Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just $5.

If you had just $5. what could you do with it? Perhaps you're thinking 'not very much' or if you're extra thrifty you might be led to say 'quite a bit'. Whatever you might be thinking the fact is that five dollars isn't very much, but sometimes something small can bring a ton of joy. When our children were small and we had extra money we loved to take them to the Dollar Store and tell them they could choose one item, whatever they'd like.

Oh they loved being able to 'go shopping'. Benjamin and Alannah usually had their eye on something already so it didn't take them very long at all, but Matthew was another story. Matthew hated to make a decision so he would spend his time looking up and down every aisle trying to make his decision. But eventually he did and we would head for home, each one very contented. Just five dollars would buy each of us a new item.

At Christmas time we would give each child the full five dollars and allow them to do their Christmas shopping for the family. It was so cute to see the boys conspiring between themselves: Benjamin would say to Matthew 'if you buy me this, I'll get you that'. They would work it out and each one would be happy. They didn't need much and they learned early that 'its not the gift that counts but the thought behind it.' They learned very early to live within their means.

It was only five dollars and to some people that doesn't seem like much, but it provided a lot of joy for our kids. My Dad has always said that 'its not how much you make that counts but what you spend that does.' We live in a world that has no self control. If we want something we go out and buy it. If we run out of money, we use credit. If we run out of credit, we can declare bankruptcy or go into credit counseling and start all over again. We can't say no to our wants and desires.

There is a television program that I enjoy watching called "Til Debt Do Us Part" with Gail Vaz Oxlade ( In the program she divides up a couple's money into small Mason jars, each one labeled with what it is to be used for. Their credit cards and debit cards are given to Gail for safe keeping and they have to live within their means. Each couple finds it hard to live without the convenience of credit but are thankful after the month trial to know that they have the ability to do it and actually thrive.

I believe that as Christians we have an obligation to live within our means and to be good stewards of our money. The Bible tells us to honor God with the 'first fruits' of our labor (Leviticus 23:9-14), so we give the first ten percent to God and we live on the ninety percent which is left. I have tried to make ends meet without tithing and let me tell you it never works. The ends just won't meet. There will never be enough money to go around, but when you honor God with the tithe you will have the money to meet your needs. Mathematically it doesn't make sense but it works.

It is never too early to begin teaching your children the value of money. Maybe it will just be a trip to the Dollar Store letting them spend a fixed amount of money so they will know what things cost. Or maybe it will be letting them do chores to earn the money for that extra special item they want. Setting up a savings account either in a bank or by using a Mason jar at home is a good way for them to see their money growing. But whatever way you choose to teach your children good stewardship, I would encourage you to do so today. Begin by explaining tithing to them and how we all need to honor God first in our lives. Then teach them how to live within their means.

Good money management can be one of the most vital lessons you will teach your child. It will not only prepare them for the future but will save them much heartache as well. It's easy to give in to our children's demands for every new item that comes on TV, but it is much more rewarding for them to know they earned the money for it or saved up for that special thing they desire and it will help them in the years to come. 

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