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Money is a huge topic, often complicated, and usually boring to talk about. Yes, I feel that way too. I'm no expert on the subject-I'm not an accountant or financial consultant or economics professor. Just a guy who's spent a lot of years trying to apply biblical principles to my business and personal money dealings. Much of what I know, especially about debt, I learned the hard way.
Which explains why I'm so passionate about teaching students this subject: I want them to avoid the traps, learn the tricks, and discover the treasures that await them as they manage the money God has entrusted to them. Since you're reading this, you probably feel the same way.
There are two big challenges to teaching students about money. The first is knowledge. It's awfully tough to teach what you don't know. To help you avoid that situation, I've done something strange with this book. Each lesson is actually comprised of two lessons: One for you, another for your students.
The Leader Lesson is really just an article on the subject, written to help you grasp and apply the key ideas covered in the student lesson. Most of the time the two lessons follow the same basic outline, but yours contains many details that don't come up with the students. Consider it background material. In any case, I strongly encourage you to read your lesson first: It'll get your mind tracking on the subject, and may trigger personal illustrations that will help you engage with your students later.
The Student Lesson is really more of an outline with suggested main points, discussions, brainstorm sessions, and other learning ideas. I'm figuring that after reading the Leader Lesson, you'll have a pretty good idea of how best to deliver the message to your group. If my ideas here help, great. In any case, do what will work best with your students. No one knows them like you do.
The other big challenge before you as you teach these lessons: You're going to be forced to take a hard look at your own money habits. Chances are, some of these lessons teach principles that you're not following yourself. Which presents you with four options:
• Get your own house in order first, then teach it.
• Teach the lesson, but confess your own failings in living it.
• Skip the lesson.
• Teach one thing, but do another.
I listed these options from best to worst. And because the fourth one comes down to lying to your students, I don't believe it's a real option. How you handle your own finances drowns out anything you say to them about money. Your money habits-good and bad-are the most powerful illustrations for these lessons. Let your students catch you in the act of living your own lessons. You may be the only adult in their lives who demonstrates financial sanity. They'll give it a try only if you go first.
Notice the order of the lessons. Notice especially what's first: a lesson that shows students how to manage money by tracking it through the four basic things they can do with it: get it, give it, invest it, and spend it. It's best to start with this lesson, since the rest are arranged according to these four activities, and most refer to or rely on concepts taught in the first one. But after that, you can pretty much teach the lessons in any order.
As much as possible, I've avoided using math and numbers, which scare some kids and bore most of the rest. But we are talking about money here, so you're going to need to use them in several of the lessons. To soften the blow, we've provided graphics on the companion CD that can be displayed from MediaShout and other presentation programs. These visuals will help you convey numerical ideas in ways that teenagers can understand and enjoy. And they'll keep you from looking like their math teacher. For more on these graphics and other media, see page 140.
If you want to learn more about money for your own benefit or to share with your students, check out the bonus material in the back of the book ("Spare Change"). In addition to a list of resources, I've included a few articles on various money topics. Some provide details to subjects such as interest that could be covered only briefly in the lessons. Others address issues such as taxes and interest that I felt would be more helpful to you than your students. (But if you find something that you think your students need to know, feel free to turn it into a lesson.)
A Note about Scripture
Although some of the Bible verses used in the lessons are not specifically about money, I nevertheless believe this to be an appropriate use of Scripture: In his parables Jesus often uses money as a metaphor for a larger truth-something he could not do if the economic principles in the story were not sound in themselves. And in some cases the object of the metaphor is included in the thing it represents: For example, in the parable of the talents, the money represents assets God has invested in us, which of course include the money we call our own.
In a few cases I've cited passages that clearly have nothing to do with money. For instance, Jesus' advice to the disciples that they "be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" was given as they departed on a mission trip, not on a shopping trip (Matthew 10:16). But these words are just as applicable in the marketplace-and everywhere else we disciples venture in our faith.
Nonetheless, whenever I cite a passage whose main idea is other than the one I draw from it, I point out this fact, and encourage you to do the same with your students. Let's show kids that God's big truths apply even in the smaller things of life-but let's not confuse them on which is which.
in you i trust
American coins and bills carry a pretty bold statement: In God we trust. Sometimes that's true-some of us do trust in God. Sometimes. But it's not true for all of us all the time. If God had come up with a statement to put on our money, he would have written it, "In you I trust." That's totally true: He trusts us with his money. Which money is his? All of it. In Psalm 50:10,12, God asserts his claim of ownership:
For every animal of the forest is mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
For the world is mine, and all that is in it.
God is the creator of the universe, the ultimate owner of everything in it. That includes each of us and our money. We're not the owners of these things; we're stewards, caretakers. And in the case of God's money, we're his money managers. That's how much he trusts us. Because managing God's money is a big job. Over the course of our lifetimes, each of us could be managing millions of his dollars. And we're not talking about an accounting job here. It's not about facts and figures, dollar signs and decimal points, grimy stacks of coins and cash. We're asset managers for the richest, most wonderful Boss in the universe.
This job comes with some amazing benefits: When we manage God's money well, we get to taste the thrill of using money to help people in need, the opportunity to change the world for the better, to fund the futures he's planned for us.
There are just four basic things you can do with money: get it, give it, invest it, and spend it. So if figures that the simplest way to manage the money God has entrusted to us is to make a budget for these four activities, then track the money to make sure it's doing what it's supposed to do.
First, a budget. A budget is a plan-a recipe for how we intend to handle money. Some people work with budgets containing dozens of items, but the simplest budget is just four items long. For example:
A good budget is also a reflection of our priorities. If this were your budget, we'd instantly know this about you: Giving is important to you. You're committed to giving 20 cents of every dollar. And you have plans for the future. You intend to fund some of that future with 30 cents from every dollar you get today.
Most adults are wise to detail some of these big priorities into line items. For example, SPEND might break down to housing, food, medical, car, taxes, and entertainment. And at that level of detail, dollar figures are important. But even the most detailed budget can be simplified to the four basic things you do with money. The percentage you use for each is a reflection of your priorities.
Tracking Money's Activities
A budget is a very good thing to have, but it's not enough. A plan works only if it's followed. To do that, we need a money-management system. The simplest system provides a way of tracking money as it moves through the four activities-get, give, invest, and spend.
Imagine that each of these activities is handled from its own bank account. Here's how you would track your money:
GET: Obviously, before you can give, invest, or spend money, you've first got to get some. That's what paychecks and parents are for. The first step in managing your money is to track whatever you get, wherever you get it, the moment it comes. Whenever you get money, you put it in the GET account and record the transaction as a deposit in the GET register.
For example, if you recently deposited $100 in your GET account, and you're committed to giving 20 percent of every dollar, then you withdraw $20 from the GET account and deposit it in the GIVE account, recording it in both of those registers. Of course you haven't actually given anything yet. When you're ready to do so, take that money from the GIVE account and record it in the register as a withdrawal.
INVEST: Likewise, if a percentage of your income is budgeted for investing, transfer that portion from the GET account to the INVEST account and record it in both places.
SPEND: This one's obvious. After you've moved the proper amounts to the GIVE and INVEST accounts, transfer whatever is left in the GET account into the SPEND account. Whenever you take money from this last account (for rent, credit card bill, pocket money, etc.), enter the transaction as a withdrawal in the SPEND register.
Of course it's not practical to have four separate bank accounts for these activities. So do it with just two actual accounts-checking and savings-but track the money in four virtual accounts:
GET: Deposit every dollar of income into your checking account. Then, on a separate register, enter it as a deposit to the GET account.
GIVE: Calculate the portion of this income that's to go to your GIVE account: Keep the money itself in your checking account, but do a virtual transfer of the funds by entering a withdrawal in the GET register and deposit in the GIVE register. Whenever you write a giving check, record it in the GIVE register as a withdrawal. The balance in this register tells you how much of the money in your checking account is reserved for a higher purpose.
INVEST: Calculate the portion that's destined for investing. Do an actual transfer of this amount from your checking and savings accounts. Then do a virtual transfer by recording it as a withdrawal in the GET register, a deposit in the INVEST register.
SPEND: Do a virtual transfer of the balance in the GET register to the SPEND register. Again, the money stays in your checking account. Whenever you spend money (write a check, get cash from an ATM), record it as a withdrawal in the SPEND register. This will ensure that this register always shows you how much money in the checking account is available for spending.
Money Manager for God
Admittedly, keeping track of these activities in four virtual account registers takes a bit of time. But it's worth it. Most adults fail to live up to their giving and investing plans for one simple reason: They use their checking account balance as their financial guide, and stop spending when the account is empty. By tracking your money according to the above system, you can ensure that every dollar you receive gets distributed properly among your priorities.
And if that's not enough, here's an even better reason: Using managing your money according to your priorities provides you with daily reminders of your real job-Money Manager for God.
He's entrusted you with the management of every dollar that flows through your life. Show him that when he chose you for this job, he made a good decision. He's got millions of dollars lined up in small and big stacks all along the path of your life. Learn how to manage the small stacks you'll encounter now, then you'll know how to handle the bigger stacks ahead.
God isn't just the creator of the universe, he's the owner of everything in it. Including the money you call your own. Not to worry: When God created humans, he immediately gave them a management position-the job of managing the earth and everything on it. Including money. Your job is to manage the share of the God's money entrusted to you. This lesson includes a bonehead-easy money-management system to help you do your job right. Simply put, it helps you track the four basic things you can do with the Boss's cash: get it, give it, save it, and spend it.
This lesson contains a lot of material (especially the part where students track their money through four accounts), but if you've got the time, you might open with a quick game called Dollar Duels.
Here's how it works: Ask each student to pull out a dollar bill (or any U.S. bill-the denomination doesn't matter), and give the money to you.
End of game.
Seriously, after everyone has a bill in hand (you may need to have a few spare dollars to lend out in case anyone came without cash), ask students to stand, pair off, and look at the serial number on their bills. Call out a digit. For example, "Higher last digit." Pause for a couple seconds to give everyone a chance to find that number, then say "Draw!" On that cue, students should call out that number on their bills; the one with the higher digit on his or her bill wins the duel. The loser sits down, the winner pairs off with another winner for another duel. If both have the same digit, both lose. Call out a different digit for each round ("Lower fifth digit," etc.) and alternate between higher and lower. Play until just one student is left standing, then give him or her a buck for the prize.
Most of us pay no attention to this number, which is on every U.S. note.
Excerpted from Money Talks by Todd Temple Copyright © 2003 by Zondervan
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
|Start Here .00: Media Tips||5|
|Lesson .01||In You I Trust: Getting, giving, saving, spending||9|
|Lesson .02||Enough: Less is more||27|
|Lesson .03||Give It Back: Everything you've wanted to know about tithing||35|
|Lesson .04||Mercy Money: There's a world of people in need out there||43|
|Lesson .05||Funding Your Future: How to invest||55|
|Lesson .06||Smart Spending: Beating professional sellers at their own game||69|
|Lesson .07||Voting with Your Wallet: Elect good stuff||79|
|Lesson .08||Living on Borrowed Time: The myth of "responsible" consumer debt||89|
|Lesson .09||Debt Freedom: Kick the habit and live clean||103|
|Lesson .10||Stuff: Accumulation swallows you up--so give that unused stuff away||115|
|Money for Rent (a pretty simple explanation of interest)||126|
|Taxes: An Unorthodox View (thoughts on community and the economy)||131|
|Contrary to Popular Opinion (tips for the contrarian consumer)||136|
|Supporting the Lessons with MediaShout||140|