The business was started in lieu of an allowance, as a way to teach Joe about money but also to avoid a situation where he felt entitled to it. The work was easy enough for a 4-year-old, but just hard enough to create learning opportunities. Read more HERE.
Over the last 3 years, Joe has learned a lot of valuable life lessons, including about responsibility, self-reliance, independence and the value of a dollar. The best part about starting the Garbage Can Business is that the lessons have been automatic. We have not had to stage discussion; we just do the weekly work.
We’ve been doing the weekly work for years, and it has greatly benefited the entire family. That said, it became clear that it was about time for a change. The two main reasons were:
1. Joe was getting really really good at the job. No complaining, no trouble with heavy trash cans, no urge to blow his savings, no difficulty counting money, spending money or giving away money. He needed a new challenge.
2. Joe’s sister Brooke is now 5 years old. There should be no “pass” for our second born child or for our only girl.
We couldn’t think of another businesses that was as appropriate for a little kid, with just enough challenges to make it rewarding, but that was also easy enough on the parents. So, with Joe’s approval, we brought in a new Houston garbage woman… Garbage Woman Brooke.
Brooke is now in charge of hauling out the trash cans and hauling them back in again the next day. She gets to collect the money (now 50¢ each), save the money, count the money, and get a visceral understanding of responsibility, self-reliance, independence and the value of a dollar.
Just like Joe, she gets to make the decisions. If she blows her money on ice cream, she finds out she can’t buy her favorite doll as quickly. If she wants an American Girl Doll, she knows she needs to work for a lot more weeks than if she wants a basic baby doll. She even gets to decide if she wants to quit the business… but knows she must do it the proper way, so no neighbors get left with stinky trash cans.
Joe has been promoted to managing the business. It’s his job to remember trash can days, to invoice the customers and to advertise to new potential customers. This is a good new challenge for the boy that has mastered hauling out the cans.
Of course, all of this requires some work from my husband and I. The kids are too little to go out on their own and Brooke is not quite strong enough to pull out a extra full trash can. However, helping to haul out some trashcans on Sunday evening is a small sacrifice for the life lessons the kids learn through the garbage can business.