1. Talk about money: This might seem like a basic first step. But with tap and pay on mobile phones, most children are fairly oblivious about the concept of money. They don’t see money physically being used to pay for items. Therefore they may not have a good understanding of the value or cost of many everyday items. Simply talking about money and cost is a great first step in teaching faithful stewardship.
A Grace City parent said: When we buy an ice cream for our children we set a limit on which they can choose. When we do this, we explain the price difference between the different ice creams. For example, we explain that a cornetto is twice the price of an icy pole. This gives them an understanding of the cost and value of each.
2. Make giving visible: Talk to children about where you give money as a family. If you have a sponsor child through World Vision or Compassion, involve children in writing letters and explainthat you pay money for financial support. If you give money to missionaries or other charities, explain the work that your giving funds. If your church encourages an annual pledge, use this as an opportunity to explain to children why you give to church.
A Grace City parent shared: When I make a meal for someone in need, I include my children in the process. I explain that we want to use our money to bless others. We talk about the cost of the ingredients and the time taken to prepare the meal. I then take my children with me to drop off the meal.
3. Read about money in the bible: Most children’s bibles do not include stories that talk about money. The most commonly included story is Zacchaeus the tax collector. This means children are often unaware that Christians are taught about wise stewardship of money in the bible. Find bible stories that talk about generosity and use that as a springboard to talk about being generous with money. For older children, help them read the gospels and epistles using the International Children’s Bible and discuss passages such as 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Matthew 19:16-30 and Matthew 25:14-30.
A Grace City parent shared: In the Beginners Bible we read the story of the Good Samaritan. After the story, we talked as a family about the cost to the Good Samaritan to care for the hurt man. He used his own donkey and paid money for a room at an inn for someone he’d never met. We then talked about how we can use our money to be a generous neighbour like the Good Samaritan.
4. Teach about saving and budgeting: If your child receives pocket money or monetary birthday gifts, help them divide this money into three categories – spend, save and give. The Barefoot Investor for Families and Barefoot Kids explains this in more detail. Spend time in discussion about wise and fruitful avenues to spend, save and give. Making a decision for how children use their money gives greater responsibility. Discuss with children the different choices they can make in how they spend. Explain that there is rarely a right or wrong decision, but rather an opportunity for wise stewardship.
A Grace City parent shared: One of our children wanted to go on an overseas holiday to New Zealand to visit friends. We had a conversation about how this was an expensive holiday (compared to camping) and so we would need to save money for this type of trip. We explained that split our money between spending on everyday needs, giving to others and then saving for larger expenses such as buying a car or going on an overseas holiday.
5. Use wisdom and restraint in your spending: Children learn so much from how their parents use money. If parents model that there are no limits to spending, children will never learn lessons of wise stewardship. It is okay for children to not always get the toy they want, the snack they desire or the co-curricular activity they see others involved in. This is a powerful opportunity to explain to children the that limiting spending allows generosity to others. For older children this can lead to a discussion about separating income from spending. Even if you have the money to buy something, there might be wisdom in exercising restraint.
A Grace City parent shared: We talk about how we use money when deciding whether to have takeaway food. We explain the cost of takeaway and that it is a special treat to be shared. But we explain that it isn’t a wise use of our money to always eat takeaway, especially when we have food at home.
6. Think of different avenues for giving: Giving to others doesn’t have to be monetary. As a family consider ways you can give to others in need. This might be looking after the children of a family in crisis, making a meal for the parents of a newborn, donating toys to an Op Shop or helping a neighbour with their gardening.
A Grace City parent shared: Each year in December we spend time going through our toys and thinking about what we’ll donate to our local Op Shop. Our children also go to Kmart and choose toys to give away at the Westfield charity Christmas tree.
7. Teach how money never satisfies: Children often request a better toy, upgraded technology or new clothes. This can be prompted by advertisements or comparing themselves to others. Use this as an opportunity to discuss how money can never satisfy and is only an earthly treasure. Have children look in their room for possessions which used to be new and special, but now seem old and insignificant. Use biblical stories such as Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus the tax collector who cannot sell his possessions or Matthew 6:26-30 where God provides for the birds and flowers and will therefore provide for us too.
A Grace City parent shared: When my child asks for a new item of clothing, we spend time looking through their wardrobe to see what they already own. We discuss whether the item of clothing is a need or a want. Sometimes we decide that even if the clothing item is a want, we might buy it as a treat. The key is that we’ve taken the time to talk about the decision.
8. Wisdom in second-hand: Help children understand the wisdom in buying or receiving second-hand clothes and toys. Explain how this is a wise use of money as the second-hand item may still be in good condition and will satisfy their need. If children want a new toy, encourage them to sell a toy they no longer need on FaceBook Marketplace. Then help them to look for a second-hand version of the toy they want. Show them the price difference between the toy new and second-hand.
A Grace City parent shared: My daughter wanted a two-wheel scooter because her friend had recently started riding a two-wheel scooter. Together we looked on FaceBook Marketplace to find one second-hand. We talked about how this was a wise choice as the second-hand scooter was no longer being used by the other child and was still in good condition, therefore we didn’t need to buy a new scooter.
9. Thank God for the blessings of money: When you are given a gift as a family, talk about the generosity of the giver and even the monetary value of the gift. This helps children be thankful and appreciate the generosity of others. It also gives a sense of the price, which heightens their awareness of the cost of giving.
A Grace City parent shared: During a difficult time for our family we were given an Uber Eats voucher by someone at church. As we were eating the meal, one child commented on how yummy the food was. As a family, we then prayed and thanked God for the person who used their money to buy us a meal voucher. We also thanked God for how yummy the food was.
10. Riches in heaven: Talk to children about the difference between riches on earth and riches in heaven. Use bible stories such as Matthew 6:16-21 storing up riches in heaven and Luke 12:13-21 the parable of the rich fool. Remind children that being wealthy on earth is meaningless in light of eternity. Encourage children to share with others the greatest treasure, the gift of the gospel.
A Grace City parent shared: We recently moved house. Our children were talking about how much better our new house was. We used this as an opportunity to remind our children that our house on earth is temporary but our home in heaven will be eternal.