Meet the Kids: Oddball, endearing and quirky answers to life’s questions
Talking about money and finances can be awkward for some people, but fourth-graders at Bill Roberts Elementary have a lot to say on the topic.
Cheryl Beckwith’s fourth-grade class is studying banking. They recently opened a bank in their classroom and chose students as president, teller, payroll clerk and accountant. Students practice writing checks, filing for a loan, and making deposits and withdrawals. Those who write invalid checks are fined.
Students have also started businesses and pay the bank to hang advertisements in the classroom. The “Shack of Awesomeness” sells mechanical pencils and cookies. The “Hot and Cold Store” offers hot chocolate and snow cones. Another store sells stress balls and candy.
After speaking with five fourth-graders— Austin Harris, Maya Galpern, Tommy Alpert, Aaron Price and Sophia Tognetti—it’s clear that forming business operations and protecting their investments has sparked excitement about money, and getting rich.
Where do you get your money in life?
Four of the five students receive an allowance, but they all get birthday money.
Should kids get paid for doing chores?
The consensus is immediate—yes, kids should always be paid for chores. “Because then you get money to buy stuff, but if you don’t have any money you don’t know how to actually pay for stuff and you would go to jail for stealing money from the bank,” Tommy says. He owns the Shack of Awesomeness and recently hired Aaron as an employee.
Why do you put money into the bank?
The majority says they put money in the bank to keep it safe and not spend it as much.
What do choose to spend your money on?
Eyes get bigger, and everyone talks at once. They list their top choices—candy, vending machine picks, toys and electronics.
If I gave you each $20, what would you buy?
Most of them agree they’d buy all the things their parents don’t buy them—an art project, a video game controller or a basketball—except Tommy who says, “I’d go to Target and buy 20 sodas.”
Austin is the only one of the five who says he would save the $20. He is the bank president and fond of saving.
What would you do if you had all the money in the world?
Eyes light up as if this is the magical question. A unanimous “Ooo” sounds, and immediately each one is simultaneously dreaming aloud.
Among the chatter I can pick out—“I’d buy the White House and kick out the president, but he could live in a bigger house. I’d have a recording room, trampoline, hangout room, and dancing room. I’d capture the pop stars I like and meet them, like One Direction,” Maya says.
“I would buy a house with a movie theater. Every time you finish a soda another one pops up, and then you get a servant who buys everything for you. I would have popcorn shooters and every time you say popcorn it rains popcorn and it all lands perfectly into one cup. I would also get teeth that don’t need to be brushed,” Tommy says.
“I’d buy my own donut shop, and I would make Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs real, except it would rain candy and pancakes,” Sophia says.
“I’d buy everything if I have all the money in the world, and other people would have nothing. I would buy the world, except maybe not Russia,” Aaron says.
Austin again opts to save his money until he finds something he wants to buy. He can’t imagine what that may be right now.
Based on the answers, money seems to buy power and nice things, but do rich people always have nice things?
Silence. There are a few quiet, “No’s.” Then the conversation turns back to what they would buy.
How much money do you need to be considered rich?
They agree at least $1 million.
How much to be poor?
After immediately saying zero, they reconsider. “You can be poor and have some money. Kids can be poor. Poor for a kid is $10,” Tommy says, and they all nod in agreement.
What would you do if a friend asks to borrow money?
No one says they would outright give a friend money. Many say they’d buy the item for the friend so they know where their money is going. “I would make them pay double the money I give them, tomorrow. Well, in a week,” Tommy says.
What if the friend doesn’t pay you back?
“Sue ’em!” Austin says.
“They’re not my friend anymore,” Maya says. “Or, I’d just give them money and forget it because they may get rich in the future and give me money.”
“I would not give them money and still be mad they asked,” Sophia says.
“I would buy the thing for them and then watch what they do with a video camera that goes right above their head,” Aaron says.
The students say money they earn is theirs, and they have the right to decide how to spend it. Listening to parents’ advice on spending is OK at times, but parents always have to listen to their kids, they say. They continue to learn about finances in the class, and many are looking to expand their classroom business operations in the future.