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What do grown-ups do with all their money?

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Arnel Alinea

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If you add up all the money a grown-up makes in their lifetime, it might sound like a lot! Surely they must have more to show for it. Where are the castles, the ponies, the fancy cars? In this episode, with the help of a magic necklace and a podcast-loving neighbor, we’ll do the numbers on the stuff grown-ups have to pay for every day. It’s not all pizza parties and ice cream sundaes! 

Arnel Alinea

And now … tips for grown-ups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids

Money Talks

Here are some questions you can ask to find out what your child learned in this episode.

  1. If a grown-up is making $1,000 a week at their job (roughly the median income for full-time American workers at last check), how much money would that person make over a 30-year career? Hint: There are 52 weeks in a year.
  2. What are some of the “essentials” adults have to spend their money on before they can buy the fun stuff?
  3. What’s the 50-30-20 rule? Why do some people find it useful? When is it not useful?
  4. Can we think of a time the grown-ups in your life had to say no or make a money decision you didn’t like? Why do you think they made that decision?

Tip Jar

Throw on “Running Up That Hill” while you talk with your kid about this episode. We’re swapping places!

Today we’re building empathy — teaching kids that yes, it might seem like grown-ups have a lot of money, but they also have a lot of expenses. If you’re comfortable, consider sharing a broad-strokes household budget with your kid. Something like, “We spend about 10% of what we earn on groceries and eating out,” just to put things in perspective. Feel free to use the fingers method Ryan suggested in the episode!

If your kid is good with the numbers piece of this discussion, you could explore the real-life ways American adults spend their money. This article from Investopedia works with percentages the same way we do in the episode, drilling down into categories like toys, restaurants and gifts. To get more advanced, check out this discussion of the average American household budget from Bankrate. The numbers are from 2020 and are likely skewed by the lifestyle changes in that first year of COVID, but what wasn’t, right?

Ask your kid, how do you think our household compares to the averages you see in these articles? The point isn’t to keep up with the Joneses, but to get their wheels turning about the things adults buy.

Gimme 5

We’d love to hear your kids’ money jokes, money poems and best money tips so we can feature them on the podcast! Send them to us using this online form.

And we want to hear what parents think about Million Bazillion! You can help us by filling out a short audience survey: marketplace.org/survey

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