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Make your own money, kid
November 11, 2011 6:21 PM   Subscribe

My dad taught me cashflow with a soda machine After a brief, failed experiment paying me to do chores, my dad tried something really neat. It clearly took a bit of legwork, but maybe there are some transferrable lessons for parents who want to lay an entrepreneurial foundation. He gave me a vending machine.
posted by elemenopee (100 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fantastic story. More parents should do this to teach young people about money and how to manage it.

The one thing my parents taught me was exactly how interest works. So, when I got to college in the late 90's, I avoided the credit card company tables like the plague. My friends and dorm mates snapped up the hats, t-shirts, and knick knacks along with the credit cards they were subsidized by.

One night, I'm sitting in my friend's room and notice that he has a new CD changer. On top of that, he's ordering pizza for the third straight night. We came from similar economic backgrounds and I was skint, so I asked him how he was making all this dough. "Oh man, I just charge it, and then pay $20 on it each month." I began to tell him that he was only paying interest, and if he's only making $20 payments, he'll be paying that card off until he's 30. His face suddenly fell, kind of like when a dog figures out that the steak you've just made isn't for him.

This guy, along with my some of my other pals, had to take on a second job and cut way back on everything to help pay down that stereo and all that pizza. I was still broke, but at least the money I made went to my bank account and Playstation games.

It's a damn shame that most people are in his position when they first go out on their own. We need more parents like the one this guy had.
posted by reenum at 6:44 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I lost some niche customers.

That cracked me up.

Some really great lessons here, especially if there's a little character in your life you want to teach some of this handy stuff that pervades so much of our lives.

As a new dad, one of the things I've noticed is that there's no such thing as teaching anything too soon, within reason of course. I find that laying the ground work and priming an idea will pay off months later when my little daughter connects the dots cos she's already familiar with what I've said in the past.

And I think that works throughout one's life. Half the battle of learning seems to be about comfort and familiarity with something, and if you've already got that part of the learning curve covered you're going to be that much ahead, and it's going to be that much easier to learn that thing....

Anyhow, this was awesome, what a great and ingenious dad it sounds like this kid had...
posted by Skygazer at 6:48 PM on November 11, 2011


I didn't read it that way. Entrepreneurs often evangelize that EVERYONE SHOULD BE AN ENTREPRENEUR; pushing that message onto a kid seems obnoxious to me, not awesome.

Also: it's kinda glurgey.

I ran the machine for about 4 years from the time I was 7 or 8.

"And then I hit puberty and thought 'to hell with this stupid thing'."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:00 PM on November 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yeah, what happened? There's more to the story.

My grandfather ran a soda machine as a side business. It seemed pretty awesome to me (we had cases of free soda around all the time!) and I think it delivered a cool few hundred into a modest household budget every month in the meagre 70s and 80s.
posted by Miko at 7:14 PM on November 11, 2011


Also: it's kinda glurgey

What does "glurgey" mean?
posted by Skygazer at 7:15 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


EVERYONE SHOULD BE AN ENTREPRENEUR

My experience is that 95% of the people that start their own business, have no business doing so.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:16 PM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I ran the machine for about 4 years from the time I was 7 or 8

Even for a smart kid, 7 or 8 seems way too young to be dealing with this sort of stuff. He mentions using algebra to help calculate some things, but most kids don't start learning algebra until they are 13. That and some of the other details of the story make it seem fake.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:18 PM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah... this was a remarkably stupid, propagandist read. At the age of eight, what kid can even reach the coin slot on a drink machine, let alone refill the thing with drinks? Shenanigans.

He let slip that, you know, maybe I could make more money if I raised the prices?

Really? Thanks dad!

After a week of brow-furrowing deliberation, I raised the price per can from 50 cents to 55.

I had the manual on-hand to figure out how to do that of course, all it involved was flipping some DIP switches, a piece of cake for an 8-year-old.

He told me that some of the customers were angry about the price increase.

But you told me to do it!

And if this somehow actually did happen, then, thanks a lot father for introducing a kid to the workings of free enterprise at an age when most parents are trying to preserve that blessed fiction of childhood.
posted by JHarris at 7:20 PM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's how to change the price on a drink machine. An infant could do it!
posted by JHarris at 7:23 PM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


My experience is that 95% of the people that start their own business, have no business doing so.

My experience is that 95% of the people who put a comma between the object and the verb, have no business doing so.
posted by phunniemee at 7:24 PM on November 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


How do you buy individual cans of soda at Costco?
posted by maxwelton at 7:24 PM on November 11, 2011


EVERYONE SHOULD BE AN ENTREPRENEUR

I disagree with this, and I'm going to assume this guy's dad's motivations were a bit less oppressive than that. Getting a kid to see the connection of algebra to "real-life" and the rewards that can come with it, seems pretty "awesome" to me.

I'd think once a kid had handle on this sort of thing and they realized what they really wanted to do, having that skill and confidence in ones-self with doing stuff gives an invaluable ability to the sense of personal agency. And that is also awesome. Kids, should believe in that they can do anything their imagination comes up with...and not just for purely money reasons, but that's a good thing too, I'm talking about actualizing creative pursuits, and having the confidence to see something through and the confidence to know you'll be able to work things out and keep something going.

This is not a thing that comes easily to many people.
posted by Skygazer at 7:26 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


And count me among the people who would have had no trouble at all figuring out how to work/change the price on a vending machine as a kid, as long as I had access to a user's manual. This doesn't sound implausible at all. It actually sounds like something my dad would have done if he had been cool enough to buy a vending machine. Instead we just got lectures.
posted by phunniemee at 7:26 PM on November 11, 2011


Define glurge.

Yeah, I am pretty much in favor of freedom of enterprise and yet, I think we really romanticize and lionize it far too much. Over time, businesses either fail, consolidate, or just cease to exist. Only a minority survive and grow. Not everyone is suited to be an entrepreneur, and the personal qualities demanded for entrepreneurship are not always socially positive qualities. Enterpreneurship can come at quite a cost to family and relationships and life experience, and a functional world demands a range of people with a range of skillsets, not all of which overlap with or even connect to those of entrepreneurs. It's fine, in other words, to teach some of the skills of business theory and management, and in fact everyone should learn some of these basics just as everyone should learn some literature, art, music, science, philosophy and history and so on, but the idea that these are the most magnificent teachings our parents could possibly ever give us is a little much. Enterpreneurship is one possible path in life. It's certainly not the universal key to happiness and success. Otherwise, there'd be no suicidal, alcoholic, lonely, or angry entrepreneurs. And there are.
posted by Miko at 7:27 PM on November 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


My experience is that 95% of the people who put a comma between the object and the verb, have no business doing so.

Is this something we're doing now? 'Cause if it is, be warned, I'm a total dick.
posted by howfar at 7:28 PM on November 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


All that said, this is an opportunity I probably would have liked as a kid. Certainly a better and more independent gig than the miserable paper route I had at that age.

A great illustration, also, that "bootstrapping" rarely starts in a vacuum. This kid learned a lot. He had a dad that had a car and money to invest in a machine and time to drive him to Costco. All awesome.
posted by Miko at 7:30 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sticking by my statement. At the high end of that age range maybe, but at eight, no. I was programming my Commodore 64 at ten, and I'm not buying it. The story seems a bit too cut and dried.

If I'm wrong, then, I'm wrong. Skepticism isn't a crime. But I don't think this happened quite as it's presented, if it happened at all. I won't assume it is true just from reading it on a website.
posted by JHarris at 7:34 PM on November 11, 2011


On some level the story isn't even about startups and entrepreneurship, but about nurturing your kids without suffocating them, and teaching them incredibly valuable life lessons.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:35 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


On some level, yeah, but in the context of a blog called "the Startup Toolkit," that's not the theme that stands out.

The project structure itself is also not that different from a 4H project of breeding/raising animals to sell them or their products. The idea is as old as the hills.
posted by Miko at 7:38 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was 7 my dad gave me a Tonka truck.
posted by spilon at 7:41 PM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Breeding/raising animals strikes me as much more valuable, and plausible, childhood experience than running a cola box. An 8-year-old would need a stepladder just to reach the dip switches, and a longer one to put the cans into the hoppers.

If he had help from his dad then maybe -- but then it ceases looking like a story about entrepreneurship and more like a father/son project, which sounds more plausible. Plus, a machine like that, most of the value comes from location, and that kid's dad handed him a prime one. That doesn't sound like the kind of leg-up most business owners receive, unless maybe they inherited their shop.
posted by JHarris at 7:43 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


(it is possible that I'm just grumpy today -- time to step away from the machine maybe)
posted by JHarris at 7:44 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


On some level the story isn't even about startups and entrepreneurship, but about nurturing your kids without suffocating them, and teaching them incredibly valuable life lessons.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:35 PM on November 11 [1 favorite −] Favorite a


Yeah, honestly. Who gives a shit if this kid ends up an entreprenaur. The thing I'd want to instill in that kid is self-confidence, a little practical math, a sense of agency, a comfort with learning practical real-world knowledge that will hopefully serve him and her the rest of his/her life and how to know when someone's talking bullshit to them money-wise because they're comfortable with how money is made...

I'd want that kid to be a fierce artist, academic, scientist, engineer, designer, philosopher of some sort at the end of the day, with good practical money-smarts to apply to their lives so they can let their minds create without fear...
posted by Skygazer at 7:45 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


EVERYONE SHOULD BE AN ENTREPRENEUR

My experience is that 95% of the people that start their own business, have no business doing so.
Entirely plausible, even if that experience can hardly be used as evidence that 95% of _all_ the people who start their own business have no business doing so.

Yet, at the same time, the evangelist of enterpreneurship often live in parallel world in which no enterpreneur fails, and they often do not nearly speak enough about the risks involved in conducting a business and all the things that can (and routinely go) wrong; indeed mortality in enterprises is quite high, take for instance Europe: according to Eurostat, in some european countries (year 2007, latest available stat) roughly 50-60% of the enterprises survive more that 2 years.

Additionally, looking at historical data, one can also see that about half of the enterprises that were born in Europe in the year 2000 survived up to year 2005. Half!

Yet, when your business fails, you are still alive, your family is still alive , your bills are pretty much alive and you usually are dead broke.

And if my memory serves, but don't quote me on that, nationwide in many countries only an handful of companies (when compared to the number of all enterprises) are the one that obtain more than 50% of all revenues; so many people dream of race to the riches is indeed more like a self delusion than a plausible achievable objective one can dream about.
posted by elpapacito at 7:49 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


An infant could do it!

For some reason I found this funny...

Pop Price Switches ON
---------- ------------
FREE THIS IS NOT A VALID SELECTION!

posted by drezdn at 7:56 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, I almost forgot.

As I stated above, running a business is indeed a quity risky enterprise. That's why many investors (both little families and big guys) like low risk, low yeld investment a lot - which means investing money in titles emitted by State.

But then, surprise suprise, the State can't pay all that mass of low yeld investment because things go wrong (not mentioning borderline criminal financial activities) and even in a fiat money system there is an inflation risk, one can't just go Helicopter Ben and drop money on the nation. Now cry me a river, investment funds, you wanted low risk low yeld, but get too much of that and you still are exposed to the risk that countries can default (not pay). And decries of "socialism" notwithstanding, one reason for failure is setting taxes on extremely rich people too low, or letting them bring their (sometimes ill gotten) gains in tax heavens.
posted by elpapacito at 7:58 PM on November 11, 2011


I dunno, elpapacito. I frequently read, via Hacker News, articles about risks and failing wrt startups. Maybe it's different in other sectors, but startups embrace risks and failing like crazy. Failing, for example, is a fundamental metaphor that's used as a tool for learning and growing. In fact, it's almost assumed that you will fail in some regard.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:01 PM on November 11, 2011


So instead of just paying him an allowance he decided to mentally torture his son by giving a 7 year-old an adult business responsibility...
posted by GavinR at 8:03 PM on November 11, 2011


In fact, it's almost assumed that you will fail in some regard.

But it's also assumed there's always, always going to be more capital for you to start over - that there are no consequences to repeat failure.

I get where the thinking lies - even in my nonprofit field we recognize that you have to try many things to find successful things, and the ones that don't take off are failures. But we're working within a larger stable budget. When it's your family's pooled investment on the line, or your house, or your kids' future, it's not so easy to fail blithely. Especially if you have to do it more than once.
posted by Miko at 8:04 PM on November 11, 2011


which means investing money in titles emitted by State.

Just so you know, elpapacito, you're heading down a jargon hole and I, for one, really don't know what you're talking about here.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:07 PM on November 11, 2011


Miko, then you better fail fast. That's what successful entrepreneurs do.
posted by falameufilho at 8:09 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: it's kinda glurgey

What does "glurgey" mean?

Define glurge


Define Neologism
posted by P.o.B. at 8:12 PM on November 11, 2011


Gavin R: So instead of just paying him an allowance he decided to mentally torture his son by giving a 7 year-old an adult business responsibility...


That's funny. Really. I mean, look at the end of the day that soda machine is like a big interactive piggy bank, no? What is there to torture the kid with? All the free coke he can drink? A little math? A little thinking strategically for the future? A little writing stuff down so he can see if he's making more or less money compared to the weeks before??

*Facepalm*
posted by Skygazer at 8:12 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Miko, then you better fail fast. That's what successful entrepreneurs do.

Yes, that's a nice slogan. It doesn't matter how fast you fail if you tapped your whole family for the $50,000 you needed to get your idea off the ground, and lost it.

And it doesn't matter when you fail quite slowly, if it was slowly enough to allow you to establish your own future and educate your kids and give some employees a lift to their next job.

There's a lot of optimistic sloganeering like that in the propaganda about entrepreneurship, and not enough data-based realism.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Define Neologism

It was a neologism back in 2001.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on November 11, 2011


I was not aware people use Urban Dictionary as an actual source. Somebody get Merriam Webster on the horn.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:20 PM on November 11, 2011


JHarris, I think it could have happened more or less as described, although it was probably more gradual than the writing makes it sound.

His father might have helped him set the price the first time -- if you actually read that link, it's super-easy. The hard part is getting to the DIP switches. Once you're there, actually setting the price is something a smart 8-year-old could do.

He probably didn't do everything right away, he probably grew into it, and now he remembers doing all of it, all the time. It WAS under adult supervision, and the guy went on to be a programmer, so it's not like he's an idiot.

Your C64 was hard because there was nobody showing you how. His father obviously knew how a vending machine worked. :)
posted by Malor at 8:21 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


And a C64 is a LOT more complex than a vending machine!
posted by Malor at 8:22 PM on November 11, 2011


Researching Venture Failure - "overall studies of failure rates indicate a failure rate of 50% – 90% within several years."

The Other Side of Paradise: Examining the Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs and the Cult of Failure
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on November 11, 2011


Wha? I can't be the only one who had a lemonade stand, or sold chocolate bars door to door for school. Plenty of kids have to do chores for allowance. I guess you could make an argument that kids should be kids, unsullied by the filthy hand of the free market. This kid wasn't doing anything millions of kids have done and he didn't even have to sit in the sweltering sun hawking lemonade or beg and plead for someone to buy just one more box of those crappy chocolate bars so he could get some crappy prize.

I could set a VCR in fourth grade so I damn well could set some dip switches.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:24 PM on November 11, 2011


I was not aware people use Urban Dictionary as an actual source. Somebody get Merriam Webster on the horn.

What? The first link cites Snopes, the second cites Boston Globe quoted by Oxford University Press.

It's okay to say you are unfamiliar with the term. But it's not new - it's been part of internet culture for at least ten years.
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about that - Snopes even claims to have been the site of the coinage of "glurge" and takes it back to 1998. So, 13 years old.
posted by Miko at 8:28 PM on November 11, 2011


You pwoplw questioning my "mental torture" comment have totally missed the hyperbole. His father was mind fucking with his kid who was 7 years-old at the time he started this. A 7 year-old kid doesn't need to be worrying about economic lessons. They need to be having fun, going to school, and enjoying their childhood. If this story is true, which I think it is, his father was putting an unfair responsibility on this kids shoulders. 7 is way to young to have a paper route much less having his father mandating an economic lesson via a business venture upon the child. The father sets his kid up with something that is destined to fail and then throws out suggestions to screw the mind of a kid who doesn't even understand what he is really doing.

This whole thing reeks of fake.
posted by GavinR at 8:31 PM on November 11, 2011


I meant "people" and "which I think it isn't"
posted by GavinR at 8:33 PM on November 11, 2011


I actually don't have a problem with the having of responsibilities or financial lessons for kids - those should really start even younger than 7. It's the celebratory moralizing I don't love.

The father sets his kid up with something that is destined to fail

Wait, why was this destined to fail? It seemed like it worked fine. I do wish he would go into when/why he stopped running it.
posted by Miko at 8:33 PM on November 11, 2011


I took an entrepreneurship course once; actually a whole minor's worth of them.

I was an engineering student, and our big rivals on campus were the business school. Taking the business classes I heard a few cracks about engineering students from time to time.

So in one course, the first assignment was for everybody to become an entrepreneur. We had to start a business with $5 in seed capital or less. (It was a get over yourself sort of thing.) And then report back to the class with the results a couple of weeks later. I happened to be on the engineering student's council, and we happened to have a vending machine (the snack type with the big clear window). So I negotiated the rental of a slot in the machine, and to keep costs low, I made my own product.

For a few blissful weeks, engineering students could buy their very own Bachelor's of Commerce diploma, for a measly quarter. I couldn't stock the vending machine fast enough, and eventually expanded to also offer BAs and tech diplomas.

Sure, my business school classmates may not have had a sense of humour about it, but the prof did.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:38 PM on November 11, 2011 [30 favorites]


I was programming logo and basic at 7, translating technical documents (guns and industrial machinery) for money at 9. Several of my peers were doing the same kind of things. I did not lean about managing money until I was 18.

I wish I has had this kid's experience.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 8:56 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


How hard would it be for me to set up a vending machine for my daughter, in Australia? Can anyone here fill me in on some of the steps I might take?
posted by surenoproblem at 9:01 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of my cousins was the kind of kid who saved every dollar bill from every birthday card he ever got, and he got into vending machines in high school. He was really successful with it and only quit when, after college, his day job made it too big of a hassle to maintain the machines. He moved onto real estate speculation as a sideline and he's been surprisingly lucky with that too, given the situation.
posted by padraigin at 9:03 PM on November 11, 2011


It's okay to say you are unfamiliar with the term. But it's not new - it's been part of internet culture for at least ten years.

It's also okay to not recognize it as a real word. Especially if it's sole source is Urban Dictionary and Snopes. I don't know, in my book making baby sounds do not count, but go crazy with it.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:09 PM on November 11, 2011


Entrepreneurs often evangelize that EVERYONE SHOULD BE AN ENTREPRENEUR; pushing that message onto a kid seems obnoxious to me, not awesome.

Well, the author is honest enough to admit that the project probably operated on a loss. I can't say I know what his dad's motives were at the time, however I do think you've misconstrued the gist of the story. I think author's intention is to argue for respecting a kid's ability to engage with and learn from the world of adults; and to involve them at an age when the consequences of failure are miniscule. I don't think he set out to write some sort of "propaganda about entrepreneurship."
posted by quosimosaur at 9:10 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was seven my dad often let me restock the soda machine his fire department had outside the engine house. You had to put in the key and turn the handle a zillion times until it popped open, and then you'd drop each can down and Dad would take care of the cashbox and it was cool in there and the mechanisms that ran the thing were neat and damn the haters, it was awesome. And my pay for that hard work was one cold, delicious Cherry Coke. So there.

I definitely didn't overthink it. Didn't have to. Finances weren't my job. Certainly didn't know what a niche customer was. But there are some kids in this world who'd leap at the chance to work with vending machines because they're absolutely fascinated by them.
posted by Spatch at 9:21 PM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is awesome. I couldn't care less about entrepreneurship, but I love this as a way of getting a kid to be practical with math and learn about how much work goes into making a buck. I don't know which is more anathema to contemporary parenting: an 8 year old with a job, or an 8 year old trucking in the demon high fructose corn syrup.

I have so many friends (including an economist!) who don't give their kids allowance because they don't want to sully them with filthy lucre. I don't get this, at all. I'm about as anti-capitalist as they come, but not knowing how money works is more likely to make you a capitalism's prey than liberate you from it.

I've given my daughter a weekly allowance since she was three, which is when she first showed an interest in money and how buying things works. She's 8 now and divides her cash between three piggy banks--spending, saving and charitable donation. And I think she'd probably get a kick out of something like this. This past summer our neighbours across the street made $40 in 90 minutes selling lemonade on Canada Day. She resolved to set up a competing stand next year, and immediately recognized that she could differentiate herself from the competition by being a girl and on the shady side of the street.

As for algebra: I taught her elementary algebra (of the solving for x variety) last summer (when she was 7)while we waited for breakfast one morning at the Niagara Falls IHOP. She picked it up pretty much immediately. Now, clearly any child of mine is a genius, but I'm just saying.
posted by looli at 9:38 PM on November 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


I've given my daughter a weekly allowance since she was three, which is when she first showed an interest in money and how buying things works. She's 8 now and divides her cash between three piggy banks--spending, saving and charitable donation. And I think she'd probably get a kick out of something like this. This past summer our neighbours across the street made $40 in 90 minutes selling lemonade on Canada Day. She resolved to set up a competing stand next year, and immediately recognized that she could differentiate herself from the competition by being a girl and on the shady side of the street.

We've been doing this for almost as long with our girls, and they're about to open their first bank accounts.

Our neighbor across the street told them that her now-grown children used to make "their whole year's spending money" selling lemonade during the annual neighborhood art fair, which is traditionally held on a very hot weekend, and my kids were sorely disappointed that we already had plans to be away that weekend--they've already planned how to invest their savings for lemonade stand supplies next year, in hopes of raking in the cold, icy, sweet cash to spend on American Girl crap and iTunes downloads.
posted by padraigin at 9:43 PM on November 11, 2011


It's also okay to not recognize it as a real word. Especially if it's sole source is Urban Dictionary and Snopes.

Glurge on MetaFilter. In 2002.

If it makes you feel better, mentally replace my "kinda glurgey" with "a bit of a sickly-sweet free-market homily".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:43 PM on November 11, 2011


Glurge on MetaFilter. In 2002.

And?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:50 PM on November 11, 2011


EVERYONE SHOULD BE AN ENTREPRENEUR

I disagree with this, and I'm going to assume this guy's dad's motivations were a bit less oppressive than that.


Yes; but this guy's motivations in relating the story are absolutely in promulgating RAH RAH ENTREPRENEURSHIP.

It rubs me up the wrong way because often it feels like there's an undercurrent of disdain for those who are not drawn to -- or who recognize that they are unsuited to -- an entrepreneurial path.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:52 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


My experience is that 95% of the people who put a comma between the object and the verb, have no business doing so.

Someone is grumpy about their business failing!
posted by Brocktoon at 9:59 PM on November 11, 2011


Back when I was in college, my dorm had two old soda machines. The story I heard was that when they got old and worn, the company that owned them let the dorm keep them (and re-stock them and keep the profits), as long as we promised never to call for maintenance. Every year one or two students would be elected to keep the machines stocked with soda from CostCo or the local restaurant supply store, sort and cash in the change, adjust the price (cheap during the school year, closer to market rate during the summer when the college let summer programs use the dorm), and tinker with the machines when they broke down. The residents of the dorm got cheap soda, and it still earned us some money for parties.

Given that he wasn't paying for the machine itself and as a 7-10 year old his time (like that of college students) is roughly free, I suspect that the author of the article made a decent allowance, got practice dealing with and keeping track of money, and some good experience with commerce.
posted by JiBB at 10:10 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


They need to be having fun, going to school, and enjoying their childhood.

You can do that and learn at the same time. If his father had bought him a soldering kit and taught him to make simple circuits, or a computer and taught him to program, would he be similarly 'fucking' with his child's mind? Or is it just because dirty, evil money and filthy, degrading finance are involved that you have yourself in such a twist?

I wonder if I could do this with my kids with a simple arcade cab. What makes more - Galaga or Pac-man? Do you make more by lowering the price to 20c and increasing traffic, or setting the price at 40c? By changing the game regularly, or leaving it the same?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:35 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I at least partially buy into the "everyone should be an entrepreneur" rhetoric. You don't need to own a company. It might sound crass, but I believe that in this day and age, with corporate life being what it is and everyone being one step from unemployment people need to network, establish their "brand" and promote themselves within an organization. I'm not saying to be a toady or one of those relentlessly positive self help addicts but it isn't enough to be a quiet diligent worker anymore. I always tell programmers I work with that they need to be their own champion, that unfortunately they can't hole up in their cube. They need to be going for lunch, coffee, drinks with whoever. They need to pitch their current projects to anyone who asks in the hall. I have seen developers get shunted from one shit project to another simply because nobody cared about them, buying one round of drinks would have helped immensely. I kind of view myself as a company providing a service, I push to "take ownership" of things not just sit quietly until someone gives me something to do or decides they don't need me anymore.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:43 PM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


As a kid, movies like War Games made me idolize smart ass coders. Today the same movie is The Social Network, and it makes me resent smart-ass coders. This guy wanted to be a video game designer when he was young, and now he's a startup consultant laughing all the way to the piggy bank of his memories. We used to idolize hackers, now we idolize entrepreneurs.
posted by ill_iterate at 10:48 PM on November 11, 2011


Oh, for the days when you could finger the Coke machines at CMU and MIT!
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:51 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


but startups embrace risks and failing like crazy. Failing, for example, is a fundamental metaphor that's used as a tool for learning and growing. In fact, it's almost assumed that you will fail in some regard.

Yes, but there is no guarantee that one will survive long enough to learn - that is, failing doesn't implicitly guarantee one will be able to raise and fail again, until one finally learns he can't, for instance, compete in a particular market.

The failure of one startup may not have dire consequences for an industry as a whole, as eventually a few startups among a hundred will survive (but that doesn't imply they'll be successful, unless surviving for one more year is considered in itself a success), but it will almost surely have consequences for the people involved in the startups; yet again, bills must be paid, food must be placed on the table, a roof on your head, healthcare and so on..hunger and other needs rarely if ever allow for slow learning processess, ripe with failure and often cash starved.

As in poker, you can't play in the league of the $100 players if losing $10 means you will not have enough cash, for instance, to eat - it's bloody foolish to do so; clearly you will learn you can't do that, but in the process you'll starve yourself to death.
posted by elpapacito at 11:03 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the people who talk about serially starting companies until one succeeds are, to a person, from privileged backgrounds. There is no way, for example, I could start a company which required me to not take a salary for more than a month, let alone a year or two or whatever. Privilege in this case may just mean a spouse who makes enough to support two people, or it may mean rich relatives willing to invest repeatedly in your ideas, but it's still not a situation that most of the world's or even this country's people find themselves in.
posted by maxwelton at 11:12 PM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well for most of these dudes it isn't about working heads down for a few months. These types of guys have a job, or consulting gig, or some way to make money. They focus on "lean startups" and "minimum viable products", hack together a prototype over a weekend with the bare minimum neccessary to be interesting. They immediately start showing it around and rapidly iterate to refine. They also "pivot" very quickly, they will immediately switch focus to something else that seems more promising. They do things like buy facebook ads that go to a landing page, if they get clicks, they build out the product. If they don't get clicks they think up something else.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:46 PM on November 11, 2011


As a kid, movies like War Games made me idolize smart ass coders.

If the movie was Real Genius, the soda machine would be not be profitable.
posted by ovvl at 1:11 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"My experience is that 95% of the people that start their own business, have no business doing so."

My experience is that 95% of the people who put a comma between the object and the verb, have no business doing so.


Well, my experience is that 95% of the people who talk about people who have no business putting a comma between the object and the verb, have no business doing that either. Because 95% of the time, the comma, is actually between the subject and the verb.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:28 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My parents were rich, but I wasn't. I earned every damn dime myself. I mean, they charged me interest one my first car loan. I probably still owe them $20 a month on that Lexus I totaled....
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:08 AM on November 12, 2011


Breeding/raising animals strikes me as much more valuable, and plausible, childhood experience than running a cola box. An 8-year-old would need a stepladder just to reach the dip switches, and a longer one to put the cans into the hoppers.

My uncle, who had a farm, used to that with his kids. Can't remember what age he started, but probably around 11/12 they'd get a calf to look after. Of course, they didn't have to pay for feed etc., but they were supposed to help look after it. Then they could sell the calf as a yearling and use that money to buy a calf the next season, pocketing the profit.

I think as time went by he'd start to charge them for vet fees, feed etc.
posted by Fence at 2:08 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Money lessons my son has learned at 3-4:
Money is shiny
Money goes in a bank
When you do a job, you get money (or at least mommy and daddy do)
Restaurants cost money
Everything at a fair costs money
It's fun to count your money
posted by plinth at 2:38 AM on November 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's how to change the price on a drink machine. An infant could do it!

In fairness, if his dad bought and installed the soda machine, and suggested the price increase, he probably implemented it once the kid made the decision...

He told me that some customers were angry about the price increase

Doesn't really sound like the kid was onsite at that point in the story.

All that said, I think it's bullshit too.
posted by nzero at 3:29 AM on November 12, 2011


They need to be having fun, going to school, and enjoying their childhood.

I think that's what happened in this instance. Running a vending machine, especially in the sandbox environment created by the father in the story, sounds really, really fun to me. You get to go to Costco (which when I was a child was a wonderland). You get to buy sodas! I wasn't even allowed to drink soda as a child -- lots of people love soda; your product makes them happy! And you get to spend time with your dad.

I think 8 yo kids could handle limited amounts of algebra -- (how much do I have to sell to make $X. you at least know your times tables by then).
posted by bluefly at 3:32 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


He mentions using algebra to help calculate some things, but most kids don't start learning algebra until they are 13. That and some of the other details of the story make it seem fake.

My oldest kids learned algebra starting at age 8 or so. At home. And even at school, 7-8 year olds learn something that, in retrospect to them, they will call algebra. Like:

_ + 3 = 8

Fill in the blank space.
posted by DU at 3:46 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


All the reasons why people think this is bullshit seem really silly to me. This is how the world works. Some dads really do this shit. Anything with the machine that the 8-year-old couldn't do, or doesn't notice and need do, his Dad steps in, "consults" the kid, and makes it happen. Consequences in a controlled environment.

How is it not believable?

My dad obtained a race-style go-kart for me, because I didn't show much interest in engines, having no reason to care. Having my own vehicle would be a way to get me to care about things my dad thought were important for me to learn, and it would give me motivation and reason to want to spend the time learning them. He was right.

I also learned to drive it on slicks on grass - it had a lot of speed, without much traction, and simple brakes. I got pretty good.

Years later, my dad was able to buy himself the car he had wanted as a youth, but couldn't afford until later in life. By this time, it was an older car, but it was what he'd wanted. Sometimes I was allowed to drive it.
One night, in the rain, on a country road at open-road speeds, something unexpected and dangerous happened. The only reason his dream car didn't end up wrapped around a power pole - with me in it - was that I instinctively knew how to control a sliding vehicle, and I instinctively knew how to respond when the brakes start to lock up the wheels. I had never done that in a car before, and this vehicle has no ABS or ESC, but I had handled those issues extensively in the go-kart, and it just came naturally.

My dad doesn't know that getting me that go-kart all those years ago saved his car (and possibly also me), but that's exactly what he was planning for and thinking about when he got it. (I also think he wanted to pre-empt and get all that new-driver experimentation and risk-taking driving out of my system in a safe environment rather than let it happen once I was a teenager with my driver's license and was out on real roads with friends. He also succeeded in that respect)

The go-kart would not have been cheap for him, but he would have considered it to be an investment in my future. And he was right. (And now that I think about it, I really have to thank him for that.)

The vending machine is exactly the sort of thing that awesome dads do, if they're able.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:11 AM on November 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


(At the time, I wasn't much older than this kid was)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:17 AM on November 12, 2011


My sister and I rented a table at the local Farmer's Market on "Kids Day" some years ago and got my two elder neices to make crafts, homemade bath bombs, and decorative round cement "pavers" made in the bottom of an old bucket with some interesting leaves pressed into them for designs. The two girls sold their wares at their little table (with me supervising). They had to figure out how much the supplies and labour cost them to make the products, how much to charge for those products to cover costs and to make some money, and how to make change. They made $700 between them that day.

The next year, their farmer father planted some sweetcorn in one of the fields, and they had to pick and sell the corn to passers by on the road. He charged them for fertilizer, seed, wear and tear on the tractor, etc. They got to keep the profits. They've done this every summer now as a "summer job" - the eldest is just old enough this year to legally get a job.

These days, both girls are in 4H and looking after calves. These are shown at the local fall fair, where they are auctioned off afterward, with the kid pocketing the profits from the auction. Their dad charges them barn space, feed, etc. to keep the animals in the barn at the farm, and of course, helps find them a good calf at auction to buy with some of their profits from the previous year.

It's been a great education for them, and they were about 8 when we started this process. I can totally believe that this story is real.
posted by LN at 5:52 AM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had my first paper route at around 9 years old; it might've been 15-20 people in total, and my dad helped me every morning in getting my papers ready and drove me around to collect my money. The trade-off, in lieu of actually paying for help, was that I didn't collect an allowance and any expenses that I had that were above the norm were paid for out of my paper money.

By the time I was 13, I had three routes, around 150 total houses and I sub-contracted to my sisters and friends who needed money (especially in the summer when I liked to sleep in.) I paid for deliveries and did all the collection myself. I had already learned how to pay a fair enough wage to get people to do the work without compromising my own ability to make a profit. I also learned that entrepreneurship is a lot less mystical in action, as you're the one person who absolutely has to ensure the work is done.

Not all kids who grow up as entrepreneurs stay there; I became an institutional mainstay, working as an economist for government. The difference between me and the people I started with, however, is I always look for efficiency and ways technology or process can make the delivery of programs and services more effective. I didn't just integrate with the way things are done; I often looked at how they were done with a critical eye. As a result, I've moved up very quickly.

Not everyone should become an entrepreneur, but I think entrepreneurship basics would be incredibly beneficial to virtually any traditional, institutional job. If anything, the understanding that efficiency is worth studying and that leadership involves taking on the responsibility as well as the praise (and not delegating blame or crapping on your employees when it's not up to snuff) would lead to more visionary leaders in government.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:05 AM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


How is this at all different from any manner of commercial/entrepreneurial video games? I loved those things as a kid. Dino Park Tycoon, SimTower, plenty of others I'm sure I'm forgetting.
posted by downing street memo at 6:27 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


In think most people calling "fake" on this are actually saying: "Why didn't my dad do any cool shit with me?!"

Get over it!
posted by benzo8 at 7:42 AM on November 12, 2011


After a week of brow-furrowing deliberation, I raised the price per can from 50 cents to 55.

I am fairly sure the week of deliberation wasn't about how to make the change in the machine (I am convinced that it is easy) but whether or not to do so.
posted by jeather at 8:22 AM on November 12, 2011


Like jeather, I figured the deliberation had nothing to do with physically how to change the price. That actually didn't even cross my mind when reading the article. Choosing whether to change a price is an economic decision with tradeoffs regarding demand, while pressing some switches requires no deliberation whatsoever.
posted by that girl at 9:02 AM on November 12, 2011


And at 55 cents you're forcing people to find two quarters and a god damn nickel. (or they just put in three quarters... But if everybody does that you won't have change...)

I feel the same way about the bus here, which costs $2.10. This is way more inconvenient than when it was $2.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:13 AM on November 12, 2011


Kid should have run some monte carlo simulations to do some sales projections at various price points. I'm surprised his father didn't stage an investor coup and replace the kid with his 5 year old sister something. You can't run a business on deliberation and hope, how was he supposed to do any long term planning or capital investment. What sucks about this lesson from his father is how woefully incomplete it is.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:39 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


My personal entrepreneurial history, as my parents were pretty strict with allowance and such, i.e.: do work to get paid:

Age 12-15: Caught and sent lightning bugs to a chemical research company (Only parental help was running me to UPS once a week to mail can of bugs)
Age 13-16: Hunted lost golf balls on local courses, set up and sold same on Sundays
Age 26: Opened and still operate comic book/pop culture store

I'm living the American Dream! (IOW continually stressed out and broke for almost four decades!)
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:49 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't see why people are calling bs. on this. Because (simple) algebra is too hard for an 8 year old? I don't know. My father is an economist, and my early memories of bonding with him are him teaching me chess at 6 years, and -- never mind algebra -- explaining functions and the rudiments of calculus at 8. He didn't set me up with this kind of practical exercise, though. At ten, I came across the idea of running a kind of cafe out of our kitchen and charging very little to serve breakfast in bed. But my brother, always with the radical activist tendencies protested the system and guilted me into abandoning the clearly exploitative capitalism and rent seeking behaviours I was flirting with.

As it turns out I never became anything of an entrepreneur. I did far too much schooling and, many years and initials later, became a scientist. My brother continues to do great work attempting to empower poor communities threatened by big mining projects in Latin America and lobbying the government to try and curb the excesses of Canadian mining companies operating overseas. From time to time, I'll make him a sandwich or dinner for his family. For which I charge nothing.
posted by bumpkin at 10:25 AM on November 12, 2011


It rubs me up the wrong way because often it feels like there's an undercurrent of disdain for those who are not drawn to -- or who recognize that they are unsuited to -- an entrepreneurial path.

This exactly one hundred times over. I'm all for teaching kids about money and how to manage it - but this story seems to suggest in a sort of crass way that all kids would be similarly engaged with entrepreneurship if parents would just get with it and show their children how to succeed the right way...by planting the seeds for future entrepreneurial success!

I'd like to see a story about a father who buys his son a vending machine, and despite his best efforts, cannot get the son to think about it entrepreneurially - and the experience only serves to reinforce the sons budding disinterest in business and business management. I would like the article to then explore options for that childs future success, without the sort of pathological assumption that true success in American society is tied to running a business - but that non business inclined people have options as well...

I've haven't seen that story sold...instead it's usually "just be an entrepreneur, GOD!" And the "then you better fail fast" wink-wink nonsense posted above. These sorts of flip attitudes ignore the huge risks involved with starting and running a business and the fact that there are a lot of people who simply can't afford to take the risks that others can...or simply aren't inclined to...

These rah-rah business-porn blog entries are getting pretty tired.
posted by jnnla at 10:38 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd like to see a story about a father who buys his son a vending machine, and despite his best efforts, cannot get the son to think about it entrepreneurially - and the experience only serves to reinforce the sons budding disinterest in business and business management. I would like the article to then explore options for that childs future success, without the sort of pathological assumption that true success in American society is tied to running a business - but that non business inclined people have options as well...

I'd like to see the same thing done for students who aren't suited to the traditional education system, which to me is a far bigger problem than entrepreneurial evangelists because it is compulsory for everyone. But I fail to see most people complain about it, perhaps it is just that much more ingrained.
posted by symbollocks at 11:54 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My experience is that 95% of the people that start their own business, have no business doing so.

There's a reason "entrepreneurship" is identified as one of the four basic factors of production, along with "land," "labor," and "capital," in most macroeconomic textbooks. It breaks down like so:

- Land: natural resources, including but not limited to real estate;
- Labor: the ability and willingness to work, including relevant skills;
- Capital: human-made goods and financial resources;
- Entrepreneurship: the ability and willingness to combine the other factors by taking on risk, and the skill/wisdom to take on risk intelligently.

All jobs involve getting paid for contributing some or all of those factors of production. Your normal workaday employee only contributes labor, so he doesn't get paid much. Landlords contribute land, to be sure, but unless they want to pay someone else to manage their properties, they also have to contribute labor. Investors generally only contribute capital, and though they may also contribute labor, compensation for labor contributions is generally distinct from compensation for capital contributions. But none of it would happen without entrepreneurship, the ability to see an opportunity, take it, and absorb or otherwise deal with the losses that occur when things don't work out.

Most business and employment arrangements are such that the people who contribute land and labor wind up retaining almost none of the risks of the activity. Hourly employees don't get paid a dime less or more regardless of whether the company is about to file for bankruptcy or experiencing record profits. This is appropriate because they aren't contributing anything but their time; tying their compensation to the performance of the company would also mean they'd be contributing entrepreneurship and possibly capital as well, and most people aren't in any kind of position to absorb those risks.

This means a couple things. First, saying that employees ought to be entitled to a share of corporate profits is kind of a category mistake. They aren't investors, and they aren't exposed to any risk if the company does badly. Why should they then be permitted to a share of the profits? The investors and owners take a share of the profits, but they're also potentially ruined if the company goes belly-up. Letting employees in on the profits but shielding them from losses seems unfair. But second, bailing out investors and entrepreneurs is a really, really bad idea, for two reasons. First, the whole reason employees shouldn't share in profits is because they aren't exposed to risk, and the reason entrepreneurs and investors do share in profits is because they are. Bailing out entrepreneurs and investors takes the risk away, meaning that they get rewards with no risk. This is wrong. But second, in addition to just being wrong, it creates absolutely no incentive to make good investments or entrepreneurial decisions, meaning that the more we do bailouts, the more likely we are to need to do them in the future, because people start to expect it.

So yes, most people shouldn't be entrepreneurs, because being an entrepreneur means taking on risk, and most people can't afford risk. Risk is expensive, as it either means paying for losses or paying other people to make sure losses don't happen. But likewise, investors and entrepreneurs really should be treated like entrepreneurs and investors, meaning that we really shouldn't minimize the consequences of bad investments and business decisions for the people who make them.
posted by valkyryn at 12:05 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


My friends and I did this all by ourselves between the ages of 16 and 20. It was called dealing weed.
posted by Splunge at 12:19 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Valkyryn So yes, most people shouldn't be entrepreneurs, because being an entrepreneur means taking on risk, and most people can't afford risk. Risk is expensive, as it either means paying for losses or paying other people to make sure losses don't happen. But likewise, investors and entrepreneurs really should be treated like entrepreneurs and investors, meaning that we really shouldn't minimize the consequences of bad investments and business decisions for the people who make them.

Entrepreneurship interacts in an interesting way with social security systems. A lot of entrepreneurship is driven by pain; the humiliating, low-wage job, crippling debt, desire to support family, envy of others, etc. in a society with high social support, functional unions, affordable health care, low Gini coefficient etc there isn't as much prompting pain. You can go into business, but you don't really need to. On the other hand, if you do and it fails, you'll be okay. There is some optimal support level to drive a national economy.

Education makes more difference though. Very few nations teach any kind of worthwhile financial information to their children en masse, ie during compulsory school. The modern education system of first-world nations is designed for production of compliant workers, and the compliance of workers is very much increased, and the economy boosted, if they are encouraged to take on high levels of personal debt.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:05 PM on November 12, 2011


I'd like to see a story about a father who buys his son a vending machine, and despite his best efforts, cannot get the son to think about it entrepreneurially

So you think there's a market for those kinds of stories? I wonder how that demand might be met? How much might you be willing to pay for something you're seemingly not willing to do yourself? What will the supplier do with the money? What if somebody else starts writing the same stories?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not wanting to be Mr Party Pooper - but I don't know if I want my 8 year old even drinking Coke or Sunkist, let alone spending all her pocket money on softdrink.
posted by the noob at 3:03 PM on November 12, 2011


I can't see why people are calling bs. on this. Because (simple) algebra is too hard for an 8 year old?

No, because figuring out the slightly arcane way prices are entered into a drink machine (again, DIP switches, which are damn small and fiddly) and refilling the drink hoppers is too hard for an eight-year-old. If you say the dad did that stuff at first, then, fine, but it takes off a bit of that warm, self-reliant, look-even-a-child-could-do-it glow (that, and the dad bankrolled the whole operation and found the site and all). In fact, it looks a lot more like the dad was the one running the drink machine, and just making his son buy the inventory and giving him the revenue.

The point of the story is entrepreneurial propaganda, and the heartwarming aspects are being used to prop that up. That is why I bothered to call BS on this. If I am wrong then so be it, but someone had to do it.
posted by JHarris at 3:56 PM on November 12, 2011


JHarris, I think his dad probably set the price and filled the machine [i]once[/i]. Even real adults get help the first time they're stocking a new machine, from the person who sold it to them.

Kids can be goddamn competent, if you just show them how.
posted by Malor at 4:27 PM on November 12, 2011


Most business and employment arrangements are such that the people who contribute land and labor wind up retaining almost none of the risks of the activity.

I think there are some real practical problems with this simplistic model. The risks laborers take are real, but they are with their own livelihoods (often their only asset): will the company that has hired them be able to provide them long-term employment? Will the choice they made of company and specialty and training continue to be rewarding over the long haul? Will they be compensated according to their talent, effort, and experience, or paid a base wage that takes none of these things into account? Laborers are indeed taking risks, and that's why profit-sharing does indeed make sense - because the fate of the company and its relative ability to provide good compensation is something they can influence in a number of demonstrable ways.

The simplistic model assumes the entrepreneur is managing and directing all of this, assuming all risk and reaping all reward, and yet it's easy to see that in the real estate and banking crises, some of the very entrepreneurs who assumed these risks and drove these processes ended up being destroyed when the system moved on without them - once they were risk-taking entrepreneurs, now they are chaff, relics of a system that no longer needs their particular type of vision or perceived acumen.
posted by Miko at 4:56 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, because figuring out the slightly arcane way prices are entered into a drink machine (again, DIP switches, which are damn small and fiddly) and refilling the drink hoppers is too hard for an eight-year-old.

I can tell you that that part sure isn't true, because I did it for my grandfather at the age of five. That was my special job and one of the reasons I loved riding with him to restock machines. I also loved holding the enormous jar of quarters on my lap (as I rode in the center of his bench seat on his pickup with no seatbelt on). I am not familiar with the switches on current machines but refilling drinks looks about the same as ever, and that's not hard for a kid.

Also, as a former elementary teacher, there's definitely nothing about either the math or the concepts that are at all out of the question for an eight-year-old. My critical observations about the article don't include any skepticism that a kid could do this - a kid could, and we should really raise an eyebrow at any suggestion that the activities described are too advanced for a school-age child - just in the general framing.
posted by Miko at 4:59 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's one loading video for one type of machine. Let's keep in mind this all has to be at least 20 years ago, too.
posted by Miko at 5:09 PM on November 12, 2011


I can only wish that we'd had the money to rent a soda machine to learn how money works.

One of the things my mum did right when I was a kid was teach her kids how money worked. By the time I was eight or so, mum had sat each one of us kids down and gave us the facts. She made X amount of money and had to pay for Y items (food, rent, necessities*) which left Z amount of money for frivolities. Z was usually zero dollars. Each time we whined about having to have second hand clothes and toys (which I know now as an adult isn't bad in itself, but as a kid it's horrible when all your friends have new, nice clothing and toys, went on holidays, etc.) the lesson was trotted out again.

*Necessities included booze and cigarettes which, well, I don't know that I'll ever be able to relate to that.
posted by deborah at 7:27 PM on November 12, 2011


My experience is that 95% of the people that start their own business, have no business doing so.

I've been that person, but you know what? I'm much better at being some else's employee since I learned about the manifold problems you deal with when running your own operation. I won't go so far as to say that everyone should run their own business but I think anyone who does emerges a bit wiser than when they started.
posted by dgran at 6:58 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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