Money and Parenting–Some Cheap Advice

In light of my post yesterday  I thought it might be of some small interest how Kim and I taught our children how to approach money when they were very young.  The motive was not to make lots of money, it was to teach them to save, to be prepared to give and give generously and not go into debt.  These were things I had not learned for years and had no desire to put that burden upon my children as well.

The standard was simple, no matter what you get and where you get it, 10% you get to spend, 10% you give to the Lord and the rest you put into savings.  End of subject, not open for debate or discussion.  Each of my children were faithful to this expectation to varying degrees since as they became older they would have greater control over their money.

This standard took place early in their life.  When I say early I mean, when they were about to get money for birthday or Christmas this program kicked in.  That meant that they would put their money into the offering plate on Sunday and they learned to go to the bank and put the rest into savings.

I am also a firm believer in teaching children the value of work and employment so all of mine were working at a restaurant by fourteen.  I had little interest in their social life and activities, knowing that these would come and go but certain standards ingrained early could benefit them for a life.  I taught them that there are a lot of idiots out there and they must not be numbered among them.  Rather, they should do every and any job with the mind set that when the boss is looking to send someone home they are the last person on his mind.

It did not take much time for their paychecks to add up and since they knew I refused to pay for their college they kept at it with the savings.  The result is that they all went to colleges and they all paid for their colleges with cash.  They discovered that they could study, work and go to classes and not die.  They might not be able to “hang out” like so many of their friends, but they certainly did not want to waste their hard earned money by flunking.

I cannot tell you how many in my church would tell me, or even more helpfully, my children how mean I was as a father.  I sat and heard many a mom (usually while the father quietly sat on the side) tell me how my children only had their youth once and they should enjoy it.  How I could harm my children and make them resent me.  To be honest, I would look at them and what I really heard was, “Blah, blah, blah.”  I figured in the end things would be plain and Kim and I would reap what we sowed one way or another.

Were they perfect?  Nope, not in the slightest.  And at times we had to make corrections and reminders.  But they are all young adults, two with children of their own, who are not afraid of work and not adverse to going without something if it means debt.  Kim and I delight to see our children, we love to fiddle around with the grandchildren.  And we hope to see these things poured even deeper into the hearts of the lives to come.

Tomorrow I asked my oldest to relate what it was like growing up in this sort of home and ultimately paying for college on her own.  Apparently there is a “traumatic” moment at 14 that I don’t remember that involved her first paycheck, a haircut and me glowering at some lady.

Oh, and if you are not sure about what I mean by, “blah, blah, blah” I present this:

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on June 14, 2013, in Church, Missional, Parenting, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Much of this training model reminded me of our son. I guess the results speak for themselves-hardworking, responsible young adults with families of their own and no massive debt from college or credit cards.

  2. This made me smile, because it made me remember the good ol’ days. I learned these principles by proxy, and I’m thankful to say that the Lord used them to help me pay for a private school education with cash, and enter into adulthood debt free. I also am dying to read what Nichole has to say… I may or may not have been part of this awful haircut story!!!

  3. I had a college prof at UWM tell my class to use student loans and study abroad for the experience. Of course, it’s an expensive experience. Sadly, he is an econ professor. Twelve years later it still irritates me.

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