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12-year-old shares her savings tips

She has a plan to earn enough money to buy a new laptop by the end of the year. That includes income from her car-washing business.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 30, 2011 11:27AM

This post comes from 12-year-old Nina Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


Hello! It's me, Nina! My dad asked me to write another post for him. 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 eye 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 raise about $240 in addition to the money I've already saved.


Back in April, I saved up enough money to buy a new iPod 4G, which was about $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. Post continues after video.

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 $10 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 us 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 a.m. to 2 p.m., 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! I hope to come back soon!


More on Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:

Oct 1, 2011 5:46AM

Nina, be proud of yourself for working hard to get what you want.  Being an entrepreneur at a young age is a very good thing.  Now that you have learned how to track your income, you might want to learn about compounding.  I'll bet your Mom and Dad can help you with that.


Nina's Dad.  Not to be the bearer of bad news, but be careful what you have your child write down regarding her income.  Even a 12 year-old is responsible for paying taxes on her income.  And I have seen some pretty ridiculous "assaults" by cities to force children to get business licenses for their "businesses."  If they think there is money to be had, even if it is from a child's lemonade stand, they will go after it. 

Sep 30, 2011 4:35PM
Very basic stuff........ too bad not enough adults follow Nina's daily practices.  Nice going Nina, keep it up!
Sep 30, 2011 5:54PM
I'm glad to hear of a kid who is trying to earn money for something. She writes like a very intelligent, young lady. I wish more kids would get off the XBox and earn money.
Sep 30, 2011 6:06PM
I was too poor to give my kids allowances...single Mom with 4 kids.  Besides, even if I did, I wouldn't.  Chores are a family responsibility not tied to money...but to good family function.  The skills I taught them went on to pay good dividends in a part time job.  Was glad I didn't have to bribe my kids with money...the more important value was personal responsibility to others. Teaching my children to be givers built good character in them, the money issue is so secondary .  They grew up to be big givers and big money earners who took out the trash without whining or having to be told...LOL!
Sep 30, 2011 4:55PM
This was the best article I've read all day - It's refreshing to see a kid who is learning financial responsibility. Keep this up and you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of your peers and you'll be able to look back and laugh at the fools who grew up with an unfounded sense of entitlement that were just 'given' everything they wanted. Good for you Nina - you'll go far!!!  
Sep 30, 2011 6:46PM
Good job Nina!  You remind me of my Son.  Though he doesn't write it down and i wish her would.  We took an amazing trip this Summer for a family reunion in Scotland.  He'd saved $249 for spending -- he came home with $138!  As you can see, he has also learned the lesson that - just because it's in your pocket doesn't mean you have to spend it!

You will go far in this world : )

Sep 30, 2011 6:34PM
Way to go Nina!  You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders and are really smart about money.  I am sure you will get your laptop in no time!  Keep up the good work.
Oct 1, 2011 8:45AM

Hi Nina,

I have to say you have learned very quick on how to work for what you want. That also come in handy for the things you need but I think you already know that. Maybe you could create a newsletter for the young like yourself. Education sometimes comes better from someone who can identify with the person teaching. Kudos to your father/parents for the support and encouraging you to plan fore the future.

Oct 1, 2011 12:15PM

back in the 50's, at age 12, my mother started giving me 3.50 per week to do loads of chores, such as, washing all the family clothes on an old wringer washer, starching and ironing  the clothes , cleaning the house, washing dishes and helping with cooking- out of that i was expected to buy all my school supplies and clothes-

 i used the " lay away" plan to buy things i needed and learned to sew to make many of my own clothes to stretch the money- it was a rewarding experience that set me on the path of a lifetime of  being frugal and bargain hunting- now, as a senior citizen, i am thankful that i had that training- i still live on a strict budget and manage to get everything i need by setting goals and delayed gratification-

something else you may want to consider to earn more money is to have your dad set up an ebay sellers account for you- you will be amazed at the amount of things you can sell that are lying around the house or growing in your area [ seeds and plants] - it mounts up fast and requires being extremely focused and organized- you sound like someone who could handle it- explain in your ebay articles that you are saving for college and people will buy- guaranteed!

Sep 30, 2011 6:19PM


                     Basic work ethics are great I applaud the parents.You have to do something to get something. It beats doing the yard,bathrooms, every weekend for zip,not even a "good job" kiddo. But this has been essential in my giving 120% paid, or unpaid. It is called pride,self-esteem,ad a work ethic. Hopefully, her parents have job security. My family was unemployed every 2 years, in Construction Management, then their was 1 out of 7 years with no pay check. If you wat to eat you work. Throwing news papers,babysitting,cutting grass and giving your family the money for food. And that was 1973-1981.

Oct 1, 2011 5:19PM

I am surprised that I haven't read (or I missed) any comments pertaining to the lack of savings that the average American has.  If I am not mistaken, the average American's net worth is negative, and it is because of the buy it now, pay for it later attitude. 

While many of you can criticize the parents for paying their kids for chores that should be done, some are missing that they are teaching the child to save money to make a purchase, instead of making that purchase for the child, and having the child pay it back. 

The lesson here that I think many have missed, is that if you want something that you can't afford now, you should save for it, because you never know when a rainy day will come.  Perhaps if everyone in our country behaved that way, we wouldn't have this incredible debt, and people on welfare wouldn't drive better cars and have better televisions than people that bust their tails at 2 jobs for $12 an hour....


Oct 1, 2011 12:51PM
very cute story...keep that ledger concept going'll seem silly to you in a few years but it will be a great asset to prevent yourself from becoming one of the bums you'll be forced to support in the grandfather taught me to write down every penny i spent and earned...sounds silly but on a modest income i've become completely independent...i don't have to do the awful things most people do to exist,work with terrible people, or fear almost any thing...your attitude and habit will make you a true independent american...p.s. forget comment from laus deo...probably written by a hateful exploiter.
Oct 1, 2011 5:53PM
When you learn to work and save, almost anything is possible. Congrats on the new laptop that I know you will earn the money for!
Oct 1, 2011 10:33PM
to muglitt: I think she's talking about the iPod Touch 4th Generation. It makes more sense. She probably just mixed up the names.
Oct 1, 2011 8:06PM
Way to go! Godd luck in all you do! you'll go long ways!!!
Oct 2, 2011 1:55PM

I really struggle with the idea of paying for chores. As some have pointed out, everyone in the family needs to help to keep the household a well oiled machine. You won’t get paid for doing your own laundry forever that is for sure. I agree that kids need to learn that work around the house as a child, teen, college kid, and adult are just something that has to be done. Similar arguments are made on paying for good grades. But then I also know world realities. The government has made it impossible for kids to work. For almost every job, you have to be 16 if not 18 or older. You have to teach your kids the value of a dollar. If you just hand them an allowance every week without it being tied to work, you aren’t exactly teaching them the benefits to hard work and EARNING what you get. If you don’t give them an allowance and just pay for everything yourself, they don’t understand the value of the dollar and that when you have a limited amount you have to think carefully how you spend it. Do you want to buy candy, soda, and movies everyday or do you want to save for something bigger like clothes, phone, and computer?


Personally I think kids should make their own purchases with money they have earned. Unfortunately until they are 16 or older, that means giving them opportunities to earn money in other ways such as chores and grades. It beats giving them money for nothing or paying for everything yourself which really teaches them nothing at all.

Oct 1, 2011 6:58PM

Wow, no one does that around my area does that keep that up and you will get that laptop for sure.Smile

Oct 2, 2011 1:44PM
bearslax34, the average American has a SAVINGS rate of close to 0%. It has been negative in some recent years but I think is slightly positive these days. I think the average American family net worth is between $200,000 and $300,000. The average per person was $182,000 in 2009.

norealwordsallowed, completely agree. Permits, taxes, child labor laws, etc... you better watch out. Good judgment and commonsense does not prevail in the US anymore

Apr 8, 2012 7:30PM
I work from 6 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon. I only get paided £15 (I'm English and I am not translating it into dollars) and i have to pay house keeping money even thought I help clean. I am 12 too and I don't get £10 or what ever just by an answering some **** questions. If you where me trying to save for a laptop trust me, you would be saving and working for years trying to get a laptop because my mum and dad teach me that life is not a walk in the park but you have to work hard. People do not just give you money but you have to work hard. Not by cleaning cars or selling lemonade but working hard and deservedly for what you want. in the real world, you would not have your parents there every step of the way. All you will have is you and the knowolge and experience you have to get and have what you want.
P.S: I don't give one about if you don't like this comment because if you don't like this comment  then good luck in the real world because you will need it...

Oct 3, 2011 1:07PM
Don't forget your income taxes---wait, your under 16 and have little earned income so your probably ok for now.   Better let your brother Matthew win once in awhile or he may turn out to be a socialist and vote Democrat his whole life.
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