It’s important to impart a financial education to younger generations, just like the Rogersons who are teaching their children about investing. When you invest, you are relying on other companies before you can make any money. The companies in which you invest must perform well and brokerages must stand between those companies, their profits, and you. This is likely one of the reasons that entrepreneurship — finding ways to grow a business from the inside — is a lesson some parents would like to impress upon their kids.
This is the case with the Becks, another family profiled in a recent New York Times article. Ted Beck is the president of the National Endowment for Financial Education and his wife is a former banker, so it’s likely that he has a good handle on how to provide children with valuable lessons about money. His method involves garage sales. Mr. Beck allows his children to plan garage sales, from inventory to pricing. By working together, the kids have learned about themselves and about effective teamwork.
“What really struck us was that the kids knew each other’s strengths better than we did,” he said. “They split the $100 that they earned, but they agreed not to split it equally because Katherine had done the most.” Mr. Beck was quick to add that projects like this one wouldn’t necessarily interest all children equally. While his children all participated and cooperated well, he said, only Katherine showed real interest in business. She is now majoring in marketing in college.
As long as entrepreneurship isn’t being forced upon the children, I’m happy with the idea. The article mentions that the projects don’t interest all the children equally; I would hope that if one is not interested, they would be encouraged to find an activity for which they are more suited. Business lessons are fine, but it’s not for everyone. Matters of managing money are more important, in my opinion. Also, children are not adults and shouldn’t be expected to consume their lives with more adult-like activities. Every person only has one chance to be 16, and an upper-middle-class teenager should appreciate that he or she doesn’t have to work to support his or her family.
There will always be time for work later. No one on their death bed at the age of 90 has ever said, “I wish I worked more when I was a teenager.”
Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published December 20, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.