• I know they say that you’re never too young to start thinking about your future, but sometimes I’m surprised by how mature and advanced some young kids can be these days. My friend Jesse is a single parent with an 8 year-old daughter named Rachel. I went over one day and his daughter was sitting on the living room floor with a male friend her age and they were counting dollar bills, which she had just poured out of a Ziploc bag onto the coffee table. “Thirty six dollars,” she said as she carefully stacked the dollar bills with the heads all facing the same direction. “Not too shabby for a day’s work, here’s the ten dollars I promised you.” she added as she handed her friend his share of the money.

    After her friend left Rachel joined us in the living room, playfully patted me on the cheek, and asked “So how’s it going Uncle I (her name for me)?”. “I’m good, but it looks like you’re doing even better,” as I pointed at her money. “Yeah my friend came over and we just had a bake sale with some of the cookies I made last night. I usually try to shoot for at least one hundred dollars a week,” she said. Did I mention that she was only eight? She continued and explained how she often buys certain items in bulk, like gum, candies, and other items and then splits them up into single items, She then sells them at school or at her weekly booth, for 25 cents apiece. Of course, her father supervises her during her weekend sales. I had mixed emotions at first and initially was put off by the idea that this girl was selling items at such a young age- Possibly even missing out on her childhood. However, her personality was so vibrant and her thought process was so far ahead of her age that it didn’t seem all that bad. “I save all my money,” she continued with a smile “and dad puts it in the bank so I can buy a house one day.” “That’s pretty ambitious of you,” I said with a slight grin on my face. “It’s not a matter of if, but rather when,” she said with such conviction that even I believed her. She was so articulate and self-assured that I was proud, though she wasn’t mine.

    I usually try to shoot for at least one hundred dollars a week

    Funny how in this day and age, I have friends who graduated from respectable schools with their Masters in Business Administration (MBA) but are having difficulties finding a job. Possibly because they seem to know very little about real-world business. They have ‘book smarts’ but hardly any practical business experience. Given the choice I would take Rachel over them any day. I’m not saying that what Rachel is doing is completely without a downside, however, doing this in moderation, she certainly appears to be well-adjusted, does well in school, and seems to have a good head on her shoulders. Rachel’s father is a registered nurse and has always shared the ins and outs of finances with his daughter. Especially since after the death of his wife his budget has been particularly tight. The circumstances of Rachel’s life have probably caused her to grow up faster than usual. None the less, being successful in business and other aspects of life certainly requires both innate and learned skills. And after seeing these skills in an eight year old I believe that we shouldn’t be afraid to give our children a balanced dose of reality, specifically in regards to being financially responsible. The younger they learn the better and if they can have fun doing it then it’s even more of a blessing. When I jokingly told Rachel, “Hey, don’t you know that playdates are supposed to be fun,” she pulled out her Ziploc bag filled with money, shook it in front of my face and responded, “It is!”