5 Financial Rules Your Kids Hope You’ll Communicate to Them

(Guest post by Tim Alba)

Your kids love a good lecture, right? Growing up, my kids would always sit at my feet, hoping I’d tell them what to do and how to feel. Or maybe I’m mis-remembering that. In any case, I tried to help them want what matters most, as opposed to what looks good but will never satisfy their soul. At the top of that list:  money.

Money can bring calming perspective, but it can also cause chronic pain. Financial principles aren’t learned through bedtime stories, how-to manuals, or lectures. They’re seen and heard. Not one. Both. Kids need to see a proper view of money, but kids also need us to tell them why those principles matter so much. Not one. Both.

Here are five financial rules to get you started . . . five ways to lead your kids to want to follow these rules for themselves. Don’t try to convince them into submission or hope they’ll somehow comply by osmosis. Make it easy for them by communicating AND modeling these principles.


5 Financial Rules to Teach Your Children


1 – You CAN Take It With You

No, you can’t take money to your grave, but you can take a legacy that lives on through your kids. Model how money is a tool (not a toy) while also articulating those values. For example, my family had a blast choosing family values by creating our “Declaration of Him-dependence” and taking photos in a 1776-looking wig, black robe, and flag.

Principle: Use money to build the right legacy.


2 – Dig for Gold. But Don’t Be a Gold Digger

Let them enjoy the fruit of your labor, and tell them to grow their own fruit and plant their own seeds in others. Ensure your spouse knows your heart too. I’ll never forget my wife’s reassured countenance when I said I worked so hard in order to bless her and the kids. Families need verbal communication, not assumptions.

Principle: Use money to instill diligence, not dependence.


3 – Pre-Choose Your Success

Although you can’t predetermine your success, you can pre-choose its significance. Explain the success you’re pursuing. They love hearing how it’s based largely on leading them to significance, not just success.

Principle: Use money to choose significance over symbols.


4 – Give and Live; Don’t Live and Give

Order is everything. That is, give your best time and money, and then live off the rest. Don’t “live the life” and then give remnant crumbs. Share how you’re helping them experience the joy of generous living.

Principle: Use money to live generously.


5 – Be the Rock, Not THE ROCK

Kids don’t really care if you look like Dwayne Johnson or if you’re rich. What they want–what they need–is to know they can count on you, not just your checkbook. Money can be a tool to build character in your kids, not a tool to build control over your kids. Let money draw them to your heart and refine their character.

Principle: Use money to build character, not control.


Sear these rules into your kids’ hearts. I call it “memory tattoos”–indelible memories of real-life principles that they can’t forget. For example, we led our kids through a ten-session biblical study on money. Sounds boring, right? Well, the kids loved it because we made it fun and tied it to a Hawaii vacation. They’d never had a vacation like that before, but they’d never considered how to view money either. Extreme methods for an extreme message that would one day flow down to our grandkids.


What message are you communicating to your kids about money?



Tim Alba served as CFO and was part-owner of CiCi’s, a $550 million family-focused pizza chain recognized for fanatical customer loyalty and service. Tim currently serves as Executive Pastor at Cross City Church. An inspiring story of Tim’s intentional family leadership is included in Stories of True Financial Freedom: God’s Impact in Real Lives by Crown Financial Ministries (Bridge-Logos). He has also been featured in Your Signature Life: Creating Excellence and Influencing Others at Work (Tyndale House). Tim.Alba@CrossCity.Church