This was taken today at our store, (For those who might not know, we are partners in a hardware and locksmith store here in Manhattan) where Ben had his first cookie sale. Maya has had many over the years, and basically raked in the money from them, so Ben decided it’s his turn. That’s our friend Marcella in the middle, and although she and Maya are in the photo, they were not part of the sale, spending most of the time hiding secret messages for each other in the store and then giving each other clues on how to find them. Ben ran his ‘store’ on his own and sold every single cookie. He and I made them last night. Cookie sales at our store are a lot of fun, because all the employees come by and make a purchase, and there is a steady stream of building supers coming in and out, and they are great customers. They usually give ‘tips’ and make a big show of oohing and aahing over how tasty the cookies are.
I thought Ben had plans to spend the money he made today. Money has always kind of burned a hole in his pocket, (he is, after all, only 6 years old) but today he surprised me by saying, “I think I’ll put the money in my bank account.” Sounds good to me. When I told my Mom about this, she commented that the fact that both Maya and Ben have been allowed to handle money from a young age and make their own decisions about what to do with it (for good and sometimes bad – there’s nothing like ‘buyers remorse’ to teach a good lesson on how to spend money), they have an advantage.
I think she’s right. This is what life learning is about. Spent too much money on Silly Bandz? Guess buying that Star Wars figurine will have to wait until you earn more. Suddenly the idea of having more money in his account is appealing to Ben. The pleasure of buying little kitschy toys is fleeting (and God knows we have enough of them), but if he’d decided he wanted to go shopping with his money from today, I wouldn’t have said no. It’s better to learn those lessons now, with smaller sums of money and when it’s not a matter of paying the bills, than later when he is on his own and trying to balance his budget. It’s one thing to learn theoretically and something entirely different to learn through practical experience. Remember Junior Achievement? (Do they still have it?) It was a thing in high school where kids would form companies, produce a product and then market it and track their profits and losses. But it was all simulated. It’s a whole different ballgame when the money is real.
Of course, we’re not starting a company (yet). We’re just selling cookies. But the money is real, and so is the decision about how to use it.