It’s a powerful thing for children to make their own money.
It’s easy for parents to get so wrapped up in school work, education, homework and getting good grades that they miss another big part of a child’s education. But kids are not going to spend their lives earning money by sitting in classrooms taking notes, taking tests and getting good grades. No matter how great the education, no matter how many degrees, no matter how prestigious the schools, they still have to leave there and go out into the real world. They still have to earn a living.
They don’t have to spend all of their after school hours in extra curricular activities, like playing sports, taking music lessons, or performing in school plays. These can be extremely valuable in their education but most of these kids are not going to grow up to be professional athletes, musicians, actors, and the like.
Most kids are going to grow up and find a job, keep a job, and maybe build their own business. It’s certainly an advantage if they can get some of that experience along the way.
For me it started at 8 years old. My father at the time was a staff sergeant in the air force. He did not bring home a big income. My mother did not work outside the home. I had a younger brother and sister who seemed—from my young perspective—to soak up a disproportionate amount of the little discretionary income our family had.
The kicker was Christmas the year that I was 7, when we lived in Enid, Oklahoma. I got rubber boots.
I started thinking about making a little money as my own. In the spring I saw an ad calling for delivery boys for TV Guides. It would have been much nicer to have found work as an adorable child actor in commercials for $1000s of dollars—but unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of that work available in Enid in 1967.
So I read the ad carefully and followed up. I applied for the position. They wrote back and told me to get started. I got on my bike and went to every house on every street near our house. I asked them if they would like to have an adorable young 8 year old deliver their personal copy of TV Guide to their doorstep every week. I found 50 families who said yes.
Looking back now I have no idea how I kept up with it all. Except that I filled out an order each week for how many TV Guides I needed. On a separate form, I entered in the number sold, the 15 cents collected, the 11 cents for each TV Guide, and the 4 cents I pocketed. At 50 copies, that was $2.00 a week for the little entrepreneur.
I was in business! I was making money for myself. My money. And I wasn’t going to spend it buying any more rubber boots.
There’s no telling how many things I learned that became a part of my DNA and approach to life by going through this experience. It caused me to be a little bit more organized and disciplined than your average 8 year old. It caused me to operate from internal motivation rather than only doing things because I was yelled at by my parents or teacher to get it done. I learned about working on a commission for myself rather than limiting myself to working as an employee on salary for someone else. It opened up a whole new way of looking at the world. It started me on a path of winning and success that formed the foundation of my business life.
Find ways for your kids to get some real world experience, to earn their own money. It may transform their lives.
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