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What do you see in the money mirror? Thumbnail

What do you see in the money mirror?

Teaching Your Children Money Responsibility

One of the great joys of watching my children grow up is seeing them compete tenaciously. We root and cheer for our children in all aspects of life, but sports are a natural fit for shouts of encouragement.

"The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself -- the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us -- that's where it's at."  -Jesse Owens

One Saturday morning, we went to watch my oldest child’s soccer game. She was about halfway through the season and found her niche playing defense. The group of girls on the team were playing competitively and bonding well in the process. The team we played that day was a new one we had not faced before.

As the game started, a few things became clear. First, the teams were evenly matched and playing aggressively. Second, a parent on the sidelines was confused about who was the referee in the game. You’ve probably experienced this yourself or witnessed this same scene play out with one of your children.  This parent shouted something to the referee on nearly every play.

While tiring, this was not too surprising. Parents get excited and want their child to win, even if they’re about over the top about it. What did surprise me was how easily I was able to pick out the player on the field that this parent was there with. It wasn’t because they were cheering for them. It was because the young lady wanted to deliberate every play in the same manner as the parent on the sidelines.

 Our children mirror our behavior as parents whether we realize it or not.

Our children mirror our behavior as parents whether we realize it or not. It’s easy to see when it’s shouting on the sidelines of a game. What about other things we model like our household finances? A study from T. Rowe Price found that there is a high likelihood of children repeating the behavior of parents when it comes to money habits. How can you model good financial behavior for your family?

 “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,” Titus 2:7 ESV

Ways to Model Positive Financial Principles For Your Family 

Younger Children

  • Get a piggy bank-Online banking is convenient for you, but something your young one can hold in their hand is great way to start learning. Let them see you put coins in a bank so they can see the slow accumulation over time as the coins pile up.
  • Offering helper-Your church may offer giving with a card or bank draft but let your child help put some coins in the offering plate from time to time.
  • Pay with cash every now and then. When at the store take time to pay with cash so your small one understands that there is a trade taking place.

Elementary and Middle School Age

  • Let them see you comparison shop. Pick a time when you are shopping for an item and let them in on your mental math. The idea of looking for a sale or good value for your money is a lesson
  •  Go on a trip to the bank. This is a way to remind children that money from our jobs needs to be cared for and a bank account is a way to do that.
  • Let them in on a tradeoff. If Mom and Dad are discussing a tradeoff between going to a movie or the park this weekend, it’s ok to let children know that there’s a difference financially for the different choices.

High Schoolers

  • Let them in on long term goals for the family. You don’t need to show them the monthly statement for your car loan, but it’s good to let them know paying that off is family goal.
  • Share with them something you’re trying to figure out. Is there a strange notice about your insurance you’re trying to decipher? Take a few moments to tell your teenager about the dilemma and what you’re doing to solve the problem.
  • Lay out pros and cons of a big decision. Are you shopping for a new car? Take your teenager along so they can see the parts of the decision. When you negotiate, give them some exposure to this back and forth so they can see how it works.

All Age Groups


  • Show that money is not a taboo subject. It’s OK to ask questions and talk about money in your household.
  • Praying for wisdom about finances is a good thing.
  • Positivity is important. Speak positively about your household finances. This doesn’t mean ignoring a challenge. This means letting your children see that you face challenges, financial or not, with a positive outlook.

Above all, for any age, don’t fight about money in front of your family. Discussing a money decision can be a positive thing to model, but if you know something might turn into an argument, save that for another time. Financial literacy is a lifelong process of learning and growth; helping your children think about money now will help them become savvy savers and great stewards. How much is learning that early in life worth? If you have questions, please reach out! 


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