I recently chatted with Art Rainer and we talked about how we can teach our children about money.
It was a great conversation with some simple takeaways that I hope you enjoy!
You can watch the video or read the transcription below!
Bob Lotich: Hey everybody, I have Art Rainer here today and I’m really excited because he has written a really cool book called The Money Challenge, which I picked up and I’ll tell you more about that in a bit, but we’re going to talk about some money lessons that you should be teaching your kids. Art wrote a blog post about this that I thought was really good so I thought we could have a little discussion about it but we’ll get into that in just a second. But Art, thank you for taking some time to hang out today, brother.
Art Rainer: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Money is the result of work
Bob Lotich: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. And so Art wrote this book, called The Money Challenge and I really like it because I don’t know if you can tell, but it’s pretty short. It’s not a real big book so you can get through it really easy and it’s really practical but also like a lot of spiritual depth to it. Just a really good book. So I definitely recommend checking that out. And like I said, we’re going to talk about money lessons you should be teaching your kids. And I have a five-year-old now and we’re just kind of getting started on this. And I have an almost two-year-old, we haven’t really touched on much yet with her, but our five-year-old, we’ve been teaching him some things and anyway, I just wanted to talk a little bit about some of the stuff with you, Art. So, my first question here or idea that you mentioned in this blog post is that money is the result of work. And this is a foreign concept to a lot of people these days. So tell me a little bit, elaborate on this a little bit for me.
Art Rainer: Well, I have three kids of my own. Ages eight, five and two so this one comes out of my own life experiences that money is the result of work because my two oldest boys seem, at times, to think that money just grows on trees and that whatever they want they can get by just asking. And that it’s okay to waste food. It’s okay to break their toys, that there’s really no consequences. That it’s just nota big deal because you can always just get something else. That you can always just get another toy, you can always get more food. And so it was birthed out of that idea. My wife and I are constantly telling our boys, hey, you know, we actually have to work for food. You have to work for these things, that they just don’t just appear out of nowhere. And if that is not taught as a child grows, then they may assume that well, you don’t really have to work very hard to actually earn a living, which can be detrimental, going into college with that particular mindset. It can result in laziness and entitlement.
Bob Lotich: Yeah, I mean, like so much of our society, you can tell, you can see adults who never learned those lessons as a kid, and it’s like once you get into adulthood, I think at some point it’s going to click that you do have to actually do some work. But, I think the point, the dependence on credit cards and the dependence on a lot of these things that we’ve created as Americans to satisfy our every need and desire whenever we want. Yeah, I just think these are really good and important lessons that we should be teaching our kids. So that’s definitely one that we’ve started working with our son on and you know, and just trying to start incenting him. And at this point, cause he’s only five, he doesn’t really understand the concept of money. In terms of the value that I put on it, he still sees it as a coin and as paper, you know what I mean? But, we’ve done something with a jar that he fills up with legos and then when he fills it up with legos, he gets to go get a toy. So that’s kind of his form of currency right now. And that’s worked really well to just begin teaching him this idea of, you know, you do a chore, you can put a Lego in the jar and then that’s going to get closer to actually buying something. Are there any practical things along those lines that you guys have done that have been helpful?
Art Rainer: Well, talking about it on a pretty regular basis is one, and identifying those times when you can’t talk about it has been important to us. As you would probably expect, we don’t shy away from the money conversation in our house. It’s something that we talk about on a pretty regular basis. We do chores. We have chores every weekend for our kids. And right now they’re trying to save up for, I believe it’s some type of Xbox that they want. And we don’t do a lot of video games in our house, but they really want an Xbox. And so we said, okay, well if you want this, then you’re going to have to work for it. This is not going to just show up. So they have their goal, they know how much money they can make each week. And so they are working toward that end. But yeah, for students especially as they get older and as they get into college, just to understand that in order to get money, it takes work. Like, it’s not about swiping a credit card, it’s not about logging into a video that promises to make you $1 million overnight. That there’s real work involved. And so, to respect that concept.
Money is finite
Bob Lotich: Yeah. And in this blog post, the number two point you made was that money is finite. And this is another one, that man, I’ve seen some adults, I’m sure you’ve heard from some to who have not learned this lesson yet. Tell me your thoughts on this.
Art Rainer: Well, you were in the banking industry. I was actually in the banking industry as well. So I’ve seen many adults that have not learned this particular lesson that once the money runs out of your account, you don’t have any more. And it obviously leads to debt, to overdraft charges, all these bad things that come along with spending more than you actually have. Now if you assume that or if you teach somebody that money is finite, that it’s limited, the good thing about that is that it forces them to create this thing, and it’s a bad word, but we’ll talk about it. It’s called a budget. It forces them to think through how to manage their finances well. For kids that are teenagers and college students, just the concept that, hey, you know what? It’s not an unlimited resource, that there’s gonna come a time when you will run out of money. If you make money, you will eventually run out of it if you don’t keep track of your spending.
Bob Lotich: I think the biggest thing for me with all this is the challenge for us in the 21st century, I think, in this regards to all this, is with credit cards. Because they are tools that are a part of our society, whether we like it or not, it is a tool that is almost used by everybody in America and many other first world countries. And it’s just one of those things where, we can deny and fight against this idea that money is finite for a long, long time if we play our credit card game well, you know what I mean? And I think we’ve all seen people like that and I think the worst thing is, you know, college and maybe in the 20s, like where you can go a long, long time just getting everything you want and buying everything you can imagine and just keep pushing it off further and further down the line, kicking that can down the road further and further. But at some point, it’s going to catch up. Like, you can’t do that till you die. I mean, assuming you have a full life, it’s going to catch up to you. So anyway, in terms of teaching our kids this, this has been one where I haven’t had a super great opportunity to teach Alden about this yet, but I’m working on it. He’s got a piggy bank and so we’re working on filling this piggy bank up and we’ll take some of the money in his piggy bank and we’ll go to the store and buy a toy or something like that. And this is how I’m starting to teach them about money a little bit but it is really difficult because in terms of teaching this to a five-year-old anyway because he knows that I’m still going to whatever, buy him a birthday present or buy him a Christmas present or something like that. And he hasn’t just made that separate connection yet with all this. So how have you handled this with your kids? Any ideas, suggestions?
Art Rainer: By saying no. It sounds really, really simple, but we will say and take advantage of the opportunity to say, no. And we don’t leave it just hanging as a just “no”, you just need to deal with it. But we explain and say, no, we can’t afford that right now. It shouldn’t be a shameful thing when you say something like that. I know that often it seems like it’s a bad thing to say. There’s shame attached to it that we can’t afford. No, that’s a great thing to say to your kid that hey, we can’t afford that right now. BEcause it teaches them something, that there’s a reason behind the no, and there’s this idea that there’s going to be times when you can afford things and when you cannot afford to purchase certain items. And so we tried to take advantage of when we can say no, we do that as an opportunity.
Bob Lotich: Yeah. That’s really good. I really liked that a lot because yeah, it is teaching them the same lesson. The same thing that we as adults need to know, that we’re out of money. You know, it is a no, it just comes from someone else, it doesn’t come from our parents at this point. So that’s good.
Debt is not beneficial
Bob Lotich: All right. So kind of leading into the next one is that debt and this idea that is not something that’s beneficial as a whole. And that, especially the Bible, you know, in our case, we both are believers, we both understand that the Bible has some things to say about this. And so tell me a little bit about how you’re handling debt with your kids, kind of communicating some stuff to them about it.
Art Rainer: Yeah, so I can’t say that I’ve actually talked to my kids that much about debt. I’ve talked to a number of high schoolers, college students, and young adults and beyond about debt. And where I always point them is really where the Bible starts with money and that’s with generosity. So I point them to the priority that we have as believers, according to the Bible, with our money, is that we’re supposed to be generous with it. We’re supposed to give, it’s the first thing that we do. And I say, this is ultimately God’s design for your money, it’s supposed to be used to advance his kingdom. Now you get to enjoy it, but you also are using it to advance his kingdom. And if that’s your priority, then things like debt can then become a hindrance to that priority, to living out and to using your money for what God has designed you to do and with what your money was supposed to be for.
And so I point them to the ultimate why, why we did it. Because often I think we sometimes get the why wrong. Like we often treat being financially healthy as the why: why we need to get out of debt, why we need to avoid it, why you need to save money for retirement, savings account, emergency funds. But when really those are just means to a much greater end. And that’s where we can live with our hands wide open saying, God, whatever you want me to do with it, I can do with it whenever you want. Wherever you want me to go, I can go because we’ve been good stewards of those resources. And so I talk about debt as a hindrance to being able to live out God’s design for money and for themselves because we’re designed to be generous. We enjoy being generous. With college students, in particular, it’s explaining to them that the college debt that you’re taking on, those papers that you’re signing, that you might not fully understand what you’re signing, there are going to have significant ramifications down the road. I know it’s weird to think about that, that signature on that paper, that money that you’re taking is going to prevent you from purchasing a home when you want to. It’s been known to delay marriages, been known to delay having children. It’s going to be a mega issue in your life. So before you sign that paper, understand that you are taking on a burden. The Bible calls it a burden. And the Bible also says that even though it’s a burden, you’re going to have to pay it back. So it’s not that you’re going to be able to get out of it. It’s a burden that’s going to be on you until you to pay it off and it’s going to have significant ramifications on your life, it’s going to hinder your dreams that you have right now.
Bob Lotich: I think the thing for me when I was in college, I took on a decent amount of student loans. I think I had probably $45,000 total. And as a college student, I had no idea. I feel like when you’re going into college, you’re just thinking, I’m going to get a good job as soon as I get out and I’m going to pay things off in a couple of years and it’s no big deal and whatever.
Art Rainer: And most students think the same way. It’s not like they are going in there thinking “I just wanna take on a bunch of debt” That’s not what they are thinking. They are unaware of the long-term ramifications for that signature and taking on that money.
Bob Lotich: I think more now than you know, when you and I were going into college, the promise of having a fantastic job after getting your college degree. I mean, obviously, depending on what field of study you’re in, it’s just a very different thing. And I didn’t get a good job after college. I mean, I actually, was kind of stuck in a dead end job and was having a hard time getting out. I think there’s just a lot of people finding that same thing and I would just hate to be somebody going to school, spending $100,000 on college right now, just thinking they’re going to walk out, get a great job, and everything’s going to take care of itself, you know, really quickly.
Art Rainer: More often than not, it doesn’t just take care of itself. I hope that everybody gets a great job out of college. I hope that happens for them. The reality is that most are not going to have that experience. That’s not most people’s experience. Even when we went to college, my first job out of college was not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination and did not pay much at all. Which was typical. That’s the typical route most people, most people take.
Instant gratification leads to delayed financial health
Bob Lotich: So next on the list is this idea that instant gratification leads to delayed financial health. And no doubt we live in an instant gratification society. I think we all know that. I remember hearing Jeff Bezos talk about this and pretty much the key to their success has been “how do we give people exactly what they want, everything they can imagine, as fast as they possibly want it.” And he’s like, people are always going to want it faster, quicker, and clearly that’s working as their business model. So anyway, tell me how this applies to teaching our kids about money.
Art Rainer: Well, I can go back to the illustration of my kids, saving for the Xbox. Ironically, my kids want the first generation Xbox. I don’t know why they want that one, but that’s what they’re going for. So yeah, it’s cheaper, which is great. But teaching them that it takes time to save up, to earn something. That word earn, that there has to be skin in the game, that there’s time between desire and fulfillment.
I can’t say that every time that we’ve done this, that they’ve followed through and that they have attained their goal. I had a reading plan for my oldest son. I said, if you read so many books, if you do this, then I will take you to a college football game. But you have to do these things first. So he started out strong doing it, but eventually, he stopped doing it. So then, of course, he didn’t end up going to the game, which was a natural consequence for not following through. And so it’s just finding those goals that they at least initially desire and providing them a path to attaining that particular goal. And in making sure you follow through with it as a parent. Encouraging them in that direction and then of course if they actually get there, make sure that you make good on your word. But find those ways to help them work hard towards something that they ultimately desire.
Bob Lotich: Yeah, I mean I think we all know this, but part of this equation too is that we live it out ourselves, you know, because they’re watching and they’re paying a lot closer attention then at least I had any idea. Like things they might get, they are already picking up on. It’s like they know what’s going on and Linda and I look for opportunities to just kind of let them in. We don’t let them in on all the dirty details of our finances. But anytime we get a chance to say, hey, we are saving up for this and we are waiting for this and we’re not going to buy this until we have saved up this much money or whatever it is, just to show them that we’re doing this too. And that this is part of being an adult. This is part of, you know, handling money the right way.
Art Rainer: I can’t understate the importance of just talking about money in general with your kids. And as you said, and with everything that’s going on in your life. We talk about our giving. We give online so our kids aren’t able to see us give in the plastic buckets that you put money in at church. So we make sure that we’re intentional about talking about it, that we give to our local church first. We give to some other nonprofits that we’re passionate about. So yeah, it’s just a normal conversation for our family.
God is the provider of everything
Bob Lotich: That’s good. All right. This is a point I want to talk about it a little bit more. Just the idea that God is the owner and provider of everything. And this is definitely one that a lot of people don’t understand. A lot of adults don’t understand this. And I think if you understand this concept from a young age, I think just saying there’s so much power in it. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well.
Art Rainer: First, just be careful with telling your kids that God is the owner of everything because it can come back and haunt you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, hey, no, that’s dad’s phone, don’t touch it. Then they’ll say “no, dad, it isn’t your phone, it’s God’s phone! Because we’ve reiterated that everything’s Gods and then he owns it. He owns it all. And so our kids latched on to that and they’ll come back and say, no, no, no, you can’t claim it’s yours. Yes, you’re right, it’s from God but just give me my phone!
It’s amazing that we serve a God that, the parable of the talents is the perfect example of this, when you see the master handing over talents, money, to these servants. And, if you notice in the parable, those talents, it never switches ownership. It never says the servant’s talents. It always says the master’s talents. Even when it’s in their hands, it’s still the master’s talents. Of course, when he returns, they hand back what is rightfully his.
One of the pieces I think that we often miss with that story is that it really actually provides, it demonstrates the why for our money. God gives us these resources and what does he celebrate? When the master returned, he celebrates those that have essentially expanded his kingdom with his resources. So that master had greater earnings or owned more when he returned than when he had left. And that’s what was celebrated. And so it just underscores the importance that God gives us these resources to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17-19, He absolutely gives us everything so that we can enjoy it, but also so that we can advance His kingdom and that’s ultimately what He’s going to kind of celebrate. And so it’s all His, and we have an incredible honor to be able to take it and use it to impact our community, impact our city and impact the world for His sake.
Bob Lotich: I think I just feel like on a practical level, the sooner you can grasp that, the better. My wife was raised in the church and I wasn’t. So she from a young age gave 10% of her income to her church and just always did that. So it was never a challenge. It was never even a step of faith in most cases for her to give 10% because it was just always what she had done. And me, on the other hand, like going from giving zero of my money, on a regular basis to this idea of 10% was like, that’s huge. That’s a lot of money. You know what I mean? I’m not at all stuck on the 10% because again, it’s all God’s money. But I do think that the point is that if we are giving consistently, from a young age, I feel like it is a whole lot easier to transition to adulthood and it’s less of an abrupt kind of a thing that we need to go through.
Art Rainer: It is. But you’ve also hit on the caution there. I think we should absolutely teach generosity with our kids, and that it is the priority for our finances. At the same time, we as adults have to be careful that it just becomes this habitual thing that we do that we don’t even think about because that’s not what the Bible teaches either. The Bible teaches sacrificial giving. And often I hear people say, I’ve tithed all my life. And I know they really haven’t been, I understand what they’re saying, but often it’s a simple box checked, that they’ve done their good deed by giving 10%. And that’s not what the Bible commands us to do at all. That is supposed to be an act of sacrifice. It’s kind of uncomfortable to say that but we see that throughout scripture. So we have to be careful and have to check our own hearts and where we are with our generosity and whether or not this is just a box checked. Or is it a sacrifice that we’re intentionally making.
So teach kids to be generous, to hold their money loosely, hands wide open, ready to give whenever God prompts. At the same time, even we as adults, we don’t want to get into the pattern of just checking boxes because that’s not what God wants either.
Bob Lotich: Yeah, absolutely. And I feel like, as we stay obedient to him. Yeah. I mean, cause this 10% thing is interesting because you are right. I run into so many people who that is just where they have rested their laurels. I feel like that’s a mark post along the journey of giving where, if we’re just really following him and seeking after him and obeying what he’s telling us to do, I have a hunch that most of us are going to be giving beyond that point and he’s going to stretch us and just continue to stretch us. And that’s what he’s done in our lives. And I just see that pattern over and over again.
Art Rainer: And when we look at the examples that God gives us, those that he points out for us as illustrations on how to give. I think that the widow’s mite or the widow’s gift, there was a room full of people dumping large amounts of money into the temple treasury. But it was the widow who gave two coins that you pointed out and said, no, she gave more than anybody else. And why did he point out her is because the Bible says that she gave all that she had. In God’s economy, amount sacrificed always supersedes amount given. And so it is about the sacrifice, not necessarily the box that’s checked. Plus the whole tithing thing, I understand where it comes from. But when you look at the Old Testament and you look to the Israelites and how much they actually gave, it can range all the way up to 33% in any given year because there were multiple times a day that they would give. And so it’s not about the 10%. In fact, it’s often much more than that. God is looking for the sacrifice and we’re truly saying it’s all yours anyway. And you can take whatever you want.
Bob Lotich: That’s good brother. All right. Yeah, let’s kind of wrap this thing up. So you’re working on a kids book?
Art Rainer: Yeah, absolutely. I’m no longer working on them. They will hit July 15th. It is a completely different type of writing. It’s a lot of fun. In fact, I had my, my eight-year-old read each of the books and the first book, I let him read each chapter and after the first chapter he said actually Dad, this is boring. So I completely scrapped it and made sure that it was a fun read. They’re learning about Biblical financial principles but in a very entertaining way. It’s called The Secret Slide Money Club and there are three books that will hit in July.
Bob Lotich: Cool. All right, so people can go to artrainer.com and as we get closer to that date, probably preorder there or something like that?
Art Rainer: Absolutely. Yeah. They’re actually already available for pre-order on Amazon or lifeway.com or Christianbook.com so they’re ready for preorder now.
Bob Lotich: Awesome. Great. All right, well go check it out and that’s all for today. I appreciate you taking the time, Art. Thanks, brother.
Art Rainer: Hey, thank you for having me. It’s a lot of fun.