I’m extremely protective of the content on Freedom Sprout. I carefully research every article and include the sources. High quality content is priority. That’s why I’ve never published a guest post. But today, I am sort of publishing my first guest post.
I say “sort of,” because I’m still walking you through it. I’m the editor and narrator.
I had to share this though, because it was one of the coolest systems I’ve seen to pay your kids, while instilling a seriously real-world mindset. We have our system for paying our kids, but if you want to take it further, let me introduce you to Lorne Jenkins, Co-Founder and CEO of Mini Money Management (MMM).
MMM was the vision of Lorne…
I asked him to share his story and he agreed to do so. His childhood story is what sparked the creation of MMM, so we’ll start from the beginning. I’ll include some pictures of the tools MMM provides when you sign up.
The Story of Mini Money Management
When I was 8 and my little sister was 5, we asked my mom to go out to eat every single day. She got fed up with it, and posted on the refrigerator job postings for a son and daughter.
Note From Kalen: I love the idea of a job interview. We do this in our system, but we have never went as far as having an application. You can see an example of the applications you can use within MMM below.
We had to complete applications, interview for the positions, she called our references (who had nothing but great things to say) and we eventually were awarded the positions.
This new job came with a salary of $40 (fake money) per week. The catch came when we had to pay for household expenses such as rent, laundry, transportation, and of course meals. It cost $1 to eat at home and $3 to eat out.
My mother’s claim to fame is that by the time we got to the end of the summer she asked us if we wanted to go out to eat. Our response “No mommy, that’s way too expensive.” Mini Money Management and the household economy was born.
My mom started Mini Money Management to simply help us understand what money was and how it worked in the real world. But she got so much more out of it. My mom, like most other parents, tried everything to help with discipline. Creative punishments, grounding, and of course some good old fashioned yelling.
Her tool in the house that summer was “Gimme a Dollar.” She used to fine us for undesirable behaviors. Fighting with siblings, keeping a messy room, not doing chores, “Gimme a Dollar.” Now we started to weigh our decision making. Did I want to argue with my sister and risk getting a fine, or would I rather do a few extra chores and buy an hour of video games or save up to go swimming? The choice was very simple for me: help out more around the house so that I could purchase more of the fun activities that I wanted to do.
I wouldn’t realize the depth of the lessons that I learned participating in MMM as a child until I was much older, and financial literacy is just one of them. I graduated high school as a state champion in track and field with a 4.2 GPA and a full ride scholarship (40% of that being academic).
I went to Campbell University for undergrad and graduated cum laude with an economics degree. I ran Division I track and field for 4 years and was the economics student of the year. I then went to the University of East London and earned my masters degree in finance, graduating with distinction. While getting my masters I traveled to 10 different countries and over 15 different cities across Europe.
Here’s the kicker, I’ve never been the biggest fan of going to school. School to me always seemed boring and quite honestly pointless. But what I was taught at a young age through MMM is that in life there are going to be things you have to do (chores), so you can do the things you want to do (go swimming). I knew that to play sports I would have to keep my grades up, so I made sure I was a good student so that I could do something that I loved. Once I finished with undergrad my grades allowed me acceptance into a masters program. It had been a dream of mine to travel around Europe, so I used the masters program to see parts of the world I never would have been able to see otherwise.
I also learned simple—but extremely important—financial lessons from doing MMM at a young age. When I selected the school to attend, I had the choice to run for a few larger schools, University of New Mexico and University of Illinois. But I would have to pay my way through school and that would mean student loans. Campbell offered me a full ride and I accepted. I was able to compete at the division 1 level and have my entire schooling paid for. I had friends who wanted to go to the more “prestigious” schools and chose to either walk on or quit sports altogether.
They all graduated undergrad with student debt while I did not. I didn’t realize how bad being financially illiterate was until I moved to London. The largest mall in Europe is located in east London, and they are closed to the general public for a full day. They are only open for students and everything in the mall is discounted 20-40%. This sounds amazing until you realize that they close the mall down on the day that students receive their student loans. The event is called “Loan Drop Day” and the entire city participates. Universities, bars, and clubs encourage students to spend their student loans on drinks, foods, and an expensive night out.
I lived in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world, making less than $10 an hour working a maximum of 20 hours per week on a student visa. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but I was able to pay my rent, pay for food, and even save a bit of money along the way. I ended up getting a job as a foreign exchange broker once I graduated and was amazed how even people with a lot of money can be financially illiterate. One of my coworkers was comfortably making 6 figures, but still had maxed out credit cards, and hadn’t paid off his student loans.
The game that my mom played with us as kids has paid off in so many aspects of my life, and we really want to help other parents give this to their children as well. That is why we turned Mini Money Management into an easy-to-use app for parents and teachers!
MMM is designed as a parenting app that makes raising children easy and fun. As a byproduct, children also learn financial literacy through experience, which is how children learn best. Parents are always looking for ways to instill lifelong values like critical thinking, responsibility, and self awareness.
MMM gives children a safe place to make their mistakes, financial and otherwise. Parents can allow their children to experience their consequences while they are 8 and under their roof, not when they are 18 and take out an uninformed student loan.
The MMM App
Kalen here. I downloaded the MMM app and we love it. It takes some dedication to use it. You can set the salary for your kids and the prices for everything.
It doesn’t have to be fake money. For example, if you give them $100/month and then they pay rent ($40) and food ($1 at home, $2 eating out), there will be some left over, but you’re not paying them $100/month out of your pocket, which could be unreasonably expensive.
It’s about teaching your kids things cost money. Everything costs something.
If you’re interested in checking out the app, they have a free trial and then it’s only $9.99/month after that. Use discount code “Freedom” to get half off your first month’s subscription.
You can see if for yourself at Mini Money Management.
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