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The Two Main Things Kids Must Know About Money

things kids must know about moneyMy one-year old has no clue what money is yet. We bought a newly used car with cash this past summer and I took a picture of Nora holding the stack of $100 bills I withdrew from our bank before we left to get the car. I could only let her hold it for a few seconds before she attempted to eat one of the bills! That puts a new spin on the quote “put your money where your mouth is,” right?

I recently saw an article on Yahoo Finance that caught my eye. It was titled: 3 ways to be sure you’re not raising a spoiled child. I can only speak from my own experience but my parents seem to have done a great job leading by example when it came to being grateful for what we had. They taught me that there were consequences for my actions at a young age when I had to pay a quarter every time I left a light on in a room I was no longer in. Reading this article led me to ponder what financial lessons I want to pass on to my kids. After discussing with my husband, all the points we thought of stem from two main things kids must know about money.

#1. How much is a dollar worth?

In a culture where plastic is the currency of choice, it’s no wonder kids have no idea of the weight a dollar has. A story was shared in the Yahoo article of a dad who withdrew his monthly salary in dollar bills to show his kids how their family budget was allocated. I can imagine what it would have looked like in high school if my parents showed me the breakdown of their expenses: new clothes, school supplies, gas, lunch money, sports… it makes me wonder how much money went just to sports-related costs over the course of 5 years from my 2 sisters and I playing soccer, softball, cheerleading, volleyball, and our travel leagues in the summer!

I was never ungrateful that they provided for all of my needs, but seeing a visual like this would have definitely helped me understand how these expenses affected their monthly budget and the sacrifices they made. Since my parents were generous in this area it led to me learning to be frugal elsewhere (example: borrowing dresses for homecoming instead of buying new or buying Target brand clothing vs. higher-end brands like other friends had).

#2. Be a good steward

You can do great things with money and you can be foolish with money. First Timothy 6:10 says “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” What that verse is NOT saying is that money is a bad thing. Just like eating or shopping are not bad things, money is not bad either. What makes a good thing bad is when that good thing becomes the most important thing.

things kids must know about moneyI had a handful of friends in high school who rarely saw their parents because they were always working in order to provide for their family at the expense of actually spending time with their family. It’s not even that these families were poor; they just didn’t budget wisely; they bought new cars, went on annual family vacations, ate out multiple times a week… these choices added up and resulted in a heavy mental and financial burden for the family. I want our kids to work hard to earn money, but not be enslaved to it. I want them to be cheerful givers, generous, and have wisdom to plan ahead. This of course starts with leading by example.

If we want the next generation to be wise with finances it has to start with us passing on financial wisdom. Think about your own spending habits- what would you want your kids to pick up on? What do you hope they don’t inherit from you? Making the switch from a daily trip to the Starbucks drive-thru to brewing your own coffee at home may be a good example. However, might I suggest you take it a step further and explain WHY you are making that change. Let’s take these teachable moments to reflect on our own spending habits and raise up kids who can steward money wisely.

What were you taught about money as a kid? What financial wisdom do you want to pass on to your children?

This post has been written by Jessica from

Battle of the Mind Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I love the idea of withdrawing a month’s worth of income and showing that to kids – what goes where and how it’s divided. The one thing that I’ll try to teach my (unborn) kids is that $1 spent on something is $1 that could have been spent on something else. For example, if they want to spend $5 on ice cream – I want them to understand that 10 ice cream purchases could have been used towards a new video game. Only time will tell if I’m successful.

    The one thing that my dad taught me – for which I’m forever grateful – is that money can work for you (not against you). He explained that he was making money while he was sitting on the couch, mowing the lawn, etc. because of the choices he made. He decided to let his money work for him.

    • That’s something I want to teach my kids as well. I see it with our own budget; if we want to buy new clothes, that money has to come from another category in the budget since it won’t simply appear. Thanks for sharing, A Blinkin.

  2. I wasn’t really taught much about money. We never talked about it. I grew up in a poor country, and I just knew there wasn’t a lot of money to go around, so I tried not to ask for any. I would like our children to know that they are privileged to live in this country, and I’d definitely want to teach them how to handle money. I didn’t have money and all the fancy stuff when I was a kid, but I was extremely happy. Money has to be a tool to enhance our lives, and I think the big house and fancy cars and being in debt is the opposite. I want to teach them that money can buy you freedom from a job you don’t like, from an employer, freedom to travel, to explore, and to help the causes you want. I think that’s why they should want to have money.

    • Sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. The way you live will be a good example since you try to practice what you preach.

  3. My parents taught me the value of a dollar when I was little. I had to save up for some things I wanted and was thrilled when I counted up all of my money. Then I remember the pain of spending that money!

    • Learning those lessons probably wasn’t a fun process but I imagine it’s paid off for you now that you have a better understanding of the value of a dollar. Thanks for sharing, Jon.

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