Life on Purpose
“Need to teach your child to handle money?”
The terse question from the local radio talk show host caught my attention. “Who doesn’t?” I thought to myself.
“It’s eeeasy if you start early!” The confident host oozed enthusiasm. “Next Saturday morning, give your preschooler five bucks and hit up the local garage sales. Let her buy whatever she wants, even toys, but explain that when the money is gone, the shopping trip is over.”
No money. No spending. Lesson learned…seemed like a great idea at the time. After all, teaching a child to be financially responsible is crucial for every parent.
At seven o’clock sharp the following Saturday morning, I set out with an ecstatic four-year-old, crisp five-dollar bill gripped tightly in her little hands. “I can’t wait, Daddy!” she chortled, as she buckled into her booster seat.
“This won’t take long,” I chuckled to myself as I smiled at her in the rearview mirror. “Her money won’t last past the first sale.”
Famous last words…
Four hours and 40 yard sales later, I admitted defeat. (Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite 40 sales, but it sure seemed like it.) “Peanut, we can’t fit another thing in this car. We’ve got to go home.” An image of my wife standing at the door with arms crossed and toe tapping suddenly flashed through my mind, and I shuddered.
“But Daddy,” she wailed, “I’ve still got four more dollars.”
My daughter (and her daddy) discovered an important lesson that day, but it had little to do with handling money. We both learned that when a tiny girl with enormous blue eyes, thick glasses, big dimples, and a bombshell smile asks, “Do I have enough to buy this?” The answer is usually, “Oh, honey, you can just have it!”
This five-dollar fiasco reminded me that most lessons in stewardship are more easily identified than taught…or learned. The February-March issue of ONE Magazine delves into this tough topic. From financial faithfulness (Matthew 25:20-21) and a proper view of possessions (1 John 2:15-17) to giving generously (2 Corinthians 9:7), living without debt (Proverbs 3:27), and embracing contentment (Hebrews 13:5), we are reminded that stewardship takes a lifetime to master.
Recently, I found myself short on cash when it came time to pay for lunch. With a sassy grin, my now 14-year-old reached into her purse, whipped out a handful of bills, and said, “Just let me know if you need more, Dad.” I guess those garage sales taught her something about handling money after all.
Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.