Finances By The Book - Discipleship Course
Chapter 8
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Key Scripture: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. - Deuteronomy 6:7

Teaching Goal Setting

Goals are specific steps, when achieved, by which you accomplish the purposes of your life. Goals, therefore, are measurable. A well-defined goal provides direction, but without it you will never know if you have arrived. Since goals are also powerful motivators, it is crucial that Christians set the right ones. A goal which is future-oriented is a statement of God’s will. Because of this, many of your real goals may not be financial. For example, you may desire to support a friend on the mission field, and financial planning will help you to meet that goal. Goal setting, like every other skill, must be practiced to be perfected.

To set goals:

Spend time with God.
Write your impressions in a journal.
Record a specific goal.
Make the goal measurable.
Make the measurable goal visible.
Outline the steps for action.

Worksheet 8-B, "Goal Setting," provides an example for setting goals. A space has been provided for you to write down one of your goals. Try to follow the seven steps in order.

Modeling is extremely effective in teaching. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" (Eph. 5:1). As a proper parental role model, you should, first of all, have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Examine yourself to see exactly what you are modeling. Be unified with your spouse regarding goals, priorities, and decisions. Try to understand your own unique role in your marriage and family. Make sure your plan is long-term training, not simply short-term crisis management.

If you are a single parent, you must assume the role of both parents. In some ways, teaching money management to your children is easier if you are single. There is, for example, no conflict or inconsistency between parents. A difficulty arises, however, because you have no support from an equally committed partner. Nevertheless, your children have the same needs as if there were two of you.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Prov. 22:6) The two key words in this verse are train and old. Teaching and training are not synonymous. Teaching deals with the intellect, but training deals with the will. When children understand what they must do, they have been taught. But when they choose to do what they should do, they have been trained. Some Bible commentators suggest that "old" refers to the age of puberty. So for real training to occur, Scripture suggests that you start early and finish before the turbulent teen years.

To train your children in money management, you must first commit yourself to the project. Your commitment should be coupled with an abiding faith that God will provide the wisdom you need at every step. Success will not come immediately, for the training process is long. It requires dedication, hard work, and perhaps an investment of your dollars. But the rewards for living by faith and training your children to be good stewards far offset any difficulties you may encounter.

Jesus, the Master Teacher, modeled four principles in Mark 6:7-13; 30-31, that may be applied to the training of children:

1.They must experience what is being taught. If you want your children to learn to manage money, give them money to manage. Children must experience for themselves the joy of giving, buying a new bicycle, or watching a savings account grow.

2.They must have an opportunity to fail. Since failure is a part of life, each child must have the freedom to fail. Children who are allowed to fail in their early years will learn to cope, and thus not be devastated by future failures.

3.They must have feedback. Feedback is extremely important to children "trying their wings" in money management. It is best to allow them to make choices according to their own judgment and values, as long as they do not conflict with predetermined family standards. This is a time for encouragement, not criticism.

4.They must have rewards. Rewards are one source of feedback that are great motivators. Jesus promised rewards to his disciples if they would persevere (John 14:3).

Children should be paid for doing additional chores such as ironing, washing the car, or baby-sitting. Spending time with you as you walk them through their training is still another very important motivation for children to work. But allowances should never be payment for chores. Neither should allowances be taken away as a disciplinary tool. And you certainly should feel free to give your children money for no reason whatsoever. This teaches them that our heavenly Father is gracious—giving us gifts that we don’t earn or deserve.

Rewards for your children can be as simple as a gold star on a chart, time spent alone with a parent, individual praise, or praise in front of other family members. Giving money as a reward should be approached with great caution. The person to whom it is offered should not be manipulated or bribed in any way. There is a technique that works better than offering a reward at the completion of a skill. As Dr. Bruce Wilkinson told us in his course, "Surveying the Book," "The fear of loss of a reward is a greater motivator than the promise of a receipt of a reward."

Developing a One-Year Budget

Another version of the cookie jar method (mentioned in Chapter 1) is the envelope system, which is especially good for teaching children to budget. (For an in-depth discussion of the envelope system, listen to Tape 8, Side 2.) To begin, give each child a recipe file box containing five envelopes labeled Tithe, Save, Spend, Gifts, and Clothes. A weekly (biweekly or monthly) allowance in cash is to be placed in each of the envelopes according to a preset plan. The amount designated for each envelope comes from an annual planning session with the parents. As children earn money or receive gift money, they deposit it into the envelopes. At first, children are required to put ten percent into the Tithe envelope and an equal amount in the Save envelope. And they may borrow from one envelope to another with the exceptions of the Tithe and Save envelopes.

Families must decide each child’s responsibilities in the various categories. The most important thing is not what children are responsible for buying, but how they handle the responsibility of managing the money. They must know exactly what they are responsible to pay for, and that when the money is gone there is no more.

Now is a good time to review the budget worksheets. Worksheet 8-C, "Clothes Budget," Worksheet 8-D, "Spend Budget," Worksheet 8-E, "Gifts Budget," and Worksheet 8-F, "Monthly Plan" are all found at the end of this lesson. You will need to spend ample time completing each one. You may need to add new categories or delete some existing ones. The budget should fit your child, not someone else’s.

Perhaps your child habitually makes the mistake of spending their entire clothing allowance in October and having no money left for a winter coat. You can deal with this problem of poor management in one of several ways: (1) You can reduce the responsibility for necessities such as shoes or school lunches; (2) You can provide for major purchases such as coats; (3) Your child can live with the consequences—wearing last year’s coat; or (4) Extra money can be earned for the purchase.

By age eight or nine, a child can handle five envelopes. The simpler the system the better, so do not encourage them to have more than six or seven envelopes until they reach college age. By using the envelope method, you will teach your children the two necessary elements in any budget—a plan for spending and a system of controls. Before implementing the envelope system, be sure to check the following items:

Discuss the system with your children and make sure they understand their responsibilities.
Review the budget worksheets and set the allowance amounts for each child.
Give your children the envelopes and file box with the money already inserted in the envelopes for the first period.
Be flexible.

Some of the benefits of your efforts will be that:

The Lord will be pleased that your children are responsible and godly adults.
Your children and grandchildren will be good stewards of God’s resources.
Conflict with your children over money will be more easily avoided.
Your children will make wise financial decisions.

Life Application:
Complete this self-inventory. Be sure to answer honestly. Those things that cannot be answered positively should be resolved quickly.

1.Do you have financial goals for the next year, five years, and beyond?
2.Do you have a spending plan for the next twelve months?
3.Do you know the amount of your debt?
4.Do you have a plan to pay off your debt?
5.What would happen to our family financially if you lost your job or income?
6.Are you tithing and giving?
7.Do you ever spend impulsively?
8.What does your lifestyle communicate regarding your value system?
9.Are you saving and investing for the future?
10.Do you have a will?
11.Has your will been reviewed within the last 2 years?
12.Is the family breadwinner adequately insured to provide for the family in the event of death?
13.Do you and your spouse ever disagree regarding money matters?
14.If someone did not know you and had a copy of your checkbook for the last ten years, what story could be written about your life.

Ron Blue & Co. has made available a wide variety of resources, including training videos and software, in order to assist in your family's financial planning and development. Please click on this link to request further information or by calling 1 -800-841-0362.


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