Monday, February 25, 2013

On The Money: Where Do We Go From Here?

They trail in my wake, lingering in the toy aisle and launching their incessant requests.
This is why I shop alone. 
Then the eldest calmly asks, "When will I be able to spend my money for myself?"
I don't know. Maybe when you're eighteen and two weeks from leaving for college, when your father and I are in full-on freak out about all the things we haven't taught you yet?
Kidding. I didn't say that. I mumbled something about soon. Avoidance is my default strategy.
Even though we've had this interaction dozens of times, his question stayed with me. I've thought a lot lately about what it means to be mediocre as a parent. I regard mediocre with great disdain.
This is not an area where we want to fall short.
This is our responsibility. They aren't babies anymore. Much like everything else in childhood, the boys need ample opportunity to practice and make mistakes under the umbrella of our guidance and influence. Ron Blue, money management guru, states "more is caught than taught". But demonstrating good choices isn't enough. In this post, Ron says children need to understand three key concepts to successfully manage their money: limited resources, delayed gratification and the benefits of a strong work ethic.
I don't know about you, but everything in our little world rails against those concepts. We are bombarded with images telling us that we deserve to be happy. Now. And acquisition of more stuff equals happy.
So how do we begin training our boys to be good stewards?
Dave Ramsey is a strong advocate for giving kids a commission based on the work they complete. Simply put, if you don't work, you don't get paid. I believe this concept is Biblical and one we are willing to embrace in our family. I grew up in a family business and while I strongly resisted completing my short list of chores, I did learn the importance of doing a job well and earning a paycheck.
I feel like I can't talk about Dave Ramsey without mentioning his give, save, spend strategy of financial management. We want our children to give joyfully, as well as to understand the concept of saving for a significant purchase or a big adventure. At the same time, I have no idea how to go about implementing this in real life. The Mason jars are a popular method but I have some concerns about long-term effectiveness. I perused several virtual options, including three jars where the money management and task completion is tracked online. Once again, I'm overwhelmed by the daunting task of getting started.
How about you? Do you have effective strategies for teaching your children to manage their money wisely?

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