Our materialistic society encourages individuals to spend like crazy. Isaac Carter provides some tips to enable young adults to make wise financial choices
Train up the child in the way he is to grow, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Growing up in today’s consumer-driven society is a serious challenge for young people. The Media, peer pressure, branded sportswear, designer clothes and footwear, smartphones, iPads, game consoles, and the general emphasis on immediate gratification, all scream the same thing at our young people again and again: Spend! Spend! Spend! The simple fact is that young people are a goldmine for all the big companies seeking to expand their markets with new customers!
At the same time, the current economic malaise is providing obstacles to young people obtaining the meaningful employment they need to meet their financial aspirations.
So, how can young people cope in this environment, and instil discipline and correct values into their relationship with money?
- There is more to life than money – Society gives the impression that money is the answer to all of life’s problems; however, money will not necessarily make you happy. The Bible teaches that ‘the love of money (the obsession and pursuit of money at the cost of all else) is the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6:10), and Luke 12:15 reminds us that an individual’s life consists of more than their possessions. It is essential that the right relationship with money is developed at an early age.
- It’s never too early to learn – Many of the financial problems faced by young people have their roots in young people not being taught about money at an early age. Children grow up learning at a very early age that money is important. Christmas money, birthday money, money from Aunties, Uncles and Godparents, and then there is the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’. But, unfortunately, there is no corresponding education teaching them that money is not to be wasted; it’s to be treated with respect, and it doesn’t grow on trees. The developing of a healthy respect for money in the early years will reap dividends in teenage and young adult years (Proverbs 22:6).
- Understand the value of money – In our get-rich-quick society today, young people are often misled into believing that money is obtainable with the minimum of effort; a career in the entertainment or sports industry, the Lottery and gambling all promise easy access to wealth. However, the reality is that only a minority of people succeed in this environment and, for everyone else, financial success comes through hard work. Young people need to understand the real value of money; that there’s no such thing as ‘something for nothing’. It needs to be understood that there is a relationship between money and effort in whatever career you choose to pursue.
- Understanding how to budget – The cornerstone of any successful financial strategy is budgeting. As a student receiving your first student loan, or a young person starting your first job, it is essential that you realise that your expenditure cannot exceed your income. There is nothing wrong with spending money on clothes, going out, and general entertainment, however you need to learn how to treat money responsibly; in other words, how to budget – not necessarily a full-blown spreadsheet, but the basics. Save a little, spend a little will go a long way towards setting the basis of understanding financial management.
- Understand the value of saving – Following on from ‘Understanding how to budget’, it’s never too early to start saving. Parents should teach it to their children, so that as they grow thorough their teenage and young adult years, it becomes a habit ingrained in their financial values.
- Acquire financial education – Unfortunately, one of the major deficiencies of our society is that it does not prepare young people for financial management, so most of them don’t understand how the world of finance works; they don’t understand credit, debt, what is the best bank account, the best saving accounts. As a young person, you need to acquire financial education quickly, or you will find out too late that it’s much easier to get into debt than it is to get out of it. There are lots of books and online courses you can buy that teach young people about finance. Remember, knowledge is the key to success in every area of life (Hosea 4:6).
- Understand the blessing of giving – The money you are blessed with is not just for you alone; you are blessed so you can be a blessing and, by giving, more is given back to you (Luke 6:38).
- What is your true source? – It is important to remember that God is the source of your financial success. Proverbs 10:22 says ‘the blessing of the Lord brings wealth without painful toil’.
In conclusion, remember the financial seeds you sow in your youth will reap a harvest of either wealth or poverty in your later years. Sow wisely, make responsible decisions, and be blessed.
Isaac Carter is the author of “Go to the Ant” – a simple but effective guide to money management. Visit www.gototheant.co.uk for more details.