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money as a tool

See Money As A Tool, Not An Idol

by Dr. Kathryn Knight

Money is always on our minds.

Helping young folks develop a money-savvy mentality is tough in our commercial, consumerism-driven society. Ads are constant and people (even we old folks) often have a hard time differentiating between needs and wants. Money is essential, but it needs to be our servant, not our taskmaster. How can we help our kids see money as a tool and not an idol? 

Use these ideas to help educate your kids (and yourself) about the wise use of money.

1. Remember, God owns it all. Be generous and give to worthy causes that honor God.

2. Save money. When you get money for birthdays or other sources, save part of it for long term goals like a car or college.

3. Shop second-hand. This goes not only for big purchases but for almost every item, especially clothing. Look for bargains at thrift stores; one near us advertises that “you never know what treasures you’ll find.” It’s true. There are treasures to be found at second-hand shops.

4. Learn to see money as a tool, not an idol. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil; money itself is not evil (I Timothy 6:10). Your money can bless others and help you serve God in many ways. 

5. Start early. Teach your children to be content with what they have (what God has given them) and to share. All children are able to understand that money is important, but they need to learn from an early age not to let it become a master or idol. 

6. Rethink allowances. We never did give our girls allowances, but we did hire them to do larger chores (clean the barn, detail a car, paint a room, sort the entire school library, etc). No one gets a paycheck just for existing, and allowances seemed to reinforce this economic fallacy, so we came up with the pay-per-job scheme. 

Encourage entrepreneurs.

My daughters were cleaning houses, housesitting, and mowing lawns while in junior high and high school to earn a little money. They learned to work hard and be reliable with these sometimes hard jobs. Remember, most children do not have much of a need for money, at least when they are younger since you provide for all their needs.

Get creative and make it fun. 

One way you can engage your kids is at the grocery store. Show them how much you save by using coupons, buying on sale, or choosing store brands. Put the extra money you save each trip to the store in a jar and watch it grow each week. Use the savings for a family fun event. Children will enjoy seeing how much the family saved when you all go out for pizza or miniature golf courtesy of your shopping savings. Before you count up the savings, let everyone guess how much is in the jar.

Kids are capable of learning money management.

Give your children a head start on money management before they are on their own. Encourage them to see money as a tool, not an idol, and learn to manage it before they are grown. Discourage borrowing and encourage frugal living. Teach biblical money handling from an early age. Your children will not regret learning to live on a budget when they grow up and have to face the reality of keeping money in a proper perspective of being a tool and not an idol.

There are many professionals who teach good money management. One of the best known is Dave Ramsey. For a more personal take, our own featured educator, Melanie De Jong, constantly updates her website with great advice and offers a ton of resources as well. Another great resource is Focus on the Family; this article addresses money and kids. Look at these recommendations and resources to know where to start.

Dr. Kathryn Knight is a 20+ year homeschool veteran who has graduated with three of her five children.

Kathryn loves to find creative ways to make learning hands-on so brain synapses connect and her kids enjoy school and remember what they’ve learned.

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  • Duane Smith
    Posted at 10:34h, 14 January Reply

    It’s important to teach the concept of interest. Those who understand it earn it, and those who don’t, pay it.

    • CCM Team
      Posted at 12:42h, 14 January Reply

      Oh yes! That is a VERY valuable piece of knowledge, Duane!

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