Millions of kids each week get allowances. These range from petty change to large bills. Allowances are often given free of charge without any responsibilities at all. This creates kids who don’t understand the value of money and who often take things for granted. While an allowance can teach kids how to manage money, most of the time it does just the opposite. When there are no chores or jobs associated with the allowance, it basically is free money. And who wouldn’t want free money?
When you don’t have to work for money, you have less attachment to it. Free money promotes free spending and less reasons to save it. When you actually have to work for the money, you don’t want to spend it as easily because you know how hard it was to earn it. Money does not grow on trees but I have seen a lot of kids that think it must because of how much “stuff” they seem to have. When you think about it, it’s not really the kid’s fault they have that concept. It’s the parent’s fault for buying them everything they want without teaching them the value of money. According to Webster’s dictionary, the first definition of an allowance is “a share or portion allotted or granted.” The very definition of the word says that there is nothing that has to be given in return.
Kids will be more likely to take things for granted if they are always handed stuff for free. Everyone knows a spoiled kid with all the latest and greatest toys and gadgets. When they get everything they want, what’s left? Sometimes, it is good to want for things because when you finally earn them, you will probably be more appreciative.
If a child receives everything they could ever ask for while they are young, they are more likely to mismanage their finances later in life. The won’t understand the connection between money and saving or spending. That’s why so many adults end up in debt — they think their money will never run out.
Some of you reading this are probably thinking, “What does this kid know about money and financial responsibilities?” Well, I know that at 14, I have never received an allowance. I have saved practically every Christmas and birthday money gift I have received for years. And I think long and hard before I spend any of my money. Having my Pencil Bugs business since I was nine has also taught me the value of money, what it means to work for it, and how to be financially smart which will make me better prepared when I’m an adult.
My parents never received an allowance when they were kids and they didn’t give me one. I probably won’t give my kids an allowance either. Even though I’m still like most kids and I like the thought of ‘something for nothing’, I know that philosophy doesn’t do any good in the long run.
At thirteen, I don’t have the money worries that many adults do and I’m thankful for that. Having my own business since I was nine has taught me a lot about money though — how to work to earn it, how to spend it wisely, how to save it, and most importantly, how to donate it to help other people. This is good to learn no matter what age you are.
I’ve been interviewed dozens of times since I started my business. One of the questions I get asked a lot is how much I’ve made or other financial-related questions. Even at age nine when I first started, it felt a little weird when people asked about that. It’s like that was all they cared about. Sometimes I got the feeling that if they didn’t hear I was making a huge amount, all of my efforts were worthless. I wondered why they weren’t more interested in the fact that I donated part of my money to help other kids? Even today, people still ask the “how much” question. Shouldn’t it be more important “what” the person is doing than “how much” they are doing?
I try hard not to give out specific financial information. I usually smile and tell them that since I’m still a private company, I’d rather not share that information but as soon as I go public, they’ll know. I also tell them my main focus is not money. Most people understand and don’t keep asking. For some, it’s not so easy to take that as my answer.
Money is funny. People, even kids, have very specific ideas about how much is enough or what is worth trying for. If I said I made $500,000 a year, some people might think that was beyond reach and they would be discouraged. If I said I made $5,000 a year, I’m sure there would be some who thought that wasn’t worth bothering with. Either way, money does funny things to people. My biggest thing is encouraging people of all ages to try their ideas. You probably won’t get rich overnight but at least you’ll be doing something and maybe working toward that goal. My plan is to make Pencil Bugs into a mega empire so the characters are as well-known as SpongeBob or any other character you see on products. But all that takes time and lots of work.
My grandpa is 85 years old. He has some good advice about money:
- You don’t have to share your finances with everyone.
- Don’t loan money unless you can afford to never get it back.
- Don’t mix money and friends.
- Don’t buy something just because you “want” it.
- Save as much as you can.
- If you have extra, make sure to help other people less fortunate.
We all need money to live but I think it’s more important what you do with it than how much you have.
#6 – It’s only money.
You don’t have to be old to understand how bad the economy is on so many levels but things can’t stay bad forever, right? I know this is probably not a good time to say “It’s only money,” especially when I’m only 13 and don’t have to make a living or take care of a family or any of those grown-up responsibilities. But I’m not talking about whether you have it or you don’t. I’m talking about how it affects people.
My mom and dad both grew up with five kids in their families. They got the things they needed but didn’t always get the things they wanted. When they grew up and were on their own, they both went through times when they didn’t have much money. My dad tells me stories about how he ate mac and cheese a lot in college. My mom remembers going to the grocery store with a calculator adding each thing she put in her cart so she wouldn’t run out of money at the cash register.
Luckily, we’ve never been in that situation since I’ve been born. But as I learned more about money, they taught me about saving too. So when I opened my first lemonade stand at the age of 5 and made $25, I didn’t even spend it. But really, what does a five-year-old need anyway? That was the beginning of my saving spree and I’m still in that mode. I have personal money from my recycling business and birthday gifts but I don’t spend much of that either. I just hate letting go of it.
My Pencil Bugs business hasn’t made me rich, well at least not yet, but I know I’m luckier than a lot of people. The best part about making money with my business is that I’ve been able to donate to help foster kids and buy toys and games to put together gift bags for kids in the hospital. Some of the money is used to buy more supplies to make Pencil Bugs and the rest is saved for college.
I’ve had some amazing opportunities because of my business. Just in the last few months, I’ve met some very rich and famous people. I thought that if I ever met someone like that, they would be different or it would be different but it wasn’t. Well, at least it hasn’t been different for the ones I’ve met. They were as nice as could be. Very generous, supportive, and humble. As I like to put it, “they’re not full of themselves.” No attitudes or anything. Just regular people except with a lot of money and they were all doing a lot to help less fortunate people around the world.
Obviously, life is easier if you have money but it doesn’t make you any happier. It also doesn’t make you any better than the next guy. As my grandpa says, “everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time.” I guess that means people are just people regardless of what you have or don’t have. I also think part of why the rich are rich is because they didn’t spend every cent they earned.