Today we are joined by a terrific writer, fellow parent and blogging friend, Miranda from Coffee and Confidence. She has an incredible story about teaching her 7-year-old son how to save up $190 for his own trip to Lego Robotics camp. (I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to go to Lego Robotics camp. <–not past tense)
Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.
My husband, Eric, and I live in Maine with our two children, Geoffrey and Ella, ages 13 and 10. We homeschool and unschool and use every moment as an opportunity to teach, learn and grow. Eric is a software engineer and I am a kitchen table counselor/ life coach and a blogger for creatives at CoffeeAndConfidence.com.
What teachable moment regarding your children and money would you like to share?
Six years ago we suffered job loss in the middle of a down-turned economy. My husband, who has a Masters in IT, was forced to work at McDonald’s for nearly a year for lack of jobs. During that time we got way behind on our bills and our house went into foreclosure.
Although it was a very trying and unhappy time for us, it caused us to look deeper into how we viewed and used our finances. We came across Dave Ramsey in the midst of it all and used his guidance to help us form better money practices.
The #1 lesson we wanted to instill in our children regarding money is that it is a tool. It’s used for obtaining good things, doing good things and preserving good things.
During that year of turmoil, Geoffrey, who was 7, wanted to go to Lego Robotics Camp. It was a week-long camp and would cost $190. We didn’t even have enough money in the budget to keep up with our debt let alone a week of camp for our son. So we told him that if he wanted to go, he would have to find a way to earn the money himself.
We were attempting to put in place the Dave Ramsey’s commissions work chart with our kids. But of course we could only give them a grand sum of $2 a week if they completed all their chores. Geoffrey quickly went to the chart and calculated how many weeks of chores he’d have to do to go to camp. 95 weeks just wouldn’t work since camp was a mere 5 weeks away. He’d have to get a job.
Jobs were scarce in general in our area and finding a job at the age of 7 was pretty much unheard of. But that didn’t deter Geoffrey.
I was affiliated at the time with a company that sold trinkets and home décor from magazine orders and home parties. Something I couldn’t get off the ground because no one was buying trinkets. Geoffrey took one of my catalogs that focused on impulse buys of less than $20 and went to work asking everyone he met if they wanted to buy something to help send him to robotics camp. It’s amazing how people can’t say no to a handsome little boy.
In less than three weeks we placed the order and Geoffrey handed me $190 of profit. Off he went to Lego Robotics Camp, the only kid there who wanted to go so much that he worked and paid his own way.
What is the most rewarding part of the experience for you?
As a parent, it was most rewarding seeing my 7-year-old son learn the connection between work and money. Savings and spending. Want and satisfaction. And that it was possible for him to provide something for himself that not even his parents could provide.
What is the most challenging part of the experience for you?
The most challenging part was watching him take rejection after rejection and keep going. He was determined and I was unsure. I had to keep reality before him without squelching his desire and motivation. I’m so glad he didn’t give up. It became a real source of pride for him and for us.
When you were a child, what was your favorite money moment?
Ha! My first job was given to me by my grandfather when I was 5 years old. He lived across the road from us and had a large farm garden and orchard. He paid me to pick potato beetles off of his potato plants because he didn’t like pesticides and pick up the apples that fell on the ground under the apple trees. I got a penny per larva, a nickel per beetle and egg cluster, and $1 per 5 gallon bucket of apples. I worked every day all summer long and loved collecting those pennies and nickels in a jar.
Let’s say a young couple with a newborn sits beside you on a bus. They lean over and ask you, “What are the three most important things we should teach our child about money?” What do you tell them?
- Money is finite. There is only so much of it and when it’s gone you have to work to get more.
- You get paid to work because you bring value. So work hard, do your best to become more valuable and you will get paid more money.
- Avoid debt. Period. Debt is a prison. It takes the joy out of earning and the desire out of life. Saving up and paying cash for the things you want gives you sense of pride and satisfaction.
Join the Discussion: Share a time when you saved up for something really big as a child.