What Do Kids Know Anyway?

I read an interesting post today from CorporateMonkey about children in the workforce and its relative cultural appropriateness.

It got me to thinking.

 Childhood is a relatively new concept, even in America. Probably a good idea. We protect our children from the rigors of the grownup world and allow them to grow, learn, play, and explore in a semi protective bubble.

The notion is that there is plenty of time to have to be a grownup and learn the hard truths of our world.

Part of their transition from the LaLa land of childhood is the understanding of economic concepts and how life/money works.

We often lament how formal education does not really do enough to address this dimension of adulthood. It is often left up to us as parents to teach them about money.

 I was curious to see where my own kids were at on this spectrum. They are ages 8 and 12 and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to quiz them about some advanced notions of money.

I put forth the following questions;

  1. What would you want your yearly salary to be in order for you to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle?
  2. How much does a pretty good car cost, brand new?
  3. What percentage of your salary do you end up paying in taxes to the government?
  4. How much does a pretty nice house cost?
  5. What is a good hourly wage?

I purposely asked the 8 year old by himself first, so as not to askew the answers by letting them hear each other’s answers.

Their answers were enlightening;

8 Year old’s answers

  1. $ 10,000 (fail)
  2. $ 20,000 (spot on!)
  3. 30% (impressive)
  4. $ 30,000 (Please tell me where I can get this real estate)
  5. $ 50 (baller money)

12 Year old’s answers

  1. $ 75,000 (good job)
  2. $ 50,000 (too rich for my blood)
  3. 4 % (fail, no roads for you apparently)
  4. $ 250,000 (good answer for our area)
  5. $25 (acceptable)

I would love for you to share (below) the ages and answers your own kids gave. Along with any additional questions you think fit well with the spirit of this little quiz.

I, for one, apparently have some work to do. 🙂

P.S. The movie Kidco, circa 1984 was my first foray into the inter-workings of Capitalism from a kid’s perspective. I also wrote a post about my own dabbling into the world of the childhood hustle.

P.S.S. Fellow Blogger ESI had an old post from back in the day about the same topic, some of these answers are real gems….and they just keep coming.

14 thoughts on “What Do Kids Know Anyway?

  1. My kids are in their 20’s but I just had my husband ask my 15-year old stepson. We’ve got lots of work to do with him.

    1. $12,000 (fail)
    2. $200 – 300 (per month maybe but I think he meant in total…fail)
    3. 20-30% (not bad!)
    4. $30,000
    5. $150 (HA!)

  2. My 11 year old boy’s responses:

    > 1. What would you want your yearly salary to be in order for you to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle?

    Salary? Why do I have to earn a salary? I will be the boss and pay people salaries to make lots of money for me.

    [Hard to argue with his logic, and I respect his optimism]

    > 2. How much does a pretty good car cost, brand new?

    A new Ferrari would be pretty good, I think it would cost £250,000. My Dad is so cheap he makes us catch the bus, we don’t even have a car!

    [It is not too late to sell him on eBay]

    > 3. What percentage of your salary do you end up paying in taxes to the government?

    Were you not listening? Salaries are for suckers, let the government take their money, not mine.

    [I fear he is setting himself up for some disappointment here, the tax man may have other ideas]

    > 4. How much does a pretty nice house cost?

    Mum says our house would cost £1,500,000 to buy, but Dad is too tight so we rent it instead. The house is ok, but I would want a bigger room if I were going to buy it.

    [… sigh]

    > 5. What is a good hourly wage?

    If I got £100 an hour I would only need to work a couple of hours a day, then I could play Xbox the rest of the time.

    [Points for work/life balance, but prostitution and management consultanting are the only two professions I can think of paying that kid of money without a longer daily time commitment]

  3. My 15 year old daughter JumpStart Jill.
    Salary? $30,000
    New car price? $20,000
    Taxes? 10%
    Nice house price? $400,000
    Good hourly wage? $30/hour

  4. Here were some of the answers from when I posted on ‘Your Money and Your Life;
    11yo:
    $90k
    $25k
    20%
    $900k (sadly true in the Seattle area where we are)
    $50 or maybe $25? (I’ll take $50)

    My 15-year-old son:
    1: $111k
    2: $40k (he wants a BMW)
    3: 30%
    4: $1 mln (probably accurate for our area, though it wasn’t that high when we moved here)
    5: $60!

    1. 30,000 2. 10,000+ 3. 10% 4. 50,000 Says my 15 year old. That restaurant job isn’t going to looks so great after we have a talk about this.

    My teenage son (we live in CA, so I expected his answers to be in the higher range:
    1 – $100k
    2 – $40k!
    3 – 10 to 15%
    4 – $1MM

    13 year old:
    1) $45,000
    2) $9000
    3) 7%
    4) $300,000
    5) $25/hr

    11 year old:
    1) $90,000
    2) $30,000
    3) 17%
    4) $250,000
    5) $30/hr

    Twin A:
    1.) $61,000
    2.) $20,000
    3.) 60%
    4.) $600,000
    5.) $21/hr

    Twin B:
    1.) $55,000
    2.) $16,000
    3.) 50%
    4.) $200,000
    5.) $30/hr

    Both boy are seven. In our area, about $60,000 for a single person is a minimum for a middle class renter life. One bedroom apt rental is around $1,500 per month. Two bedroom condos about $500,000. Single family detached home about $750,000 to over $1.2 million. It gets cheaper if you want a 30 minute to 50 minute commute.

  5. More answers from the NPR facebook page;

    11 years old: (don’t just hit return, hit shift/return)
    1. $2,000 a year.
    2. $100 or more (she hears cars are pretty expensive)”
    3. None. With a quizzical face.
    4. $90.00 (no K) Unless it’s not on sale.
    5. $4/hr.

    9 years old: 1) $500 2) $400 3)5% 4) $500 5) $30. Oh dear. I then made my daughter figure out what a full time worker would earn in a year on $30/hr, and she figured about 57k. So I then asked her how she reconciles $30 an hour as a good wage but also $500 a year as a good wage. She says “hey, I’m just a kid,” and walks away. Lol.

    11 years old: 1) 800K 😱, 2) 15K🙄, 3) 2 dollars🤣, 4) 450K😭, 5) 3K

    9 years old
    1) 900k (needs to lose a zero)
    2) 500k (again needs to lose a 0)
    3) 20% (fairly average I suppose)
    4) 300k (right on for where we live, this is a 3/2 decent area)
    5) 35/hr (sounds about right)

  6. Hey OF, great idea! I got the following:
    10 yr old
    1) $5,000
    2) $2,000
    3) 25%
    4) $2,000
    5) $50

    12yr old
    1) $60,000
    2) $10,000
    3) 33%
    4) $500,000
    5) $60
    (the 12 yr old clearly pays a lot more attention when we talk about money)

Let's get things nice and sparkling clear