Since choosing a life of simplicity Keith and I have known that we would be raising Alinea & Jacob in a different way than we were raised. Neither of us ever received much in the way of financial tools and training as children and we have spent much of our adult lives recovering from poor financial decisions. We wanted more for our kids.
The two pronged approach we decided upon was to help them understand the value of things and not their cost, which we aim to do by leaving a gentle footprint, reduce, reuse, recycle. We buy our clothing second hand, redeem things we can find either curbside or at garage sales or thrift stores and choose to live as simply as we are able. The second prong involves learning to manage what money they have access to.
Living as we do and choosing a life in ministry can give a kid the impression that they are "poor" - we have never wanted that for Ali & Jake. We knew we needed to be intentional about making sure they had money to spend, and learn and make mistakes now when they are this age and "under our wings" instead of at college when financial mistakes can sandbag a future.
About this time we had also begun to hear about a ministry called Share, Save, Spend and Nathan Dungan - it's simple kingdom economics that have seemed to fall out of favor in this highly materialistic world (church) we find ourselves. We took what we read there and coupled it with an idea from Larry Burkett and homogenized the peanut butter jars you see above.
We long for kingdom economics to play a large role in our own financial decisions, so we want to model and teach that for Ali & Jake. This small way has been a great tool for all of us and we began it at Christmas this past year. Up until this point we have had no financial "allowance" or fixed amount we gave to the kids. We knew that had to begin if they were ever going to a) learn for themselves how to manage money and b) not feel poor. We made three peanut butter jar banks for each child, cut a slot in the top, made the labels and wrapped them up as part of their Christmas presents with the promise of $5.00/week to share, save & spend.
We committed to providing them with an "income" (we are shying away from allowance because it's not a chore based system - they do their share of the work at home because we all share the load). Every pay check Keith brings home a roll of loonies (CDN $1.00 coins) and they each get 10 of them, 8 go into their spend bank and 1 each into save & share - it's not rocket science, but it does take some intention. When they receive a gift they are expected to do the math and put 10% into save and 10% into share. They get to decide what it is they are saving for and where they want to be generous with their "share" monies.
What we have seen since that time has been incredible. They have independence and can make their own decisions about their "spend" monies, are learning about the value of that money and the cost of things they dream about - and are learning to set some aside for the future and also be generous out of their own pockets. It's been really great for all of us.
I just thought I'd take a sec to blog about it in case it helps any other families in this situation. We felt for so long that we really didn't have any financial tools to pass on to our kids except for a bunch of "rules" that never seemed to help us. This simple beginning has given them a great launching pad for the future. It's opened up tons of doors conversationally and allowed us to begin to see their hearts and how they interact with finances.
I think Jesus talked so much about money because it exposes the motivations of the heart. Taking this development of this stage of their lives seriously has been really good for us all.