In a couple of years, I managed to work hard enough to save $8,000 for that car. So then, after I turned 16, my dad and I went to the dealer with $16,000 in cash. I walked away with a nice used BMW 323. I loved that car because I worked so hard to save for it!
Learning to work and be patient while saving was valuable for me because it translated to other areas of my life, not just how I managed money. That's why it's important to teach your youth the value of saving.
Finally, spending is the fun category. Who doesn't like to spend? The hard part is learning when not to spend.
I'm a natural spender, so this doesn't come easily for me. My husband has to bring me back to reality all the time or there's no telling how many purses or pairs of shoes I would buy!
The best way to teach kids about spending is to be an example. More is caught than taught. The youth in your church are watching you.
If you're reckless with money, they will know. If you're plopping down a credit card at Best Buy once a week, they will know. They'll see the bills and, eventually, the stress on your face as they pile up.
Teach kids how to spend wisely by spending wisely yourself. And, every now and then, it's OK to let them make a mistake. That's how they'll learn.
If one of your youth spends $50 on a video game, that means he might not be able to go to the movies the next day. Help them see that if they spend money on this, they won't be able to spend money on that.
Help them make a plan for their money with a budget. The budget will help them take a look at the whole picture and see where they truly want to prioritize their money.
Have them list their income at the top—even if it's just $50 a month—then all the expenses under that. They shouldn't have too many at this stage of their life. Income minus expenses should equal zero. A zero-based budget is the best way for a young person, or anyone, to make a money plan.
You might be thinking: How can I teach youth about money when I don't even have all of this figured out? But what if you learned and changed habits with them?
It's OK to be honest about your mistakes—those mistakes could be great lessons for kids! You don't need to be an expert on money. Simply make sure the kids and teens in your church understand these budget basics.
Student loans and credit cards don't have to be a way of life, and youth need to know that. The earlier you start talking with them about these principles, the better off they're going to be when they head to college and enter the real world.
Take this opportunity to make a huge difference in the life of your church youth!
Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and presenter, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Her book, Smart Money Smart Kids, co-authored with her dad, Dave Ramsey, released in April 2014 and debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-sellers list. Follow her on Twitter at @rachelcruze and online at rachelcruze.com or facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.
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