Grandma Rie’s 2013 Money Camp – Part Two

Teaching the next generation to successfully handle money and personal finances is normally a family responsibility. Although parents bear much of the burden to teach, train and model good personal finance, extended family members can also contribute.

Although my grown children do very well in the personal finance arena, they learned from us by osmosis, without any special or formal training by my spouse or I. When they presented me with grandchildren, I vowed that I would take an active part in teaching financial literacy to them.

As a result, I started a one week ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp‘ in 2011 and held our third annual one this year. In my last post on Money Camp, we covered our activities in two of the concepts covered this year – compound interest and needs vs. wants.

Today, I will give you information on what we did and used with more of the money concepts covered in this year’s camp – Earning and saving.

Earn and save.

We spent quite a bit of time on these two concepts, with more on earn.

Earning/expenses/profit/loss and entrepreneurship.

We combined all of these concepts and worked on them together throughout the week.

Ebay sales.

As with last year, I asked each child to bring one thing to sell. I requested that it be small and light weight for mailing purposes.

Unlike last year, I lined up Grandpa to buy one item from each child. Each child ended up bringing more than one item. I got them listed by the morning of the second day – with help from the kids to take the pictures and describe the item on eBay. I listed them as a short auction but also added a buy it now option. After listing them, I emailed Grandpa to let him know which to buy and made sure that postage was free!

He bought one right away and after that, all three kids were very eager to check their listing each day to see how many had looked at it and whether or not it sold.

As they eagerly looked for their item statistics, I would talk to them about how eBay is a marketplace and quiz them about what other marketplaces might be.  Market place is one phrase that some financial literacy standards recommend that kids around the 3rd or 4th grade level know.

At the end of the week, I explained to them how eBay worked with Paypal – saying that my online bank account (Paypal) now had the money for their items in it. I gave each of them the cash for their item, since their money was now in my online account. I also promised to mail their items out for them.

Granted, this wasn’t the full eBay experience, but that will come with time.

Their business.

Also reinforcing the ‘earning’ concept was the idea of them having another business. I had proposed a drink stand or a car wash or selling soap. The car wash idea was quickly vetoed and they decided to combine the drink stand and soap selling.

They had a great time making the soaps and the soap boxes. They discussed at length what their stand would sell, but the conversation wasn’t always a pleasant one! The other Grandma used this as an opportunity to talk about partners in a business and how they had to cooperate and divide up the labor – brilliant of her, no?  In the end, each one picked one thing to sell and we ended up with a) lemonade b) Gatorade and c) candy and snacks in addition to the soap.

They made several signs out of the posters and crayons I brought and they made up fliers. Each one wanted to have a hand in it and all by themselves they worked through kind of an assembly line to produce those fliers. One drew it up on the computer, another made sure the printer had paper and moved the printed fliers from the printer to the staging area and the third rolled the flier and fastened a rubber band around it.

Together we inspected the condo grounds to find a fine spot to house their stand. They ended up in front of the pool this year – using the square patio table from the deck.  They hung their signs on the front of the table and streamed red plastic streamers all across the pool fencing.  They wore their money camp t-shirts and used a radio to attract attention, along with their voices of course.

Unlike last year, this year I lined up some of the folks I knew from the area to come buy stuff from the kids. I even reimbursed some of them.

Before we went to buy the store goods to sell, I explained that I would once again, be their ‘angel investor’ and provide the merchandise and raw materials (such as the soap base, paper, etc) free of charge. However, I explained that these things are business expenses that would normally be subtracted from gross income to figure out profits – and that next year they would have to first earn the money to use on a business and use that money to start up their business.

They took in over $26 in their first day of business at the pool, and then sold more to Mom when she visited later in the week. The soaps were a sales hit! The kids split the money 3 ways.

Resources used about running a business.

Several times throughout the week I had them watch videos about running a business. We used a Secret Millionaire Club video. Warren Buffet provides the mentorship in The Secret Millionaires Club video and web episodes we watched. The short scripts cover things like the importance of location, figuring out your profit, figuring out what business to start and etc. The kids really enjoyed these and I was able to check out the video from our local library – saving a few bucks.

We also used the book Arthur’s Funny Money and the DVD Arthur’s Money Matters. I had the book Millionaire Kids Club – Garage Sale Riches which we used as a bedtime reading.

The book Arthur’s Pet Business was also a hit. Arthur wants a dog, but has to prove he is responsible to his parents. He opens a pet care business.

Other people’s businesses.

In addition to giving them hands on experience with their own business, we also exposed the kids to other people’s businesses.

The Chocolate Factory Tour.

One of the special activities I scheduled was a trip to a real Chocolate Factory, located in a town about 45 minutes from our condo. Before we left, we sat down with the kids and talked about expectations of behavior (the other Grandma’s idea and a great one!). We also looked at the web site for the business we were about to tour and talked about what questions each child might want to ask – in face we asked each one to state one they wanted answered.

The factory was a boutique, one room plant which participates heavily in eco friendly ways and gives back to the community from which it gets the cocoa beans as well as the community in which the factory is located.

The kids were good as gold the entire 45 minutes of the tour. As a result, we all got to enjoy Pizza Hut pizza on the way home. The other Grandma demonstrated finding ways to save when you eat out by combining menu items in a creative way and we pointed out how much she saved the group to the kids and explained how she did it.

The condo rental business.

As I run a business with our condo, I talked about that with the kids. We looked at the website I developed to promote nightly rentals as well as the Vacation Rental by Owner site with our condo on it. I let them know how much we charged people to stay in our condo and then let them know that even though it is a lot, we still just break even due to the many expenses we have for the condo.

The condo management business.

The condo is part of a complex which has a condo management company associated with some of the units (and which I used to use). We walked around the condo grounds and talked about all of the jobs that had to be done (landscaping, pool cleaning, grass mowing and more). We looked at the website for the condo management company and then we went to visit the manager in her office down the street. The manager gave the kids a brief look at her work tools (phone, computer, tourist brochures and more), explained what she did and then gave them some goodies to take with them (maps of the lake and similar items).

A backup activity for earning.

As a backup activity – in case my tours and other ideas didn’t work out, I had planned out several jobs I could hire the kids to do for me to earn some money. These were things such as hose down the furnace filter, wash the windows, rinse my car, sweep the front porch and back deck and etc. We didn’t need these this year.


It was difficult for me to come up with activities around the saving concept. I had already used the bank visit activity in 2011. Jars to hold savings, spending money and giving money don’t work well with just a few days. Most of the saving concepts were demonstrated, talked about or in a book or video.

We demonstrated and talked about:

  • Saving money at the Pizza Hut restaurant.
  • Saving money by re-using the Money Camp t-shirts.
  • Saving money at Silver Dollar City by searching out ways to save and finding thirty dollar Thursdays.
  • How they planned to use the money they earned in their business at Money Camp and their compound interest money.

We also had them compare prices at Walmart when they were buying supplies for their business.

We used the following resources:

Book – What Can You Do With Money. This is a factual book that explains the three main things you can do with money. It has large colorful pictures and was fairly well received by the kids. We read it during the day, on the sofa with all the kids looking on as we read it and interrupted to reinforce the concepts.

Book – Rock Brock Savings Shock. This was a great book with nice graphics. It is about a set of twins, totally different in behavior, whose Grandpa reinforces savings by matching any money they save out of earnings they get doing jobs for him. One twin saves, the other doesn’t.

Book – A Chair for Mother. This is another good book for kids this age. It is about a family who lost their home due to fire and are saving up their money to buy a nice comfy chair.

Book – Jobs People Do. This is a book we used last year. It talks about all the jobs present in a fictional city and is punny and fun. We used it for bedtime reading.

Enough for now. We still have a couple of concepts to cover, but that will be part three in this series of posts.

Can you think of any activities to do over the course of a week that would teach or reinforce savings concepts?

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