My children are growing up. Just like I did once. I had a saver mom and a spendthrift dad. I am thankful that I ended up more like my mom than my dad in this regard. Please don't get me wrong--I inherited some good traits from my dad that have held me in good stead. I want my children to grow up with good money managing skills and able to manage their own finances. So, I enjoy reading books about kids and finances.
A year or two ago, I began looking for a book to help me outline what I need to teach my children. I found two that I ordered. One was a book Howard Dayton wrote for kids in grades K-2, The ABCs of Handling Money God's Way. It was a nice little story and the workbook had some good questions. And I did like that it addressed how God wants us to view money. But, it didn't cover a lot. I also ordered a little book titled I want to teach my child about Money by Kathie and Doug Rechkemmer. I am very visual, so when it arrived and turned out to be a very small book (in size), I was disappointed and set it aside. It covered what I wanted to teach, but the format was so small that it would be difficult to look at together with my kids.
Then recently two books came across my desk on teaching kids about money. Of course, I was curious. The first is The Money Smart Family System, by Steve and Annette Economides, published by Thomas Nelson. They have a website www.americascheapestfamily.com that you can subscribe to for $20 to gain access to their content. Some is available for free, but I don't know how much. This couple paid off a lot of debt about 16 years ago and then began to give advice to other families. Basically, this book could be a "how to" teach your child about spending tool. They've raised several kids and homeschooled (5 kids from beginning to end for $1000). I'm pretty frugal, but I can't imagine homeschooling K-12 for $1000 in total without making a lot of sacrifices when it comes to curriculum or allocating what falls under homeschooling to other budgeting areas.
Before I go any farther, I want to rabbit trail to our pastor's sermon from last Sunday (click here). It was about awaiting Christ's return and being awake. In the sermon, he mentions that if we don't look to Christ's return and are only focused on our life here and now, then our faith becomes a tool simply to a better life here. What he says about this has really stuck in my mind. That Sunday night in our small group, I realized that this is my concern about many Christian "self-help" type books. It is as if faith in God isn't about glorifying God in our lives--it is really just a means to a better life for us and our families here and now. I think this is really important that we have to be careful about how we view our lives and God's role in our life.
So, back to the Money Smart family System. This book is a book that reflects the judeo-Christian values that Dr. Dobson often talks about on Focus on the Family, except that God is never (to my notice) mentioned in the book. When the Economides pair recommends books, many Focus on the Family type of books are referenced and authors that I've heard from years past on the show. I was particularly interested in how they explain giving.
Here are a few quotes:
"We must help our children comprehend that the money they earn is not solely intended for their personal use or enjoyment--they have a responsibility to be a conduit of benefit to others." p. 70
"If we can consistently help our children see the benefits that come with sharing the simplest things, they will be inoculated against greed and miserly thinking as they grow older." p. 71
Reasons for giving include things like how it reduces clutter and opens their eyes (leading to compassion) and teaching the joy of giving. Note, God isn't mentioned in this chapter. Later in the book, there is a chapter on activities to develop activities for character, strength, and scholarships. In this chapter, religious activities are talked about. The positive reason for mission trips? "Being immersed in a different culture and learning how other people live can breed a deeper appreciation and greater satisfaction for life at home. Beyond that, it could open your child's heart to a possible career or avocation helping others in need." p. 123. Really? What about God? Serving Him and loving others because He first loved us.
This book is not what I'd recommend to a Christian family. God isn't a part of the picture this book presents. Is it a book I'd recommend to a family that wants to live a moral life, but doesn't believe in God? Yes. That's who this book is for. Is there a danger to a Christian family following this model? I think so. I think one of the greatest pitfalls for our children to believing in God is the strong American value that we can do it ourselves. We don't need help or need anyone else. We are always hearing "Believe in yourself" . We need to be careful to teach our children, I believe, that everything we have comes from the Lord and we are to be good stewards of it.
To sum it all up: if you're looking for a list of age appropriate chores, check this book out of the library. Aside from that, I don't recommend this book.
I'm going to be reviewing Mary Hunt's book on raising financially responsible kids next week. So, it'll be fun to dig into this subject again!
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing.