I was a die-hard Girl Scout. Yes, I enjoyed the campouts, badge earning, and other activities — but my favorite time of year was selling Girl Scout cookies. I am extremely competitive, and each year I would challenge myself to do better than the prior year. No one put me up to it. My parents did not pressure me or push me to sell a specific number of boxes. They also did not reward me for my achievement. It was my own crazy self that worked my ass off to do more than I ever had.
One year, one of the prizes from the local community of Girl Scout troops was a 10-speed bike. I did not have a 10-speed and wanted one badly. I knew it would take a lot of babysitting and tips from my paper route to be able to purchase that bike, not to mention selling my parents on my spending my hard-earned money. The next best way to ensure I had that bike was to sell the number of boxes required to win the bike — and I did.
A different year there was a trip to an amusement park in Ohio. I had been a few times on school trips, and absolutely loved amusement parks, so of course it was on my list to win a trip. I had my goals in mind and I made sure I met them, however crazy I was to find ways to sell boxes. Since I lived on the edge of a University campus, I would go to fraternity houses, their student center, apartment complexes, and dorms, not to mention door-to-door in my entire neighborhood to sell as many boxes as possible. I learned a lot — specifically on how to cater my communication and language to the person on the other side of the door, or the one with cash in their hands. I learned how to warm up my audience, be cute when needed, or spout off the benefits of the different types of cookies – whatever I could do to make sure they walked away with boxes of cookies in their hands.
So when I found out that Girl Scout cookies have gone online, I had mixed feelings. Girl Scouts will now be able to take credit cards and transact business via an app online. They can have family and friends in other parts of the country place an order through their specific online webpage. Here is why I have mixed feelings — yes they learn business techniques for 2015, online sales, webpages, social media, and credit cards, but I feel a lot is lost. It feels much like what happens when parents sell for their kids at work, but their kids never have to do a thing. How is that good for the kid? My parents did not sell a box for me. I sold every single one.
With selling cookies now online, I fear that kids will no longer know how to make change, do math in their heads as buyers put them on the spot with questions, and my largest concern is that they have now taken the human side out of selling cookies. Maybe I am old school, but I feel that the learning experience has dwindled for these girls.
Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.
Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.
I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.
Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.
Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.
If you were an adult in my world when I was a kid, you probably would have thought that I would have gone into sales. Now the thought of it kind of grosses me out. Why sales? I was a Girl Scout which means I sold Girl Scout cookies. I think the only reason I even stayed in the troop for the many years that I did was because of the competition (with myself and others) of selling Girl Scout cookies. I am not going to go into details, as I have other blog posts about that.
My elementary school also raised money by selling nuts and candy every year. I cannot even remember the prize — maybe it was just knowing I sold near if not at the top of my class. At the same time I also had my own paper route. I delivered the “The Star Press” which meant it was the evening/afternoon newspaper. (Thank goodness, as I am so not a morning person). Every few months our manager would ask us to go “canvassing” where basically he would take us to strange and sketchy neighborhoods, often at night and ask us to go door-to-door to see if we could get folks to sign up for the newspaper. That was the least glamorous of all the gigs even with the random prizes and money he would throw in each night to see who would be encouraged to try harder and come out on top. Mind you — I was nine at the time.
And, yet, I am not in sales and I do not even dream of ever being in sales as a career. (My dad would have been so bummed). I often wonder what propelled me to want to excel and do so well selling things door-to-door. I was not a crazy outgoing kid, but somehow going door-to-door, selling on college campuses, and the competition of it all was an adrenaline rush for me.
Fast forward to 2015 and I come across “Tyler’s Lemonade Stand Fundraiser.” Tyler lives in Grafton, NY and decided to raise money for a police sergeant that was battling cancer and could not work. See this video of the long line of police cars that come to pay Tyler a visit and show their support. So far Tyler has raised $1500. Amazing. Now that is sales and talent put to good use. You rock, Tyler.
How did you learn about money? Did you learn in college when a credit card company sold you on all the benefits, and then you maxed it out not really knowing the repercussions? Did your parents teach you? Did you learn in school?
We can only truly take ownership of our money when it truly belongs to us. I remember when I was nine years old I had a paper route. I would usually keep some of my earnings and would give some to my parents to put into my savings account. My tips usually were my “candy fund” where I would ride my bike on a path that had been worn by the neighborhood kids to the Village Pantry. There I would select something or many things depending on how much money was in my pocket. There was rarely candy in our house, and occasionally we had some at my grandma’s house. So for me, candy was a treat. It was something special.
I truly believed the money I made on my paper route was my money. I worked hard for it. It was my choice to buy the candy. It was not my choice to never receive my money that I was told was put into savings. I have no idea now how much money I never saw. I trusted my parents to put it in my account, never knowing that was not happening. Which is why I loved reading the book: “The First National Bank of Dad: The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money” by David Owen. He talks about how he teaches his children about money. He sets up his own bank and a version of the stock market from his house. One idea he shared was about how kids have to know that the money belongs to them. If they know that, they will make different choices about money.
“My children’s accounts belonged to them alone. When they saved, they reaped the benefit; when they wanted to spend, they didn’t need permission. If my son decided to withdraw twenty dollars, I didn’t ask him why he needed the money—just as my bank doesn’t ask me. What he did with the cash was his business, as long as his balance was sufficient to cover his withdrawal. Why do kids need to control money of their own? Because if the money they spend money of their own? Because if the money they spend isn’t truly theirs, they have no compelling reason to pay attention to how they spend it.” Page 41
An interesting idea. I do remember having a savings account ledger and looking at it from time to time. I was more of a saver. I liked watching it grow and knowing I was working hard as the money accumulated. With the exception of my Village Pantry runs, I really did not spend that much of my money. Although I will never know how much never made it to The First National Bank of Tami. Alas. Live and learn. I will be teaching my kid(s) to take ownership of their money, and to know how to track what they take out and what they are earning. And, no, I will not steal a penny from them. If you have kids, I definitely recommend reading Owen’s book.
Allowances. I cannot remember for the life of me if we got an allowance. Somehow what I remember most is that my dad sometimes paid us in candy bars. Not your normal candy bar, the kind you sell for school fundraisers. He would buy a case (or maybe we had some left over). I distinctly remember the ones that had caramel in the inside. If we ever did get paid (even with candy bars) it was for chores we did around the house. Did doing chores and my parents never following through with an allowance teach me good ideals about working, money management, or spending money? Not really.
I started working when I was nine years old. I babysat, cleaned a neighbor’s house, polished their silver, and had a paper route. Yes, crazy to think I did that at the age of nine. I guess I worked just as hard then as I do now. My parents would have me put my earnings in a savings account, so I guess you could assume that they taught me about saving. The problem? My dad usually “borrowed” from my savings account never paying me back. I did not have the best money role models. Kids should be taught about money early on, and not be graced with everything with no knowledge or conversation that money does not grow on trees. Which is why I especially love this article from Slate.com titled: “You’re Doing Allowance Wrong.”
“Spending is about modesty, thrift, and the prudence to shell out (and even splurge) for things that bring kids the most joy while avoiding mindless outlays for plastic junk they will quickly break or forget. Saving instills patience in a world that increasingly conspires against waiting, delivering television without commercials and movies without Blockbuster. And giving is about generosity as well as gratitude for how lucky you are to be able to help others.”
The article goes into depth about giving an allowance, a budget, and a list of things they want or need and let them make the decisions on what to purchase. It means letting them fail. As the article states: “Better now then at age 24…” It teaches critical thinking skills, how to rationalize why one purchase makes more sense than another one. Many adults today do not have these skills. What if we started early on learning these life skills? We have gone away from being a saving culture, instead we spend, and rarely give. If you have kids what are your thoughts on this article + topic?