Since modern school schedules were invented, kids have looked forward to summers off. Instead of enduring hurried mornings, kids look forward to the days when they can sleep in, take their time getting ready, and spend the day playing outdoors with their friends. But summer offers much more than a few months of playtime. If you’re a parent who hopes to prepare your kids for the real world, it’s the perfect season for kids to learn lessons that are hard to grasp in a classroom setting. And you don’t even need a book or a course schedule to teach your kids some of the biggest life lessons of all.
One rite of passage, the summer lemonade stand, offers a slew of money and life lessons that almost any kid could benefit from. Sure, making money selling lemonade may look easy, but your kids might see things differently if you let them take the reins.
Here are some of the important money rules kids almost always learn with their first lemonade stand.
1. You have to spend money to make money
Kids love the idea of pouring lemonade and raking in some serious profit, but where did that lemonade come from? And who paid for the cups and supplies that made their lemonade stand possible? By the way, who pays for the water running out of the tap?
If you want your kids to experience the realities of business ownership, have them buy lemonade mix, cups, and supplies on their own. Yes, you read that right: Have them use their own money!
Once you have them use their allowance or piggy bank funds to purchase supplies, they will learn that earning a profit usually requires spending money first. After all, once you reach adulthood, your mom won’t pay for your business inventory, right?
2. With any business venture, location is everything
Most kids find it easier to set their lemonade stand right at the end of the driveway. That way, they can ride their bikes, play in the dirt and goof off between customers. But what happens when you don’t get much foot traffic?
Kids might find it inconvenient to move their lemonade stand onto a busier stretch of road, but that’s just the way business goes, isn’t it? If you want to make money, you have to go where your customers are. It might cramp your kid’s style, but it’s a good lesson.
With any business, maximizing your profits comes at the cost of doing things you don’t really want to do. Increasing profits at a summer lemonade stand is no different.
3. Hard work isn’t always fun
As with many other business ventures, running a lemonade stand often sounds like a lot more fun than it really is. Your kids might picture themselves raking in the cash while drinking their favorite sugary drink, but the reality could be rather different. Not only are they standing in the hot sun, but they also have to keep their product prepared and ready to go, clean their work station, and make change for customers all day.
That’s life when you become an adult. In the real world, earning money isn’t always fun, even if you’re doing something you enjoy.
4. Earning money takes patience and accountability
What happens when nobody stops by for a cold drink? Kids will often get busy playing with their toys or with the neighborhood kids next door. Then, all of a sudden, someone shows up to buy a glass and no one is there. Now what?
Kids need to learn that earning money takes patience and accountability. You can’t just walk off your real job because you’re not busy, right? With a summer lemonade stand, kids will learn that if they don’t work, they won’t make money.
5. It feels good to give back
Giving to others is important, and a summer lemonade stand provides the perfect opportunity to show kids what true charity should feel like. If you want your kids to learn what giving really means, have them set aside 10 or 15% of their profits to give to a charity or cause of their choice.
Several lessons can be learned from teaching your kids to give in this way. First, they’ll learn what it means to give away money you worked hard to earn. Second, they’ll learn that the more they earn, the more they can give back.
When you become super successful, you’re able to give money willfully and with your whole heart.
6. Life isn’t always fair
Picture this: Your kids get up early to get their lemonade stand rolling. They put up signs in the neighborhood, carefully create the perfect blend of fresh lemonade and set out their cups and supplies.
Then, nothing. After hours of waiting, hardly anyone shows up, and your kids are heartbroken.
This is easily the biggest lesson of all, and one they’ll learn when they get out in the business world. Sometimes you do everything right, and nothing goes your way regardless of how hard you work. Yep, that’s right. Life is not fair, nor has it ever been. That doesn’t mean their hard won’t ever or ultimately pay off, but this is an important lesson your kids will learn one day, whether they like it or not.
The bottom line
A summer lemonade stand is a fun way for kids to earn money, but they can also learn key lessons that benefit them for the rest of their lives. Of course, the best way to let them learn is to stand out of the way and let them make their own mistakes.
The best lessons of life are almost always learned through trial and error, triumph and failure, and life experience. For your kids to get the most out of their money-making venture, you should let it run its course (unless something goes terribly awry and your assistance is needed).
Otherwise, sit back and have a cold glass of lemonade…on the house, of course.
[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your own financial goals, like building good credit, for free each month on Credit.com.]
More from Credit.com:
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.