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Rebecca Hagelin / May 18, 2010

Children and Finances

In a recent survey on personal finances, only 27 percent of parents surveyed said they feel well informed about managing household finances. Fewer than half believe they are good role models for their children regarding saving and spending.

Yet, 94 percent of students say their parents are their primary teachers on financial matters.

Oops. We have a problem. We’ve totally messed up our finances, and no one is teaching our children how to unravel it.

Our national debt is unsustainable. Our government is promising programs and services that it can’t possibly deliver, but that will bankrupt our children in trying. Add that to the reality that today’s teenagers haven’t the slightest clue about how to manage their personal finances, and you realize that the future of America’s economy is not just bleak, but headed for a melt down.

The economic problems we face are obvious. The question is: What are we going to do about them? While a strong alliance of policy experts and Tea Party activists around the nation join hands to try and reverse out-of-control government spending, we also need to be educating the younger generation about how to be personally fiscally responsible.

A good first step is to teach children and teens how to handle their money, rather than allowing their money to handle them.

Helping them understand how to be wise stewards is a gift that can free them from the emptiness that comes with materialism, the depression that comes with debt, and replace them with the peace that comes with financial stability and the fulfillment that comes with philanthropy.

The Bible addresses economic issues with surprising frequency. As a matter of fact, as Crown Financial Ministries points out, there are 2.350 verses on money and stewardship, making it “second to the subject of love as the most discussed subject in the Bible. In fact, two-thirds of the parables Jesus taught are about money, possessions, and stewardship.”

Regardless of your faith, the wisdom of this all-time best seller is undeniable - and incredibly applicable to our world today. Here are a few examples of profound principles you and your children can start memorizing - and putting in to action - right away:

- “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” (Proverbs 21:20)

- “The wicked borrow and never repay but the godly are generous givers.” (Psalm 37:21)

- “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (Proverbs 22:7)

-“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” (Proverbs 13:22)

-“Steady plodding brings prosperity.” (Proverbs 21:5)

One of the very best resources to use in teaching your children how to practice the principles above comes from Crown Ministries at www.Crown.org. Entitled, Discovering God’s Way of Handling Money Teen Study, this 10 week study guide “is designed to practically help teens create habits that will set them on a lifelong journey of handling money responsibly.” If you need personal help to get your own finances in order Crown also offers free local counseling for you with what they call a Money Map Coach.

And then there is the great Dave Ramsey - noted author, radio host and “all around” genius on finances. Dave has a fabulous website filled with great tips, and he also offers one of the most life-changing programs for teens I’ve ever seen. It’s called, Generation Change, and you can order it at www.DaveRamsey.com. Dave also offers curriculum for educators at the elementary, high school, and colleges levels. His turn-key programs are engaging and comprehensive, and will build a sound economic foundation in the lives of our young people. They are designed to be used in a school or home setting, and are exactly what we need to build hope, and financial security, into the lives of the next generation of adults.

If enough young people learn sound financial principles, perhaps they will also one day run government in a way that promotes prosperity and personal responsibility too.

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