Other people’s money – an epiphany!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 30th September 2009

Last night Ryan and I went on a shopping trip to get some materials he will need for this project. We went with a shopping list and a budget to keep within. It was to be a $20.00 shopping spree. That would be a “spree” for a six year old at least. So the challenge was to get everything we could within that spending limit.

This would be a great exercise in a number of areas.

  1. Setting priorities
  2. Mathematics
  3. Making compromises
  4. Working with a budget

paint-cansWe decided that the most important thing to focus on was the paint, since we still had some of the other items on the list on hand at home (although dwindling). So we headed to the paint department and started reviewing the spray paint options. Ryan made some color choices and we studied the different paint finishes and their respective pricing differences. Based on our budget Ryan found that his original six choices of paint would have to be trimmed to four. After some pondering, his final choices were made.

During the course of deciding on the paint colors Ryan had what I found to be an interesting dilemma to ponder. From the colors he wanted, he would be able to buy 6 cans of various colored paints. However, he was interested in two other colors which were more expensive. So he had two options. Buy the six to get more cans, or buy only four but include the two that were more expensive. In the end he decided on the four including two metallic finishes that he really liked. He prioritized the colors over the quantity.

With the paint selections eating up the evenings budget it was time to head for the cashier. Checking out at the register Ryan was very proud to pull his own money out of his pocket and make the purchase. The total at checkout? $20.30. Pretty good in terms of sticking to the budget.

It was on the way home that Ryan had his epiphany about “other people’s money”. As we were driving home Ryan was disappointed that we were not able to get all of the materials that were on our list. He knew at some point this was going to be something we had to get worked out. Then it hit him, and he presented it to me like this…

“Daddy, I’ve got it figured out! I know how we can get all of the other things we needed on our list! We just take the materials we already have and make all of the building block sets that we can and sell them for money. Then we take that money to go and buy all the materials we need to make more!” He summed up by saying, “You see Daddy? We use other people’s money to get the things we need!”

It’s hard to argue with that thinking!

Categories: Easy Builders

Our first business expenses, Ryan steps up!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 29th September 2009

At some point things start to cost money. This is that point. Today Ryan has come up with an idea to make these building blocks even better. We should paint them. Again my thought, is there any reason we cannot make this happen? Not really.

This does create a good learning opportunity, and would be worth it even with some small cost for paint. So we move forward with the idea. We discuss questions like what colors will we use, how many colors should be used, how should we paint (spray or by brush) and most importantly, how much will this cost? We also talked about what other materials we will be needing such as sand paper for smoothing the wood’s cut edges and more lumber since the supply of scrap wood from the garage is dwindling.

Ryan & Collin's lemonade stand, summer 2009

Ryan & Collin's lemonade stand, summer 2009

Seeing that the door is open to painting the blocks he is making, Ryan is anxious to get to the store to buy materials right now! But before we go he surprises me. No, check that, he shocks me. Ryan said to me, “I’ll go get my money Daddy. I think I have enough.” Wow! He didn’t bat an eye. Didn’t even seem to entertain any thought that Dad or Mom would cover the costs. Where did that come from?

As I mentioned in an previous post, earlier in the summer Ryan and his brother Collin had done a lemonade stand at our house. They had a great time and worked together as a team on it. Collin was the greeter and took orders. Ryan handled filling the cups, serving the orders and managed the money. It was a good math lesson and practice at working together. In the end they actually did pretty well considering that our home is a bit off the beaten path. Ryan saved all of the money he got from that experience in a box in his room, the same box he was raiding today for the sake of his paint.

So off to the store we went right away as Ryan wanted to so badly. Before we left we prepared a list of the things we needed and established the spending limit we had to work within. Ryan and I would share the costs 50/50.

This dad is blown away to see his 6 yr old son stepping up with his very own hard earned money to foot the bill. On top of that, it is obvious that Ryan is really serious about this project/idea. I can get behind that.

Categories: Easy Builders

Let’s make more building blocks and make it a business!

Posted by Ryans Dad on 27th September 2009

After seeing how much his brother Collin was enjoying the wood blocks he had given him, Ryan decided that lots of kids would have fun playing with these blocks. Plus, we still have some more of that scrap wood in the garage. So…

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

Collin enjoying the blocks Ryan gave him.

What started as a present for his brother has now become a project for more kids. Over the course of maybe 24 hours Ryan decided that it would be fun to make more sets of blocks for other kids. Along with that he has decided he wants to sell them and start a business.

I honestly believe that his motivation for creating a business for himself isn’t really tied to making money. He has said more than once that the best part of this will be helping other kids have fun. He’s excited about making these blocks and seeing others play with them and have fun.

I think his interest in creating a business for himself stems from an experience from earlier this summer where he and Collin set up a lemonade stand at our house. They had a great time with that. We made and posted signs, set up the lemonade stand and took good care of customers. I think he really enjoyed that and sees this as another chance to have that kind of fun.

When new ideas such as this come flowing from either of our boys I try very hard to keep an open mind. Is this idea in any way unreasonable or even dangerous? If not, can we actually make it happen and could we learn from it? This one seems manageable, could be fun and could be a learning experience. So why not?

So with an affirmative response from Dad, Ryan could not get me to cut more wood blocks fast enough! Looks like it is back to the circular saw for me.

Categories: Easy Builders

From scrap wood comes an idea

Posted by Ryans Dad on 26th September 2009

It was some scrap wood and another project that brought the idea for Ryan. Let’s make some building blocks for kids to play with!

Ryan's inspiration project

Ryan with his "bed for stuffed animals" in progress.

The project of the day was one of building a bed for Ryan’s stuffed animals. I had some scrap wood in the garage from a previous home improvement project and Ryan thought it was perfect to use to build a bed.

As I was cutting the pieces of wood to size with an old circular saw, Ryan noticed the pieces that were dropping to the floor. After pondering them a bit he picked up a few and said, “These would be good for building blocks Dad! Can I make some?” That was simple enough to do so why not?

He gathered together a group of 8 or 10 wood blocks of different sizes and called them a set. With a little sanding on the edges to take off some frayed sliver edges, he had some new toys.

It was at this point that he surprised me by saying he wanted to give this set of blocks to his little brother Collin as a present. Once again, why not? So off he went to find some wrapping paper, scissors and tape to “make the present”. Getting all of this pulled together with barely a minute to spare, he was able to give Collin his present just before bedtime.

Collin was delighted in receiving a present from his big brother and a hand-made one to boot! The smile on his face beamed and he set out to play at once (in spite of the looming bedtime routine). I must say that this father had a pretty good smile on his face as well, enjoying one son giving so happily to his brother and the younger enjoying the gift so enthusiastically.

This is a great way to end your day!

Categories: Easy Builders