214: Preparing Kids for Biblical Money Management (Ft. Matt Bell)

In this episode, Josh and Austin sit down with Matt Bell, author of Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. They discuss how developing a healthy relationship with money from an early age can impact every aspect of a child’s life, from their relationship with Jesus to their ability to make a difference in the world. Matt shares his thoughts and practical tips on teaching kids the importance of earning, saving, investing, and spending wisely, all while cultivating a heart for generosity. Tune in to learn how to use three key parenting roles within daily life to instill powerful biblical money management habits in your kids.

Main Talking Points

[1:11] – Matt Bell Introduction
[8:13] – The Importance of Teaching Kids About Generosity
[10:08] – Early-Age Money Management Lessons
[15:14] – What Roles Can Parents Have in Raising Financially Smart Children?
[18:08] – How to Help Kids Lean to Earn & Save Money
[21:20] – Dad Joke of the Week
[23:08] – Installing Biblical Finance Principles into Our Kids
[27:26] – Practical Applications for Early-Age Money Management
[29:57] – Overcoming Consumer Culture
[32:57] – Sharing Personal Financial Mistakes with Kids

 

 

Links & Resources

Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management
Invest With Us – The Invested Dads
Free Guide: 8 Timeless Principles to Investing

Full Transcript

Welcome to The Invested Dads Podcast, simplifying financial topics so that you can take action and make your financial situation better. Helping you to understand the current world of financial planning and investments, here are your hosts, Josh Robb and Austin Wilson.

Austin Wilson:

All right. Hey, hey, hey. Welcome back to The Invested Dads Podcast, the podcast where we take you on a journey to better your financial future. I’m Austin Wilson, Co-Portfolio Manager at Hixon Zuercher Capital Management.

Josh Robb:

And I’m Josh Robb, Director of Wealth Management at Hixon Zuercher Capital Management. Austin, how can people help us with our podcast?

Austin Wilson:

We would love it if you’d subscribe, if you’re not subscribed, to hit that plus, follow, whatever icon is on your podcast player so you get new episodes when they drop on Thursdays. And it would really help us if you would leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. That really helps us to be found by more people and help more people.

So today, we are thrilled to be joined by an author and fellow finance guru, Matt Bell. He’s the author of Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. Matt has lots to offer in the area of raising kids up to manage money well, so we’re excited to have Matt with us today.

 

[1:11] – Matt Bell Introduction 

Josh Robb:

Yep. And we are going to have him start by just introducing himself a little bit about what he does on his day-to-day basis, a little bit about his family and background, and then we’ll jump into this book and how it is geared towards helping parents raise their kids in a way to understand and manage money from a biblical perspective.

Matt Bell:

Sure, yeah. It’s great to be with you guys. I really appreciate the opportunity.

So I love this work. I came to this work through some financial mismanagement in my 20s, and been really passionate about learning ever since then and teaching others. So by day, I work for a company called Sound Mind Investing. It’s based in Louisville, Kentucky. And then on the side, I write books and speak, and everything is from a biblical perspective. So we’ve been living here since 2012, originally from Chicago, my wife Jude and I have three kids. One about to go to college, one already in college, and one in high school. I don’t know where that time flew, but somehow that’s where we ended up.

Yeah. And so the book, Trusted, I just love this topic. I’ve written and spoken on a lot of different topics around money, around biblical perspectives on money, but this topic of teaching parents and encouraging parents how to bring teaching about money to their kids, even really young kids, is just one I’m super passionate about. I just think there’s so much good that could come from getting our kids pointed in a good direction with money.

Money is this perennial issue for people. A lot of people struggle with money. And it certainly impacts people’s marriages, their sense of freedom from a faith perspective, it impacts their relationship with God. There’s just so much to the whole money dynamic that if we can get our kids pointed in a good, healthy, God-honoring direction with money early, what a huge benefit that will be for them.

And the flip side is true too, that if we don’t teach our kids about money, it isn’t that they won’t learn, they will learn, but they’ll learn from our consumer culture. And as I discovered — not that I can blame some of my early mismanagement with money on the culture, I’ve got to own that — but the culture has a strong point of view about money that is not necessarily always all that helpful.

Josh Robb:

Yeah. And I know that is one of the questions we’ll hit on in a minute because I did appreciate your perspective on that. But before we get there, I want to say, for Austin and I, who both have some younger kids — I have four kids myself, the oldest being 14 years old and the youngest being 6 — I agree with you that even those young kids have that concept. And you talk about it in your book, they may know exactly what money is, but they know what it’s used for, which is to get stuff, right? That’s just what you give to get something else, and they watch us do that at the store or somewhere else.

And so I remember a couple of my kids and the older ones, I think they were crude in their approach to it, but the concept was sometimes they would say, “Hey, I have $1, would you give me those two quarters?” And they weren’t comprehending. Two was more than one, but they didn’t understand that there was a value associated with it, but they understood the concept of exchanging at that point. And so that crude concept of exchange was there, but even at a young age, you can teach them that there’s a practice to what you use this for and how you manage it. So I do like those examples you had in the book, for especially those young two, three, four-year-olds, that they can start even just learning and watching from you and how you do that.

Matt Bell:

Absolutely, yeah. They’re paying attention. They’re watching us, as you said, that they’re picking up that… They’re seeing that it’s this means of exchanges, as the dictionary defines it, but it becomes so abstract these days. At first, it was credit cards, that’s kind of abstract. And now, we’re buying things with our phones, that’s really abstract. And so really important for us to teach kids and get them really hands-on with money early because, for one reason, it’s become so abstract that it’s important for us to really be in the game and teaching them about this stuff.

Josh Robb:

Yep. And I think you-

Austin Wilson:

And I’m taking a lot of notes because we have a six-year-old special needs daughter and a one-year-old daughter who loves shoes. So she’s going to be doing a lot of shopping in the future, so she needs to be good with money. And then we have another one on the way, which probably will be expensive as well. So yeah, all these notes, I’m writing down as we go, Matt.

Matt Bell:

Yeah.

Josh Robb:

You had a section where you talked about different — I don’t want to say personality types — but the characteristics of the different kids and how you could see how they react and respond to how they deal with money as well as other things. And with my four kids, they’re all different. Sometimes, my wife and I… They had the same genes. They all came from the two of us, but they’re all uniquely different in how they see the world, how they react to the world, and how they manage money, which is just, to me, again, just an example of God’s creativity in how there’s unique people, but also the frustration in that you can’t teach them all the same way either.

Matt Bell:

That’s absolutely right. That’s such a great point, and so temperament is huge. And like you’re saying, most families would agree that their kids are just so different from each other. Our oldest doesn’t really care that much about clothing or cars or branding and that sort of thing. Our next guy, he’s more into that. He’s more aware of brands and kind of knows his style. Our daughters kind of somewhere in between those two.

And so for us, the parent, according to their temperament is a really good idea because one-size-fits-all approach. You got to teach them things as they get older about things like Roth IRAs and that sort of thing, but how you get them motivated to save, or how you teach them about giving, or how they’re going to react to the stock market once they get to be old enough to have money invest in the market is going to be different based on their temperament. So really, really helpful to start to try to understand how God has wired them up because every temperament comes with certain inherent money management strengths and certain inherent money management weaknesses. So that’s a really, I think, especially fascinating and important part of this whole journey.

Josh Robb:

Yep. Do you find that it’s easier to teach the ones that closely align with your temperament because you can relate to them a lot easier?

Matt Bell:

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think so. I can just look at my own experience because you can relate, it makes sense to you how they’re responding. But when one of our kids maybe has a very different temperament, it just seems so foreign to how we see the world, that it takes a little more intentionality to get in their shoes and be able to try to understand, “Okay, that’s why they’re responding to this.”

So it’s great that there’s different tools, again, as they get a little bit older and start using things. I mean, even a piggy bank is an early budget. If a kid learns to divide up money and allocate money for different purposes, from giving to saving to spending, that’s an early budget. But as they get older and they start to use tools like an online budget, a kid that’s sanguine in temperament, outgoing, very personable, probably not going to take to the really detailed type of budgeting program, so envelope system would be great for them. But someone who’s more detailed, maybe melancholy temperament, they’re probably really going to be drawn to an online tool. So great to match up some of the tools to their temperaments.

 

[8:13] – The Importance of Teaching Kids About Generosity 

Austin Wilson:

All right. Matt, a couple of different topics that you mentioned in your book, but you hit on the first one already, a little bit about generosity. So you really emphasize that teaching children the importance of generosity is very key for their development financially over time. But can you share some practical ways parents can instill a heart for giving, even at an early age?

Matt Bell:

Absolutely, yeah. So important to start at an early age with all these topics, but there’s a great quote from John Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest guys that ever lived. He said, “I never could have tithed to my first million dollars if I hadn’t tithed on my first salary, which was a $1.50 a week.” And so his point is well taken, that if our kids get started early with the habits and practices and understanding what the Bible teaches, especially about generosity, it’ll be so beneficial as they grow and start to earn more.

So the first thing is to model it, to just be a family, that’s how we roll. It’s just an expectation. It’s just a course that we live generously because, from a biblical perspective, that really is our first financial priority, is to live generously. It’s how we’re designed to live, so we build that atmosphere in our home. And then it’s really important to teach some of the whys around that.

When I was writing the book, I met with some 20-something young guys who had all been raised in Christian homes, all saw their parents giving to their churches. None of them really understood why. So for us to show our kids in scripture where it teaches to honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your produce or first fruits of all your increase, one version says. And then to help them understand that, really, giving is an act of worship. It’s a way of acknowledging that God is our provider of everything that we have. And so we’re modeling it, we’re encouraging it, we’re teaching it, and hopefully our kids see the joy in it. That it’s not checking a box or paying a bill, but they see that this is really something that’s very, very joyful for us to do.

Austin Wilson:

Yeah, we’re really stewards of His money, right? It’s not really our own at all.

Matt Bell:

Absolutely right.

 

[10:08] – Early-Age Money Management Lessons 

Josh Robb:

And then following up on that, talking about the young, the early financial education, a couple of things we briefly hit on it, but what are some of the things for those young kids that you think are helpful besides demonstrating yourself? What are some of those tools that someone a young parent can use to start educating their kids on money management?

Matt Bell:

Yeah, there’s so many things we could talk about. I wish we had all day. So in order to manage money, you’ve got to have some money. And so it really begins with working, a work ethic. So as soon as a kid is physically able, as soon as they’re old enough to be able to do something around the house, again, it’s an expectation that we all pull together. We work as a team. There’s an expectation that everybody’s going to do something around the house to make the house work well.

I love the idea of getting money in kids’ hands as soon as possible. There’s different points of view about allowances. Some people say the word should never be spoken. Money isn’t just given to people. Other people say, “That’s fine, we’re going to give them a little bit because they’re part of the family.” I don’t have a strong opinion about that, but I do have a strong opinion that somehow, some way, we need unity with our spouse to get some money in our kids’ hands.

There’s a couple in our small group that they’ve got three different levels of chores for their five kids. They’ve got mandatory no-pay jobs. Those are things like making their bed, just an expectation, got to do that. There’s mandatory four-pay jobs. That might be something like setting the table or clearing the dishwasher. And then there are optional four-pay jobs. So if you want to earn some extra money, you could do some outdoor yard work and that sort of thing.

And there’s just so much we can teach them about a work ethic, that it’s honoring to God. The Bible says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” And so for them to make the scriptural connection, that, “Oh, I’m honoring God. I’m using my gifts and talents to work,” and to work really well, to work without complaint, to own the results, to do a great job. Just really important elements of that. So that’s really one of the starting points. If you’re going to manage money, you’ve got to have some money. So let’s develop really diligent workers in our households.

Josh Robb:

Yeah. I like that idea and how you laid it out. There’s some things you just do because you’re part of the team, you’re part of the family. And then there’s some things that you will earn money for, and then there’s things you need… If you want extra, here’s the things kind of above and beyond. And I’ve done that a handful of times, especially my older couple kids.

One of my oldest wanted something that was pretty expensive. And so I said, “All right.” Well, he said, “I have some of it saved up.” He’s done a good job of saving, but he needed some more. So we looked at this upcoming summer, and I laid out the things that he could do to earn the money to buy that. And I said, “Well, here’s the things that you’re going to do no matter what, because that’s what we do as a family. But here’s the things I do, but if you want to help me, I’d be happy to reward you for doing that.” And so you’re right, it motivated him. There are things he did without complaint because he knew it was helping him achieve that goal that he wanted.

Matt Bell:

That’s right. That’s perfect. I read a psychologist who said something like, “One of the biggest mistakes that well-meaning parents make is doing too much for their kids.” So the ideas you’re describing there of creating additional jobs they could do to earn the money, we don’t just give them extra money. We don’t just go and buy everything for them that they want. We want them to have some ownership of it, to be working for it. They have satisfaction in doing that. There’s a deep satisfaction in having worked hard to earn the money to buy something. You tend to take better care of it. Just a lot of benefits from taking that approach.

Josh Robb:

Now, how would you do… So for instance, one of the things I’ve tried to instill is… We’re here in Ohio, and we get winters with snow. And if we’re out shoveling, sometimes we’ll go over to the neighbor next door and shovel their driveway. And my son, knowing that he could go around asking and maybe get paid for it, balancing between doing it to help someone and doing it to earn some money, and understanding when it’s appropriate to do one or the other. He could say, “Well, I could knock on the door and see if they want me to,” or we could do it and not say anything, and kind of helping instill those two different qualities or characteristics.

Matt Bell:

And I don’t think it’s either/or. I think if you can do both, that would be the ideal. Back to the topic of generosity, I love the idea of not just that we’re giving to the church or other ministries that God puts in our heart, but that we’re cultivating a lifestyle of generosity. And that’s what you’re talking about there.

There’s an example I use in the book. My mentor, Dick Towner and his wife Sybil, when they were raising their boys in the Cincinnati area, they lived close to a bus stop that served a relatively poor community, and the bus stop was not well taken care of. So Dick and his sons adopted the bus stop. They mowed the lawn there, the city wasn’t doing it, they picked up the trash there. That’s developing a lifestyle of generosity, and that’s the same thing you’re talking about, go and shovel a neighbor’s driveway because it’s just a good neighborly thing to do. And yeah, there’s still time in the afternoon to go out and make some money doing it too.

 

[15:14] – What Roles Can Parents Have in Raising Financially Smart Children? 

Austin Wilson:

Yep. So Matt, that’s something I think about, the different roles that a parent can take on as they’re raising up their children to know about how to handle money. Well, those could be things like, “Hey, your kid does a great thing and saves up for that toy,” or whatever, and you can celebrate and cheerlead them there, or be a teacher and instill certain things. What are some different roles that parents can have as they’re raising up their children? Because it can look very different.

Matt Bell:

Yeah, I think there are three really critically important roles that parents consciously think about and embrace. It can be really helpful in teaching about anything, but certainly about money. And so one of those roles is the gatekeeper. So that’s the role that it’s kind of tough to play sometimes. That’s the role where we have to say no and set some boundaries. That’s where we have to be the parent. And so that might be about, “Hey, you want more money? You just spent all of your allowance here. You’re asking for an advance on next week. No, I’m sorry.” We’re playing the gatekeeper role. “That’s not how we do things here, you’re going to have to wait.” So that’s the gatekeeper.

Then there’s the teacher, so we’re overtly sitting down and teaching them. “So you want to start doing some yard work? You want to mow the lawn?” Well, we don’t just turn them loose with the lawnmower, we have to teach them how. And then again, I love connecting it to scripture so that they understand that we’re doing these things and we’re working hard, as working for the Lord, so they see the scriptural basis for what it is that we’re teaching them.

And then it’s the role model. And that’s arguably the most important one of all, because kids are watching and they’re listening more closely than we realize. And they’re picking up on what we’re doing, and they’re learning a lot just by observation.

Josh Robb:

Yeah, I appreciate that you had those scriptures to encourage them to memorize throughout the book, especially relating to some of the different ones. The one I remember was Proverbs 21:5, and the idea that wealth quickly is usually from the fool and it’s lost, right? The slow and steady approach is really the key biblical way of growing your wealth. So I do appreciate that you had those different verses there to help encourage the kids to do that.

Matt Bell:

I love the idea of encouraging our kids to memorize scripture because the Bible says a lot about all these different topics, from generosity to saving. And the house of the wise stores a choice of food and oil, but a foolish person devours all that they have. From an investing perspective, we take the slow and steady approach, steady plotting brings prosperity. Hasty speculation brings poverty.

So you see kids get to be tweens, teens, and they’re starting to invest. I mean, it could even be earlier than that. But then they see crazy things happening during the pandemic when so many people were day trading. You had these social media influencers that were live through their day trading. Wouldn’t it be great if our kids saw that and they understood steady plotting brings prosperity, hasty speculation brings poverty? They could see what’s happening in culture through the filter of scripture because they know it so well. They have it memorized. And they could say, “It’s kind of enticing. I have to confess, I’m drawn to that.” But no, that’s not how we’re going to do this.

 

[18:08] – How to Help Kids Lean to Earn & Save Money 

Josh Robb:

Yep. I think, especially for the young kids, that delayed gratification is one of the hardest things to teach and learn. For them, it’s a lifetime. If you’re talking to them about saving long-term, especially when you’re… I know you mentioned the Roth IRA and the retirement savings, and kind of planning for the future. For a 10, 12-year-old, when you talk about saving for your 40s, 50s, and 60s, that doesn’t even compute for them. That’s beyond how long they’ve been alive. Do you have any methods on helping people learn to save, and how they can do that?

Matt Bell:

Yeah, start small. I mean, you’re right. Delay gratification, I mean, it’s such a multifaceted, beneficial character trait to foster in our kids. There’s a great study, the marshmallow study, maybe people are familiar with it, and I talk about it in the book where people really studied these young kids who could wait or not, and they followed them through their lives, into their teens, and then into their early adulthood. And they saw the kids that, at a young age, could wait for a better reward were just having so much of a better life. They maintained friendships longer, they had healthier habits, so many benefits.

So when a kid is young, teaching them to save for something. You’re right, time can seem really painful to have to wait for things. So there are certain little things you can do to help them wait. So they want to save up for a skateboard, put a picture of the skateboard in their room so they see the goal. They’re tempted to buy stickers or candy or other things, but they see the goal. So maybe they’re going to put off that immediate reward for that future, better reward, the skateboard. I love the idea.

Some people have seen in towns, there’s a big thermometer when the town is raising money for something, you can create a little paper thermometer that has the total cost of the item they’re saving for. So let’s say the skateboard is $60, and so you put that in maybe $5 increments, and then you’re filling it in as you go. So they can see they’re making progress, that’s encouraging, motivating for them. So there are things like that.

I love the phrase, “Think of future use.” “You want to spend it all right now and this shiny object, well, let’s think of future. You really want that skateboard? Maybe we want to put off that immediate purchase in order to wait for that.” So things like that that we can do to just foster waiting would be really good for our kids, not just financially, but in so many other ways.

Josh Robb:

And you mentioned too that although some people are born with maybe the ability to do that, it’s also a learned habit. Maybe if you aren’t geared that way, you can be taught or you can teach yourself how to do better job of that delaying the gratification.

Matt Bell:

That’s right. I like to encourage parents to develop so-called waiting rituals in their home. So maybe you establish. There’s the gatekeeper, we’re going to establish how we roll as a family. So when we sit down for a meal, if people are sitting down at different times, maybe not everybody immediately at the same time, everybody waits until we’ve given thanks for the food. Everybody is seated, we’ve given thanks for the food, and then we eat. That’s a waiting ritual. Maybe we’re planting a vegetable garden, we have to wait for the better reward. We have to wait for the vegetables to grow. So we’re just doing certain things in the rhythms of daily life to foster waiting.

 

[21:20] – Dad Joke of the Week 

Austin Wilson:

Great. Awesome. Well, let’s take a break. Let’s have a dad joke of the week, which you have amazingly brought from, hopefully, some inspiration from your own children. And yeah, let’s break it down with the dad joke.

Matt Bell:

The only thing that gives me hope about this is that dad jokes are supposed to be awful, so I feel confident I can deliver.

Austin Wilson:

And the worst, the better, when it comes to dad jokes. Josh brings them even unprompted.

Matt Bell:

So all right, guys, so tell me if you’ve heard this one before, tell me if you know the answer. So where do polar bears keep their money?

Josh Robb:

I don’t know.

Austin Wilson:

Yeah, I don’t know.

Matt Bell:

In the snowbank.

Josh Robb:

Snowbank? That is good.

Matt Bell:

I actually got a little bit of a chuckle out of that.

Josh Robb:

It is good.

Austin Wilson:

That’s good.

Josh Robb:

That is a good one, that fits right in. And those are always the fun ones that, especially, again, my kids, they hear them enough for me and now they’re starting to repeat them. And so there’s nothing that I’m more proud of than when my kids are repeating my horrible jokes. So that’s a good one. I’ll definitely make sure to tell them that one.

Austin Wilson:

Yeah, they might roll their eyes at you when they hear it the first time, but then if they repeat it, you know it was a good one.

Josh Robb:

True story, my fifth grader, my daughter, she’s 11, she was a part of this kind of leadership group. They were putting on a presentation in front of the school, and they were having a problem with the projector and the video they were supposed to play. So my daughter grabbed the microphone while they’re working on it, walked up and gave apparently a handful of jokes to keep the crowd entertained while they were fixing it. And so my wife and I got us some messages from some teachers just talking about how impressed they were with my daughter. And so it was good for me to see that she was able to pull some of those jokes out just to keep the crowd entertained while they were fixing that.

Matt Bell:

That’s awesome. I love it.

 

[23:08] – Installing Biblical Finance Principles into Our Kids 

Austin Wilson:

So Matt, we talked a little bit about our shared faith and our faith in God, and what he’s done and has given us, it kind of shapes everything that we think about when it comes to money. How specifically have you integrated those biblical principles into how you approach money management? And what are some key biblical financial priorities that you think every family should adopt?

Matt Bell:

Yeah, I mean, it’s everything to me. My life is built on a foundation of faith, and so it permeates every aspect. And it’s been fascinating to me over all the time I’ve been involved in stewardship ministry, and now working full-time in this space to see just how much God’s word says about money.

So it’s everything, and it incorporates all the different things you can do with money. The Bible has something to say about earning, planning, giving, saving, investing, spending, protecting, and all these things. And then all the character traits of contentment, gratitude, and those sorts of things. So it’s hard to pick just one, but as you start to go through in this logical process of, like I said, in order to do something, money, you’ve got to earn it first. So how do we earn money well, in a way that’s God-honoring?

As adults, we want to be good to the people that we interact with. We want to reflect God because there’s a verse that says that everybody’s been given something to do that shows who God is. And I love that for ourselves. I love that for our kids. That if we work in a way that people see something different about us, we show up on time, we deliver a great product, we’re ready with the presentation, we’re just kind of unusually in the game, and we’re doing that out of a motivation to be honoring to God. And in doing so, people see some of him in us. That’s the ultimate, I think, from a work ethic perspective.

But then there’s… I know that investing is near and dear to your guys’ heart, seeing what you do day by day, and same here. And so the Bible says a lot about investing from diversification, and Ecclesiastes, to taking that patient approach. Motives really matter. I love using mantras with our kids, and this particular one is not necessarily from scripture, but I love saying certain things to our kids regularly enough that hopefully they stick. And one of the things I say to our kids and have said for a long time is, “Why just buy what all the other kids buy when you could buy the companies that make what all the other kids buy?” And that’s an intriguing idea. So that introduces them to stocks.

And then from a diversification standpoint, I think kids can understand more about money at a younger age than we sometimes give them credit for. So stocks, relatively easy to start to understand and to explain to kids. But I think they can even understand mutual funds at a young age, that this is a collection of investments that you invest in this one entity, and in doing so, you get exposure to all these other companies. I think the kids can get that, and that’s the path I like to steer them down so that they get that diversification.

Josh Robb:

Yes, that’s great. And I agree with you. And sometimes, we may be the ones hesitant to educate them, and they’re ready and understand more than we give them credit for, especially from those perspectives. We had a family here where we work, and the parents for each kid had to introduce them, then gave them just a little bit of money, and we helped them pick a stock. And the idea was find something that you’re passionate about, that you enjoy doing, and we’ll find a company that’s involved in that. And then you can learn and educate along the way on kind of what it is to own a portion of that company. So you’re right, and that’s a great way to learn when you’re working through that.

Matt Bell:

Yeah. And for them, I want our kids to experience a market downturn while they’re still under our roof. I want them to see that the market moves through cycles. And if I just explain that over dinner, everybody’s asleep. But if they have real money invested and they see, “Oh wow, I just lost 10%,” there’s a lot of teaching that can be done in those moments. And there’s a lot of expectation setting, and a lot of things that we can teach them because investing gets so emotional for so many people, and that can trip people up so much. So I’d rather them learn that and experience that while they’re still under our roof.

 

[27:26] – Practical Applications for Early-Age Money Management 

Josh Robb:

Yeah, that makes sense. And next question of integrating that into the learning, you, early on, talked about the funnel where, as they get older, it gets wider and wider on how much freedom and opportunities you give them. When they’re young, you kind of narrow that down, and as they get older, it gets wider. And that plays into what you were talking about, is just that education grows. When you’re talking to your three, four-year-old, maybe the stock isn’t the right thing, but talk about having something that works and grows, and you have more and more. But then, you’re right, as you get older, you give them more leeway to make those decisions. Are there any practical applications they do? You mentioned the buying individual stocks. What about the budgeting and saving? Are there ways you expand that as they get older?

Matt Bell:

Yeah, definitely. And that principle, I mentioned the funnel. I talked about that up front in the book, and it’s really based on Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” And so that’s the idea of something that another couple taught us, Keith and Cag — Caroline, she goes by Cag — but they taught us that funnel concept that, as you explained it, when kids are super young, we’re basically making all the decisions for them. But as they get older, we teach them, we entrust them with more responsibility, they prove themselves trustworthy. We keep opening the funnel, and that’s how they become independent and can then go off to college and beyond, able to make good decisions on their own.

So to take a super practical example, and this kind of touches on a couple of different areas of learning, but when you think about saving. So when a kid is super young, I like using on piggy bank. So they’re trusted to divide that up between giving, saving, and spending. That’s a beginner’s budget in essence, which is a great trait to teach a very young kid allocating money for different purposes. As they get a little bit older, as they get to be about elementary school, I like the idea of taking them to a bank or credit union. And you say it’s not a lot of interest and that’s true, but I want it to be tangible. I want them to see, “Oh, now we’re handing money over.” That feels a little scary for a kid, but it’s going to earn some interest, not a lot, but it’s going to earn some interest, and that’s a new concept for a kid.

And then when they get to be about late elementary, early middle school, that’s where we can do the online bank thing. So getting a little bit more sophisticated, a little bit more hands off, and you’re getting a better interest rate in doing that. So we’re kind of teaching them in a step-by-step sort of way, how to learn the habit of saving, and then how to get better and better returns on that savings.

Josh Robb:

Great.

 

[29:57] – Overcoming Consumer Culture 

Austin Wilson:

So Matt, one thing you talked about earlier was how the culture has an impact on how we view money. And we live in a very consumer-driven culture with a lot of materialism. What are some strategies that parents can use to overcome the pressure to conform to that consumeristic culture?

Josh Robb:

And I did like how you gave that example of your kid coming in with that jingle about, “Do you need cash? Do you need cash now?” And my youngest who loves music seems like she can instantly memorize any of those commercial little jingles, and so she’s constantly repeating those in it. So that struck home to me as you gave that example of that idea of what they absorb and learned are not just from us but from all over.

Matt Bell:

That’s right, and things have changed. I mean, it used to be that commercial messages would interrupt the program we’re watching. Now, commercial messages are just embedded in life. So they’re in the storylines of movies and TV shows, or streaming, and they’re embedded in music, they’re in comic books, they’re in video games, they’re everywhere. And so for us to help kids navigate our consumer culture, it would be a really helpful thing.

Super young kids, I think younger than age seven, the research shows they don’t even really understand when they’re watching something. The distinction between programming and promotion, we have to help them. That’s where the example you’re talking about of my son who had seen an odd promotion for a payday lender on a kid’s programming channel. It was really strange, but didn’t even understand that that was a promotion, they thought that was part of the program and to be taken seriously. So help them make that distinction.

And then as they get older, with social media. Social media is a really challenging thing for us to help our kids navigate because they’re the consumerist messages of, “You don’t have enough,” and even worse than that, “You’re not enough,” are really amplified on social media. The gatekeeper, we would perhaps set some household rules of when they have access to devices on their own, how, when, and where they can use those devices, when they can get on social media.

There’s some researchers that say they won’t let their kids get on social media at least until high school. That’s really running against the grain of the culture, but that’s the gatekeeper role. And then when we do let them have access to it, to help them unpack it, to have some rules and regs. When our kids got their own devices, phones, computers, at the beginning, it came with a three-page contract that people can download off my personal website and customize as they see fit. But we want kids to not just be thrown into the fire, we want them to go into it knowledgeably.

And I’ll tell you one quick tip. There’s a great documentary out there called the Social Dilemma. I think when a kid is about 11, 12, it’s old enough, they could watch that with us, as parents. And you’ll be surprised, I would guess, at the degree to which your kids will have their eyes open to how social media really works, and even make some decisions about putting some restrictions on themselves based on what they see in that documentary.

 

[32:57] – Sharing Personal Financial Mistakes with Kids 

Josh Robb:

Yeah. Well, that’s great. I appreciate that especially as, again, my kids are heading into that period in their ages where they’re starting to ask or look for access — phones, because all their friends have one, those type of things — to have those rules. And to remember as parents, one of our roles is to protect them, and sometimes it’s protect them from themselves or what they think they want when we have the knowledge to know that may be harmful to them. So that’s great.

Before we wrap it up, you do mention and talk a little bit about mistakes, right? We’re not perfect, we do make financial mistakes. How do you feel about how much should we talk with our kids about those, share what we’re going through as the parents? How do you deal with financial mistakes and educating the kids on those?

Matt Bell:

Yeah, I mean, I think you want to be age-appropriate about it, so you want to discern when it’s okay to start sharing some things. But I mentioned our kids are now freshmen in high school, about to be freshmen in college, about to be a junior in college. They’re plenty old. They know my story. They know that in my 20s, I inherited somebody from an uncle. And in two years time, I turned a $60,000 gift into $20,000 of credit card debt. They know that story, they know that it’s what led me to the Lord. They know that it’s what led me to my life’s work. They know the good that came of it, but they also know the pain that I went through during that time of just how humbling it was, and embarrassing, and even depressing that that time was.

So I think in an age-appropriate way, it’s okay. Money’s one of those things that nobody ever gets fully right. We’re always learning, we’re always growing. And I think that a little transparency on our part can go a long way with our kids to help them know that, “Hey, we’ve had to learn some of these lessons the hard way.” That’s why we’re teaching them in part, but it’s also good for us to let our kids fail sometimes. That’s where some of the best lessons come from. And when they’re young and they’re under our roof, they usually can’t fail too badly, but to let them skin their knees financially a little bit would actually be a really helpful thing.

Josh Robb:

That was good. My other question is sometimes you see them about ready to make a mistake, and sometimes you allow them to do that, to learn and weigh the consequence. How much will they learn, and how much will this impact them? Especially, some of my younger kids. Sometimes that lesson is just they’re buying something, and I know that’s going to push them back from that long-term goal they want. And sometimes letting them buy that thing that they’ll forget about in a week because they think it’s important now, then you can follow up with that lesson on the back end.

Matt Bell:

Absolutely. Regret is a great teacher, and that’s not going to change their life in a hugely detrimental way. That’s going to change their life, hopefully, in a very beneficial. And then you can have conversations with them about, “How do we do this better the next time?” And so the next time, it might be about, “Hey, let’s set some boundaries. Let’s decide, we’re going to get three prices on this item before we buy it,” or, “Let’s wait. You want to have it right now? Let’s build in a boundary that says, ‘We’re going to wait a week before we spend X amount of money.'” And sometimes that’s a way that kids can learn, some really healthy boundaries.

Josh Robb:

Good.

Austin Wilson:

So Matt, how can people get your book?

Matt Bell:

I love that question. So it’s available wherever books are sold pretty much, Amazon, certainly, christianbook.com, straight from Focus on the Family. Those are some good options for it. It’s on audio as well, and it’s available in Kindle format as well.

Josh Robb:

Great. And then you mentioned your website. What are some ways they can connect with you?

Matt Bell:

Yeah, absolutely. So soundmindinvesting.com, that’s where I hang my hat by day. And then my personal website is matt, M-A-T-T, mattaboutmoney.com. So there’s a lot of free resources there, and I write a blog that they can subscribe to for free there as well.

Josh Robb:

Perfect. You’re a writer, and you have some great spots there, but you also speak at churches and events, is that correct?

Matt Bell:

It is correct, and I love doing that. I’ve been doing a lot of teaching around the book Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. So I’ve created a workshop based on that. I love teaching in person. There’s also a free downloadable discussion guide. I think it’s a great way to really learn this stuff, it’s to put together even a 10-week — I mean, it is formatted for 10 weeks — so a 10-week small group of parents who each week they dive into the content together and discuss it, and then in between weeks they’re trying these ideas with their kids and coming back together to encourage and learn from each other.

Josh Robb:

Perfect. Well, thank you again. We really appreciate it. Being two dads ourselves, we are always looking ways to help educate and bring our kids up in a biblical way, that will be God-honoring, and also help guide them towards the best path forward within God’s will for their lives. So thank you for this material, for all the resources you have along with this. So we encourage all the listeners to check it out, get the book, grab some of those resources to go along with it. And then if anybody has any questions, they can also reach out to us and we’ll get them connected with you.

Matt Bell:

Thanks so much. I really appreciated the opportunity, and it’s been great talking with you guys.

Austin Wilson:

Yeah. Thanks, Matt.

Thank you for listening to The Invested Dads Podcast. This episode has ended, but your journey towards a better financial future doesn’t have to. Head over to theinvesteddads.com to access all the links and resources mentioned in today’s show. If you enjoyed this episode and we had a positive impact on your life, leave us a review, click subscribe, and don’t miss the next episode.