Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.” Hebrews 13:5

Teaching kids about money is more than helping them understand two nickels equal one dime in purchasing power. The spending habits children learn when they are young can translate into good or bad habits as adults.

It can be difficult for parents to determine where to draw the line in spending money on things their kids want. That might be easier for families with limited means who obviously cannot afford to buy anything and everything for their kids. Regardless of the family income, however, it is a good idea to have children pay for some or all of the discretionary items they desire.

There some items that would be classified as “necessary” not “discretionary.” The obvious ones are food and shelter, health care, adequate clothing and the basics needed for education.

The key is to help kids understand the difference between needs and wants. When parents supply every want, the children believe they will always have everything they want. Too many children today are reaching adulthood and attempting to begin their lives in the style they became accustomed to in their parents’ home.

It is a good idea for kids to have “skin in the game” when it comes to purchasing a want.  If children are responsible for all or part of the expense of a want, they understand the sacrifice that is involved.  The purchase is made with more thought and is cared for more diligently. That is “skin in the game.”

One practical way this can be done is to have a money envelope for each child. When the child asks for something in the store, simply check the appropriate envelope and then let the child decide if the want is worth the withdrawal from his or her envelope. If there is not enough money in the envelope, the child will have the opportunity to experience delayed gratification – an important component of responsible adulthood.

One more lesson in the area of finances is the importance of giving. If you start when the children are young, the idea of tithing is as natural as saying grace before a meal.  Giving $0.10 after a dollar is earned is a great way to start.  Letting the child choose where their tithe will go is always interesting and enlightening.

Oh yes, and Mom and Dad, be certain you are modeling the principles you want your children to adopt.
That would include distinguishing between a want and a need, choosing delayed gratification, and giving to the Lord’s work.

What ways have you helped your kids develop good spending habits?