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Price Vs. Cost: Using eBay to Teach Teens Entrepreneurship

My son is entering hide senior year of high school. This is it! He is in his final stretch. With that said, I am doing my best to empower him financially before he begins to make his journey into adulthood. As you may know, I set up his checking account and experienced a few hiccups shortly thereafter, but eventually I got him (and everyone else) thinking straight. And then the summer came. And then his birthday came.

And then he went crazy.

I was a teen once so I can't say I don't understand, but I didn't have the access to adult playthings that he or any kid does theses days so I don't understand. After his birthday he did an amazing thing: he poured all his gift money and then some money that was meant for him to actually use and went on a five day spending spree that reached nearly $1,000. He was away at the time, of course, safely out of the naysaying reach of mom and dad. The kicker though? When the smoke cleared he didn't have a bag full of goodies. He had only three things, still had $200 in the bank and had the nerve to send me a text asking for $20 via bank transfer so he could buy some food. I laughed, called him to tell him he had some nerve and said no.

It could've been worse I suppose. He could've been using a credit card. That's what I did back in my day.

There are other things too, like not wanting to spend money on things that he needs if it means going to an ATM that charges high fees. Something I understand completely as someone with a car. Something I'm not so certain is wise if you owe a friend money and your only mode of transportation are the feet attached to your ankles. And there are more examples of his teenage frugality which indicates that he is focused only on the price of a thing rather than the ultimate cost of a thing. Price being the sticker value of an item, a fee, etc. Cost being how much time, money, headache, drama you experience in the long run trying to avoid that original price.

My son is at that in between age where he is too young to work most of the jobs he wants to do, and too busy with sports to work that jobs he can. Of course in my old man dad wisdom I think and say "something has to give". Well, because it does.

Not too long ago my wife suggested that my son start selling his stuff on eBay. He is too young to sell on his own as the legal age to do so is 18. But that doesn't mean I can't on his behalf. How is this any different than raiding his room for quality items he no longer wears or uses? It puts him in charge of seeking these items out and keeping them in good condition in the first place so that they can either be sold or donated. By watching me list items and giving him his cut if and when they sell it primes him to become an eBay seller himself should he so choose once he comes of age. It's E-commerce 101 taught at home. In will be an extension of his financial empowerment. Not only will he have a place to store-house his money moving forward he will also have a means, Generation Y-style or Z or whatever it is, to acquire it. It will teach him to maintain his stuff (since my buying it for him isn't reason enough) so that the life cycle of a product can live on beyond his ownership of it. It will get him thinking circular about his money (a circle is closed --- nothing ever leaves it).

Consider doing the same with your kids, but please remember they have to be 18 in order to sell by themselves. If you sell on eBay I would encourage you to share the experience with the kids. Via eBay you can teach them a lesson in entrepreneurship that they will hopefully carry far into their adulthood.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.

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