[REVIEW] Helping kids count the cost
Barefoot Investor for Families by Scott Pape
After teaching thousands of people to get on top of debts, start saving money, and prepare for financial emergencies, Scott Pape is back with his next book, Barefoot Investor for Families. His first book, The Barefoot Investor, sold over 1 million copies, and saw Aussies everywhere start using orange ING bank cards labelled ‘splurge’ and ‘daily expenses’. With over 53,000 pre-orders for his latest book, it’s seems families everywhere are keen to start their kids on a similar financial revolution.
For some of us, the topic of money can make us feel uncomfortable. We tend to avoid bringing it up, and there are many clear warnings in the Bible about our attitudes towards money. How should Christian families approach a book written to help us educate our children about wise money management?
Three jars, three jobs, three minutes
Pape’s book comes from a concern that 18-24 year olds are the most financially illiterate generation in Australia, with many in some form of credit card debt. He believes financial education should begin at home as early as possible.
His system involves “three jars, three jobs, three minutes.” Three jars to teach kids to split their money three ways, for spending, saving and giving. He insists children earn cash by doing three jobs around the house (on top of the regular ways they help), to reinforce that money comes from hard work. He recommends families then spend three minutes a week over dinner to pay and discuss what they’ve earned that week.
Tithing a ‘brat-buster’?
It’s interesting that Pape encourages parents to teach children about giving from the very moment they start to earn money. He says the give jar is a ‘brat-buster’, and instead encourages kindness. He hopes this kindness leads to happiness, more meaningful relationships and results in kids growing up to be more decent human beings.
The Bible gives us a different motivation to tithe. We know that everything we have, including our money, is an undeserved gift from God. What we have been given, we are to be good stewards of, seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven. We are warned repeatedly about the dangers of chasing money and serving it instead of the one who provides. How are we teaching these things to our children? Are we actively teaching our children to be good stewards, full of thankfulness and humility, and to tithe the money they receive as well?
Can having the right tools make a difference?
At the heart of Barefoot Investor for Families, Pape wants to equip parents to teach kids to work for their money, and then be smart with it once they earn it. He hopes that parents can have some assurance that they’ve helped their children avoid the financial traps and troubles many fall into. Barefoot Investor for Families is a great resource for helping young people to grasp the tricky concepts of money management.
However, just giving people the right tools and equipping them with the knowledge doesn’t mean that our children will always make savvy and smart decisions. Even with every tool in the box the human heart can stubbornly make choices that are bad. Whether we are good with money or bad with money, we need to beware of our hearts, which can taint even the most effective of money management decisions. Our hearts lead us to be selfish and greedy with the good things God gives us.
As we teach children to be good stewards, how will teach them to also guard their hearts? Remembering Jesus’ harsh words towards the rich, and his warnings that we cannot serve both God and money, we must pray that our desires to manage money well and teach our children to do the same don’t become desires for selfish gains. Good money management is a wise thing, but it does not provide security. Only treasure stored in heaven lasts, and so our efforts must first and foremost be for the Kingdom, rather than building our own kingdoms here on earth.