Grandma Rie’s 2017 Money Camp Plans and Results

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 7th annual one this year.


This year Money Camp was again held for my two grandchildren at our lake condo. For the first time, Grandpa Ger came along to assist with camp and kids! The oldest boy is now 13 and our granddaughter is 10.

Long range planning.

At the start of camp this year, I asked them to think about why I would spend so much time getting read for and holding a money camp for them (after I explained how much time I spend). I talked a bit about the long range plans for the camp and what they might expect in coming years.

This year.

This year’s focus was very heavy into how to become financially free. As part of that we touched heavily on credit, debt and risk mitigation, studied smart spending and introduced inflation and the effect of getting ‘sudden money’.

One way to become financially free is to start a successful business so most years I include concepts and practice on how to do that and show them examples of kids and people who have. One of the consistent items we have done is to open a money camp business. This year they again decided to do a snack and drink stand to practice business concepts and salesmanship. Products they chose to do this year were souvenir photo mugs using transfer paper and dishwasher safe ceramic paint pens; caramel corn, cookies, hand made soaps and bottled water.

We also used sessions from the Biz Kids series on entrepreneurship. You can find these on Amazon Prime if you are a member. They had seasons one through three out there when we did this camp.

Movies are another way I try to teach financial concepts. This year, as part of our ‘business’ ciriculum we watched the movie JOY. This is about a woman who invented a mop and managed to get put on QVC to advertise it. It was a great way to show someone solving a problem and going on to make a successful business. The movie also demonstrated persistence by Joy, in overcoming all the family and business challenges she encountered. The neat thing about it, was that we had a mop like she invented on premises.

Of course, we also had our yearly compound interest exercise. We start with a dollar in a see through jar and each morning, they compute how much interest the money in the jar earns at whatever interest rate we are using that year. In past years, Grandma has paid exorbitant amounts of interest just so they can see the results of compounding within the Money Camp week. This year, we had two jars, one which paid 30% interest and only which paid 4% interest. Over the past few years, I have been trying to shift more towards pre-recession historical returns from interest bearing bank accounts.

I try to build on prior years camp concepts by including a review in the first days camp. Typically I show a movie made from pictures of last years camps, starring them. I also try to incorporate a response required activity. This year, I made a jeopardy game on a free website and put questions in from prior camp concepts covered. Our jeopardy categories were: Money identification/value; Earning; Saving; Spending; and Investing. Some questions included were:

  • 4 quarters or 10 dimes or 100 pennies or 20 nickels or 2 half dollars?
  • Governments as long ago as when Jesus lived want to collect this from you

You can make your own game at the Super Teacher Tools website. There was a small prize to the winner.

There are four simple, but not easy, steps to financial freedom. We spent a full day covering these steps.

Step 1 Wanting it – setting a goal to be financially free.

This was a brief review of what financial freedom is and why you would want it, plus a short video on how to set and meet a goal.

Step 2 Earning

The Parable of the Pipeline   is a You Tube video I have used three years running. It is an animated story about two brothers who want to become the most successful men in town. They get a job from the major hauling water down the hill to town. One brother decides to build a pipeline to move the water, but the other brother just keeps on hauling bigger buckets and more buckets.

After reviewing that again, we delved into Get a job/keep a job; careers & advancement ;and/or start a business with the following resources:

An Ashton Kutcher Speech at the Teen Choice Awards.

A discussion of what they could start doing now to get a good job later, including learning the things needed to do that work; making and keeping friends and acquaintances – most jobs aren’t posted; getting some experience and expanding their awareness of possibilities; developing good habits of organization and work ethics and intentionally trying to learn about different jobs and careers by actively exploring them.

A discussion of what they might do when they are a bit older to get and KEEP a good job, including

  • Practicing things you need to do to get a job (resume, interview – tell abt Erik at DST, specific knowledge or skill)
  • Once hired – Giving good value to employer
  • Watching for growth opportunities in your job or in another

We discussed the differences and risks in working for someone else as opposed to having your own business and then watched a video detailing ten top brands that failed.

Over lunch we watched the movie Unstoppable and as we watched I noted the examples being shown of good and not so good work ethics.

Step 3 Saving

We have been emphasizing saving every year in camp. This year Grandpa Ger read the book ock Brock and the Savings Shock again to them. It shows a saver vs a spender and how they end up. It really is for younger kids, but they still listened.

We also watched a Biz Kids episode called ‘Don’t Blow your Dough’

Step 4 Investing

We watched yet another Biz Kids episode called Financial Institutions – All the Same. It covers all kinds of institutions – banks, credit unions (talks about saving, checking, credit, loans), futures, derivatives, stock market. Then several shorter videos about kids who invested. Grandpa and I talked about our own story and how we invest.

Finally we watched another Biz Kids episode – Saving and Investing for your future.

Since we hope our grandkids will handle finances responsibly, I covered what can happen if you suddenly get a lot of money all at once. We just discussed it and watched one video about lottery winners that lost it all.

Other concepts

Throughout camp, where I could, I included books and videos and movies along with discussion and activities to help the kids ‘get it’ and retain it. We covered smart spending with that kind of format and the activity was to involve them in figuring out when to buy what. I had prepared a paper timeline which we hung from the patio doors and some cards with things to buy on them. Grandpa Ger held up the cards and the kids had to guess where (what month) it went. A small prize was awarded the winner.

I’m leading up to discussions in future years on that first big purchase (car) and buying a house or renting an apartment.

Inflation was introduced by showing a chart I had prepared ahead of time showing what certain things cost when I was born, when their Dad was born and when each of them was born – along with information about typical salaries and what percent of income each item was at each time frame.

Three fourths of a day was spent on activities and information presentation about credit, debt and credit scores, including what happens when you don’t pay your bills. One of the resources I found this year that wasn’t too well received by the teen were cartoon episodes of Cashville Kids on You Tube. He watched but groaned at their childishness. We spent the last part of that day on risk and insurance and as part of that we watched the movie ‘Money Pit’ – about a couple who bought an old house and the nightmares they had fixing it up along with the issues due to lack of insurance.

One of the things that can really impact your journey to financial freedom is then need to pay taxes. We spent most of a day learning about taxes, talking about all the different kind of taxes, where the tax money we pay goes, why we pay taxes and why we don’t enjoy it. For this, I had a suggestion to give the kids ice cream and then take part of it away for taxes. Instead, I bought 2 bags of Hersey bite sized candy. Grandpa Ger gave each kid a bag of candy as a bonus for being good money camp attendees, but then I came right behind him and took taxes of 20 percent of each kids pieces. They got it.

We played ‘Name that tax’ by having each kid name a type of tax and an adult writing it in dry erase on the window under that kids name. Again, a small prize was offered to the winner.

One of the shocks most of us get when we move out of our parents home is finding out how much it costs to live. To that end, we have been playing a game in Money Camp for several years called ‘You are Grown Up’. This year I added a worksheet to help demonstrate that. Because of the groans from last years worksheet time, I decided to do this as a group activity this year so I projected it from my computer to the TV screen and we did it together. Surprisingly they liked it. I used Hello Working World from Scholastic.

When they opened for business, the teen was more interested in playing video games on his phone than in selling, however, this shy boy did work up courage to convince a whole family at the pool to stop by the business stand after they finished swimming! The 10 year old was still excited and involved with their stand.

Preparation tasks.

I’ve found over the years that lots of prep work makes things go smoother and lets me focus on covering the concepts I want the kids to learn. I spent about 3 months planning for and preparing objects and activities for the camp this year – the board game in particular, took a lot of time, but was great fun for me.

Here are some of the tasks you might consider covering if you want to hold a camp for your kids – especially if, like me, you are not used to having the little people around all the time anymore!

Pick one or two concepts to cover. Look at educational standards and what typical kids the age of yours can or should know and do before you settle on a concept. By focusing on just a couple of things, you will send a stronger message.

Search for resources (books, games, activities, movies and etc) that help reinforce those concepts. I use library books, books I buy, board and card games, online games and activities, dvds, presentations, home made movies and more.)

Do something to set camp time apart from down time. We use the t-shirts – wearing them during camp and taking them off when camp ends.

Plan for alternate activities. Some times the kids just aren’t interested or you aren’t up for the orig. one. Have something in your back pocket to pull out and use.

Draw up a schedule. Check first with parents to see when the kids are available. Check the offering dates and times of businesses or tours or activities you want to pursue during camp. Test your schedule to see if you have enough or too little planned for the time allotted. I usually do this by going hour by hour on a paper schedule and then reviewing it multiple times. You have to be flexible during camp though and not try to stick strictly to the schedule. It should be a guide for you, not a task master for kids.

Gather or prepare any materials you need. Any teacher will tell you that it takes many non-classroom hours to be ready for one class exercise.

It really helps to be organized!