Money. It’s a heated topic for most anyone. Friends. Couples. Siblings. It keeps us up at night. It drives us to succeed and it causes us to fall. You may have heard the saying “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” It’s actually from the Bible. In fact, Jesus talked about money more than any other subject during his ministry.
So how do we introduce the idea of money to our children?
This summer, KP and I decided it was time our five year old began receiving an allowance. Aside from the obvious, like making her bed and picking up her toys, we created a list of chores she’d be paid for. She had to help with the laundry, the garden and the dishes. She had to help clean her bathroom and various other tasks assigned to her. For all of that, she would get $2.50 each Friday.
That $2.50 would go into a bank with three slots: save, spend, and give. Each week, she would need to save 10%, give 10% and the rest could go in the spend slot. From the start, AP saved until she could buy a small toy she wanted. It took a month to have enough money in the spend slot, and I’ve never seen someone prouder about a purchase before. It was a great day. Then she started over. Her next purchase would cost twice that of the first. Which meant she spent the rest of her summer saving for it.
Just this past Friday, payday, she was able to buy her new toy. We also took $1 out of her give slot to put in the offering plate at church on Sunday. The plate passed and AP placed her money in. I bent down and whispered about all that the money would do; keep the lights on in our beautiful sanctuary, take care of the kids Mommy has met in Kenya and Guatemala, help her to have choir and Sunday school and all of those activities she loves about church.
I’m sure she grasped the idea. But she also placed her dollar in a plate and watched it get whisked away. There was nothing handed to her in return. It was just gone. She could look up and see the lights working that day. She could hear all the instruments played. But did she really get it?
That afternoon, KP went for a run during a break in an otherwise rainy day. AP and I snuggled in the family room, solving word puzzles. Suddenly, KP burst through the door. He was sweaty and out of breath and grinning from ear to ear. He came and sat down in front of AP.
He reminded AP of that morning, how she gave her dollar to the church. He went on to explain how we should not hold back giving for fear of not having enough. Giving begets blessings. Then he pulled a wet and crumpled bill out of his pocket.
“This was on the road today” he said. “You gave your dollar this morning, and now you have another to give.”
I smiled at KP. We have a rule that if we ever find money, and can’t track down the owner, we put the lot of it in the offering plate the very next Sunday. We figure someone needs it and we’re just the middle man.
KP got the bank and we made a point to put it in the give slot, for next week. Giving away our money isn’t always easy. We may not have anything tangible to hold in our hands to show for it. We may not see the immediate benefit.
But they are there. They are always there. Perhaps not in a dollar for dollar match, mind you. But that’s what happened Sunday. And for a five year old, it was a perfect opportunity for her to learn the practice of giving.
May her small life be a blessing to many.