I just had a birthday last week which always gives you a chance to take stock on where you are and where you are going. I still believe that making clear concrete goals and monitoring them closely on an ongoing basis is still the most powerful tool that people can adopt in their lives to get where they want to go more quickly. I love that idea of checking off what got accomplished each and every year and setting new challenges for the next year by constantly raising the bar. Since I have three children, it also gives me a chance to reflect on the values that I want to instill in them so they too can become independent one day and be good decision makers. I realized on this birthday that it marked 30 years of ‘technically’ being the in the workforce trying to earn a living even if it only started out on a part-time basis. It also reminded me about getting more aggressive with my kids in helping them either get a J-O-B or begin to start a business venture that makes money.
At the age of eight, I was hungry to get some extra pocket change so I could go down to the corner store at the end of my street to either buy myself a candy bar or a pack of baseball cards. Since you would get a few bucks on your birthday, you had to figure out a way to make some extra money so I began during the fall season knocking door to door in my neighborhood asking my neighbors if I could rake and bag their leaves for a dollar. Turns out landscaping companies weren’t near as big in the late 70’s, and many of my neighbors would actually give me a couple of bucks to take care of this laborious task. It felt empowering to work hard and get that money in my hands and my parents were actually glad to buy me a rake and give me some garbage bags so really it was only my labor cost that I was shelling out to get the job done. I made more money than I thought I would, and my parents opened up a passbook savings account at the bank in the middle of town. It was a great feeling watching them press down hard with that purple print on my bank book every time I made another deposit.
When I turned 12 years old, I decided to start a pet sitting service for the local neighborhood. I noticed that many of the neighbors would go on family vacations and often heard the parents complain about how much it cost to put their pets into a kennel for the week. Although I didn’t have a ton of training, the neighbors gave me a chance to take care of their pets with a set walking and feeding schedule that they knew I was going to be able to handle. Two jobs turned into four jobs and before I knew it my parents were driving me around the neighborhood so I could run this business. It actually helped me save up enough money so I could afford my first car which was a Mustang II. Yes . . . a Mustang II. It wasn’t pretty, but it got me around from place to place.
By building these early habits of work ethic, it took me into my teenage years where I picked up jobs during high school and college, and during my summers I often found jobs where I could work extra hours and learned the power of overtime pay. In fact, I was a cherry picker in a warehouse working 12 to 14 hours a day pulling down pallets for a Crate and Barrel type firm. I knew that if I wanted to go on Spring Breaks and have money in my pocket to enjoy my weekends that the quickest path to success would be figuring out how I could earn more income. The foundation of working hard from the time I was eight until my teenage years laid the groundwork for the work ethic that I still carry today.
I’m sharing these stories because teaching your kids how to really work to earn an income (getting a J-O-B) is going to be the best financial move that you can make as a parent to help your kids do better in life. While the media discusses extracurricular activities, getting good at technology, and achieving a college education, it will still boil down to learning that work ethic and the power of what earning more income can do to your financial future. There is no substitute for work ethic. There is also no substitute for growing your financial future than the control you have when you know you can grow your personal income.
Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we spoil our kids because we our perspective is shaped by what is going on around us and the desire to keep up with Jones. What kind of car should I buy m child so they are not embarrassed when they show up at the high school parking lot? What kind of clothes does my daughter need to wear so she can show everyone that she is cool and up to date with fashion? What row of seats will get for the next football game? Do my kids have the latest and greatest phones, tablets, and gadgets of technology? The best thing you can do is not look outside of your house, but look inside of your house and get your kids working no matter what your financial status is or where you live. Teaching them that having a J-O-B (or maybe a business) is what really can help them achieve their financial freedom will be the best lesson that they can ever get. By the way . . . can my kids come rake your leaves this fall???
Visit to www.oXYGenFinancial.net to request a consultation on how to make smart money moves for your future.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services
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