Balance the Budget! ~ Teaching the Art of Managing Money to Grades 6-12

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Teaching Financial Stewardship to Grades 6-12 {Danika Cooley}

In MINE ~ Teaching – and Learning – True Stewardship, we talked about the concept that nothing truly belongs to us if we belong to Jesus Christ; everything is given to us from Him and it all truly belongs to Him.  We talked about stewarding relationships in Teaching the Art of Relating and about stewarding the heart in A Heart is a Terrible Thing to Waste.  We’ve talked about Time ~ Stewardship of 86,400 Seconds, and about financial stewardship in Show Me the Money!.  Money is such a huge topic that three posts seemed reasonable, so we discussed financial stewardship for preK through 5th grade in Bring in the Piggies!  That brings us all up to date on the stewardship series so far.  We have just a few weeks to go.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think of stewardship.

As I mentioned in Show Me the Money!, there are around eight HUNDRED verses in the Bible that deal with finances.  800 verses is a lot.  Money is a heart issue; it all comes down to our willingness to surrender to the Creator, and to live self-disciplined, ordered lives.  That’s no small challenge.  I cringe at writing any post about financial stewardship (or health stewardship, if we’re going to be really honest), because those are areas in which I have personally struggled.  I really used to like money.  I still do, I just know now that it all belongs to God.  Our older kids walked with us through a period of time when my husband and I decided to pay off our debts.  All of them.  By the time they left home, we had paid off everything but our house, and we were down to putting chunks of money into our mortgage.  We had savings and investments, and I was feeling pretty good about my managerial skills (Ha!).

That’s about the time that we were hit by one of those storms in life that makes you wonder if you’ll live through it.  We had a major (major!) issue with our home.  Because of the issue, our family had some serious health challenges.  Medical bills – even with insurance – are expensive!  Then, in the midst of our financial chaos (which we still thought we could right), the economy crashed.  Our industry was hard-hit.

We sold our antique furniture (and almost everything else), we liquidated our investments, and emptied our savings accounts.  We borrowed.  Today, we’re doing everything we can to live solid financial principles.  In the midst of our storm, and now on the other side, the Church has come along beside us in amazing ways.  Other people, who already knew that their money wasn’t theirs, have carried us through our dark moments.

What have I learned?  That my money isn’t mine.  That planning for a storm is essential, and that planning sometimes isn’t enough.  Sometimes all we can do is fall on our faces before the King of the Universe (who owns everything) and plead for help.  That God is faithful, even when we are not.

These are the lessons I hope to teach our younger kids.  Our older kids have watched us walk them.  I don’t know that heart issues about money can truly be taught, but they can definitely be modeled.  We should certainly teach our kids what the Bible says about money.  Ultimately, they’ll make their own choices.  I hope my children make their financial decisions armed with a head full of the Bible.

My husband and I decided early on that we’d rather have our children make some of their poor financial choices while still at home so that we could support them while they learned.  We opened savings accounts for each of them at young ages and helped them save.  Sometime around age 16 for each of them, we went to the bank and opened a checking account in their names.  I taught them to write checks, balance a checkbook, and how basic banking worked.  I explained bonds and CDs, and helped them each purchase their first CDs.  We allowed our children to work, to earn their own money, and to manage it with a decreasing amount of  oversight from us.  We let them make their own mistakes.  At some point (when we felt their spending might be a little frivolous), we began to encourage them to buy their own clothes, shoes and toiletries.

As our younger set of children approach the middle school years, we’ve decided that rather than just teaching personal finance through experience, this time around, we want to intentionally teach the underlying concepts of business and economics.  I really feel that regardless of whether you homeschool or send your child to school, we parents must take the responsibility to teach our kids.  Since I haven’t used a curriculum for this topic before, I’ll just mention a few that I’m excited about.  I’d love to know what you use!  As I mentioned in a previous post, Rainbow Resource Center offers a free catalog (the size of a phonebook) with a whole section on economic curriculums.  Here are a few that look great to me:

Biblical Economics is written by R.C. Sproul Jr., and comes with mp3 classes he teaches himself.  It is recommended for ages 13 and up, and is from Vision Forum.

Capitalism for Kids (grades 5 and up) by Karl Hess covers the differences between capitalism, socialism and communism.

Money Matters for Teens by Larry Burkett (grades 6 – 12) covers personal finance from a biblical perspective  and has a workbook walking teens through investing, borrowing and daily financial management.

Economics and You (grades 5-8) covers macro and micro-economics on a level geared towards the middle school years.

Personal Finance covers basic financial management for grades 5-9.

I also found a number of interesting curriculums for entrepreneurship and business management.  Fat Brain Coffee (grades 3-7) looked like the most fun to me, allowing children to actually start and run their own coffee business while taking the course.

How do you teach (or how did you teach) financial stewardship and economics to your teens?  If you haven’t hit the teen years yet, what are your thoughts on teaching financial stewardship?  I’d love to know!

~Danika Cooley

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