This BBC article got me thinking about the important lessons we learn about money and work before we ever get to high school. I found myself nodding my head in agreement over and over again as I worked my way though the article and reflected on my own childhood experiences as a dog-walker, paper boy and snow shoveler. I thought it would be interesting to ask students to reflect on their own experiences.
Here were three principles that I learned early and are incredibly important to develop at a young age:
- Create a link between work and money:
Peggy Rosser’s granddaughter, Hannah, has been receiving dimes for housework since she was three.
“Hannah learned that work results in money, which results in the ability to purchase something,” said Rosser, who is an adviser at the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center in San Angelo Texas in the US.
After Hannah, now age 5, fed 15 dimes into a soda machine to buy a cold drink, Hannah and her mother discussed another point — instant gratification versus the importance of saving. Even at young ages, children can understand these ideas, Rosser said.
- Have a plan of what to do once you receive money:
A system known as “bucketing” among personal finance professionals can also serve as a simple concept for children. Where adults may invest into one account for a college fund and save into another for a vacation, children can separate their money just as easily, saving notes and coins into homemade marked cans or piggy banks with special slots for saving, spending, charity and more.
- Importance of selling skills:
Yet, learning to sell is a critical part of understanding how to grow money and becoming a business person. Here again, the flea market or a lemonade stand are a good place to learn salesmanship. In the end, sales conversations all have a similar anatomy. The seller must create a need (“Boy, it’s hot out here”), show the advantages of the product (“This lemonade is made with organic lemons”), answer any objections (“It’s less than the cost you’d pay at the cafe”) and close in for the sale (“Do you want small or large today?”).
Let students share what they have learned from their early work experiences as well as their strategies for managing the money they receive. You might even ask how their attitudes and behaviors compare to their parents’. As a personal finance instructor, I learn a lot from understanding student’s experiences and backgrounds. This activity provides an excellent way to gain those insights.