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September 23, 2013 / BTM

Managing Finances God’s Way, Part 3

My last two posts were about Heritage Builder’s Money Matters book and some changes I made to the activities in the book.  I created some extra activities outside of the topics those included in Heritage Builder’s Money Matters book.  These will be the topic for today’s post.

You Have to Spend to Save

This is a concept that was not in the Heritage Builders Money Matters book.  How many of us fall for “good deals”?  I know I do.  It’s been pointed out aptly by others that you have to spend to save.  Instead of “thinking of the money you’re going to save”, rather “think of the money you’re going to spend”.

To do this activity, I got out flyers and cut out ads for “good deals”.  Some of the good deals were for products that are necessities, some were for products that weren’t.  The items fell within several loose categories: fruit, vegetables, snack food, drinks, bread and baked items, toys, cereal, milk.  For those that didn’t have a unit price, I made one up.  For all of the items, I displayed the “regular price” and the “sale price” to show what a good deal they were.  I made sure that I had multiple types or brands of items to fill the categories listed above.

I showed our kids all the items and talked excitedly about how each of them were on sale and what a good deal they were. I gave our kids Monopoly money and told them they were going to pretend to go to the store and buy at least 2 fruits, 3 vegetables, 1 milk, 1 food for breakfast and 1 snack item.  I told them that if there was money left over, they could spend it however they liked, since there were so many deals at the store that week.

They discovered that they could buy a lot with the money I gave them, including toys.  We then analysed what they’d bought: How much did they spend?  How much did they save?  How much extra did they spend in order to “save” what they had saved?  (Remember, I had given them minimum quantities of what to buy).

I mentioned that they could have spent quite a bit less money if they had only bought what we’d needed.  Sometimes deals are good and it’s worth spending money on them.  Sometimes they aren’t – particularly if the deals are for items that are not immediate needs.  We always have to think about how much we are spending, not just how much we are saving.

Saving Toward a Goal

We decided to get very practical in teaching our kids about the concept of saving toward a goal.  Both of our kids had seen costumes that they really liked in a store one day near the beginning of our money lessons.  That gave me the idea of buying them in advance, and using them as an object lesson.

We told the boys that they could have the costumes if they earned the money for them themselves.  We set up a list of chores that they could do (everything from reading a book out loud to us (to motivate our reluctant early reader), to folding laundry, to putting out the garbage and retrieving the bins the next morning).  We valued all of these chores fairly minimally (for example, folding a load of laundry earned them $0.50, reading a short book earned $0.10).  We did this because we wanted them to have to work hard and for a long time before they earned their costume.  They continued to tithe and put 10% of their earnings toward long-term savings (which we define as a car or university education) at the same time.  Doing this reinforced all of these concepts.

It took most of the summer for our kids to earn their costumes, but they really valued them and learned a lesson about putting aside little by little to purchase something big.

Summing it Up

If you’ve come to the end of these posts and think: “But you’ve forgotten X and Y aspects of money management!”, you’re probably right.  There are more topics in the Heritage Builders Money Matters book that I didn’t discuss.  I also consider all of these activities, and the others found in the Money Matters book, as starting points for modelling Godly money management to your kids.

Once you’ve introduced the concepts to your kids, reinforce the lessons in real life as you go to the store, as your children try to differentiate needs and wants, as you make your own tithing and offering decisions, as you model hard work, and as you make financial purchases in light of eternity.  We’ve been amazed at how much our kids learned over the course of these lessons, and how the training as stayed with them.  We hope you will be too.

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