ON-RAMPS AND EXITS: How to Help Your Children Reach Financial Freedom
ON-RAMPS AND EXITS: How to Help Your Children Reach Financial Freedom

By Barry Cameron

The most visited museum in all of Scandinavia is in Stockholm, Sweden. It contains the world’s only preserved 17th-century ship—a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628 during the reign of King Gustav II Adolf, who is considered one of the great military minds in European history.

The Vasa, built on the king’s orders as part of a military expansion during a war with Poland and Lithuania, was constructed from the timber of 1,000 oak trees; it had two gun decks with 64 bronze cannons and a mast more than 150 feet tall. The ship was covered with sculptures carved from oak and pine or linden. Nearly 500 of these sculptures were strategically positioned to glorify the genius and power of the king, but also to terrify, taunt, and intimidate the enemy. 

When the ship was finished, it was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, on August 10, 1628, barely 1,400 yards into its maiden voyage, the ship sank while a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, of Stockholmers watched in horror from the shore.

Why did this magnificent, massive warship sink? The designers had put everything imaginable into and onto that great ship. But they forgot the single most important thing: a ship must float. Today, millions of people from all over the world come to see the remains of a ship that didn’t do what it was supposed to do. Its designers, craftsmen, and builders worked hard and were precise in their construction and attention to every detail except one. A boat must float. 

Our culture seems to have capsized and is in danger of sinking, as well. That’s because family units, when they exist, have forgotten what they were designed to do.

The home is supposed to be the greatest on-ramp for life. Unfortunately, for many it has become a fatal exit from which most people never recover. If we don’t learn the right principles at home, where can we learn them? Surely there isn’t a parent alive who wants to make life harder and more difficult for their kids.


Teach Your Children to Feed the Pig

What should parents teach their kids? For starters, I think we should be teaching them how to feed the pig! That’s simply a way of saying children should be taught to put something into savings every week.

An extremely important part of our financial plan, of God’s plan for us, is to learn to save. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it” (English Standard Version).

We need to teach our kids to be savers, not spenders—savers, not slaves to someone else, some financial institution, or borrowers from anybody. That’s our responsibility as parents. So, I recommend you open a savings account for each child. (By the way, this might be a great place for grandparents to be involved with this.)

Every parent should teach their children how to manage money and how things work in the marketplace.

You may be thinking, I’m way over my head. I can’t do that. No you’re not. I don’t care how old you are or how many kids you have, you can do this.


Give Your Children Jobs, Not Chores

Parents may ask, “Well, with what are my kids going to feed the pig?”

Give your children jobs to do around the home. Don’t call them chores. Work is not a chore. It’s a joy. It’s a reward. Work is an opportunity to get on the road to financial freedom. Work is the highway that helps us get to where our dreams can come true.

A lot of people hate Mondays. They must go to work, and they don’t like work. If somebody would write them a check for a million dollars and they could quit work, they would do it today.

Millions of people learned at an early age that chores are not fun. Chores are what our parents make us do.  So, a lot of adults, because they started out wrong with chores, have no idea that’s why they hate getting in the car and going to work on Mondays.

So, don’t call them chores. Call them jobs. We want to teach our kids the right thing. We want to teach them that work is a blessing. Work can be fun. Work can help you accomplish your dreams.


Pay Your Children Every Friday

Then, tell your kids you’re going to give them a paycheck every Friday. (For those of you who have just fallen on the floor, get back up and keep reading. It’s going to be OK.) Don’t call this an allowance. When you leave home and go out into the world, no one makes allowances for you. There are no allowances.

It’s also important to give them a paycheck on Friday—not Tuesday, not Thursday. In the marketplace, most people get paid on Friday. Remember, you’re teaching your kids how to manage money and how the marketplace works. So, we need to do it that way.

Start simple and small. Let the paycheck match your child’s age. If you have a 5-year-old, they have jobs and they work all week, and on Friday they get $5. If you have a 10-year-old, they have jobs, and if they work all week and do their job well, they get $10. That’s a great place to start for any family and for any child or teenager.

We teach our children they must do their jobs and do them well to get their paycheck each week. If they don’t do their jobs or don’t do them right, they don’t get paid. It’s that simple.

Here’s an example of what to tell your child, “We have three jobs for you, and if you do these three jobs every day of the week, you’ll get a paycheck every Friday. When you get up in the morning, we want you to make your bed. Every morning. Seven days a week. Not just three, not four. Number two, whenever you’re done brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, and getting ready in the bathroom, we want you to wipe off the counter so it looks nice. And your third job is, whenever we have breakfast or lunch or dinner as a family, we want you to help clean the dishes off the table. That’s it. Those are your three jobs. You do those three jobs, do them well every day of the week, and every Friday we’re going to give you a paycheck.”

As your kids get older, you can give them age-appropriate jobs around the house. But I think every kid ought to have those three basic jobs: make their bed, wipe off the bathroom counter, and help clean the dishes off the table after a meal. Those are simple jobs every kid can do regardless of their age.


Teach Your Children the 10/10/80 Plan

What happens when they get paid on Friday? Remember, we’re teaching them God’s plan. We teach them the 10/10/80 plan. So, the first thing we do is tell them they need to honor the Lord—10 percent to God. Then, put 10 percent in savings. They’re free to do whatever they want with the other 80 percent.

Teach them to save money for special purchases, because we’re not going to give them everything anymore. Parents actually save money in the long run by doing this. Yes, there will be an occasional gift, but no allowances.

When your child turns 16, the paychecks stop. Now it’s time for them to go out into the marketplace and get a real job. Where does the $15 a week you’ve been paying go? Put it in your savings account. This is one of the best parts: you’ve already disciplined yourself every week, so now you’ve got $780 a year you can put in your own savings account. It’s a phenomenal deal, because you’ve disciplined yourself to gather little by little while you were teaching your kids to do the same.

Once your kids get their own jobs, you don’t have to worry about them because you’ve already taught them how to manage their money and how the marketplace works. You’ve taught them the 10/10/80 plan. And they’re going to be excited about going to work early because you’ve taught them work is a joy, a blessing, and a way to accomplish their dreams. It’s the way to get on the road to financial freedom.

They’re going to come home from their new job and say, “Mom, Dad, look at this paycheck I got. I can’t believe what they paid me!” And you’ll ask them, “What are you going to do with that?” What do you think your teenager is going to say after all your years of teaching, training, modeling, and encouraging? It will be something like this: “I’m going to do what you taught me. The first 10 percent goes to God and, because I don’t really have any bills, I’m going to put the rest of it in savings and save for a car.”

You’ve taught your children how to manage their money and how things work in the marketplace. You’ve helped them get on the road to financial freedom. What parent wouldn’t want that for their kids?

Let’s look ahead a few years. Your child is 40 years old and CEO of a corporation. She’s very successful, wealthy, and owns her own business. She’s holding a meeting with all her employees sitting in front of her. And she says, “We’ve got a great team of employees and a great company. I appreciate all of you and everything you do. All of you work hard at your jobs, and I’m sure you want to instill that same trait in your children. That’s why I want to tell you this story.

“When I was a kid, my parents gave me three jobs to do every day, and they taught me to do my jobs well. My parents taught me when I was a little girl that work is a joy, it’s fun, it’s a way to accomplish my dreams, and that’s why I love coming to work here every day. My parents also taught me the 10/10/80 plan. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that, but I’d like for all of you, as my employees, to at least try it.

“The first 10 percent goes to God. The next 10 percent goes to savings, and you live on the other 80 percent. If you have kids at home, I want to encourage you to teach them as my parents taught me. Teach them to honor the Lord, follow God’s plan, and feed the pig.”

That’s all you need to do, Mom and Dad, to change the lives and futures of your children. You’re likely to start a chain reaction that will change the lives of all kinds of people, all because you decided to bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Barry L. Cameron serves as pastor with Crossroads Christian Church, Grand Prairie, Texas.

This article is adapted from Barry Cameron’s upcoming book, The Road to Financial Freedom. Used by permission of the author.

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