The Bridge of the Golden Wood was selected by the State of Vermont for primary school financial literacy curriculum

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In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity - Albert Einstein

These first plans are intended to inspire young entrepreneurs, teach children how money is earned, and provide resources for educators and parents for teaching financial concepts. Some information may not be suitable for someone your age. Be sure to see local and country laws about these and your career and money ideas. Nothing herein is intended to be investment or legal advice.

Author & business owner Karl Beckstrand has included tips he has learned in his Careers for Kids picture book series: (Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story, Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm, The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living; Great Cape o' Colors - Capa de colores with pronunciation guide) --each written in dyslexic-friendly font.

Problems & Opportunity - Trouble or Treasure?

Problems and needs are opportunities to help and can lead to income. Consider the problem the fish had in The Bridge of the Golden Wood. To some people, the request for help might have appeared to only be a nuisance--a source of trouble. But the boy saw it as a chance to gain AND show his abilities. Even when he couldn't see how he might be rewarded, he took the opportunity to help. 

What did the boy in the book do that helped him to find the treasure? (He helped find a solution for those who had problems.) How might you find treasure in trouble? See opportunity in every obstacle!

Do you get ideas for solutions or improve your skills when you help with a problem? What if you see a need, fill it, but don’t get paid? How do you feel helping someone? Pretty good, huh? (Some people pay with things or via service.) Even without pay, you gain a reputation as a worker, an idea source, or problem solver—plus you get experience to make you more valuable to future customers (you may also get ideas for products/services that could earn money in the future). People remember problem solvers.

Some ideas below may not be suitable for where you live or for someone your age; be sure to have an adult go over your plans before you begin a project (also see local and country business laws). The only guarantee of success is what you guarantee yourself through your imagination, effort, and persistence.

Career Ideas


Work for a friend, family member, or company—or provide a specific service to many people/clients as a contractor (some work requires a license and/or permits). As you get older and wiser, your opportunities to earn money increase. There is ALWAYS work to be found or something that needs fixing/improving. Perhaps the only job you see is not the kind of work you prefer; consider taking it for the experience and to network (meet new people and learn of other opportunities).


Paper route, walk/groom pets, run errands, child care, wash & detail cars, clean houses, move furniture, chop wood, repair bikes. Some things—like mowing lawns/landscaping, raking leaves, or shoveling snow—are seasonal and can replace other seasonal activities.

TIP: If a company you want to work for isn’t hiring, consider volunteering your time. This way, you will gain experience and the company will see what a good worker you can be.

What You Get When You Give What if you don’t get the position you want? Try volunteering in such a position. The organization will learn whether you have what’s required, and you will gain valuable hands-on experience. What if they hire you to do menial labor? Do it cheerfully if there’s an opportunity higher up to work toward. Even in a paid role, you should not be aloof of anyone in the organization--regardless of role/pay differences. Dress according to organization norms (it's better to be overdressed than dressed down--anywhere). Work hard (but don't sacrifice your family life). Show an interest in the bottom line (growing company revenue) regardless of your connection to sales. Be creative and flexible. Be positive. Be honest. Be kind. Such traits are seldom overlooked, and organizations generally value and reward them with greater responsibility.

To get/keep a good job and move to positions of greater responsibility and pay, get all the education you can, and try as many things as you can to discover what interests you and what you may be good at. Remember, any ability still requires much practice for excellence. Having a clear idea of what you want to do doesn’t mean you are qualified to do it. Get as much general work experience as you can (offering service for free not only gives you experience and a good reputation, it will also help your social skills; working well with other people is a valuable ability). Never stop learning—about your job, your organization, and the industry in general. Travel. Other knowledge and experience make you more valuable. With education and some experience, you can eventually do what you love/apply for work in an organization that does what you love.


Solve a problem/provide goods or services that meet people’s needs. Seek expert input. For best results, continue to study business, computers, spelling, grammar, math, speaking, marketing, business law—and the industries that interest you.  Never sell something that isn’t yours unless you have permission from the owners to do so (even art and ideas).  As your business grows, hire a team of hardworking people (especially those with skills you don’t possess).  Always plan your work; write specific goals and steps! Be flexible and creative. Make house calls. Work. Do your best. Be helpful—even if there seems to be no reward. Find partners with integrity. Budget your time and money. Keep your word. Be positive. Make decisions based on the best facts available (know your industry!). Constantly improve. Take care of your health. Be honest. Be Kind.


Build web sites, sell products or services online, review/rate organizations, clean homes/offices, build things/buildings, promote other people’s products/services, connect like-minded people (create an association/newsletter/conference), invent a life-simplifying product, create an app that tracks spending or caloric intake or gives other information, repair electronics/ appliances/vehicles/furniture, transport people/things, teach other people to do something that you have done. 

The best place to find customers is among people you know. Even if your product or service is for a specialized audience (e.g., science teachers), your friends and family likely can refer you to people in that niche. Of course, organizations (the National Science Teachers Association, for example) are a logical first resource for reaching your target market. Find such groups online, on social media, and in your community. Still, don’t neglect to inquire in your home/neighborhood circles! Make a list of everyone you know—leave no one out. Include any contact information you have on them. Email or call them and ask whether they know a science teacher (or whatever your target audience is) you could reach out to. In explaining your product or service, you may find that friends and family have interest as well.

 A Checklist of Things You Might Do If You Start Your Own Business

  1. What is your product/service? WHO would want it? (Know these answers in detail!)
  2. Research similar companies. How needed are they? How are they structured? How much competition is there? Is the industry growing or in decline?
  3. Write your mission—stating how your company is unique AND is needed/desired.
  4. Name your company. Choose a name that reflects the nature of your  products/service 
  5. Choose a business structure (e.g.: LLC, S Corp, etc.).
  6. Apply for a business Tax ID through the IRS.gov and a bus./reseller license from your state. Your city may also require you register with them.
  7. Hire, contract, or partner with people who have the skills you lack (i.e.: accountants, manufacturers, marketers, lawyers, etc.).
  8. Get a professionally-designed, optimized web site w/descriptive domain name (pre-searched).
  9. Establish prices—keeping in mind your costs—and establish revenue goals for the first 7 years of business. (It’s okay to operate at a loss at first, as long as you have a plan to be profitable very soon).
  10. Know how you will pay expenses until you reach your financial goals.
  11. Open a business checking account. Establish a business address/PO box.
  12. Order professionally designed business stationary and cards (BRAND)
  13. Create a detailed marketing plan—every detail about how you will reach and win your target audience.
  14. Utilize BOTH traditional (broadcast/print) and social media to reach your market. Email too.
  15. Join associations and online groups germane to your industry—network!
  16. Subscribe to germane sites/journals/services and become an expert in your field.
  17. Establish long-term plans for how you will allocate capital/resources to grow (or not:)

TIP: Be sure you can trust the people you work for and with. Signed agreements can help you avoid some conflicts.

When life gives you lemons, apply for a food service license and a sales tax license and make lemonade. - Will Spencer

Money Making Ideas

Make something to sell. Clean, fix, or repurpose something. Collect something to sell. Create something to sell. Grow/raise something to sell. Recycle for cash. Rent things to people who need them. Trade things for something more valuable to you. Sell/give something extra you can spare. Sell other people’s product to earn a percentage. Perform/entertain. Publish a book/ebook, then ... Research & share information. Participate/share your opinion for a reward. Transport things for compensation.


Cupcakes, an app, a shoe rack, soap, kites Bicycles, windows, furniture, appliances, tools Stamps, coins, books, games, antiques, wood, fruit Photographs, paintings, music, fonts, games, crafts Watermelon, lavender, nuts, sheep, pets Metal, glass, plastic, electronics, paper, clothes Property, tools, vehicles, ad space, electronics Toys for games, electronics, clothes, or collectibles Books, toys, games, clothes, gadgets Candles, cookies, apps, magazines, ad space Sing/dance/act/play a musical instrument, do magic Teach classes, speak to groups, write a blog or a newsletter share information via video/audio/Web Surveys, polls, focus groups, studies, mystery shop Pets, people, recyclables, junk, wood, garbage cans

Consider making a list of chores to be accomplished at home each week. Your mom or dad may be willing to give you suggestions and possibly pay you as you gain experience and responsibility for things around the house. This will not only give you skills, but will provide you an opportunity to budget and manage money. 

To manage your money—so that it doesn’t run out before your needs/wants do—don’t spend more than you earn. MAKE A BUDGET so you can track income vs. expenses and put what’s really important first (you may think the latest video game is the priority, but if you don’t have enough money to pay the power bill, the game won’t do you much good!). SAVE for emergency needs, education, a home, and/or retirement. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 10% of your income. Consider allocating some of your income to people in need regularly. 

For information/lesson plans on careers, business, finding customers, managing money & moving up in an organization, see The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living. Parents: Help your kids gain an entrepreneurial vision; go over this book’s ideas(and those on these pages) with them. Help them discover their own interests and abilities and then focus them for success.

LEARN & EARN: Education can make a great difference in your earnings; it doesn’t have to be a college degree; consider trade schools, self study, and apprenticeships. Some companies will train you. (Travel is a great educational tool!)

Each person has gifts that need to be discovered to help others and self. With practice, something you thought you were bad at may become your greatest ability.

 Pennies don't fall from heaven, they have to be earned here on earth. - Margaret Thatcher

See also: http://kidpreneurs.org, The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business: Turn Your Ideas into Money, www.entrepreneur.com/article/286974 


A GOOD STORY Talk about the structure of a good story: The BEGINNING--where people, problems, and places are introduced; MIDDLE: Where the problem becomes intense; END: the outcome/results. Ask: "HOW are the characters different (by the end) as a result of the problem and their own choices? Ask students to name a favorite book or movie; have them identify the big problem; how was/were the character(s) different by the end? What choices combined with the problem to cause the outcome? (A good story may not always have a happy ending, but there is always a connection between the outcome and the character’s choices).

STOP A STORY While reading any story, stop at the climax and ask students, “WHAT do you think the character(s) will do next?” or “WHY do you think the character did that?” “HOW do you think s/he felt?” “WHAT do you think will happen next?” Write down how the students think the story will play out—see which ending is better!

LIFE EXPERIENCES Ask each student (age 10 & up) to write his/her life story as an essay—including any lessons they have learned (can be a single event). After you have reviewed the essays, ask the students to share them with the class (if the story has sensitive information—they can share someone else’s story, preferably that of a family member). THEN have the class write an essay on what they learned from their classmate's stories. THEN have each student interview a close relative and write his/her story—including any lessons gained—and share with the class. THEN have the class essay on what they learned from those experiences. THEN have students write an essay on a distant relative or ancestor (ask family about journals, records, genealogy. Search online: Familysearch.org) and share with the class. Finally, the class writes what they gained from these stories. HELP students become listeners—not just for info—but for understanding (and hopefully empathy).

TEN ACTIVITIES FOR HEALTHFUL LEARNING 1. Make treats together (lasagna counts is a treat!), smoothies—meals kids plan/prepare are more likely to be eaten. Let them play with it! 2. Read aloud together; those of you who’ve done this know it gets especially fun as kids get older and texts more thrilling. Find and share stories from your family’s history (look online, ask relatives) or make some up. 3. Don’t just watch a movie; pick a well-reviewed one that no one has seen, stop it half way in and have everyone write/say what they think will happen. See if your family can out-story the writer/director. 4. PLAY! Card games/board games are often more fun than video games—and make for better interaction. Better yet, get out and shoot hoops, football, or catch, tag, hide ‘n seek, collect bugs; older kids can create an obstacle course or plan a foot race/treasure hunt. 5. Drama night. Act out stories from your spiritual tradition, a one-act play, a family story, or a story written by the performers. 6. Skills Night: Learn art, swimming, survival/emergency skills, auto shop, music. 7. Wealth Night: Give each kid a quantity of cash, go to a store and comparison shop to learn budgeting, costs, and value. 8. Talent Night: Share or teach art, vocal harmony, instruments, dance steps, drama 9. Service Day: Bring treats or do yard work or other service for a single parent, an ill or widowed neighbor. 10. Even chores can be a fun activity if adults participate (and there’s a known reward). Have a competition to see if child can pick up all clothes before adult/other child can pick up all toys (or trash). Do it to music. Prize need not be big (consider an outing with parent for a special job).

Other learning sites:

 Loss, grieving, and healing for any age

 Music lessons and piano practice content for all ages

Picture book The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living by Karl Beckstrand
Picture book The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living by Karl Beckstrand