Eliminate Holiday Spending Stress

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday have all come and gone and the Christmas buying season is upon us. Before emptying your wallet and racking up credit card debt, take some time to think through WHY it is so easy to overspend at Christmas by reading the stories below.

Maria is a divorced mother of two teens. She overspends on the holidays out of guilt, trying to make up for the emotional disruption in her children’s lives by showering them with gifts. She knows deep down that when the credit card bills arrive in January, she will experience terrible anxiety.

Christmas is all about kids, and it can be a magical time where we make lots of happy memories. However, teens aren’t clueless and they can and do understand that money is not an infinite resource. You are not a bad parent if you can’t buy every single thing your kid likes or sees or wants. More to the point, they won’t stop loving you if you fail to provide an avalanche of presents. Let’s admit it, NOT making kids happy is a deep, dark fear that drives a lot of unhealthy financial behavior at this time of year.

Even little ones know Santa only has so much room on his sleigh. If you’re secretly worried a child will reject you over gifts, remember that they want your love, approval, time, and undivided attention. And if you have taught them to value material possessions over these things, you may want to rethink what you are teaching them. Prioritize your budget to spend more on the children than the adults. But balance this against the knowledge that overspending in the short term can be bad for the whole family in the long term.

Let’s look at Tom and Sue who LOVE the holidays and do everything they can to make the season festive and fun. They use a budget during the year, but it gets tossed out the window at Christmas. They would never want to disappoint their twelve nieces and nephews, six siblings, parents, neighbors, friends and even casual acquaintances.  Every year, they overspend their budget in quest of the PERFECT Christmas. And every January, they pay the price in stress, finance charges, and post-holiday misery.

Our own lives can seem messy when we compare them to our friends and neighbors. Top that with multiple media images of perfect families with perfect homes and armfuls of gifts and you have the textbook recipe for a holiday inferiority complex. We are holding ourselves up for scrutiny against an airbrushed, photo-shopped version of other people. But what you see in the media isn’t REAL. For all you know, the neighbors you envy may be up to their eyeballs in debt and their over-decorated house of cards might come tumbling down at any minute.

Make a conscious effort to stop comparing yourself to others. Who cares what other people think? Take a few moments to write a list of the things you truly care about, that bring you real joy and happiness. Shifting your focus can help you to prioritize what is most important, and is most likely to bring you lasting happiness in a way that material goods cannot. You can’t buy a good Christmas, you can only make one.

Emma and Ben have enough money that overspending during the holidays is not a problem. But what really makes them crazy is to see the holiday focus on elaborate gifts while friends and family miss the real reason for the celebrations. They hate seeing gifts that are broken, discarded, or ignored as soon as the holiday has passed. They struggle with the feeling that their money is not being well spent.

This situation is often linked with having one or more demanding, unreasonable family members who are difficult to stand up to. Don’t be a martyr. You can’t actually make people like that happy, so quit trying. There’s no point exhausting yourself and your bank account. Re-think the situation: what’s affordable and comfortable for you?  State your intentions simply without apologizing, justifying or arguing.

For example, “We’re only buying presents for the kids this year.” Sure, it feels weird the first few times you try acting assertively around certain friends or relatives who aren’t used to it, but it gets easier over time.  You can do it without being nasty or looking like the bad guy. The world won’t end if you say ‘no’ every now and then.

Sam and Suzie would never dream of buying presents at the discount store or doing anything other than over the top gift giving, decorating, party throwing and meal planning. Because they DESERVE the BEST! But, every year they get stressed out and the holidays are less than joyful, especially as the credit card bills start piling up in their mailbox.

Christmas is not really about deserving anything, is it?  Either you can afford something or you can’t, however entitled you or anyone else might feel. Do the math. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. There’s nothing wrong with buying the standard version of something, if that’s what your budget allows.

In mid-December, Josie heads to the store for Christmas gift shopping. She doesn’t have a list—only a vague idea of what to buy and who to buy for. She wanders around aimlessly picking up those gifts that seem like a good idea. But when she gets home the gifts are all wrong and she forgot half the things she wanted to buy in the first place.

One of the biggest risks to our budget is panic buying. Feeling rushed or overwhelmed leads us to make snap decisions. We take the easy way out rather than the smartest option, and it ends up costing far more than we’d planned.

To avoid being in debt for months and months during 2019, avoid panic buying. Take a deep breath, calm down, check your budget and develop a detailed list for each person. Then stick to the list! Keep yourself focused and the panicky feelings will be a lot easier to overcome.

The holidays are rapidly approaching, but there is still time to take these proactive steps to avoid finding yourself in a financially stressful situation come January. If you see yourself in one of these situations, rethink what Christmas is all about.

Once Christmas 2018 is finished, we highly suggest saving 1/12 of your Christmas budget each month. If you say you can’t afford to do that, what makes you think you can pay the credit card bills for Christmas 2018, PLUS interest.

After all, the buying frenzy that occurs every year at Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with the baby in the manger, the gift of God made man. The only one and true gift we need at Christmas.

Here’s wishing you an affordable Christmas, and a financially stable New Year.

Join the Compass Catholic podcast for more about eliminating holiday spending stress.

Money and Your College Students

At Compass Catholic our goal is to teach financial principles from the Bible so people are freed from the secular grasp of our culture. Luke 16:11 states “If therefore you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will entrust you with true wealth.”

This quote from Luke applies to your young adult who is heading off to college this fall. Have you taught them to be faithful in using worldly wealth? It is important for mom and dad to send that young person off into the world with some basic financial knowledge, so they can become faithful using worldly wealth.  This is especially vital if your young adult has not been managing their own money and has no concept of using a budget, or paying their own bills.

One of the first discussions that needs to occur between the parents and student is “Who is paying for what?” Will the parents pay the entire tuition bill or is the student expected to contribute? Will the student provide their own spending money from a job? Are mom and dad providing spending money?  How much and how often?

If you are providing spending money and your student has not been managing their own budget, think about making a deposit into their account weekly, so they can learn to manage a small amount at a time. Giving a young adult a semester’s worth of spending money can be a recipe for disaster if they do not know how to manage it. A great tip I read recently said to deposit the money into their account on a Monday so they have to manage the money during the week in order to have enough money to do something fun over the weekend.

If you are providing all the money for college, what do you expect from your student as far as financial accountability?  Do you want to review their bank account weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Or do they have an open checkbook to spend whatever they want?

This is also a great time to teach them how small spending habits can have long-term impacts, because little indulgences add up fast.  Buying a fancy coffee every day means spending about $25/week or $100/month or $1,000/year.  Extrapolate that over a lifetime and it adds up to a significant chunk of change. Buying a meal ticket and also eating at restaurants can mean spending twice as much money on meals.  Discussing some of these points with them will help them think about the impact of their spending.

Decide if you going to give them a credit card and define the rules around using it. In case of an emergency a credit card is not a bad idea as long as rules are established and agreed to. Does credit card spending need to be pre-approved by mom and dad or can it be used to buy pizza for everyone on the dorm floor?

Using a ‘Secured Credit Card’ will help your student to learn how to manage money as well as establish their credit history. It’s a type of credit card that is backed by a savings account. The money deposited and held in an account establishes the credit limit on the card.

Interestingly enough, according to Money magazine, 63% of Millennials don’t use credit cards.  In the long run, it’s probably best that Millennials are shying away from credit cards.  They have seen the damage it can do to a household budget and they are fearful of adding extra debt to already heavy student loans. But there are risks involved with debit cards—if the card and pin number are stolen the account can be cleaned out quickly, (which is another good reason for mom and dad to make weekly deposits to their student’s account.)

Going to college, living away from home for the first time, being surrounded by peer pressure and learning how to manage money all at the same time can be overwhelming to a young person. It is important for your student to know they can go to you for Godly counsel in financial situations. The more you do to prepare them to manage their own money, the more likely it is that they will call you for advice. It’s amazing how you will get smarter as they grow older and more independent.  Proverbs 12:15 tells us,  “The way of fools is right in their own eyes, but those who listen to advice are the wise.”  Give them good advice and watch them fly!

It is exciting to see your children grow into responsible adults. It is also important to help them do it by giving them responsibilities, and holding them accountable.

And the most important part of financial training is to teach them God’s way of handling money. It will serve them well in college and in all the years beyond.

Raising Money-Smart Kids

If finances are one of the most stressful topics in a marriage, communicating about children comes in a close second. Talking about children and money in the same conversation may result in the perfect storm.

The most common mistake in teaching children about money is simply not planning as a couple how to do it.  It is important for husband and wife to discuss and decide on what is important in your particular family when it comes to money management and finances.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.”

If you are a mom or dad or grandparent here are some ideas about teaching financial responsibility to the children in your lives:

  1. Should we give them an allowance or not?

Allowances can be a good idea if used properly.  If you give your children an allowance, but still fulfill their every desire you really are not teaching them anything.  The allowance needs to be their money and the spending choices (no matter how bad) also need to be theirs.  Your role is to be a coach – training them ahead of time and doing a post game review after they have spent the allowance.

Start the allowance when they have a basic concept of money and can add and subtract.  A good target amount is between $0.50 and $1.00 per week for each year of their age.  The allowance needs to be big enough that they can buy something but small enough that they have to save in order to buy it.

The purpose of an allowance is to teach them how to make spending decisions.  They can buy a small item this week or save and buy a larger item next week.

Mom and Dad should help divide the allowance into three parts (spend, give, save). The “spend” money can be spent on what ever they want to buy.  The “give” money goes into the basket at Mass each Sunday and the “save” money is saved for a larger purchase they want.

  1. Do we pay for chores around the house?

Having responsibilities is part of living in community – even if that community is one child and one parent.  Each child needs to be assigned chores for which they are responsible. Even a three year old can place the flatware around the table at meal time. Depending on your family, other chores may include making their bed, loading and emptying the dishwasher (or washing and drying the dishes by hand), taking out the trash and caring for the family pets. The level of responsibility needs to increase as they get older so by the end of high school they are able to manage their own needs – including cooking, laundry and clothes shopping – so they are prepared for leaving home.

  1. Can they earn extra money by doing additional tasks?

This is a great idea if the parents really treat it as a job for hire. The job needs to be over and above their regular household chores and there needs to be some agreement about what gets done, when it needs to be done, how it is done and what the job pays. If they do not complete the job on time or if it is not done well, their paycheck should reflect that.

  1. Do not bail them out when they make mistakes.

Experience is the best teacher so let the kids make their own decisions and let them make bad ones. If they mess up, let them experience the consequences. If they spend lunch money on a game, then they have to make their own lunch with whatever is available from the pantry.  No additional handout from mom and dad. It’s better for them to make a bad decision with $20 of lunch money than a $300K house! Experience will help them make wise decisions, weigh different options, and comparison shop. They need opportunities to learn from their mistakes.

  1. Clothes Shopping with The Walmart Rule

Depending on the maturity of your child and how far they have come in learning to handle money, there are two ways to handle clothes shopping:

The first way is to give them a clothes budget and the freedom to buy whatever they can afford with the money you’ve given them. It’s important for them to have a must list: must get 6 pair of underwear, 6 pairs of socks, 2 shirts and 1 pair of jeans.  Go with them the first time to help them comparison shop and see what they can get for their money.

The second way is for you to control the money and pay for their clothes up to a certain amount. For example, if the jeans are $20 at Walmart, you’ll spend $20 on a pair of jeans. If they want more expensive jeans, they’ll need to pitch in the difference between the cost of the expensive jeans and the $20 limit you have defined based on the cost of jeans at Walmart.

These two methods are a lot different than the open-ended approach used by so many parents who just whip out the credit cards to buy the kids what ever they want.  So your children probably won’t like either of these methods. But your job is to raise children who will be responsible adults.  Once they are adults there is a limit to how much they’ll be able to afford and that limit is much easier to understand if they were raised with a solid financial background.

Parents are the number one influence on their children’s financial behaviors, so it’s up to you to raise a generation of mindful consumers, investors, savers, and givers.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says “Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. Take to heart these words, which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children.”

The world teaches children its way of handling money, which is contrary to God’s way. We have the responsibility to teach children God’s way of handling money. We must be even more intentional than the world in teaching our children. Our thoughts influence their thoughts. We can influence them toward the holy and moral or we can influence them toward the secular and worldly.

How we train them determines in a large part their thoughts and attitudes when they are adults. Children can be taught to love things and use people or to love people and use things.

We can teach children to honor God or the almighty dollar.

Teach Your Children About Money

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Catholic money management and financial responsibility is an important part of practicing our faith on a day-to-day basis. When we know how to manage our money through earning, spending, and giving God’s way, we remove worry and bring God closer to our minds and our hearts.

In addition to managing their own finances, parents have the additional responsibility of teaching their children how to manage money God’s way. There are plenty of distractions and misleading information in the world that can pull children away from the path God has planned for them. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.” When children begin to understand what money is and what they can do with it, it is time to teach them how to manage money God’s way in preparation for the time when they are no longer living under Mom and Dad’s direction and guidance.

Allowances
Allowances are a great way to help children become familiar with all forms of financial management. The amount you give them on a weekly or monthly basis is not the same in each family, but it should be enough to buy some things, but not everything they want. This allows them to spend money on things they want now or to save money for something they can’t afford just yet. As they do this, they will realize the value and importance of saving and managing what they spend.

One visual tool to help them manage their money is through the use of three jars, one for spending, one for giving, and one for saving. These are the main concepts of financial responsibility that are important for every adult to have, and this is a good way to introduce these concepts to children at an early age.

It is important to expect children to have chores around the house as members of the household. It is not a good idea to pay children for doing day to day chores – this sets up the expectation that they will be paid for everything they do, instead of teaching them that being part of a family has a level of responsibility. I am sure anyone with children can imagine a child shirking chores if they don’t need money that week. However, you can offer them the option to do more significant chores, or once a year chores such as raking leaves in exchange for payment. This will teach them the value of hard work and encourage them to expend effort for what they want instead of having it handed to them.

Let them make mistakes
Experience is the best teacher, and letting children make their own choices with their money and learn from their own successes and failures will leave a more lasting impression than simply being told that what they are doing is a mistake. Helping them learn from mistakes while they are young is especially important because the consequences of their mistakes will be less severe than when they are older. If they do not understand the consequences of their actions, you can gently question them to help them connect the dots between their actions and the result of their bad decisions. Better to let them make a bad decision on buying an expensive toy at 10 years old when the results are minimal rather than having them make a bad decision on a $300,000 mortgage at 25 years old.

Another way to tech children the value of money is to give them a set amount of money for a need such as clothing or their lunch. Once they have a set amount they can spend, give them a list of things they must have and let them spend the rest as they please. This way they can learn about finding good deals on clothing as well as learning about the real cost of clothing. For example, they could spend $50 on a designer pair of jeans, or spend $20 on a regular pair of jeans and have $30 leftover for other clothing items.

Our children rely on us to help them learn about the world around them, especially the world of finances, so teaching them the principles of Catholic money management now helps them later. If they are to be stewards of God’s money, it is our responsibility to show them the way. Remember, what they learn and take away from their experiences now will help guide them through the experiences they face as adults.

Until next week…we hope you all have a blessed week.

The Beans

A New Paradigm: Adult Children Living at Home

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A while back I wrote about Cheri Frame, an educational consultant who runs a business called “Credits Before College“.  Her goal is to make sure that kids are getting out of college without debt so that they are financially prepared to enter the work force or even go into ministry if they so desire.

The concept of getting kids in and out of college without debt is wonderful and I know I would have loved to have had this inside scoop when I was headed off to college. This line of thinking also made me ponder some of the arrangements we can utilize before our kids set out on their own.

When I went off to college, I had the idea that once I turned 18 I would be “turned loose.” In other words, when I turned 18, I was an adult and therefore officially on my own. Upon graduating from college (with student loan debt), my first job took me to one of the most expensive areas of the country to live in, New York City.  I made a paltry salary, which barely covered my rent and utilities. I pretty much had to rely on my credit card to meet basic needs.  To me, that debt was a huge black cloud hanging over my head and I had no foreseeable way of paying it down.  My husband had a similar experience.  We have talked about how this impacted our young lives as we started out and that, if at all possible, we’d like our children to have a different experience.

There is a book that has been around for quite some time called “Leaving the Light On”, by Gary Smalley & John Trent.  My husband and I read it to gain insight into creating a home for our children that was inviting and welcoming.  We want our children to feel like they can still come home, even after they turn 18.  We realize this is counter to the way we were raised and maybe even a bit controversial today, but it actually reverts to a time when men and women did not leave home until they were married.  The reason it looks different to us today is because men and women are not getting married after high school graduation anymore. They are heading off to college, then living on their own for years before marriage.  Unfortunately between college debt and independent living, the debt spiral usually kicks in.  What if we could provide them with a more secure start in life?

Naturally, I am an advocate for education and I hope my kids will pursue college.  But, my husband and I are not opposed to them earning their degrees close to home, even continuing to live at home while they are in school, if it will help defray the cost of their education.  Once they have earned a degree, ideally they will be able to find a job and establish themselves in the work force.  However, having a job and earning a salary high enough to support oneself do not always go hand-in-hand.  Perhaps by allowing them to stay home a little longer, at least until they are able to cover their necessary expenses on their own, they can be better prepared for the transition between adulthood and true independence.

Having adult children live at home can be challenging.  It can also be a great blessing as you get to know the young adult emerging from the cocoon of childhood.

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord; great shall be the peace of your children.” ISAIAH 54:13

The “Sandwich” Generation

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We had a post on this blog not too long ago about having a conversation with our parents in regards to planning for the future. It is imperative that we know about their long-term plans, care preferences, and probably the most difficult discussion of all, the funeral arrangements.

However, for some of us, the opportunity to have this discussion with our parents has come and gone and we are now the beneficiaries of aging parents who have little to no financial resources and are unable to care for themselves any longer.  For some, this means the aging parent(s) will come to live with their adult children in order to provide the care they need because there isn’t enough money to consider any other option.  For others, while there may be enough income to allow the parent(s) to live somewhat independently, such as in a home with caregivers, this too can be an equally difficult discussion when the time comes to make the change.

More often than not, the adult children also have children of their own at home and are now in the middle of a delicate balancing act. Between managing doctor appointments, school recitals, and ball games, how are we to be sure everyone is getting what they need?  When funds are tight, how do are we to prioritize between our child’s medicine and Grandpa’s or Grandma’s?

As a Church, we need to care for our elderly, but when those elders are our own parents, it can add a whole new dimension to our lives.  Tensions can run high, so it is important to remain in Christ, stay grounded in our faith and remember all the sacrifices our parents made in order to provide for us when we were growing up.

We also need to remember that we are part of a larger community, the Body of Christ.  Not only can we rely on our Church for emotional assistance and counsel, but also, when our financial resources have been tapped, circumstances may dictate that we swallow our pride and make an appointment with our pastor to have a frank discussion about the situation.

Some parishes have counselors and financial advisors available to help outline a plan in order to ease the burden of guilt when we find ourselves between the proverbial “rock-and-hard-place”.  We are also blessed to have outreach ministries such as Catholic Relief Services and The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which have been set up to help in instances such as these.

The journey is not easy, but as our parents near the end of their days on this earth, more than anything we need a spirit of compassion, a heart filled with empathy, and grace beyond measure.  We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you.”~Exodus 20:12

 

It’s Never Too Early to Save

johnIn a previous blog, we discussed the importance of teaching your children the principles of financial responsibility so they can become wise spenders, generous givers and intentional savers.  Having children perform specific tasks and granting allowances for a job well done is a great tool for training good stewards. Your approach to your child’s financial training should be dynamic and adapt to their needs as they grow and mature. Here, we offer you a few guidelines for helping your child achieve financial independence and a well-established savings account by the time they leave the nest.

Obviously, you can’t sit your toddler down and begin to discuss the importance of retirement and savings accounts. While your intentions are undoubtedly good, such a message will simply go right over their heads. Instead, once your child has adequately grasped the concept of money (between ages three and five), start introducing them to delayed gratification. The notion that you may have to wait to buy something you want is difficult to understand—even for many adults. Provide the children with three jars to sort their allowance money, labeled “give,” “spend,” and “save.” By encouraging them to give some money to charity or the church offering and to save up a majority of their earnings for something they really want, like a toy or a game, you’ll give them the fundamentals they need to understand the importance of savings all on their own. The money they are saving needs to be small, so they get short term gratification, as they cannot grasp a long term savings plan at this age.

As they reach ages six through ten, continue the “give/spend/save” concept, introducing the notion of making choices about how they spend their hard-earned money. Take them on grocery shopping trips and discuss why you choose generic brands over name brands–because they taste just the same and cost less. Start giving them your grocery list and allowing them to make decisions about whether to choose generic or name brand for each item on the list. As always, the best way to lead is by example, so be sure to have a conversation with them about your own financial decisions

By the time your child is about twelve, they will firmly understand savings accounts and will be ready to conquer longer-term financial goals. This age is a good time to start talking about compound interest. For children, such high-level financial concepts are much easier to grasp with real numbers rather than abstractions; Compass Catholic offers a “Compounding and Your Return” calculator that can help. Reinforce the importance of their financial decisions by discussing the difference between needs and wants.

Finally, from ages fourteen to eighteen, your child will be preparing for college and getting ready to enter the adult world. These years are challenging as they become independent, but what better gift to give them than Biblical stewardship? Help them understand the importance of independence by cutting back on your “bailouts.” For example, if they spend their lunch money on a video game, they’ll need to figure out how to eat lunch for the rest of the week without you giving them extra money or making their sandwiches. This is also a good time to help them lay out a budget for college expenses beyond tuition. Many universities offer a price calculator to help estimate extracurricular activities, food, and so on for the average college student. Encourage them to take up a part time job, but make sure it doesn’t interfere with their academic schedule.

Even if you didn’t start your child’s financial education in their toddler years, it’s never too late to begin—and your example may be the best learning tool they will receive. Remain steadfast in your own Biblical stewardship responsibilities, and they are sure to follow suit and reap their own benefits.
“Those who respect their father will live a long life; those who obey the Lord honor their mother.” Sirach 2:6

Stewardship Starts at an Early Age

johnWhen it comes to raising children, no one has all the answers. Parenting is a series of experiences and experiments to help you figure out what your child enjoys, appreciates, and accepts. Keeping that in mind, the topic of regular allowances is one that has been the subject of much debate over the years. Are allowances a good idea? Should the child be expected to work in order to get an allowance? Are doing household chores and receiving an allowance simply a part of belonging to the family? While these questions seem fairly minor if your child is young, your responses can shape the way your child saves, spends and gives money when they are older, so it is important to start teaching them when they are young.

A vast majority of people agree that children take after their parents. You are their first, last and most influential teacher. As such, parents bear the responsibility of training children in their attitude toward money and possessions. Take a look at the Bible and money management passages found within:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

By teaching your children to manage money wisely, you give them a gift beyond measure.  Helping them take on more responsibility for their finances while you are there to guide and lead them provides with valuable lessons they just could not learn any other way. The best thing that can happen is that they will make a lot of mistakes while you are teaching them.  These mistakes provide opportunities for you to help them understand what went wrong and how to avoid that situation in the future.

Fiscal responsibility for a child can start with something as small as a dollar a week to be used for candy or gum. The next step is to entrust them with more responsibility, such as lunch money for the week.  When they make mistakes, help walk them through what happened and do not (under any circumstances) bail them out. If they spend the whole week’s lunch money on Monday buying candy for all their friends, then it’s up to them to figure out how to eat lunch for the rest of the week. Furthermore, this lesson means they have to forage in the pantry or the refrigerator for lunch—mom and dad should not go out to buy whatever delicacies they desire.

Having them make mistakes and then walking them through what went wrong will set them on a path of respect for the value of money.  The 10 year old child who gets bailed out when he blows his lunch money on candy is the same one who will ask mom and to pay off his credit card debt when he is 35.

At Compass Catholic, we encourage parents to take the MVP approach to teaching fiscal responsibility.

  • M: Model what God says about handling money. Let them see you being a good steward through generous giving, wise spending, conscious and regular saving, and paying off your debt.
  • V: Verbally communicate the financial truths from God’s word. Explain why you’re doing what you do. Quote the Bible and money management passages that relate to your actions (see the other Compass blogs for ideas).
  • P: Give your children practical opportunities to apply what they’ve seen you do and heard you talk about.

As parents, we have the ultimate influence over how our children think. If we think that money and possessions are the ultimate goal of life, so will they. If we think that a lifestyle full of things will cause people to love us, so will they. If we run up debt to fulfill every whim, so will they.

Our thoughts influence their thoughts, and we can influence them toward the holy and moral or we can influence them toward the secular and worldly. We can teach our children to love people or to love things. We can teach them to honor God or the almighty dollar. We can help them see there is a better way or help them follow the path of the world.

How we train them now determines in a large part their thoughts and attitudes when they are adults. Our children can be taught to love things and use people or to love people and use things.

It’s up to us to train them in the way they should go because when they are old they will not depart from it.

Cash is King?

The crisis that turned our financial world upside down was largely caused by greed and selfishness. Many people leveraged their lives to the max as they bought bigger houses, newer cars and more stuff.  Our businesses and government institutions are guilty of the same voracious appetites. More, more, more is the rallying cry of our culture.

A news service recently reported that in our new economy “cash would be king.” A dictionary definition of king is “Christ or God.” How sad that we have taken the feelings of worship which should be directed to God and given them to something as fleeting as worldly wealth. Even worse, there is not a discernible difference between Christians and non–Christians in how we handle money.

The answer to the financial mess is not government, our leaders or more money — the answer can be found only in Christ. The Bible has many stories about times of need. Read the Old Testament stories about famines and floods and substitute the words depression and recession. The lessons God was teaching his people thousands of years ago are the same lessons he is teaching us today. The Lord’s response to times of need is to teach us to depend on him, turn to him to fulfill our needs and be content with what he has provided.

The first step in depending on God is prayer and supplication, asking to recognize his ownership of all he has entrusted to us. The Bible tells us “everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord” (1 Chr 29:11). We are simply his care takers or stewards. All of the material stuff we consider so important will turn to dust someday.

Change the American culture, starting at home. Learn to live within your means and get your financial house in order. Develop a plan to pay off your debts and quit spending money as a means of recreation and fulfillment. Stop using your credit cards. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it! If you have problems overspending your credit cards, cut them up, melt them in the oven or put them in a bowl of water and stick it in the freezer! You won’t abuse credit cards if they aren’t accessible.

Actively volunteer to help those who are hurting and suffering financially. Seek opportunities to work at a shelter or an outreach organization such as Catholic Charities or the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Donate items you are not using to people who really need them.

Use the financial crisis to teach your children about money. There are lots of opportunities to instruct children about the abuse of credit, the harm of greed and the peace of complete trust in the Lord.

One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10. Many people quote this verse as, “Money is the root of all evil.” It really reads, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Money is simply a tool and is neither good nor evil. Our love of money, the decisions we make when using money and the things on which we spend money are often not good.

The Bible has more than 2,350 verses that relate to money, possessions and stewardship. The Bible says more about money than any other subject. From the Old Testament times until today, God knew how much of our lives would be devoted to the effort of making, managing and spending what the world considers wealth.

Considering how often the Bible teaches godly principles of handling money, we have choices to make. We can use money to fulfill selfish desires or we can use money to further God’s kingdom on earth. We can use money to keep up with the neighbors or we can use money to help our neighbors. We can use money to accumulate worldly wealth or we can realize that true wealth is not of this world. We can worship money or we can worship God.

The 6 year old Victoria’s Secret Model

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 4.28.47 PMOn a recent television program, the interviewer met with children who wanted to be Hollywood stars.

One little girl who had just turned 6 stated that her aspiration was to be a Victoria’s Secret model so she could make lots of money and buy lots of stuff and then people would love her. When the mother was interviewed, she agreed that the goal of her 6 year old daughter to model half clothed was a wise and moral choice of careers. Mom was every bit as enamored as her daughter about having lots of money so she could buy lots of stuff and then people would love both of them.

Surely this scenario cannot end well.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

As parents, we have the greatest influence over our children. If we think that money and possessions are the ultimate goal of life, so will they. If we think that a lifestyle full of things will cause people to love us, so will they.

Our thoughts influence their thoughts and we can influence them toward the holy and moral or we can influence them toward the secular and worldly.

We can teach our children to love people or to love things. We can teach them to honor God or the almighty dollar. We can help them see there is a better way or help them follow the path of the world.

How we train them now, determines in a large part their thoughts and attitudes when they are adults. Our children can be taught to love things and use people or to love people and use things.

It’s up to us to train them in the way they should go because when they are old they will not depart from it.

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