“I wish my parents would have taught me about money.”
I hear similar words from adults on a regular basis. They consider their past while looking at their current financial situation and wonder how things would be different if they were taught about money at an earlier age.
These comments remind me of the gift my parents gave me, the gift of financial knowledge. Growing up, my parents did not always have significant financial resources, but they stewarded well what they did have. And they taught me how to do the same.
Over time, I’ve realized the financial knowledge my parents provided was rare. This recognition has only burdened me more to help others understand and pursue God’s design for money. And help others to help others do the same.
What did my parents teach me about money?
1. Money is not a taboo topic.
I didn’t realize money was often deemed a taboo topic until I left my parent’s house. Growing up, there were regular conversations about money and financial decisions. I listened to my parents talk about money like they would chores, work, sports, or any other topic. Money conversations were not weird. They were completely normal, just part of life. Of course, these conversations created opportunities for my parents to talk to me about money in a very unforced, unremarkable manner.
2. Money is a tool.
I never heard my parents talk about money as a goal. Money and financial health were always a means to accomplish something bigger. Money was a God-provided tool they were to leverage for His purposes. This lesson still profoundly impacts the way I think about the resources God has entrusted me with.
3. You must budget.
I can clearly remember my parents sitting around the kitchen table, balancing their checkbook and reviewing their budget. Budgeting was an important money management tool for them. And they wanted to make sure it was for me as well. In my later high school years, my dad provided me a budget planner and taught me how to budget. Yes, I was weird. I was the only college student I knew who used a budget. But the practice proved to be invaluable as I graduated college and entered the “real world.”
4. Invest early.
I started investing for retirement around 16 or 17-years old. Again, I was weird. But this did not happen because I simply woke up one morning and decided to invest for the future. It was through the teachings and encouragement of my parents that I opened by first Roth IRA. They helped me understand compounding and the power of investing early. So, I did.
5. Live generously.
I can say this without hesitation—my parents are some of the most generous people I know. Not only do they faithfully give to their local church, but they have also financially cared for many individuals. I won’t go into further details because I know they would prefer I don’t. But I can say this—they have taken the blessings God has provided them and blessed many others. Watching this shaped me as a child. It still shapes me today.
Parents, your children will learn about money from somewhere. If you leave it up the world, the teachings are often financial unwise and depart from God’s design for your child. Take full advantage of the opportunity God has given you. Teach your children about money. When your children become adults, they will be grateful for your intentionality.