Book Review|Smart Money, Smart Kids

Why?

I was driving home the other day from school and was listening to a cd on leadership when I heard the speaker talk about a Simon Sinek book called Start with Why. As a parent, you and I know about that three-letter curse word because we have heard it from the mouth of our children over and over again. It’s the question that has no answer sometimes. And there are times that it has an answer but that answer gives you three shades of red because it’s just that funny. I have to wonder though, do your children have a concept that you and I lose as we grow up?

Sinek talks about the motives of people and their leadership in their book and simply put, behind everything there is a why.  Why are you yelling at your kids to stop putting their fingers in the light socket? Why are you telling your kids to not lick the floor in the grocery aisle? Why do you feel the urge to slam every light switch in the house to off after some little being walks in every room to turn them on? Why?

As Sara and I began our journey to debt freedom, we found ourselves saying that we would love that our children never get into debt like we were when we got married. In that, we got Financial Peace Jr. and I ordered the book by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze called Smart Money, Smart Kids. It was here that I had to ask myself this question because I know my kids are going to ask it as we go through this journey…. Why?

I have to admit, though it can be a curse word in our house, it is an important question that we must ask ourselves when to do something.  I recently was asked if we could attend a teaching from a great teacher that we enjoy. I was exhausted and had been gone all week. I stopped for a moment and asked, Why am I going to this meeting? The answer was simply out of obligation. So I opted not to go because our whole family was worn out.

The question of Why is an important one to ask when doing something or even giving something. Our motives and our heart are important especially when it comes to our kids. Sara and I are working on our kids to teach them how to manage money. Why? The answer is simple…the Bible says to leave a legacy and ours is one of freedom.

When Your Mess Becomes Your Message

I don’t know about you all but I love a great story. I enjoy seeing how the plot lines up with the action followed by the adventure ending with success! I guess that is why I absolutely enjoy this new book by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruz. It’s a story of success after a pile of garbage was put beneath their feet. Anyone who listens to Dave Ramsey or has read any of his books knows his story. Broke as a teenager, he learned how to use his skills in the real estate to become a multi-millionaire only to lose it like a house of cards in a tornado. Something you will never hear him do is complain about what he went through. Most often, you hear people who call into his show with a “woe is me” mentality. Instead of using that for his defeat, he used his story to spread a message of hope. Now, in an effort to save another generation from his stupidity, he is bringing millions along on his crusade of financial freedom.

Through this new book, Dave and Rachel talk about the story that is the Dave Ramsey Story. Dave’s story is a mess that he turned into a message.  He didn’t let his mess dictate his future, but instead made it a message of hope.

I have been thoroughly enjoying this book about hope when I was taken aback by something that Rachel Cruz said. It hit me without warning. She made a statement that really made sense and that was ““I’m proud of my family and the way I was brought up, but always need to clarify something with those who only see the “Ramsey” instead of the “Rachel”; My story is not like my parent’s story.” Powerful.

Though Rachel Cruz is the daughter of Dave Ramsey, her story isn’t his story. Her story, unlike most of us, is the fruit of the story of a parent who cared. What would have become of the Ramsey family if hope had not been born?  I don’t foresee that they would have changed the world or moved on from mediocrity. Instead, this family tree changed.
In this book, you will learn the step on how to teach your children how to be wise stewards of the money that God has entrusted to them. Over the next few weeks, you will see several reviews on this book on Godly Daddy. Now, some of you have a few opinions on this topic. I have to be honest; I would have once been hesitant to begin this chapter of talking about money on a Christian site. There’s such a bad taste through many different movements in the church. However, when one of the reasons for divorce and dysfunction in families is money, the church needs to open up and talk about it.

The Four Letter Word That No One Wants To Talk About

In today’s society, there’s a four letter word that no one wants to talk about. It’s a word that puts to shame many individuals. So much shame that they avoid the word completely in their everyday life. What is this word that could bring so much controversy and disdain? Work. I know that I may be stepping on a few toes here and that’s fine when you operate your blog you can write about what you want to write about…but that may require work so I don’t know how that’s going to pan out for you. Anyway, in today’s world just showing up on time for your job makes you a highly marketable asset to the workplace. If you have a job, it’s a miracle that you utilize your 40 hour work week to do what the boss asks you to do in that time frame without clocking out early.

I, like many of you who read this blog and follow leaders like Dave Ramsey, John Maxwell, and the like, know what the true meaning of work is. I honestly don’t think that you or I would have as great of an appreciation for something if it were handed to us.

Now, I didn’t learn this from a get rich quick scheme or a book on entitlement. I got this message growing up in a household that required you to work. I started “working” at a very young age. I remember it just like it was yesterday. My mom had been working at an optometrist office for a while and I had to go to work with her sometimes. The doctor’s wife took this as an advantage for “free” labor. I am only kidding partially because she paid me under the table here and there. But here’s the thing that it taught me, work starts when you make it happen.

Sara and I have been teaching our kids over the last few weeks about the value of working to earn money. We purchased Financial Peace Junior (supposed to be one per child but on our budget…we made it work for all three) and started showing them what to do. A few people have made the assumption that we are hard on our children because we started so young on making them work (doing chores around the house.) We had a situation arise that Dave Ramsey would have used as a life lesson. Maleah has always been a hard worker but for some reason or another, she decided that she didn’t want to help. When it came to “payday” for them, Joanna had more than her. She was upset and started to throw a fit about it. This became a teaching moment. I kindly reminded her that if she wanted to make the money, she had to work. We don’t give allowances. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

Now, before you send me your hate mail, know that our girls get a dime for each chore they do and they have 10 throughout the whole week. Don’t have a cow. But it is important that we teach our children early on that work is not a curse word. As Dave would say, “it’s the number one get rich scheme.”

Dave and Rachel tackle this topic in the new book Smart Money, Smart Kids. Many folks will see this being abuse because they think you tie them up in a camp and make them work for their food. That’s not the case at all. One of the things that Rachel mentioned was that when you have a child under 5, you tend to do all the work except for a few toys and you make a huge deal out of it. Your child will see the reward and do it again. Our kids, for the vast majority, keep their toy room clean and make their beds. They also help Sara put laundry in the washing machine and put their laundry away (within reason.)
In short, your kids won’t die if they learn to work. Contrary to the societal push to “pass-the-buck” or live a life of “mediocrity”, your kids will survive and thrive if they work. It’s a four letter word that you cannot afford to not talk about.
What are you doing to show your kids how to work?

Going……Going……Gone!

In light of the baseball season, I cannot miss an opportunity on using some sort of baseball gorgon. I know many of my counterparts are rooting for Boston and the like but I, for one, am rooting for the Cardinals. My wife would have it no other way. Of course, I have spent a lot of time watching it even as I grew up. I remember spending time at my grandparent’s house and my Granddaddy would have that on the television. Of course, at that time, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. But I remember a few times when the announcer would yell over the mic “it’s going….it’s going….it’s gone! That’s a homer for the Cardinals….!”

In this season, there aren’t many days that I can catch a good game on television because we are saving up and paying off our house. It’s a small price…I know… Something that I caught myself in the habit of was being reluctant to spend money. We recently had a car repair that was necessary and I held off until I could hold off no more. Some of you know that feeling of “do I really want to fork out $800?” With that, I had to start working on showing what is a need and a want. In the midst of that, we have been teaching our kids about what it takes to run our house. They are often shocked that it takes money to make the world go around. I wish I could make it all appear out of thin air but unfortunately, I can’t do that.

When it comes to the spending budget, it would be easier to get the credit card out and just spend like Congress. But unfortunately, in our reality, we wouldn’t be able to get a bailout. Our household has to budget that spending money and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Dave drove this principle out in the Smart Money, Smart Kids book. He and Rachel both spoke about the time they went to Opryland and Rachel spent her money before they even got through the park. She got into a game and realized she had no more spending money. Thinking that her dad or mom would bail her out, she asked. Their response? “When it’s gone…it’s gone.” It’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re out having fun and reach into your pocket only to find…there’s no more money.

Spending is a lot of fun and you should do it often but within balance. You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul in order to spend. We, as a microwave generation, have to train our kids to spend and do it within reason but have fun doing it. It’s fun to spend when you have the ability to do so without breaking the bank.

An Open Hand

God doesn’t need your money. It is just that simple. The lights of heaven aren’t going to shut off because you didn’t send in your tithe check. The gates of heaven aren’t going to be locked because a parishioner didn’t provide a check to pay for the repairs. The tree of life won’t wither if you don’t send your seed in. You then may ask, “then why all the hoopla about giving?” Giving is not just a matter of your checkbook but the matter of the heart. Jesus even made this His example “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)” It changed my way of thinking on the art of giving when I heard this. My heart is to take care of those in need then my wallet or checkbook should follow suit. I love how Rachel Cruze wrote this John D. Rockefeller quote in the Smart Money, Smart Kids book, “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 a week.” Isn’t that the truth? If you won’t give to God when you have little then you won’t do it when you have many.

Our kids follow our example in this area. It is proven that the younger a child is when they give, the more that they will give away. The older they are, the more likely they are to keep it for themselves. It’s all a matter of following what they have been taught. Dave would probably say it better like this that “Kids are like sponges” and it’s true. Let out a swear word around your kids and see what happens in the next few days.
Our church teaches kids how to give. Right there, many of you would scoff and say that the church is all about money. Not true. It teaches them this principle; the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. If it is His, we are managing it. If we are managing the money of the One who is the ultimate Giver, then should we not be ready and willing to pass that on to our children? Teaching your kids to give is just as important as teaching your kids how to save money and stay out of debt. Why? It breaks the entitlement gene that we find in ourselves. “The church is all about money and all those preachers do is ask for money….” I find it funny that you never say that about McDonald’s when you go through the line to get food or Shell when you get gas (although it feels like it sometimes).
What am I saying? We need to teach our children the right attitude when it comes to giving. We rephrase it in our house. We don’t have to give…we are blessed to give.

The Blueprint of Life

Have you ever had a moment when you were driving somewhere and got lost?  Of course, the joke is that man would rather drive for hours instead of asking for directions that would get him somewhere in five minutes. Wait…men don’t ask for directions. We recently put together a new pantry that required a Ph.D. in engineering.  Seriously, who puts these directions together anyway?  There have to be some munchkins from munchkin land who put these things into the boxes and laugh as they seal them shut.   That’s another story for another blog. The directions that we used to put it together helped us to make it a quicker process. I am sure we would have figured it out without the directions but with them, our marriage was kept intact.

We can see that Jesus even mentions it in the book of Luke 14:28-30.
“For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him, Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish.”

Teaching our children about money is the same way. In order to be successful at anything, we have to plan.  Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying “if you fail to plan, plan to fail.” Sara and I have a plan in place to open a coffee shop.  A lot of well-meaning people have suggested taking out a loan or just follow our dreams.  Those are all great ideas for those who don’t think about the future or think about what could be.  The stats already stacked against the new business owner with 85% of all small businesses failing in 18 months. Why?  Stats show because of cash flow problems.  This all stems back to failing to plan.

Will, what does this have to do with children and money? I am believing that one day I am going to leave this business to them or someone so I might as well manage it well now and plan now while I can. Dave and Rachel talk plenty about budgeting and planning throughout this book. You and I have a responsibility to our children to help them to learn how to budget and plan where their money goes. As our kids are growing up, it becomes more evident to us too.

Don’t Graduate from IOU

I remember it like yesterday. I had great aspirations to go to the University of Memphis to get my business degree and open up a coffee shop while heading for my Master’s. Such a great plan, right? The only problem is that I try to do it the “easy” way. I took out student loans to fund it. Wait. That’s not the problem. I had to quit I didn’t have any more loans to get after I lost my job. Did I finish? Nope.

Let’s fast forward a few years later. I filed bankruptcy with a bunch of debt. Guess what debt wouldn’t go on the bankruptcy? The student loan. Really? Yep. Something I learned that I didn’t get while I was at the University of Memphis was this; you can borrow your way to education…especially when it will not secure a job for you. There is no statistical correlation to your little Junior or Junette getting a job because he/she has a degree. There are currently millions of people with Master’s degrees that are working the battlefield called fast food. Not to say that education isn’t important. Right now, I am currently finishing up the Associate’s side of my degree. I am doing it on scholarships now. I am also debt free now. Going into student loan debt did not help me to graduate but it hindered me.

I know, you’re thinking if you have children about sending those cherubs to school (or even going back to school yourself) and if you can’t take out a loan then what can you do. Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze give some great advice on how to fund your cherub’s education in the new Smart Money, Smart Kids book.

* Savings – ESA (Education Savings Account) which will allow you to put $2,000 per year per child. You can have it auto debited each month (166.66) into that account. What rocks? If you start from 0 to 18, you can save (with interest being approximate) 126,000. Good news? It grows tax-free.

* The 529 Plan – It’s the big brother of the ESA and will allow you to put more into it in a mutual fund.

* Choose a State School – Most out of state schools charge an expensive fee for you going to another college out of state. There are some exceptions to the rule (some states have clauses where they will waive it for certain states. Look into it with the college you are looking to send your child to).

* Scholarships- There are millions of dollars that go untapped every year for college students. For an example, I saw an ad in the paper to apply for a scholarship program through my school. I went online and filled out all the applications that I could fill. One of them that I did win was a bank scholarship that wasn’t advertised publically. You have to go and search for them.

There are some programs that you can buy to search these out. I am not skilled in these. However, do your research and check them out.

• FASFA- Proceed with caution but you can get a Pell Grant and other scholarships from this program. That’s how I was able to attend completely debt free the 2nd go around. Be careful not to choose the one where you have to pay it back.
• Pedigree- Many well-meaning parents and some students believe that going to Yale or some high-end school will ensure that someone will get a great job. This is a myth. There are schools that are less pricey and will save you money yet give you the same amount of education.

Our children are currently being taught the value of money and education. They are pretty young, but I know that they will remember when they go to a school that it pays to go without debt. They won’t have a problem going to school without worrying about having to pay for it for years and years. I heard Dave Ramsey say often that most people “keep their student loans around so long they think it’s a pet.” Most pets….are more fun to play with.

Contentment Breeds Satisfaction

When Dave and Rachel touched on this topic in the book, I was hooked. We currently are battling this with our girls. It seems that no matter what you do, someone is unhappy. I laugh because it is no different from you and me with God. I am going through this right now. I know you all are perfect and holy, however, I still have to work this thing every day. It’s not that I am not grateful for what God has done. But I struggle with being happy where I am because I have a dream for our family. Then I went and read this book which spoke to me about how I could combat that.

No Mercy

Dave says to “show the enemy no mercy.” Discontentment is a disease that we should consider the enemy. It gets into the very core of a person and causes them to become unhappy and bitter.  How do you get rid of it? “Surgically remove it”, Dave says.  “Remind your kids that owning stuff is fine, but when your stuff owns you, when you define yourself by a purchase or an amount of money, you are on the road to becoming a disgusting human being.” Okay, so that sounds a little harsh but what he’s getting at is that it is toxic.

Don’t Join the Enemy

It’s really easy for you or me to get sucked into the media of the “I want” bug. However, if you allow it to happen, you will become exactly what you don’t want to. Paul talks about that in Romans 7:15 by saying, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.“

Teachable Moments

Something that I am learning, as a parent, is that life is full of teachable moments.  For example, Maleah just earned the ability to buy something that she has wanted for a long time. Instead of buying it on her behalf, which would have been easier, we sought out the moment. This great couple decided to help us with that when they sold the item. We met at a place to pick it up and the woman explained everything to Maleah that she was going to sell her. She then gave Maleah the option to buy or to pass.  Of course, she’s 5 so she bought it, but it was a teachable moment. When you save money, you get to buy something with it. At the same time, we are showing our children the art of giving. It breaks the chains of discontentment…well, almost. We are still working on that one.

Change Their Perspective

This is an important one. Rachel talks about this regarding a trip that she took to Peru. She talked about a time when she gave some stickers to a little girl who just lit up her world. It was something simple, but it was something that left an impact on her life. Use opportunities and teaching moments to change their perspective.  Maleah is slowly catching onto this one. I heard her say about a situation the other day, “it could always be worse.” It kind of caught me off guard and no one else really noticed it but I sure did.
The rest of the chapter, you are going to have to read on your own because it will challenge you to help your children get out of this discontentment.

Put the Fun in Dysfunctional Put the Fun in Dysfunctional

I loved this title of Chapter ten in the Smart Money, Smart Kids book. I don’t know one family that isn’t dysfunctional. Like Dave says about those who want to change, “The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there is one.” It’s so true. Sara and I are fortunate not to have too much dysfunction in our families.
But it is important to tackle the topic of family dynamics when it comes to money and raising kids.

The main thing that Dave and Rachel talk about is getting them grown and gone. You may wonder what that has to do with dysfunctional families. You aren’t raising children, you are raising adults. We are not growing our kids up to stay kids but to become adults. If we raise dysfunctional kids…let us just say Dr. Phil will have his show lasting for decades. I am not saying that we have to be perfect parents and there are times when dysfunction happens just because the child decides to defect. We are all witnesses to the child who was raised in a good, Godly home that completely went weird.
To help, Dave and Rachel talk about many different aspects of the dysfunctional family. I highlighted a few areas to cover their thoughts.

1. Dethrone the Princess. I laughed at this one. Everyone knows someone who has a princess in their home. You know the one who cries and gets every single thing that they demand. Dave makes a great statement; “my best advice is not to have a throne or a princess in the first place.” Every child that tries to test their boundaries and will take advantage of the ones that you give into.

2. Spoiled Kids and Wimpy Parents. Have you ever opened a gallon of expired milk? The milk didn’t cause itself to become spoiled. The person who had control over it left it on the counter or didn’t use it before the expiration date. You and I have responsibilities to get control of our children to help them to become great assets to society.

3. Spoiled or Blessed? I have to agree to with Rachel when she talked about well-meaning people saying that she was spoiled when in fact she was blessed.  Just because Dad and Mom are well off and take care of their children’s needs doesn’t mean that they are spoiled but blessed.  There’s a distinct difference in being spoiled and being blessed.  When you are spoiled, you reek of the after effects of being spoiled.  When you are blessed, every person around you reaps the benefits.

4. Raising Arrows Not Boomerangs.  I loved this section because, in today’s society, it is perfectly acceptable for a middle-aged person to move back home and live the rest of their lives with the parents. Now, I say this knowing that some of you do live at home because your circumstances don’t allow you to live out of your parents’ home.  You may have filed bankruptcy and are trying to get back on your feet and that’s fine. However, this is for those who willingly don’t work and don’t support themselves. Send your children out in the world like an arrow instead of boomeranging back into the home.
Dave and Rachel talk about the different types of families from conventional to non-conventional. No matter what type of family you are a part of, you can’t expect your children to learn if you don’t take time to teach them the right way.
Today is the last day that you can get the new book from Dave and Rachel at an unbelievable price and with awesome perks.

Blessings and Curses

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. ”Deuteronomy 30:19 AMP

I am super stoked about today. Today is the day that I have been waiting for for the last month. This is the launch date for the Smart Money, Smart Kids book! I know many of you have been following this blog for a while and have been reading about this great book.  There are a few that may have wondered “what is all the hoopla about this book? Why should I care?”

To be honest, as a Dad we want to see our children be successful adults as they leave our house. The consistent thing that I have read throughout this time of review of this book is this; “I wish I had known this when I was younger.” I have to be honest with you, I am one of those. I want to see my children never go through the financial chaos that I went through as a young adult. The Lord doesn’t see debt as sin.  He doesn’t see it as a heaven or hell issue.  However, if He talks about it over and over through the word, I think it is something that you and I should look at.

What blessings are you leaving your children if, God forbid, something happens to you? Or are you leaving curses? It is certainly something to think about while you are reading this blog. As a Godly Dad, what are you doing to better your family tree? My hope is that not only financially but spiritually that my children will live a long and prosperous life that changes millions of lives.

Use What’s In Your Hand

For the past few weeks, I have been chronicling the Smart Money, Smart Kids book because I have believed strongly in place a firm foundation for our children to grow on. Something that may have come across your mind or even the mind of the passerby who doesn’t know about that foundation and that is; what if I don’t have the money to teach my children or what if all my children are grown and out of the house? Like anything in life, I like to connect the dots with the Word. As Godly fathers (and mothers), we want to do what is best for our kids and there’s no question about it. There are times that we feel that we just don’t have the resources available to give our children the education in life that they need.

I had one of those moments when I was writing a post recently when a friend of mine was writing a message for his church. He went to the scripture in Exodus 4 where Moses was before God and God were instructing him to go to Egypt to free His people. Moses came up with excuse after excuse for why he wasn’t qualified and why he couldn’t fulfill what God had called Him to do. First, he said, “what if they do not believe me or listen to me and say “The Lord did not appear to you?” God’s response? “What is your hand?”
I would be like “um, excuse me?” But here is what transpired next;
“A staff” he replied. “The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, ‘ reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. ‘This’, the Lord said, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.”

God didn’t call Moses to go to Egypt after he went and got right with God or when he had enough money, but with what he already had in his hand. Let me encourage you that you can do anything that God has put into your heart to do no matter where you are in the race of life. Go ahead…. Use what’s in your hand and go for the Promised Land.

The Hardest Thing I Had To Do For My Children

Most parents use this phrase on their kids when they discipline them; “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” I think that could be a lie. Perhaps? Okay, maybe not. But when you read the title of this post, I am sure some of you thought about that. Actually, that’s not the truth. I am here today to say the hardest thing that I had to do for my children is…release them.

This all started several years ago. Maleah was  four and was about to embark on a new journey called Pre-School. It was here that Sara and I found ourselves at a scary crossroad. It became more evident as we went on throughout the school year that we had a major problem. We were both dealing with control. The problem was that we no longer had control. Suddenly, she would be under the “control” of other people for 5-8 hours a day. It honestly freaked me out. But the thing that we had to do is release her.
Now, when you see “release her”, some may think that we just handed her over to whoever was watching her or whatever. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is, we had to trust God to take care of her and keep those things that we taught her (currently and in the past) in her heart to remind her daily. Why is that so important? When she’s out of our sight and in someone else’s, we have to trust that God will be on the scene regardless of where we are.

As always, I try to liken our experience to the Word. There is a place where God had to do this for His Son, Jesus. In the Garden, Jesus cried unto the Father “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, not my will but your will.” Honestly, being a parent, I would have run down to him and took the cup for myself and let him live. But God had to release Jesus to be able to fulfill what Jesus was called to do…to die for the sins of the world. I am not sure if you or I could have that strong of a commitment but as I released my daughter into the care of her teachers and the authorities of her school, I have to trust that God will watch over her and that she will be the Mighty Woman of God that she is called to be (even at now five years old.)

I know that once they grow up and get ready to move out, there will be another phase of releasing. Until then, perhaps I will live in denial.

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