It’s no secret that my wife and I are big Dave Ramsey fans. We spent 15 months paying off $21,521.66 of debt on a combined take-home pay of about $39,000/year, which doesn’t really work mathematically, but somehow it worked when we started keeping track of our money and living on an extremely tight written budget every month. God did amazing things to bring us to where we are today with a completely funded emergency fund and now savings for our kid’s birth in August. Soon we’ll start saving for a down-payment on a house, too. Because we no longer have any payments, we’re able to securely drop my wife’s income so she can be a stay-at-home mom when our child is born. Exciting! (A video of my wife and I sharing more details about our financial story can be found here.)
Since Dave Ramsey’s teaching has alleviated a lot of stress and pressure on me and Dana and our marriage, we thought it would be something important to teach high school kids as they start getting jobs, earning an income, and saving for the future. Me, Dana, and two other high school small group leaders have all made a lot of financial mistakes and wanted to help some teens avoid those same “normal” mistakes by having a biblical perspective on money and how it works. Naturally, we looked into Dave Ramsey’s Generation Change curriculum for youth groups and decided to try it out.
- At $169 for an 8-person start-up kit, it’s definitely pretty expensive. If they dropped the tshirts and charged half the price, I think the value would be more reflective of the kit’s contents.
- There’s 4 lessons total in the kit, each with an accompanying two-part DVD. Every lesson is supposed to take about an hour, but we found that with all the discussion, questions, stories, examples, and everything else that came up in the group time, each lesson really took about two hours. We ended up spreading it out over 8 weeks comfortably.
- At first our high school kids were a little leary of talking about such “grown-up” stuff, but after we got into the series, they really started appreciating it and were very thankful for it by the time we finished.
- Although the curriculum is laid out very clearly and is very easy to follow, it’s not something that could be given to just any youth leader and expected to go well. It definitely must be taught by leaders who agree with Dave Ramsey’s principles and are actively following them with their own personal finances. In fact, that’s where most of the value came for our group, as me, Dana and the other leaders put real-life flesh on the principles being taught with examples from our own mistakes, misconceptions, and even greed. All of us leaders were very transparent about our personal finances, which really helped the kids a lot. Without a passionate leader, the curriculum will probably have little to no affect.
- The DVD sessions are very well-done and professionally recorded. Most of it consists of Dave sitting with a group of teenagers, teaching one of the 4 major principles for about 7 to 10 minutes.
- The curriculum isn’t really as anti-debt as what you’d probably expect from something that comes from Dave Ramsey. Of course credit cards and school loans are addressed, but the emphasis is clearly on changing teens’ perspective of money. Themes like materialism, personal self-worth, giving to others, and saving are much bigger issues than debt.
- It would be easy for a curriculum like this to be really heavy on the nerdy stuff and really light on scripture, but fortunately it is not like that at all. Every lesson digs through scripture in addressing the financial principle and raises discussions from those passages. The curriculum does not really address the mechanics of money and how it works, but it is easy for the leader to include that kind of teaching if the kids are interested, like they were in our group.
- Generation Change is clearly geared toward high school students. I wouldn’t even attempt to do it with jr. highers.
Since it is over-priced, I recommend that you not purchase a student kit for every person going through it. Take the 8 student kits that are included with the leader’s kit, of course, but purchasing additional kits for each teen is not absolutely necessary. Give them a pen and legal pad instead if you really want them to write things down. The leader’s guide and DVDs are sufficient to teach the curriculum.
Oh, and remember, you can’t purchase Generation Change with a credit card. Debit cards only!
Generation Change is strong on helping communicate a biblical perspective of money to high school teens and it does so in a very practical and engaging way. It’s very well done, very professional, and very easy for any leader to follow and teach. However, it only gets three stars because it feels overpriced for the content, even when you stretch four sessions out to be eight.
Posted on May 11, 2009