Farmer’s Markets and Disneyland Savings

Emily and I have been working hard on saving for Disneyland. Unfortunately last week and now this week, we are not attending the farmer’s market (I’m teaching classes on those nights), so our savings total hasn’t gone up much…

Total saved to date

Our current savings is hovering at just under $600. Emily earned $10 through a temporary loan. She loaned our main checking account $100 and I have scheduled a return transfer of $110. Funny thing that, I have zero problem with paying  my daughter $10 per transaction – it’s loads better than paying a $35 overdraft fee to the bank.

Our weekly trip to the bank (cookie bonus!)

Every Wednesday following a farmer’s market, we visit the bank. We walk inside and Emily gets to hand the teller the money.

“Look Emily, that’s how much you have in savings now,” I point to the total.

She grins, “Wow! I’ve got a lot of money! We are definitely going to Disneyland!”

And if that wasn’t enough, she always gets a cookie while she is there. Sometimes she wins big, and gets a sucker as well from the teller.

She’s getting more and more familiar with money, so after our next farmer’s market excursion I plan on showing just exactly how I count up that pile of money (first subtracting the $45 in cash we need to make change at market). I’m hoping this will work on her addition skills as well as build her coin recognition.

Her focus and persistence

I am struck by Emily’s continued focus on this goal. Despite her young age, she rarely wavers, her eyes firmly fixed on the prize.

When the ice cream truck bell sounded through the neighborhood she ran to her money source (me), asking if she could have some ice cream. “I don’t have any cash on me right now.” I told her (this was before I gave her some money to spend).

“Can we use the money in the jar?” she asked.

“That’s supposed to be for Disneyland,” I answered, “Which do you want more, ice cream now or Disneyland next year?”

This happened several times. Two out of three times she chose to keep the money in savings.

Anytime she finds a quarter or penny on the street she will tell me, “I want to put this in savings for Disneyland!” her persistence is really quite amazing!

What We Are Both Learning

Emily and I are learning a great deal from the farmer’s market – barter, salesmanship, cooperation, patience, and so much more.

Barter – The other sellers at the farmer’s market are friendly, kind and helpful. They also understand the barter system very well. One week we arrived late and the tent next to us was selling these decorative hair twists. “I need a model,” the guy said, “would you mind if I did your daughter’s hair up in a crown?” I asked Emily and she looked excited. We received a DVD that explains how to do it – in exchange I promoted his hair twists to everyone that came by and commented on Emily’s pretty hair.

There are others who we have swapped samples with or given discounts on our products to. The sense of community and sharing is strong here.

Salesmanship – We bring different products each time we go to the farmer’s market. This is mainly because we are both learning – what sells, what doesn’t? Each visit I give Emily a cue – “Today I would like you to say, ‘Would you like some of our flavored honey?’ or ‘We have a yummy rice mix, would you like to try a sample?'”

Emily was born to sell. She stops people in their tracks, literally. As they approach she runs up and asks them the phrase of the day. It helps that she is cute – but invariably they stop and sample some of the items and make a purchase.

She can get rather extreme at times. I’ll admit, I’ve had to warn her off of poaching other vendors customers. If she had her way she would just drag them by the hands back to our tent!

Cooperation – No matter when we get there or who we are next to, someone always comes over and offers to help us set up our tent. It is a kindness that neither Emily or I can ignore. We have found a community of camaraderie among other entrepreneurs. I can’t help thinking that the message we receive and reciprocate is that of being kind towards others and working together to make a small community of vendors and customers who give great products and service.

Patience – Sometimes it can be hard to sit there for three plus hours. Emily expresses this by getting up and wandering within eyesight of our tent, dancing, investigating the trees and anthills, or spending time talking to people. Recently, Dairy Queen was there handing out free samples of ice cream. That kept her busy for a while! She occasionally complains about being bored, but I remind her of why we are there and that usually re-focuses her.

Cuteness Factor – “I really want some of those cookies, Mama.” Emily said at a recent visit to the market. “Look!” she said pointing, “that’s the cookie man!”

I handed her the fifty cents she had earned from helping me move equipment in and out of a cleaning recently. “Here, ask him how many cookies you can get with your work earnings.” She ran off excitedly. A few minutes later she returned with a handful of cookies.

“He said they were free,” she said grinning, “because I’m cute!” Yep, that works.

Take Aways

Through the initial idea of saving for Disneyland I hoped to promote:

  • A healthy dose of self-esteem
  • The belief that if you set your mind to something you CAN do it
  • That even a lofty goal of $1400 is within a five year old’s grasp – imagine what she will be able to do at ten, fifteen, or even 20 years of age?!
  • Entrepreneurship can work – even for small children – perhaps especially in the young
  • Out of the Box thinking – what can we make or sell for an honest profit?

Along the way, I’ve proved that, and been reminded of other readily available lessons like:

  • The Caring of Others – A family came by, heard about our goal and one of the boys bought 75 cents worth of Emily’s tree seeds (she had gathered them from a nearby tree and was asking 5 cents for them – hey entrepreneurial thinking!). Many people responded to the idea of a child actively working towards a goal. It appealed to them strongly.
  • Fair Prices and Excellent Products – You won’t keep selling unless you are providing an excellent product for a reasonable price. Truth be told, I probably underpriced things, but I was motivated to a) bring in a noticeable flow of money to keep Emily excited, and b) not have to pack it back up into the van!
  • Skill-Building – How do children learn to deal with others? By dealing with others! Salesmanship, interaction, she is learning how to talk to grownups and getting life skills in the process. Where will it take her in life?

I picked up a book recently on teaching your child the value of money, work and time well spent. I might do a report on it in a later post. Meanwhile, check it out by clicking: Earn It, Learn It: Teach Your Child the Value of Money, Work, and Time Well Spent (Earn My Keep Allowance Program)

We still have over $800 in savings to go – and a year until we plan on going to Disneyland. But since starting this in May, I am convinced we will succeed. More importantly, I wonder where Emily’s dreams will take us next.

She has been talking a lot about visiting New York…and seeing the Plaza Hotel where Eloise lives….


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