When we were teenagers, we were taught that we should get a credit card to establish a credit score. The idea is that with a great credit score you will be able to make bigger purchases like a car and a house someday. The problem was that teenagers don’t have great self-control. It was too easy to make little purchases, I’ll have a better future if I buy this with my credit card, but those little purchases add up.
Nate and I started our marriage with a little debt, putting Nate through college got us into a little more debt and the first couple years after college put us even further into debt. Eventually we got tired of seeing our paychecks hit the bank account, just to have them disappear before our eyes.
From the time Nate has had a good job and been making decent money, we have been working to get out from under it all. We spent years budgeting and working side jobs to try to pull together an extra $25 or $100 to pay off our thousands of dollars, just a little faster. Once we decided we wanted to travel the world with our three kids, we knew we needed to get rid of the debt much faster.
Two years ago, we sold our house, using the equity to pay off all of our student loans and credit card debt, changing our lifestyle, and beginning our process of simplifying and ridding ourselves of excess: things and spending. Since moving to American Samoa, we have further reduced our debt by eliminating car loans and might possibly be selling our house in Idaho, which will leave us with $0 debt!
I was reading an article, the other day, that was talking about the excess and waste that has become synonymous with the American Dream. Since when does the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness mean indebting yourself? I remember when we bought our first house, one of the main things I loved about the house was the enormous walk-in closet within the master suite. Now, I look at the dozen or so hangers in my closet and wonder how and why I blindly bought into that mindset of “needing” more and bigger. When did it become acceptable to teach children to enslave themselves to the almighty dollar and encourage spending beyond their means?
Okay, I’m stepping down from my soapbox.
What We Choose to Teach Our Children
We have been blessed and worked hard to enable us to make it to where we are today. We are now trying to teach our children to never let themselves get into debt in the first place.
Sunday night, sitting around the dinner table, the conversation turned to money. We discussed debt, spending money, and that led to earning money. We explained that no debt is good. Some debt is acceptable, mainly a modest house and car, something that you can turn around and sell when you get tired of making monthly payments. We told our kids that if there is something they want, then they should work hard to save the money they need, and buy it outright.
College loans are something that seems inevitable and fully supported. Contrary to popular belief, we disagree. Instead of indebting themselves to earn their college degrees, we encouraged our kids to work hard now, save, and be ready to work their ways through college, if more funds are still necessary.
Our kids started talking about what jobs they wanted to have when they were old enough to start working. With this, we pointed out that we live in a world where a person could go their whole life never working a traditional job. Plus, with our new lifestyle, who knows how long or how often we will be bouncing around, which could make traditional jobs difficult or impossible. Thankfully, there are so many opportunities online.
We started talking about some options that the kids could be doing right now. Hadley and Holden each chose something that they wanted to pursue.
You could argue that our kids should not be worrying about that just yet, that they should be free to just be kids, without worrying about their future finances. We argue that we are teaching our kids to be successful in life. We continue the kids education through homeschooling, we go out and explore our island home with every chance we get, the kids have play-dates, story and science time at the library, and still have room for plenty of free time. Why not let them use some of their free time to explore different income possibilities? It is today’s version of the lemonade stand.
I’m not going to give away, just yet, what the kids each chose to work on. We are still doing more research of our own, and with everything we find I will compile a list of the best.
What are ways your children/teenagers have earned income online? Share what you have found.