Inside Out

So I’ve noticed the last several times I’ve done a load of laundry, that Nathan’s shirts are always turned inside out.  I have this thing about reversing clothes and socks.  I don’t do it.  If either the boys or John take off their socks inside out, they get washed inside out and folded inside out.  Same with shirts, underwear, shorts… They don’t like it when I do that, so they’re careful about how they take off their clothes.

But having to hang Nathan’s shirts inside out hasn’t happened in a long, long time.  So I asked him why, all of a sudden, he was taking off his shirts inside out.

“So the designs on the front last longer,” was his reply.

Most of Nathan’s shirts have printed designs on the front and, apparently he had noticed that they were beginning to fade.  Somehow in conversation with one of his friend,s he found out that by washing the shirts inside out, the design on the front could last longer.

Nathan buys all of his own clothes.  He gets a clothing allowance at the beginning of the school year that needs to last until spring when he’ll get another, smaller, allowance to take him through summer.  The money he doesn’t spend is his to keep.   The deal is, he makes a list of needed items that I approve, and then he goes out and buys the items.  That way he’s not wearing shirts with holes in them just to save the money.

So I found it interesting that since he is responsible for buying his clothes, he wants them to last as long as possible – designs and all.  And it made me wonder that, without this responsibility, would his shirts have ended up in the laundry inside out?

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Divots and Entrepreneurs

“How much do you think I could get for this on eBay?”  Ryan was holding up a  chunk of sod and grass that, in golfers lingo, is called a divot.  It’s what’s left after a golfer takes a hard shot at a ball lying on the grass.

We were at the President’s Cup in San Francisco and all the big names in golf were there with us:  VJ Singh, Phil Mickelson, Mike Weir, Ernie Els, Fred Couples…and, everybody’s favorite, Tiger Woods.

It was Tiger’s divot that Ryan was holding.  Normally, spectators don’t get to pick up after players.  There’s a rope that keeps us on one side and the players on the other.  Professional golfers usually hit their tee shots right down the center of the fairway.  But, as good as he is, Tiger has been known to veer off in either direction.  And that’s exactly what happened to us yesterday.

“It’s coming our way!”  That’s what I heard right before I looked down and saw a small white ball roll right past my shoes.  Tiger’s ball.  For a second, it was a little surreal.  This had just happened two holes before with Ishikawa’s tee shot.  His ball rolled right beside me, as well, and we were within several feet of him, watching him take his second shot.

And now, Tiger’s ball was literally inches from my toes.  Well, you can imagine what the crowd was like.  And I wasn’t moving until someone made me.  Which is exactly what happened.  But even so, I was feet away from the ball, and then, feet away from Tiger, watching him size everything up.

And then, just before he took his swing, I saw him close his eyes.  He was visualizing.  This is a powerful technique used by a lot of athletes to see the play in their minds first.  And it’s a technique that is used a lot for anyone who has a specific goal in mind.  Seeing the goal in your mind can help you as you work towards attaining it.  It’s a great thing to teach kids, for whatever goals they may have.

But back to Tiger.  He was about 240 yards from the pin.  The pin couldn’t be seen from where we were standing because of several trees.  I was wondering how he was going to play it since it wasn’t a straight shot.  And that’s when I learned the true meaning of a pro.  He didn’t need to take a straight shot.  When I watched his ball sail into the air and then make a left turn towards the pin, well, I’m not sure I can describe the sense of awe I felt.  I didn’t know that could be done.  I sure as heck haven’t seen John or Nathan do that.

Ture to form, Ryan had staked out that divot as soon as the shot was taken.  He had it in his hands in seconds and I was looking for a second baggie to put this one in. (Ishikawa’s was already in our fanny pack.)   

That’s when Ryan asked me how much he could get for the divot on eBay.  I love the way he thinks.  Even though I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘zilch’ the fact that he’s looking at the potential of a piece of dirt means he’s open to being presented with possibilities where the answer may not be ‘zilch’.  And that’s the sign of a true entrepreneur.

And for anyone who’s interested, we have Tiger’s divot off the first tee at The President’s Cup.  I’m sure we can negotiate a good deal.

Dress Swap

I got a phone call from Nathan and Ryan’s high school yesterday.  It was on the automated system they implemented several years ago as a way to keep parents informed about school happenings.  And I love it.  Believe it or not, I don’t often find out what’s going on at school through the boys!

I was prepared to hear about the upcoming football game or PSAT testing dates but was pleasantly surprised, instead, to find out about the First Annual Dress Swap.  What a great idea! 

Homecoming Dance is coming in three weeks.  It’s a much bigger deal than when I remember being in high school.  Seeing all the dolled up girls at last year’s dance made me a little thankful that, having boys, a new shirt and maybe tie was all I needed to worry about.  Those dresses can get pretty pricey.

So here’s the gist of the Swap: girls donate their slightly used semi-formal dresses to the Swap.  In return, they receive free entry to the first thirty minutes where they will have pick of the dresses.  The dresses will only cost them $10.  Those girls who don’t donate can buy a ticket and then buy a dress for $15.

Being someone who loves a great deal, I love this idea.  But I’m not a female teenager about to go to one of the biggest dances of the year.  Are they worried that they may end up wearing so-and-so’s dress and not even know it?  Does that matter to teenage girls?  And is this group of girls used to wearing hand-me-downs?  I’m not so sure about that.

 I’d like to know who’s been paying for their dresses so far.  It’s an important question.  Because if the answer is the parent, there may be less of a chance that a teenage girl will make use of the swap.  When kids have to pay for these extras themselves, the idea of a swap is much more palatable.

Here’s hoping the swap is a great success.  It would be disappointing for this to be the First and Last Annual Dress Swap.

Gas Money

I don’t like to interfere with the business dealings Nathan and Ryan have.  I am confident that they can handle them effectively and ethically.  A year ago I probably wouldn’t have included the word ‘ethically’ but given what’s happened since then, focusing on ethics has become pretty important.

Nathan has a little side business where he drives kids to and from school…for gas money.  If you read an earlier post where I wrote about two empty seats in his car – he has filled them both.  He no longer has to shell out any of his own money to fill up his tank.  Nice.

When it came to deciding how much to charge his passengers, he decided to leave it up to them to pay him what they thought was reasonable.  This has worked both for and against him.

Like a lot of kids, Nathan has a pretty good sense for fairness.  And he can pretty much back up his fairness arguments which he did for me when he was describing how he thought that the payment of one of the passengers was unfair. 

“I have to drive out of my way to pick him up.  That takes gas and extra time.  Besides, I’m saving his parents so much time; they don’t have to drive 13 miles to pick him up and then drive 13 miles to bring him home.  That alone should cost a little extra.”  He’s paying Nathan $5/week.

On the other hand, one of the other boys is paying $10/week.  I thought it was too much and actually talked to his mom who is a friend of mine.  She insisted, saying that the time she saved not having to drive him to school and not having to work her schedule around him was worth the $10.

And that’s how Nathan thinks, as well.  It’s not just the miles driven, but there’s most definitely a time factor involved.

Then there’s the kid who still hasn’t paid Nathan a cent since the beginning of school.  He’s a friend of the kid who’s mom pays Nathan $10.  I told Nathan he might want to get on top of that before the “bill” becomes too overwhelming.

“I’ll just keep bugging him about it every day until he pays.”

Really?  And how’s that going?   “It’s kind of awkward, but eventually he’ll get it.”

Hmmm…not so sure this is the best strategy.  But he’s got to figure that out on his own.  And because gas money is so important to him, it’ll be interesting to watch how this all unfolds.  Besides, he’s learning how to deal with people when there’s money involved.  And those two combinations can make for some pretty interesting discoveries.

Wanna Know What Kids are Saving For?

Very cool.  I’ve actually wanted to know the answer to this for a log time…on a bigger scale than the students I work with.  And I happened upon it today.  US Bank surveyed 1500 (that’s a lot!) kids ages 5 – 12 to find out what they were saving for.  Here’s what they discovered:

  • 30% college
  • 15% car
  • 10% pet
  • 9% trip
  • 8% video game
  • 7% helping others/animals
  • 6% iphone
  • 5% laptop
  • 4% musical instrument
  • 3% cell phone
  • 3% other

I actually was surprised by the number of kids this age saving for college.  I’ve no doubt they’re saving for other things, as well, but the percentage that is consistently contributing to their college fund was impressive.

And that they are also looking ahead to the day they get the car keys was equally impressive.  Sometime the ‘future’ is just too much for kids to grasp actually saving for. 

Okay, so it’s probably a little biased towards kids who have savings accounts (the kids surveyed had accounts at US Bank) and these kids are being trained to think saving is a good thing.  But that’s okay.  The goal is to get as many kids as possible to open accounts so that they, too can learn to save for the future.

I did think it was interesting that the iphone and cell phone categories were separated.  Together they total 9%.  Aren’t they the same thing, technically?  All I can say is that nothing can touch the marketing geniuses at Apple.

Then there’s the pet category which came in at 10%.  Could this be a ploy by the parents to put off having one more thing to take care of?  Probably not.  I would love to know what kind of pet they’re saving for.  And if this includes some of the things that come along with a pet like leashes or cages.

I liked seeing the (other) 9% saving for a trip.  My guess is these are band or science camp trips.  Having kids contribute to these often expensive trips is a great first longer-term savings goal.  If they can save for that, then for sure they can save for their car…or college.

And, of course, it’s always nice to see kids saving for the purpose of giving.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised.  Saving is a habit we need to be teaching all of our youngsters.  I know of a group that’s already well on their way.

Priorities Established…and They’re Only 5

So that was fun.  I got to hang out with  kindergartners  and first graders this morning.  With Ryan’s former K/1 teacher.  It was like old times when I used to go in twice a week and teach math.  Only this time, I was the student.

That’s because I wanted to find out what 5- and 6-year olds know about money.  I told them that I wanted to learn from them today.  They thought that was pretty cool and sat up straight for me.

So when I asked about money, this is what I got:  “You buy stuff with it.”  Yes, indeedy, that is what money is for.  And since about 10 other kids said the same thing when I called on them, I decided to move on.  Besides, I was really more interested in what they thought about being rich.

It’s sort of a no-brainer…being rich is very nice, but my real goal was to see if they could understand that there were different things, besides money, that they could be rich in.  And would you believe it!?  They totally got it. 

“You can be rich in friends,” said one little girl.

“Or you can be rich in kindness,”  said another.

“Rich in kindness means you are nice to other people,” explained the girl sitting next to her.

Holy, schmoley, was I ever impressed.  They even shared that being rich in kindness and friends is more important than being rich in money.  And now that we’ve got priorities established, I’d like to show them how they can become rich in money.  Because those are the kids who will grow up with the foundation to use money and really make a difference in this world.