Off the Grid Fridays—Cheap Labor


We’re back from Buffalo where we spent some time with my husband’s family over the holidays.

We have a young cousin, Eli, who mowed lawns all summer long. He earned $5/lawn because that’s the going rate for kids who are eleven and can’t negotiate. He worked hard, saved his money, and he bought a new PS3. Then he spent all Christmas Day telling us about his new games, the awesomeness of the system, and why PS3 is better than oxygen.

I overheard Ken talking about some of the new PS3 features and I was like, “What do you know about PS3?”

And Ken said, “Oh yeah, I just ordered one the other day.”

I was shocked because we need another gaming console in this house like we need another cat.

Eli saw my expression and said, “Oh snap. You bought a PS3 and you didn’t tell Laurie? That’s a huge purchase, man. What were you thinking?!”

Bam. Ken got told by an eleven-year-old.

Eli then proceeded to tell everyone in the house — Ken’s mom, his aunt, our cousins, my extended in-laws — that Ken didn’t tell me about the new PS3.

Eli looked at me and asked, “Do you know how expensive PS3 is? It’s over $300. I cannot believe he didn’t tell you.”

This kid was offended on my behalf. I rolled. And I went with it (of course) and chimed in, “Yeah, Ken. I cannot believe you went out and bought PS3 and didn’t tell me. Unbelievable.”


The whole thing got me wondering — what was your first job? How much did you earn? And did you save your money and make a huge purchase?

Because Eli earned $5/lawn and is now dead-broke after making the HUGE investment in PS3.

I babysat for $2/hr. Then I made $2.35/hr (illegally) scooping ice cream. I could’ve made more money doing a million other things, I suppose, but these two activities suited me well.


By the way, I told Eli that he needs to negotiate a raise for 2011. I helped him clearly articulate his unique value proposition. Eli has established a good reputation as a reliable kid who can mow lawns. Why not go for $7.50/lawn? Maybe $10?! I told him, “You’ve got references, kid. Use them.”

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