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$ Money 101$

9781554514816_p0_v1_s260x420Managing money is one of those subjects children just don’t learn in school, yet it’s one of the most important life skills. Learning about money at a young age is key. But when it comes to teaching their children, where do parents begin? Now there’s Follow Your Money: Who Gets it, Who Spends it, Where Does it go? ($14.95, Firefly Books, Ages 10 and up) by Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka, to help you get started.

The book is written in such a clever way with young readers in mind, who most likely have not thought in real detail about money before. The book begins with an explanation about what money is, and from there many short chapters cover topics young readers can most relate to. For example, readers can understand how much it costs to buy groceries to eat breakfast – from the farmer costs, packaging, wages and store expenses. The authors actually break down the costs so kids can see how it all adds up. There are chapters on school supplies, jeans, shoes and even earrings. Readers will know all about the breakdown of the costs of gas, MP3 players, computers, cell phones, going to the movies and much more. Plus the book is illustrated with colorful cartoon-like pictures.

I admire the way the authors managed to write in light entertaining prose while at the same time educating kids about the bottom line of earning, spending, saving.  When we buy our kids a new cell phone or a computer, how many really think about, or understand what it took to make that product? On the cell phone page in Follow Your Money there’s an illustration of all the parts of a cell phone and what country each part originated from. There’s a breakdown of cell plan charges and even a blurb on the costs of going over one’s limit. How great is that?! With this book, your kids can start to appreciate how hard you had to work to get them that cell phone as well as the cost of modern day communication.

I recommend that all parents and teachers of 10 to 13 year-olds buy this book for their kids. When it comes to learning about how money works, how it is earned, spent and saved, you simply cannot start too early. The way we manage money from the start is often the way we continue through life, and unfortunately this is one important subject not taught in school.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Kids Can Start Businesses Too

Daryl Bernstein wrote the original edition of  Better Than a Lemonade Stand: Small Business Ideas for Kids ($16.99, Aladdin/Atheneum Books, Ages 9 and up) when he was only 15 years old. Since then, he has polished his book, updated the information and added more detail.  Most of us are now familiar with the story of Alexandra Scott, who at the age of 4, started a lemonade stand to raise money  for cancer that is now a multi-million dollar charity known as Alex’s Lemonade StandHer story is heartwarming and inspiring.

With the today’s technology, the opportunities for kids to start businesses are seemingly endless. Better Than a Lemonade Stand lists 56 small business ideas. Going over the list, I can sense that some of the ideas are better for older kids than younger ones, such as a new product assembler or a store window painter, someone who paints ads, holiday greetings and such on store windows. It doesn’t seem likely that a store owner would hire a 9-year-old to do those jobs. In any event, the wholesome list of business ideas is wonderfully broad, and at least one is sure to inspire your child and tap into his or her talents.

Each business idea comes with an explanation of duties, time needed to do the job, what to charge, how to advertise and also lists some hints about how to most efficiently do the work. At the beginning of the book, Bernstein also touches upon cautions that young business owners must take, a list of lessons for entrepreneurs and tips on starting and running a business, such as choosing a name, buying supplies, billing and more.  I thoroughly enjoyed the inspirational stories from kids who started their own businesses. There are additional resources listed in the back of the book as well.

What I like about Better Than a Lemonade Stand is that it really gets kids thinking about what it takes to make a living, and more importantly, how hard their parents have to work to pay for housing, food, cars and their education. The most successful people I’ve ever met are the ones who were self-motivated as children, resourceful and hard-working. Today, many of us parents want our kids to have the best, so we don’t always make them work for what they want. I think there’s a nice balance between receiving gifts and earning money to buy these things for one’s self. Clearly children who are willing to work for what they want seem to appreciate what they have even more. By starting their own ventures, they will also learn to think creatively, build their confidence and ultimately hone their math skills. How wonderful is that?

Debbie Glade reviewed today’s book and appreciates that her daughter Rachel works during summers when not at university.

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