money. If we get a young person with a generous heart and we foster that generous heart, and we wrap that in some generous practices, you think about the impact that God could have through her over her lifetime, not just in the tangible investments and God honoring causes in, in life changing, eternity shaping causes, but in her own heart and the joy with which she lives, the meaning with which she lives. You think about a young boy who grows up with a, an understanding that he's not the brands he wears.

He's not the car he's going to drive. You know, he is a child of God if he's placed his faith in Christ and, and to grow up with a healthy, grateful perspective on money and an intention to use it wisely because it's God's. And so I'm going to be intentional to use it wisely. The good that could come about from that child into their long-term relationship with Christ, into the relationship with their future spouse, into their ability to make the difference with their life.

They were designed to make it's immeasurable. So I love the idea of helping parents teach their kids about money. Well, let's get into it. You mentioned in the book, four temperaments that children have toward money. What are they? Yeah, well, there are four. So there's different temperament classification systems out there, but the simplest one goes back to Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine.

And so let's see if I can remember them. It's the, the choleric and it's the sanguine, the melancholy and the phlegmatic. And so those are not just, you know, we all have a certain God-given design and that's a gift. We were designed a certain way intentionally. And financially speaking, there are financial ramifications that come with each temperament. There are financial strengths that come with these temperaments and there are some financial kind of watch outs that come with them. I mean, as adults, I often find that if we're arguing with our spouse about something, it's typically not what we think it's about. It's often a clash of temperaments. We're seeing the world through very different perspectives and that's our temperament. And so we can start to identify that in our kids.

I mean, when a kid is maybe early teens or so, they could start to discern their temperament and start to become a student of how God has wired them up. Because like I said, each temperament comes with certain inherent financial strengths and certain inherent financial weaknesses. Yeah. Let me, let me just pull out an example.

So pick one that maybe on either extreme where you're spending a lot or you're like saving a lot. Right. So the sanguine temperament, the sanguine is kind of the outgoing life of the party, the sort of person everybody loves to be around. They're very engaging. They're very winsome. And so this person naturally tends to be a giver. They love to be generous. They're, they're very thoughtful in being generous. The downside is they don't typically like to use a budget. A budget hems them in. Man, I'm feeling it right now. You may be talking about me.

Somebody once said, I've never met a sanguine accountant. It's probably true. It is probably very true. And so again, some strengths, some weaknesses, and so to be a student of how God has wired us up and to learn to maximize our strengths and kind of manage around our weaknesses would be a good thing. Yeah. Let's go to the other extreme where what, there's a birthday party.

Do I have to spend money on that? So that might be the phlegmatic. So the phlegmatic, if you're a saver of stuff and of money, if your closets are brimming with stuff, you might be a phlegmatic. Phlegmatic tend to be the most likable of all the temperaments. They tend to be very easygoing, very steady as you go, kind of a steady plotter sort of person. When it comes to money though, they tend to be pretty frugal to the point of maybe being a little cheap. And so even giving can be a challenge for a phlegmatic.

Those are the extremes to get the other two, get the book. Exactly. Matt, you've mentioned in your book that the heart change is a big part of making smart financial choices. How do we coach that into our kids?

Yeah. So I talk about three parenting roles in the book. And through these parenting roles, we can get at those heart issues. So the parenting roles are the gatekeeper. So that's the one where it's not always fun to say no to our kids, but it's really healthy to say no to our kids, to set parameters and boundaries. So they've spent their entire allowance. Now they see something else. They're coming to you for a loan.

Just say no. Kind of hard to do, but good for their character development. The next one is the teacher, where we're overtly teaching God's word. So in the House of the Wise, there are stores of choice, food and oil, but a foolish person devours all they have. Good for a kid to memorize that, that we're not going to spend it all. We're going to maintain a reserve.

That's a God-honoring thing to do. And now we're teaching them where to save that money. And then the role model is the most important one, might be the most convicting one, where we need to be living out loud in front of our kids. But along the way, those heart issues are crucial because money is not just a spreadsheet sort of thing.

It's not a calculator sort of thing. It's a heart sort of thing. Where our money is there, our heart will be also is what the Bible says. I used to think it should be the other way around, but really it's more profound the way the Bible teaches it, no surprise, that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. And so as we start to orient our finances in God-honoring ways, it deepens our faith.

You know, Matt, with some parents, and I am in this category, the bombardment of our children in a consumer-oriented economy like ours. I mean, America is a great nation. And I'm so thankful that it was shaped and formed the way it was. And I think it's the best system given the foibles of humanity. It pulls on the best things.

And then hopefully, like you said, we will be a morally sound people, a religious people that can give and do the things that God requires of our wealth and of our abundance. So that's the ideal. But now pull it back to, I mean, television or screen time and bang, get these tennis shoes, bang, get this kind of outfit, bang. I mean, it's all day long.

Probably hundreds of impressions, if not thousands of impressions every day. You have a story in the book about your son, Jonathan, that kind of illustrated some of this. What happened? So when Jonathan was very young, we were at a stage of life where I was being very frugal, especially frugal. And I cut our cable television subscription at the time and got an antenna for the TV. Yeah, we did that.

And so the problem was it didn't work very well. But we got one particular channel that the kids loved to watch. And it was the strangest thing because, yeah, there were some good kids programs on there, but they had this strange mix of commercials. And in fact, one day I was making breakfast in the kitchen and Jonathan wandered in after watching some TV. And he said, Dad, very earnestly, do you need money right now? He had seen a payday today commercial on TV, on a kid's program. Right. And so I assured him, no, we don't need money right now.

And he toddled back over to watch the program. But that's right. And so it's become so much more sophisticated. Advertising and marketing, even the word consumer, that word didn't used to be the common way that we were described. We were described as workers or citizens. But around the 1920s, we started being referred to as consumers. And if you look it up, that means to use up and waste and squander.

And you say, well, that explains a lot, right? But I want our kids to grow up as stewards or managers of God's resources, not consumers. Well, and again, saving is, it can be an elusive treat, if I could say it that way. It does have great benefits. I mean, saving money, then you can buy a car and not have to take a loan or as much of a loan, etc.

Yeah. But it can be a hard concept for a child who doesn't understand delayed gratification. And also, so how do you teach child, hey, just wait for that lollipop? Yeah, it's so important, because you're right, saving money does build that character trait of delayed gratification. And so that's where we close the bank of mom and dad.

That's where, like I said earlier, the kid uses up the entire allowance this week and wants something else. We close the bank of mom and dad and we say, you're going to need to wait, you're going to need to save for that. We will get that eventually, but we're going to need to be patient and wait for it. We can foster waiting in a variety of ways, even some non-financial ways, just planting vegetables together, just setting up family rituals, like nobody eats dinner until everybody's seated and we've given thanks for the food. Certain waiting rituals can help our kids learn to wait. And then, like I said, when it comes to buying things, no, we're not going to buy everything that our kids want and we're not going to give them loans to get what they want.

They're going to need to wait. So just building that in as an expectation that fosters delayed gratification, which is one of the most important character traits. That's good. If you've got kids, I know you're relating to what Matt Bell is sharing today on Focus on the Family. Good stuff. And he's captured these concepts and so much more in his book that has been published by Focus on the Family called Trusted, Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. Contact us today for your copy, 800, the letter A in the word family, or stop by slash broadcast. Matt, you suggest in the book the proudest moment of your parenting, which I love, was around money and something that happened in a clothing store.

So what happened? Yeah, I'm not sure it was the proudest moment of my entire parenting journey, but it was a proud moment for sure. So we had been using a principle that we learned from Mary Hunt's great book, Raising Financially Confident Kids, and that is that we give our kids some of the money and make them responsible for certain categories. So in this case, clothing. So we had been with our kids many times before at the clothing store. They've been able to pick out what they want and we told them how much they could spend and that was fine, but this was different.

We gave them cash. We said, all right, $25 a month, you get, each of you, for clothing, you need to manage it on your own. So I'm at the store with Andrew and Annika, and they're shopping for clothing and they're holding an envelope full of $25 each, and they're navigating, making decisions, making trade-offs.

Two of these are just one of those, and I really want this, but I can't afford it, so maybe I'll save up next month's allocation for clothing. And just watching them, it showed me what I call the funnel method or what we learned early in our parenting journey of the funnel method of parenting, that we start small with responsibilities that we entrust to our kids and we open the funnel wider over time and give them more responsibility. I was watching that in practice. I was seeing them making these decisions, taking their envelope of cash to the cashier, paying for it, getting the change back. And on the one hand, I thought, wow, they're making thoughtful decisions.

They're really owning this. That was really, really satisfying to see that. And it was a little bittersweet because we want to put ourselves out of jobs. We want to raise kids that can make decisions on their, on our own. But I saw that as never before that, oh, wow, we really are putting ourselves out of a job. I think we did that for a while. And then we realized the money's not in the envelope and there's no new clothes.

What happens? How do you keep them on track? You know, you got to be hands on.

Yeah, well, right. We need to, I mean, that's the whole idea that we're trusting them with little and seeing them be trustworthy and then we trust them with more. So yes, it does take parental supervision. How do you start to teach children about work and paying for things at that young age? I mean, you have them do dishes, give them 25 cents.

Absolutely. So connect the money thing with a job well done. You know, allowances are really important. Allowances are a surprisingly contentious topic within parents. Some parents never say that word. Kids have to earn everything they get. And I get that.

That's fine. They say as adults, people aren't just going to give them things. The important thing with an allowance, whether the kid has to earn every dollar, or whether we give them some spending money, they have to learn to manage that money well. And it gives them the chance to manage money in a very practical way.

But we have some friends, James and Amanda, in a small group. They have five kids. Their system is they have three distinctions of jobs around the house. So they've got mandatory no-pay jobs, mandatory four-pay jobs, and optional four-pay jobs. And in those four-pay jobs, it could be that you typically get 50 cents to enter the dishwasher. That's a mandatory four-pay job.

But you do it with a bad attitude or you have to like ask you three times to do it. That could suddenly become a mandatory for less-paid job or a mandatory for no-pay job. And so that's starting to connect.

I'm liking this. It's connecting money to a diligent work ethic. Yeah, that could get a little complicated. You know, I do have a full-time job. So I get home, I'm going, we need a chart for all that.

I know. And so we have to find a system that works for us. I mean, not every parent does the allowance thing the same way. Some people do have charts. They have a chalkboard in the kitchen and they keep track and that's fine and good. They might be wired up a little bit more analytically. As long as we're getting some money in our kids' hands, we're teaching them to be generous with the first portion. We're teaching them to save with the next portion. We're teaching them to make spending then the last priority. I like that though, because it does differentiate a little tougher job should give a little more pay and we recognize that. So there's equity in terms of a job well done and pay that is commensurate. I might go up to a buck-fifty on some things, raking leaves.

I hate that job. You can't pay me enough to do that one. Let me ask you, one of the most important things as a believer that we need to keep in mind is the spirit of generosity. I guess in some ways it's hard to be generous if you have nothing, obviously. I would think you could still have a spirit of generosity even if you don't have a lot.

My mom was like that. She was a waitress and she gave money away like unbelievably to help other people, to buy somebody dinner at the restaurant she worked at. Came out of her pocket and she was a very generous soul that way, even though we didn't have much to eat, ironically. But speak to that development of the generous spirit and how money can either harm that or help that and really how the biblical perspective helps that.

Yeah, so important to cultivate that early. You know, John Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest people that ever lived, he said, I never would have been able to tithe on my first million dollars if I hadn't tithed on my first salary, which was a dollar fifty a week. And so, you know, if you wake up one day and you're fifty years old and you're making a hundred thousand dollars and then you start to learn what the Bible teaches about generosity, that we were made in God's image and God is endlessly generous. And so generosity is part of our design. It's why the secular studies find that generous people are happier than people that are not generous. And so if we can foster that in our kids, that yes, we're going to do the ten, ten, eighty, or as I prefer, ten, forty, fifty, you know, have them save a little bit more aggressively, get them in the practice of doing that, but connect it to something real. Because when I was writing the book, I had breakfast one morning with some twenty-something young men, all raised in Christian homes, all saw their parents tithing.

None of them understood why. And so one of them even said it felt like they were sort of checking a box, like on the to-do list. And so really important for us to, yes, develop the practice, the expectation, but to teach why, that we're giving thanks to God. You know, what did David say? Who am I and who are my people that we could give as generously as this? We're really giving back a portion of what you've given to us.

And so for kids to learn to see that everything we have is a gift from God, to be managed for his purposes would be a good thing, and to cultivate gratitude, to consciously ask our kids as we pray with them in the evening, what are you grateful for? What was good today? How did God meet you today? And you saw this in your son with a friend of his, Aziz, right? Tell me that story.

Yes, I love that story. So one of the things we've tried to do to make giving real, I mean, dropping money in the giving basket is a good thing, but it can feel kind of abstract for a kid. Where's that money going? And so we've tried to make it real for our kids by sponsoring some kids. And there's some ministries where you can sponsor a needy kid in another part of the world. We sponsored a young man named Aziz in Burkina Faso. So it was a geography lesson.

We had to find that on the map. But one day, one year, we gave him some extra money for his birthday. And he sent us back a picture of what he did with that extra money. He bought rice and soap for his family. The first things that our kids would do with some extra money, right?

Yeah, right. And so we were talking about Aziz one night over dinner. And the next morning, Jonathan came into the kitchen and I hit him as a good loving father would do with a financial quiz. I said, Jonathan, I said, what are the three things you can do with money? He said, you can spend it, you can save it, or you can give it to Aziz.

And I thought, that's good. I love that answer because now generosity had a face. Now generosity was real for him.

And I loved him helping him make that connection. Matt, this has been so good. I just appreciate what you've done in partnership with Focus.

And man, I'm hoping people will get a copy of this. You can do that. Just get in touch with us here at Focus on the Family. Make a gift of any amount. If you can become a monthly sustainer and help families through Focus on the Family, be part of the solution. We'll send you a copy of Matt's book as our way of saying thank you.

One time gift, we'll do that as well. If you can't afford it, we'll get it to you because you really do need to understand the principles of finances. And man, just get in touch with us and we'll get this in your hands to help your children become money wise.

Yeah. Request the book and make a generous donation as you can. That title again, Trusted, Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God Honoring Money Management. It's a terrific resource. And we're so glad to have it here at Focus to partner with Matt.

Again, get your copy when you call 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459, or stop by the show notes for all the details. Matt, again, thanks for being with us. Thank you. Such a pleasure to meet both of you guys and so wonderful to partner with you. We'll plan to join us next time as we hear from Bob Lapine. He'll be sharing some building blocks to have a stronger marriage. If we can't figure out what do we do when that happens, we're always going to have problems. But if we can figure out how to resolve conflict, then we can have a good marriage. And the key to that is to be generous forgivers with one another. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family.

I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Whit must go into parenting mode. Buck and Jules hit a rough patch.

Because it's none of your business. And Renee's friendship with Whit faces its biggest test. Oh, I can't believe Mr. Whitaker is being so stubborn and unreasonable cock.

This is a scientific breakthrough of monumental proportions, and he is crushing it. So yes, it's time to buckle up in Album 74. Available now on the Adventures in Odyssey club, CD, and download. Find out more at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-05 04:53:25 / 2023-04-05 05:06:25 / 13

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