Trying to get more things right than we screw up

Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

Raising money smart kids certainly doesn’t happen by accident.  We know this is true because we can look around and see college graduates crippled by debt, families living payment to payment for everything rom couches to handbags, from cars to homes, and even for necessities like food.  Debt is ordinary…regular, yet not something that most Americans, given a choice, would hope for their children.

smsk benviWe recently underwent a crazy exercise and added up all of the debt that we have accrued in our thirty-five years.  We never owed it all at once but the total was astonishing.  We had signed for, promised, been charged, financed, and contracted to pay nearly $1,000,000 in our life, mostly to run a business the way everyone says to run a business (What small business doesn’t have a revolving line of credit?), go to college (Who doesn’t take out loans to go to that perfect, dream school?), and maintain a lifestyle that we wanted (Who doesn’t take out the maximum that a bank will lend you to buy a home? What American family doesn’t eat out 3-5 times per week? Who doesn’t have cars with payments?)  Of course the dark side of this cycle of debt is that we were never able to give like we wanted, not free to take opportunities that didn’t support our lifestyle, and too overwhelmed to plan for a future with all of those weights around our necks.

After totaling this shocking number, we looked at our children, ages 2, 5, and 7, and determined that we want something better for them.  None of them have ever been in debt to anyone and, Lord willing, they never will. Dave Ramsey calls it changing our family tree.

Just like many things in life, it is easier said than done, right?  How DO you raise money smart kids?  Growing up, my family was very economically stable. My parents worked hard and only had “regular” debt for cars and our home, so far as I knew.  They used a credit card for everything and I really only heard them talk about money when the bill came and dad was surprised by my mom’s spending for that month and, being a very smart girl, I stayed as far away from that discussion as possible.  Overall, they were stable.  They taught me to give money to God and to be frugal.  I had my needs met. I was very careful not to ask for too much…after all, I did not want to be a source of any stress over money.  Yet, I still had no idea how or why they used money the way they did.  I feel I was raised pretty well and am so thankful for my parents, but somehow I accidentally missed developing the skills and confidence with money to keep me from being “ordinary.”

Perhaps that is why the newest book by Dave Ramsey and his daughter, Rachel Cruze, Smart Money Smart Kids, feels a bit like a life raft in choppy waters.  It is written in the uniquely engaging narrative of a father and a daughter sharing thoughts in a game of ping pong. Dave shares the perspectives of a parent who admittedly and dramatically failed at finances (we can identify) before overcoming and raising money smart children, while Rachel presents the view of a child who was raised to be competent with money, one who skipped all the “ordinary” snares that so many of her generation get tangled within, one who represents what we hope for our children.

However, Smart Money Smart Kids, while full of anecdotes of their experiences (some that are laugh out loud humorous), is more than an encouraging and entertaining narrative about one father raising one daughter.  Rather, it’s true strength is in the very specific parenting strategies that can help CREATE money smart kids.  Some topics include;

- Steps to Intentionally develop a positive attitude toward work through chores and commissions at developmentally appropriate times.

- Showing a heart-change about the uses and purposes of money, teaching that saving, giving, and spending can all be virtuous in their time and place.

- How to demonstrate and require self-discipline from children in saving for purchases.

- Budgeting for kids starting when they are young and giving more independence as they grow and demonstrate competence.

- Developing hearts of gratitude and contentment within children.

This book was both mind blowing and encouraging.  Oh, the heartache we can save our children if we can be open and honest in teaching them how to have a heart of gratitude, a belief that it is all God’s anyway, and a sense of the sacred responsibility we have as stewards of resources, both financial and otherwise. Money is never just about money.

Really, Smart Money Smart Kids is all about intentionality.  While accidentally raising money smart kids may be impossible, INTENTIONALLY we CAN and WILL change our family tree.

If you would like to find out more about Smart Money Smart kids or sample the first couple of chapters, CLICK HERE!

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