Teaching Youth Generosity in a World of Conflicting Money Messages

By: Nathan Dungan, Founder and President, Share Save Spend

In economics, austerity is defined as "the policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided"1. Lately, the concept of austerity has been the topic of much buzz in the world of economics. It's a new trend that has been sweeping the globe. In the CNBC video below, economic experts go head-to-head on the topic.

So, as you can see from the video above, austerity is a topic of much deliberation, even amongst experts. Considering this, imagine how confusing the message of austerity must be for youth, especially in a culture where they are receiving conflicting messages about money.

After a recent speaking engagement one young adult asked me, “So, am I supposed to spend or save my money? On one hand, I hear how important it is to spend money for the good of our country, but on the other I hear about saving and the importance of creating a financial safety net.”

The one money habit that he didn’t ask about, and is all too often left out of most money conversations, is sharing. Imagine how different our country’s current narrative, and in turn our national priorities would be, if more youth and adults really understood the power of sharing with others.

Families across America need to proactively seize the moment because everybody wins when we have a balanced diet of healthy money habits based on a simple values-based philosophy. It's not a philosophy of convenience. Rather, it is a lifestyle that defines the role money plays in our lives – a lifestyle that is built around generosity, not austerity.

Here are a few ideas to help your family jumpstart your money conversations:

1. Lead with Sharing - By sensitizing children to the needs of others you will teach them the power of generosity. Give them numerous opportunities (money and time) to respond to the needs of the world.

2.Set Saving Goals - Use goal setting to counter the "I wants". If your child wants something, let them save for it. The patience and discipline instilled will be invaluable when saving for big-ticket items like a car or a home.

3. Start Talking – Healthy money habits and shared values are learned through conversations and experiences. Seize the moment and prioritize these essential activities.

4. Walk the Walk - Your money narrative will shape how your children and grandchildren use money for decades. Periodically review that your habits and values match your desired outcome.

Nathan Dungan is a financial literacy expert and President and Founder of Share Save Spend. Join Nathan for a free webinar, Share Save Spend: Your Money Traits and How They Are Impacting Your Kids on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, CDT. Register now >>



1. Austerity.

About Share Save Spend: The mission of Share Save Spend is to help youth and adults achieve financial sanity by developing and maintaining healthy money habits. We provide a process, as well as, concrete, actionable tools that help people shift effectively from a spend-centric mode to one that balances spending with saving and sharing. For more information visit sharesavespend.com.


Excellent article with valuable suggestions. Our children are watching us, and will learn our values concerning money and sharing as they grow. For a list, “20 Ways to Foster Values in Children,” that parents may find helpful, click below:

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