There is no paper route that will teach my son about money the way I learned years ago, but he has found another way to learn how to la. I hope his lessons in self-reliance continue, and I will do everything in my power to support his next venture, however crazy it sounds.azy it sounds.
After I wrote this article below on the financial education of children, I started thinking a lot about the tactics I used to learn about finances. What if the guidance I received is no longer relevant today? Specifically, what if the money tactics that worked for me many years ago cannot be replicated today?
I've been thinking a lot about how my kids could benefit from having a paper route as I did when I was 12 years old. Having this job at a young age taught me the benefits of getting up early, doing the hard work every morning, and of course standing at the customer's door each month asking for a payment, and sometimes receiving a small tip.
Unfortunately, adults now deliver the smaller volume of physical newspapers using their cars- so this learning lesson won't work for my kids. The good news however is that my ongoing self reliance and finance discussions with my son has helped to create his own interest in money, specifically in earning his own money to both invest and buy all the things teenagers want.
Unethical Math Tudor:
My son's startup ideas started with conversations like, "Hey Dad, I met three kids in the remedial math class next door to mine, and they each paid me five dollars to do their homework. Look Dad, I have fifteen dollars in my backpack." I of course applauded his creativity and then reminded him that he wasn't really helping those three kids, and besides, his left handed handwriting might look different than their handwritten homework. I gave him an A for creativity, but he failed the planning and ethical side of building a business. I ended this business before receiving any future phone call from a school principal.
Another business idea he tried out was selling individual TopRamen noodle packets. Apparently middle school kids eat the uncooked TopRamen Noodles as snacks. He determined that he could buy a case of these noodles, then sell each packet at a really high markup. In a recent conversation with my attorney I was reminded that my son didn't need the liability relating to one of his customer's getting sick from overeating uncooked noodles at school. Again, this business ended quickly. He now has an entire case of expired TopRamen noodles in the pantry reminding him of the importance of testing a market before expending his capital. Make him an offer, he want to cut his losses on this deal.
After many of these starter business attempts, my son recently started a candy seller and distributor business. He now buys large movie size candy with his own money from the dollar store, and then sells them for three dollars each. I asked him why his schoolmates pay him three dollars instead of just going to the same store themselves. He said that his friends are either lazy, not concerned with spending their money, or maybe they just don't know about the actual cost of a large sour patch candy. He is now selling candy to other candy sellers in his class but with a smaller markup. He has a friend who buys similar candy products for 60 cents in bulk on ebay, but my son said that his friend sometimes get stuck with a large amount of unsold candy, so he opts to buy weekly in smaller amounts.
I told my son that the actual profit of these ventures is less important than the key lessons and skills he is picking up with each business attempt. He is learning how to sell, negotiate, as well as how to communicate with his peers at a business discussion level. He is learning that failure in business is a regular occurrence until you figure out set of systems that work. I don't believe his is learning anything about the benefits of failure at his school. For these reasons, I am glad to take my son to the dollar store each Sunday after he receives his weekly chore allowance of 4$ dollars.
My son told me that he wants to make as much money as another friend who is making $40 dollars profit a week. He also says that I am wrong, his candy business is not about lessons, it's about making enough to save and buy things.
There is no paper route that will teach my son about business and money the way I learned years ago, but he has found another way to learn similar lessons. I hope his lessons in self-reliance continue, and I will do everything in my power to support his next venture, however crazy it sounds.
Note that I am not a financial or legal professional, nor am I licensed to sell securities, or any other financial instruments. Given this statement, I strongly recommend that you consider this blog as entertainment value. Although, I sincerely hope that I can motivate you to learn to build your own financial knowledge and wealth.
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