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good money traitsIt is crucial that your child has an idea of personal finance at a young age. You want them to grow up knowing how to pay their bills and understanding what it means to be in debt. Here are five ways you can teach your child about personal finance that can also be fun and memorable.

1. Take Them Grocery Shopping

Encourage your teen to participate in a “grocery day” with you to better understand financial literacy. Sit down with your child before shopping and go over your budget and your list. Explain to them how much you are looking to spend and the food you need for the week/month.

Have them help you coupon clip and try and make a goal to save a specific dollar amount. Take them with you to the store and have them help you look for each product. Make sure you stay within budget; you might want to consider bringing only cash with you so you don’t go over.

You can turn this into a fun adventure! This can make grocery shopping fun for the both of you.

2. Invite Them to Help You Organize Your Receipts

 After your holiday shopping, you might be stuck with a lot of receipts and bills. Invite your child to help you organize your receipts to understand how much expenses cost. Your child may be surprised to learn how expensive things can be. This might teach them to think twice before asking for luxury items next year.

Your child also may be interested in holding a job so they can pay for more discretionary expenses on their own. You could even teach them a little about tax on products when going through your receipts. ...continue reading

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When I was 15, I got a job in food prep at a fast food restaurant in my small town. I worked part time to fund my teenage escapades; movies, vending machine lunches, hot pink jeans, the like.

Having a job at 15 is a great experience. I met many wonderful people that I wouldn’t have otherwise had to opportunity to meet, and I learned a little bit, if not much, of financial responsibility.

I would have rather had worked for a retail clothing store, but the town I lived in had few. The ones that did exist were tiny, and fully staffed with retirees or stay at home moms with plenty of work experience in that sort of thing.

This is the way it was for many people, particularly students, in my town. The job options were limited, so

I saved up for a month for hot pink jeans. I was awesome.

we ended up bussing for half an hour into the city adjacent, or we’d work at fast food places that spattered throughout the municipality. Even the city that was close by was small at that time, and the options were, and still are, extremely limited.

At work, I met a co-worker who lived in one of the poorer sections of a particular suburb in the town. She had three kids and was a single mom. One day, while I was enjoying my lunch break outside on the makeshift patio of this fast food restaurant, she came out for her break as well. She was visibly upset, and when I asked her what was wrong, she had a bit of a breakdown.

She told me that she had just gone through a divorce and she had three children; a ten year old, an eight year old, and a four year old. Her ex-husband was nowhere to be found and didn’t pay child support despite her efforts to get it from him. Her kids were left with her mother, who was also extremely poor, while she worked her fast food job in overtime.

She lamented to me that her $8/hour salary wasn't enough to pay the bills and feed her children. Her only other option was to go into the adjacent city to make $1/hour more, but because she couldn't afford the expenses of a car, she didn't have transportation. The $1/hour more she would make in the city would mean she would have to take the bus and put her kids in daycare or hire a babysitter for the duration of her added commute, since her mother and her had a system where she picked up her kids 15 minutes before her mother left for her own job.

Her options were severely limited, despite her having tried to get a job at some of the higher paying places in our small town. It just wasn't possible.

She told me that she was living paycheque to paycheque, or worse. She had only eaten an apple all day that day, because she couldn't afford groceries to feed her kids and herself, so naturally the food went to her kids.

She wanted to go to the food bank, but worked during the day and couldn't make it before it closed. It was in the next city over.

That night, when we were closing the fast food restaurant up, there was a lot of leftover food which had been hanging out in the holding bins because we weren't able to sell it. Things like chicken thighs, french fries, and leftover burgers. We were required every night to do an inventory of what was left over, and throw it all out after the inventory was done.

There were notices in the kitchen saying that we were not to take food out of the kitchen at any time without paying for it; even the food left over at the end of the night was to either be paid for at a 20% discount by employees, or thrown out. We were under camera surveillance to ensure compliance with this crazy policy.

It killed me to throw out that extra food when a fellow employee was practically starving and unable to feed her children. She couldn't afford the food at a 20% discount, especially since fast food is already marked up an alarming amount.

So there was the choice: throw out the food, or go against company policy and risk my job (and my coworkers' jobs) to send her home with the leftover food.

The choice was ridiculous. The food was not salvageable as the restaurant was closed. Nobody could have, or would have, purchased it. It was supposed to be going in the dumpster.

So, this is sort of like the Robin Hood story - do you "steal" from the rich, to give to the poor, or do you wastefully throw away perfectly good food because nobody can buy it?

What is your conclusion? What would you have done?