On Thursday with the Pastor

On Children’s Finances

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Thursday is the day I take my Sabbath rest. I sleep late while Noël masterfully gets three boys up, dressed, fed, and (two of them) off to school without any noise. When I finally get up (around 8:30) we sit together over cereal while Abraham follows his belly happily around the house.

Last Thursday Noël submitted one of her monthly coupons to me for a special date (remember New Year?) and we decided to make an afternoon of it. So we took Abraham to stay with Essie Stallworth (one of our best-loved helpers!) and headed for a little restaurant over near Lake Calhoun for lunch. I got a rigatoni and spaghetti platter (which needed lots of salt!). I forget the name of Noël’s dish but it looked sort of like a Mexican macaroni and cheese.

There was an old juke box with bubbles coming up each side (like a fish tank) and old Beatles songs inside (which nobody played). We sat in a booth closed in on three sides with a slab between us that looked like an old barn loft door dipped in polyurethane. We each had a red and white checked placemat on which we did some serious business.

We used a whole hour developing a philosophy and a plan for how to help our sons use money. First we wrote down what our goals were for the boys in regard to money. Here they are (straight off the placemat): We want them to understand and accept

  1. that all their money is God’s and should be used for his glory;
  2. that at least one-tenth of all they get should be given to the church;
  3. that money should be earned and not expected as a free hand-out;
  4. that it is often necessary and good to deny ourselves immediate desires in order to save for something more important;
  5. that one thin dime is worth more than nine big pennies;
  6. that houses cost more than cars, and cars more than bicycles, and bicycles more than books, and books more than candy, etc.

With these goals established, here is what we decided to do: Each boy (not counting Abraham yet) will get three envelopes: one marked Church, one marked Discretionary Fund, and one marked Trust Fund. Next a sheet will be posted on their bedroom door with their regular duties listed and perhaps some “over-and-above” tasks. They will each get $1.00 a week for doing their duties (clean up bedroom floor, make bed, wash hands, etc.). Of this, 10% will go into the church envelope: 25% into the discretionary fund and 65% into the trust fund.

The “discretionary fund” (which Benjamin can already pronounce!) is at their complete disposal (with self-evident moral parameters). The “trust fund” is for larger, long-term purchases (like gifts for others) and can only be spent with our permission and supervision (they must “trust” us). Of course discretionary money can at any time be transferred to the “trust fund,” and at any time money can be transferred from either to the “church fund.” That brought us to the end of the rigatoni.

Then Noël and I drove to Lake Calhoun, unloaded our bikes, and rode around the lake. On the southwest side we stopped and laid down in the grass to watch the wispy clouds. Did you know the sky is deep blue straight up and light blue on the horizon? Is that a big bird soaring high, or a little bird floating low? The boys are fun, aren’t they? It’s good to be at Bethlehem, isn’t it? I’m glad you’re my wife. God has been very good to us.