How Selling Lemonade Changed How I View Money

I think most people have some ”a-ha” moment about money while in their transition from childhood/student life to adulthood. For me it was a story I read in Reader’s Digest last year (although I have no idea how old the copy was). We have copious amounts of copies of Readers Digest in our waiting room at work. I don’t often read them but when patients don’t show up or cancel last-minute sometimes there isn’t much else to do.

I am very much paraphrasing the ideas of the article and will probably not get all the details right, so I apologise in advance, the main point of the story remains intact though.

It was a story about a young boy, who at a young age (something like 6 years old), decided he wanted to make some of his own money while his parents hosted a yard sale one summer morning. With the ”initial investment” from his parents of about $5.00, he set up a lemonade stand selling glasses at 0.50/cup. He ended up making something like $20.00 that day alone. He explains that he re-paid his parents and put his $15.00 profit in his piggy bank.

Over the next few summers he continued selling lemonade at every opportunity, always saving his profits. It wasn’t until he was something like 9 years old that he told his dad that he wanted to get out of the ‘lemonade business’ and buy a lawnmower. His parents had no idea that in the past few summers their son had made, and saved, hundreds of dollars selling lemonade. Enough to buy a nice self-propelled gas lawnmower which will help him on his next entrepreneurial endeavor.

Let me explain how smart and business savvy this child was. He took his lemonade profits, bought the lawn mower but had no intention of wasting his childhood away mowing lawns, instead he would hire someone older, stronger, and more experienced to do the work for him all while making a profit himself.

He reached out to some older kids he knew and offered them a summer job mowing lawns. He would provide the lawnmower, gas and nail down a few regular clients in the neighborhood (ensuring job security) but the older boy would do the work. He charged $25.00-$40.00/lawn depending on size and paid the older boy $15.00-$25.00/each lawn. Between the regular clients and the occasional cuts for people who were on vacation etc, they young boy profited something like $3000 for basically doing nothing (other than being the mastermind behind the operation) and the older boy made even more. Win-win situation. He was 9 years old!

He did this for the next few summers and eventually bought a few lawnmowers, hiring someone to man it each time, and carved out quite a name for himself in the lawn care industry in his community.

I don’t remember the story-ending details, and I don’t want to make something up, but I feel like this kid went on to university (totally paid for between his savings and scholarships to a business school). At the time the article was written, he was something like 20 years old and on his way to being a millionaire by the time he was in his late 30′s due to smart investments.

I was flabbergasted when I read this story about the sheer intelligence and savvy mind of this kid. How does a young 6-year-old even think about such a business model? Most kids are playing with toys and concerned about what their friends are doing for the summer, not how to start-up and maintain a business.

And this is how selling lemonade changed how I view my money and forced me to look at what I’ve accomplished financially in my 28 years on this earth (which, sadly is basically nothing).

Has a story every changed how you view money? What do you think about this story?

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Lemonade Photo Source

Lawnmower Photo Source

Comments

  1. Brilliant kid! I wonder how teenagers felt about working for a 9 year old? Makes me re-think the whole side hustle idea. If a 6 year old can do it, surely I can too!
    Mandy @MoneyMasterMom recently posted..Prepping for a group cook!My Profile

  2. Wow that’s an awesome story! I wish I would’ve done something like this.
    Michelle recently posted..Have you ever thought about opening your own online store?My Profile

  3. Great story. It just goes to show you that it is possible to be successful. You just have to find a need and make a name for yourself.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..You Won’t Reach Retirement Without Saving for ItMy Profile

  4. Crazy cool story, but it also makes me feel bad about myself lol. Everytime I earned money I spent it on a dress for my American Girl Doll.
    L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..Goals Update: October EditionMy Profile

  5. Thats inspiring. Although, it makes me feel like I haven’t done anything with my life lol. Too bad there aren’t more kids like that. That would be cool.
    Debt and the Girl recently posted..Happy Halloween!!My Profile

  6. Well played kid! He must be good with people skills, to convince someone older to do the work. Perhaps access to lawnmowers was more limited where he grew up than where I did, so he was providing something more useful?
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..Engagement Gift Ideas – Part IMy Profile

  7. What a great story. I’ve read similar things in the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book and it was also quite impressive to read what Buffet did when he was a kid.

    Stories are great motivators…I just wish I was smart enough to be the one being featured. :) Too bad I’m still playing with toys. lol.
    Jason @ WSL recently posted..Our Journey Out of Debt – October 2012My Profile

  8. That’s amazing. It certainly didn’t occur to me at the age of 6 or 7 to create my own business.
    CF recently posted..Paying off $27,000 in student loansMy Profile

  9. I hope that if I have kids they’ll grow up half as smart as this one! Stories of early retirement changed my view on money. Also, the guys who live frugally and invest in a few stocks then donate $8M to the local charity when they die. Except that I hope to enjoy my money too, those guys in the story are always misers.
    Pauline recently posted..Little house in Guatemala, week 1My Profile

    • Catherine says:

      Early retirement with FUN is what I’d like. I don’t want to retire and not be able to afford to do anything! I have huge respect for people who live on like 40% of their income and invest, such a hard thing to do!

  10. Wow. I don’t feel like I’ve been that enterprising at ANY age, let alone 6. But I do believe the lesson in there is hard work and determination. You can make that happen at any age!
    Budget & the Beach recently posted..Hindsight is 20/20, but Old Habits Die HardMy Profile

  11. I think there are some kids who just have that drive from an early age. Probably the same as kids who know they want to sing or act or become a concert pianist. I was certainly no where in that ball park when I was six, but what a great story.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Rental Property Series: Let’s Drink to Having TenantsMy Profile

  12. Great story, when I was little I had a lemonade stand with my neighbours and I tried to trick them into thinking that a $1 dollar coin and a quarter were worth the same….. so that I could keep the $1 coin and only give them each a quarter ahahha business person in the making
    Janine recently posted..My Net Worth GoalMy Profile

  13. I never had the chance to sell lemonade. But, this story is simply inspiring!
    I think the moral lesson here is the resourcefulness of such a young person. It should serve as a lesson to other people especially adults who are not as clever as this six-year old child who was so smart.
    David @ Bankruptcy Canada recently posted..Personal Bankruptcy Blog Carnival November 7, 2012 EditionMy Profile

  14. Wow! Without even reading or knowing the details of the original RD story, this was an amazing eye-opener! I need to get to work :)

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