Last Saturday, I wrote about Sojourn's Take Control of Your Finances seminar, which will take place next Saturday, January 15th, from 8:30am until 11:30am at the East Campus. You can register here. I'm super excited about the breakout session entitled "Creative Ways to Teach Personal Finances to Your Children" that will be led by Pastor Bryce Butler. Just to continue peaking your interest, I thought I'd share some more resources that we've found. Today, I'll briefly review Dave Ramsey's finance curriculum for kids, Financial Peace, Jr., his seven Junior's Adventures children's books, and the Junior's Clubhouse website. Financial Peace, Jr. provides some practical "cool tools" for teaching money management to kids (1) a commission worksheet, which is essentially a chore chart that provides ways to earn money by doing chores and ways to lose money by "not doing jobs, not doing homework," etc, (2) a saving-to-buy with cash worksheet, and (3) an envelope system with pre-printed envelopes for giving, saving, and spending. In addition to these primary tools, the kit contains a calculator, a "clip & carry" coin case, refrigerator magnets for mounting the three envelopes, and an instruction manual/audio CD that teaches the financial principles. The curriculum along with the Junior Adventures children's books, and the website introduce us to the story of young Junior, a fun-loving boy who likes to ride his bike and watch his favorite cartoon, Dollar Bill. In his adventures, Junior learns various financial principles:
- "The best place to go when you need money is to WORK!"
- "When you are in DEBT to someone, you change your relationship with them. You no longer work for your own money, but you work for them."
- "INTEGRITY is doing the RIGHT THING, even when no one is looking... and not expecting anything in return."
- "GIVING makes you less selfish. Helping others in need makes you SMILE."
Both the curriculum and the books are written in a way that will be interesting for children ages 5-8, and they do a good job teaching and illustrating key financial principles--principles that are biblical. The curriculum provides some proverbs from the Bible and other historical figures that provide a basis for the principles taught. For example, the DEBT principle above is rooted in Proverbs 22:7, and the GIVING principle is related to 2 Corinthians 9:7.
However, the biblical foundation provided in Ramsey's materials lack depth. As a result, it would be easy for a kid's own reasoned greed or pride to be his motivation for living according to these principles rather than God-honoring financial stewardship. At times the materials seem to expect and encourage this. The words, "Want to be wealthy later in life?" appear on the website, and "'Cool Tools' for Training Tomorrow's Millionaires" is the tag line for the curriculum. The tools are helpful, because they are practical. But the teaching needs to be rooted in a more thoroughly biblical theology of finances, and the heart issues that lead children (and adults) into poor stewardship and even sinful financial practices need to be addressed more clearly. It would be better to connect WORK and INTEGRITY to the created order and the Ten Commandments by saying, "We have been created to WORK. When we turn away from the WORK God has given us, this is LAZINESS." It would be better to connect GIVING to generosity and the generous salvation we have received in Jesus Christ by saying, "We GIVE because we have been GIVEN much. We GIVE cheerfully to bless others, because we have been so greatly BLESSED."
With this critique in mind, I would encourage parents to use Ramsey's resources. The "cool tools" in the curriculum are incredibly practical, the books are clear, and the website is fun. Honestly, the website doesn't teach much about finances, but it has a really cool "Frogger"-style Junior's Adventures game. Play the Junior Adventures game! Capable parents will be able to use the tools and teach the stewardship principles from a more gospel-centered lens. I've started a forum discussion over at the children's ministry help desk to gather creative ideas for teaching stewardship to children in a gospel-centered way. Offer your suggestions there, and check out these ideas from Randy Alcorn if you haven't done so already.