Jobs, Not Allowances

April 15, 2014 · 3 comments

Thank you for reading and following Gutenblog.

I recently spoke at the spring conference for the National Print Owners Association in Fort Lauderdale. Instead of presenting a “normal” marketing ideas seminar, I chose instead to discuss my personal philosophy, as well as the habits and core values that served as the foundation for building my successful business. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if my seminar would be well-received because I knew it might not be what the attendees were expecting. However, the seminar evaluations and positive feedback I’ve received have far surpassed anything I’ve experienced before. Many, many printers told me how much they benefited by learning how I did things “behind the scenes” and “underneath it all.”

Today’s blog is another of the ideas I shared in that seminar. I hope you find my ideas about how to teach our children to manage money helpful.

From the time my two daughters were toddlers, I wanted them to think like businesspeople. I never ask them “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Instead, I would ask “What kind of business do you want to own when you grow up?” As parents, Jenny and I did everything we could to teach our daughters to think being a business owner and/or an entrepreneur was a normal and expected thing.

Since all of you are busy, I will share my ideas about why we gave our children jobs, not allowances — and how we taught them to understand the value and importance of money at a young age.

  • We often told our children that “profits are better than wages.”
  • We don’t give our kids an allowance. We give them jobs around the house that are income-producing opportunities.
  • Virtually every task and chore we ask our kids to do results in them getting paid something. Making their beds gives them a “profit” of twenty five cents, while cleaning the entire house on Saturday morning results in a $26.00 profit.
  • Each month, each of our children has a chance to earn between $150 and $300. Some months, the potential is as high as $400.
  • We also pay our kids $.05 per page for reading books that are preapproved by Mom or Dad. As a result, last year during summer vacation, my youngest daughter read 26 different books.
  • As parents, we provide the basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter, but we provide very few luxuries or extravagances.
  • Our kids use their income to purchase things like Starbucks, cell phones, movie tickets, extra clothes or designer jeans, and candy or treats.
  • Each of my daughters, at age 13, had their own checkbook, debit card, and bank savings account. We’ve also taught them how to reconcile those accounts.
  • When each of them had saved $2000.00, we took them to Edward Jones and had them meet with a stock broker, who opened an investment account for them and taught them how to buy and sell stocks. Today, after three years, one of their accounts is worth $2600+, while the other account is worth $2300+. As parents, we don’t suggest which stocks or mutual funds to invest in — that’s between them and their broker.
  • Also at the age of 13, we started to have each of our daughters file an annual tax return, because we wanted them to realize early in life that everyone needs to pay taxes.

As a result of this type of financial education, our daughters, at a very young age, have a much greater appreciation for nice things, and they don’t spend money foolishly — because they understand how much effort it takes to earn it.

There are very few entitlements in the Stevens family. We wanted our children to grow up with the basic appreciation that if you want something, you have to earn the money to pay for it. We wanted to teach them a good work ethic. We wanted them to think like businesspeople.

Someday, they may live long and happy lives as stay-at-home moms, or they may choose to try to become the CEO of General Electric. Either way, we have tried to prepare them, in advance, to understand basic financial planning.

It’s also made our daughters understand that things like paying $5 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks might not be a good use of their hard-earned money.

I hope you find these ideas helpful as you teach your own children to understand how money works.

My name is Mike Stevens, and I am a printer.


No Questions Asked

March 25, 2014 · 2 comments

Would you like to do something extraordinarily nice for your wife or husband?

Here’s an idea that, if you choose to do it, is a gift you can be sure that none of your spouse’s friends or acquaintances will have ever received.

If you own a printing business, try to remember that your spouse makes regular sacrifices on your behalf… and on behalf of your family business. These sacrifices often go under appreciated or unacknowledged.

Here’s a simple, small way to express your gratitude to your spouse on an ongoing basis. It’s called the “No Questions Asked” checking account.

no questions asked

This account was a gift to my wife, Jenny.

I regularly deposit money in the account. It never has a big balance — rarely more than $1000 — and most of my deposits are between $50 and $200.

But here’s the best part… it’s called “no questions asked” because when I gave it to her, I told her she never had to ask me before spending the money or explain what she spent the money on. I never (I mean never) ask where the money went!

I don’t see the bank statements for this account, and it’s not included in our online banking.

So if you’re looking for a unique way to acknowledge all the things your spouse does to support you, consider opening a “No Questions Asked” checking account in their name.

My name is Mike Stevens, and I am a printer.


How Work Works

March 10, 2014

There were many times during the 29 years I owned my printing company that I felt like my employees shortchanged me when it came to working a full work week. In other words, there were many times I paid for 40 hours of work but didn’t get 40 hours of work in return. My hunch […]

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Should You Shut Down Your Computers Each Night?

February 4, 2014

I grew up in the 1960s, during the height of America’s Industrial Age. Machines were everywhere. They were respected, and tools were important. As the son and grandson of men who worked in the auto factories, I was taught to take care of my equipment, and that included making sure all of my equipment was […]

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Mike’s Top 50 Goals for 2014

January 9, 2014

This is the third part of a three-part series on setting goals. Forbes magazine said a few years ago that only 3% of people make a written list of their personal goals, but over 70% of the top 500 corporate CEOs do. I know which statistic I want to be a part of, don’t you? […]

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A simple, easy-to-use system for setting goals

January 8, 2014

There are probably a dozen different goal-setting systems you could use to help you create your own personal goal list for the new year. This is how I do mine. What I like about the way I do it is that it’s simple to understand, fun to do, and easy to remember how it works. […]

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How could I ever be so stupid?

January 7, 2014

Have you ever made a mistake and later regretted it? Let’s dig a little bit deeper. Have you ever done something the “right way” for a long time, then inexplicably veered off course and really screwed up badly? Well, that’s what I did last year, and I’m going to share with you what I did […]

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A creative way to sell a few more print jobs each month

December 20, 2013

This doesn’t happen very often. Here’s one of those rare 5-Star sales and marketing ideas you can use to gain more sales. This isn’t one of those “iffy” ideas. This idea will work for everyone when implemented. Here goes… How many times have you been frustrated because you can’t compete with some of the big […]

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Christmas gift ideas for your printing firm’s employees

December 12, 2013

Every year at Christmas, I would struggle with what to give the employees at my printing firm. I wanted to give them something nice, but since I usually had a limited budget, it wasn’t always easy to find good gift ideas. I realized that to some employees a $500 gift might not seem like much, […]

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One of the best email newsletters you’ll ever read

November 26, 2013

Happy “short” Thanksgiving Week to all of you hard-working printers! I sincerely hope all of you enjoy at least one day away from the office this week. I always looked forward to the Thanksgiving weekend because that’s when I would start working on my next year’s sales and marketing plan, and that always created a […]

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