I am very intrigued and inspired by the idea that the members of a family can work together to create a viable economy for their household.
My wife and kids and I are working on an “experiment” of this kind right now.
The main thing that started the gears turning along these lines was that we began thinking about the example in Acts chapter 2 and Acts chapter 4.
The people there began caring for each other’s needs spontaneously as they became united in the Spirit. Their example has always inspired me. My wife and I began to ask the question,
Why do we limit that sort of idea to an idealistic picture of what the church should be? Wouldn’t it be just as viable in a Christian family?
The more we thought about it, the more we realized that we didn’t have a good answer for “why not.” So we took the plunge.
Our family economic model
One of the things we noticed as we started discussing things was that the way we have typically gone about handling our children’s income (from jobs, babysitting, allowance, etc.) hasn’t trained them very well what life is like in the “real” economic world.
Stay with me for a bit…
What adult do you know who has 80% to 90% of their income available to do whatever they like with it? Maybe only the extremely wealthy – which is NOT you and me. That’s NOT the real world. The money we earn goes to pay bills, provide food and other necessities, and to save for the proverbial rainy day. If there is expendable income, it’s a very small percentage.
Yet, most parents allow their children’s income to be governed by the first model. They might be required to tithe 10% and then maybe save 10%, and the other 80% is left up to the child’s discretion. How does that prepare them for financial management in the real world? It doesn’t.
So what we’ve done is this:
- We had a family meeting to discuss the financial needs of the family as a whole. We made it a family affair, not just a responsibility of the parents.
- We asked the kids what they thought about the money they earned being put into a “family account” that is used to meet all the needs of the family that arise. You may be amazed, but they loved the idea. Our 12 year old son said, “I like that my money could go to something more important than just me.”
- We allowed for 15% of what our children earn to go to them, like a “thank you” for doing a good job for the sake of the family.
At the time of this writing, we’ve been operating according to this model for almost 7 months, and everyone has continued with the same giving attitude as when we began.
In my opinion, this model not only benefits the entire family financially, it also teaches all of us some valuable lessons about life.
- Life IS about more than us.
- Yet we are able to make a significant difference in important ways (no matter our age or earning ability).
- We learn that our money is not really OUR money… it is God’s and we are stewards to use it for the benefit of other people.