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Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management Review by Sarah RothMatt Bell
Focus on the Family
In a culture where living paycheck to paycheck is the norm, teaching our children about money management is very important. In Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management, author Matt Bell presents ways parents can teach their children to honor God with their money. The 240-page book is available from Focus on the Family for $15.99.
With two teens earning part-time incomes, one in college, and a few more getting closer to those milestones each day, I was excited to read this book and share the lessons with my children. The first thing that caught my eye was the appealing cover with two piggy banks, the bigger one wearing glasses. This did not look like another dry book about personal finances. While reading Trusted, I appreciated the conversational tone and the real-life experiences that the author shares.
As the author recommends in the introduction, I read the book from cover to cover on my own to understand “the big picture” presented. Then I returned to lessons I wanted to cover with my children over the next few months. This is a book that I will return to for advice as my children enter new stages in life.
The lessons offer advice, activities, and suggestions for all ages. Each lesson begins with ways that parents can manage their own finances. This helps parents as we serve as role models for our children. The author gives real-life examples showing the consequences of poor money management and other examples of God-honoring money management. After this, the author provides tools and activities to help parents instruct their children.
One of the things that makes this book different from most other money management books is its focus on honoring God with how we manage money. The author says, “Managing money biblically isn’t just about managing money. It’s very much about our eternal relationships—and our children’s eternal relationships—with our Savior, Jesus Christ.” He quotes scripture throughout the book to show God’s view on money, responsibility, work, generosity, gratitude, and more.
Trusted is divided into three sections. The first section discusses why teaching children God-honoring money management principles is essential. These principles positively impact their lives, their relationships with God and others, and their impact on the world around them. Bell also discusses marketing and technology. I found this discussion very helpful, and I will be sharing it with each of my children. This discussion includes identity, social media, target markets, and consumerism.
The second section includes seven money-management skills. Bell identifies that much of the spending in this technological age is done electronically or with plastic. He says that it is important to first teach our children with actual money that they can hold, give, and spend. He then provides examples of ways to teach older children about credit cards. Bell also discusses working in a way that honors God and a biblical way of budgeting. He first lists the five ways that people use money as most prioritize them: spending, making debt payments, saving, investing, and giving. Then he lists these same five areas in a way that is more in line with biblical teaching: giving, saving and investing, and then spending while avoiding debt. Other topics include balancing a budget, avoiding debt, tracking expenses, generosity, teaching delayed gratification, and the benefits of saving and investing.
Some activities discussed include utilizing piggy banks to set aside money for giving and saving, using labeled envelopes to manage cash spending, and giving children responsibility for purchasing items on a budget. Also discussed is the benefit of allowing our children to experience the consequences of bad spending choices when they are young. This may include refusing to give them an advance on an allowance when they have spent all their money. The author states that experiencing financial consequences as a child and not being bailed out will help teach children to think about their spending choices.
The third section discusses how our personalities influence our natural money management tendencies. This section was fascinating, and it can help parents identify and encourage their children’s natural strengths while providing helpful tools, motivation, and guidance in other areas.
After reading Trusted, I visited the author’s website, https://mattaboutmoney.com. It has many helpful articles and resources. One is a debt payoff calculator. We used this to show our children how much interest we could save by paying more toward our mortgage each month. We also typed in various hypothetical debts and payments to further illustrate the benefit of paying off debts early. I recommend this tool to anyone who has or is considering taking out a loan. It would be especially helpful for high school students considering taking out loans to pay for a car or higher education.
I highly recommend Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management to every parent who desires to teach their children how to honor God with their finances. This book provides lessons that can benefit parents and children of all ages. To quote author Matt Bell, “The most effective money-management lessons are those that are learned with real money in real time in the real world.” This hands-on, role-modeling, Biblically-based approach to teaching money management will appeal to many Christian homeschool families.
-Product review by Sarah Roth, The Old Schoolhouse®, August 2023