Economics Lessons from My Six Year Old

We live in an extreme climate where winter tries to kill you. We’ve experienced the polar vortex and now 32+ inches of snow in one month. So I made a comment to my six-year-old son while on yet another snow day at home from school that he should get to work and shovel snow for cash.

An example of nine inches of snow in one day:

And to my surprise, and demise, he took me up on it. Here is a take on what he learned throughout his first money-making venture:

First, get enthusiastic about shoveling snow for pay, so your dad can’t back out of the idea he put out there.

Second, be sure to bring your dad, or another able bodied adult, along with you.

Third, ring the door bell of prospective customer.

Four, have your dad do all of the asking. Sample script, “Hi, my son is offering to shovel today because we’ve started a savings account to build a tree house this summer. Would you like your sidewalk shoveled for $5? We will shovel your driveway for another $5 and roof rake for another $5.” Suggestion:  you could probably raise prices from here.

Step five: have your dad roof-rake while you sit back and play in the snow.

The two customers that said yes to our offer didn’t actually say yes to shoveling. They were either going to shovel themselves or already had someone contracted to handle it. What they wanted help with was roof-raking. And you can guess who ended up roof-raking, since I didn’t want to file a property damage claim on a window when a six-year-old starts swinging an ten-foot roof-rake into the air.

Rarely, does anything turn out the way I envision. But I do think my son learned a little something. He at least got to experience the exchange of service for money. He may have also learned the value in an able bodied employee. Time will tell.

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