My 12-Year-Old Daughter Shares Her Secrets for Saving Money

This is a guest post from my daughter, Nina.

Hello! It’s me, Nina, again! My dad asked me to write another post for him. He let me pick the picture too!  :-)

He paid me $15 for this, by the way. (Thank you, Dad!)

That money’s going to come in handy too because lately I’ve been trying to save up for a new laptop computer. The one that I have my eyes on is made by Compaq, which is the same laptop that my brother, Matthew, has. My mom and dad only use Macs, but since Macs are very expensive, I decided to get a PC.

In order to get my laptop, I need to gain around $240.

Back in April, I saved up enough money to buy a new iPod 4G, which was around $300. So I know for a fact that I can save enough money to get a laptop in no time.

Now, I have many ways that I can earn money in my house. For each chore that I do, I get about 25 cents.

I know what you’re thinking: But Nina … 25 cents? Isn’t that such a small amount? Actually, no! If I do every chore right every single day, it adds up to about $2 a day, which would give me $60 each month. Not bad.

I keep track of everything I earn in a special book called a ledger. It also has a list of all of my chores in it and the amount I get paid for each one. If you think about it, a ledger is very similar to a savings account.

My dad also gives my brother and me a chance to earn extra money once a week with something he calls “The Monday Ten Dollar Question of the Night.” (We have a theme song too, which is really just the “Dancing With the Stars” tune.) Every Monday night during dinner, my dad tells me and Matthew to get a piece of paper and a pen. He then asks us a very difficult question that we might never guess.

Our most recent question was this one: When you go to a carnival and you hear people shouting out, “GET YER RED HOTS!”, what are they really selling? I got it right. (It’s hot dogs!)  So I got to add $10 in my ledger this week.

Matthew guessed “hot tamales,” so he lost out.

To earn extra money I used to have a lemonade stand, but now I wash cars. My best friend, Ashley, and I have a car washing business that we began in late May. We call it the “Rubber Duckiez Car Washing Service” and our motto is: “We leave your car SQUEAKY clean!”  We wash on Saturdays from 10 AM to 2 PM, and we charge $10 for cars and $15 for trucks and vans! That money rakes in very fast.

I am hoping to raise enough money for my laptop by the end of the year. The effort that I will have to put in will be incredible, but I can do it!

I have enjoyed writing for you all once again! I hope to come back soon!

-Nina Penzo, age 12  :-)

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

42 comments to My 12-Year-Old Daughter Shares Her Secrets for Saving Money

  • Washing cars is a very good idea, and I bet the money does add up pretty quickly. Your entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.

  • Colleen

    WOW, I wish my kids (11 & 13) were as motivated as you! Now, I do have one question…what are the 8 chores you do each day to earn $2? Your parents must not have to do anything around the house (cleaning toilets, washing dishes, etc) if you are doing so many things! Just so you know, cleaning ladies get about $25 an hour; so you may want to increase your rate :)

  • Kelli

    Keep up the hard work Nina! It always rewards you in the end. Thank you for such an inspiring article!

  • Nina, you are on your way to becoming an entrepreneur extraordinaire! Or taking over your dad’s blog. Either way, keep up the great work!

  • BC

    That’s great, I really like that your dad asked you to write. I read his column every day. My daughter is 9, and had a dog-walking business over the summer and raised $45. $1 a dog, that worked out really well. And like you Nina, she does chores around the house for money because we don’t do allowances. All the best to you!

  • tracee

    Great post Nina! And great advice!! You’ll get that pc in no time.

  • Daniel

    Your a very good writer Nina and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

  • Mary Collins

    Nina! I was so impressed with your article and you gave me several great ideas that I am going to use with the kids in my life, to thank you. I really admire you because you are willing to work and save for something that you really want – may I tell you that you will discover that the enjoyment and satisfaction you receive from it will be 10 times what you would if it was just handed to you! Here’s to you, dearie! I look forward to your posting again!

  • Grandpa

    Hi Nina

    Looks like I`ll be getting my car washed this Saturday! Good job on your writing of this article.

  • Saving money for something at an early age is a great habit to get into. Monitor your savings and determine what you need to do to increase your savings. Great lesson in life!

  • You should really write more blog posts, and they could become quite profitable too.

  • Nina, Great job having a goal and being willing and able to work towards it.

    Take your time picking out your PC. Don’t just buy what your brother bought without studying and deciding what would work best for you.

    Get your Dad to help you learn Excel when you get your PC. Ledgers are so old school!

    Have you learned to type yet? My kids learned at your age and it helped them all the way through school while their friends were hunting and pecking with 2 fingers.

  • Nina

    @cashflowmantra: Thank you!

    @Colleen: Thank you,Collen! My chores include: Cleaning and setting the table, cleaning my room, making my bed, and getting the mail and paper. (I never count that anymore though!)

    @Kelli: You’re welcome! And thank you! :)

    @Littlehouse: I’ll get a lot of money if I take over my dad’s blog… so I’ll go with that one! :P

    @BC: Thank you so much! That’s a great idea! My neighbors and I thought about dog walking, but we never got around to actually passing out the fliers that we made.

    @tracee: Thank you Tracee!

    @Daniel: Thank you so much! My dad and I were thinking about letting me guest-post once a month! Let’s see how that works out! :-)

    @Mary Collins: Awww thank you so much! :)

    @Grandpa: Thanks Grandpa! You get a discount because you’re family!

    @krantcents: My parents have taught me well! Thank you!

    @Jens Dalsgaard: I am planning to write again really soon! Who knows, I might make a blog myself later in life! :)

    @Dr Dean: Hi Dr.Dean! I already know how to use excel, actually! My dad taught me on my Mac. Yes, I have learned to type! I’m not sure when I did though… I can even type without looking at the keyboard FYI! Thank you so much!

    -Nina :)

  • Nina

    @Colleen: Oh and loading/emptying the dishwasher :)

  • Monday Night Ten Dollar Question is Genius! I love it! i hope when I am a dad I am as cool as you Len.

    • Len Penzo

      Aww, thanks, Matt. LOL

      We’ve been doing the Monday Question of the Night for about four years now. The kids love it, and they get to learn a few things in the process — not to mention make a few bucks off it every once in awhile. (For those who are curious, I’d say the kids’ success rate is currently about 1 out of every 5 questions, although when they were younger it was probably only 1 out of 10.)

  • I hope you get your laptop sooner than you have planned.

  • Great job, Nina! I love to see the entrepreneurial spirit in kids! Two of my kids are real “go-getters” like you. Any advice for motivating the others?

  • Rose

    You go girl…you are smarter than some adults I know :) I love you sweet girl, and you will become a great adult…♥

  • Nina

    @doable finance: I hope so too! Thanks for the comment!

    @Pam at moneytrail: Thanks!! Some advice: If you really want it, aim for it. If you stick to your goal, you’ll be there in no time!

    @Rose: Hi Rose!!! :) thank you so so much :D

    -Nina

    • Rose

      ♥ you are so very welcome sweet girl…Love to you and mommy..she is doing such a wonderful job with you, you are becoming quite the little lady :) ♥

  • Jordana

    Great article, Nina!

    But the title was wrong – this isn’t how you save money, it’s how you make money. I’d actually be really curious to know how you manage to resist the impulse to spend for the time it takes you to reach your savings goal. Do you feel like you’re missing out on other things to get your iPod and PC?

  • Athena

    Nina-

    I just wanted to say kudos to you for having goals and not being afraid to work to earn things that many people(not just kids) take for granted and assume they should have it automatically. You should be proud of yourself. I’m sure you’re parents are. I have four children and they all help around the house also and earn money. Yes, they love earning the money, however, it is also an invaluable gift teaching them to be responsible and set goals. It’s wonderful to hear about good things such as this.

    Great job Penzo family!!!

  • Nina

    @Jordana: Thank you! I have spent as little money as I can over the past month. If I do spend my money, I feel kind of guilty because I have taken from my goal. About other things that I might be missing out on for my Ipod and PC; I honestly don’t think that my Ipod needs anything else expect for Itunes gift cards, which I usually get for Christmas. I am trying to spend as little as possible so that I can finally get my PC.

    @Athena: Thank you so much! I really appreciate it! :)

  • Vik

    Smart Dad, smart daughter. Way to go Nina! You will be very successful in your life.

  • Everyday tips

    What a great post! When you get all that money saved for your computer, you should start a blog of your own, and I am serious. Give your dad a run for his money!

  • Nina

    @Vik Thank you! :D

    @Everyday tips: Thank you so much!

  • Wow Nina — You’re a fantastic writer with a knack for smart money management! This is an incredible post, and you’re doing a terrific job. I have no doubt you’ll get that PC soon.

    Watch out, Len, soon the student will become the master! Nina, I think that not long from now, you’re going to be teaching your dad a thing or two about money and writing.

  • Outstanding, Nina! Great job! You’re and inspiration and a role model for my teens!

    Kudos to you, Len, too! Thanks for showing us how to raise kids with great money habits and attitudes!

    I’m doing the Happy Dance for each of you! :-)

  • Nina rocks

    Hi Nina you have inspired me so much ( I’m 12 too) I have been doing the car wash business for about three days now I have made about 20$!!!! My business name is splish splash your car needs a bath! And my motto is: you will be driving with your wheels squeaking…. I do it with my neighbor her name is Allison!! My name is Katie :) you rock nina!!

    • Nina

      @Nina rocks (Katie): Hi! :D it’s awesome that you started your own business! That is a really creative name! I love it! Good luck with your business,Katie! :)

  • Seth

    I like the idea of the Monday night question. Brilliant. Where do you come up with your questions though? I would always wonder if a question is too difficult or too easy for my [insert age here] year old child.

  • Debbie

    Nina,
    Congratulations on all your successful endeavors! My son tried to earn some money for a new bike last summer by offering to cut the neighbors grass.Unfortunately, he didn’t get any takers. Have you had something not go well and how did you keep your motivation?

  • turtle3

    wow nina that is some great advise. me and my friend are working on a car washing service of our own and i know how hard it is. and this is only sorting out if we can get permission from the council. i hope you do well. i know you’ll get that PC in no time. oh and 1 more thing. you should ask your parents if you can get paid maybe 50c per job. that would mean $4 a day and $120 a month. you’ll be rich in no time.

  • lucy

    i remember getting an allowance per week.. We had chores to do. No chores, no allowance. I supplimented that income with baby sitting and working during the summer peeling apples and cleaning houses. Good for you, Nina to learn the value of a $

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