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Capitalism for Kids – What Ever Happened to the Lemonade Stand?

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A generation or two ago, when you wanted to buy something, you had a fairly limited set of options to raise money. There was your allowance, which you could save up. You could do chores for pay, like mowing the neighbor’s lawn or babysitting. And there was the small business enterprise exemplified by the lemonade stand.

With a little help from Mom, you could set up a table in front of your house, put out a hand-painted sign with “Lemonade – 5 cents” on it, and get your mother to make up some lemonade – or other convenient beverage that used to come in little paper packets. You sat out there with a pitcher of something to drink and a stack of glasses from the kitchen. People had to drink what they bought right there and leave the glass.


In today’s robustly regulated and health-conscious world, one rarely sees kids selling lemonade out of a stand on the front yard anymore, but other options have arisen. When a child needs to raise money for a trip or a good charitable cause, they can go online and enlist the services of a fundraising site. Whether it is a school project, something for a religious organization, a private effort to save the turtles, or uniforms for your Boy Scout troop, you can do it online.

Community service has become an important part of every high schooler’s resume if they want to go to college and learning to raise money is a useful skill. This is a way for every parent to help their kid in multiple ways and benefit from the experience. Take ABC Fundraising for instance. They have helped groups raise over 50 million dollars since 1993 and helped over 50,000 schools, youth sports teams, churches, and non-profits.


Teaching kids the habit of saving is another area in which mothers and fathers can lead the way. It is an old and long-established practice, to open a savings account in the child’s name and help them put away their pennies on a regular basis, watch the sum grow, and see what compound interest does. But have you considered mimicking the same practice many companies do, which is match the amounts you put in your 401k from your salary? Why not make a deal with your kids that you will match dollar for dollar every cent they put into savings as long as they don’t take it out until, say age 18. Or Christmas. (Let’s not be too harsh.)


Teaching kids responsibility is important and regular tasks around the house, like taking out the garbage, help do that. The conundrum appears when you pay them for doing jobs that every adult has to do to live independently for free. Paying kids to do the wash and other household chores can get confusing. But why not pay them for things you would otherwise hire someone to do for you, like wash your car or mow the lawn?

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