ASK THE SECRET MILLIONAIRES CLUB
Do you have a question for the SMC kids? Just fill out the “Ask a Question” form at the bottom of this page. We will attempt to answer all (reasonable) questions as soon as possible. Don’t forget to look under “More Q&A,” too. Don't see your question? Sometimes we receive very similar questions and can only respond to one. But we read and enjoy them all!
Note that questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.
How do you save your money? Do you put it in your piggy bank under the bed or in a bank account? Which one is better? -- Busola, age 11, Georgia
Hi Busola! I actually do both. I have a piggy bank on my dresser with 3 separate sections: spend, save, share. What I put in the "spend" part, I can use to buy things. What I put in the "save" part, I keep. And what I put in the "share" part, I use to donate to my favorite charities and causes. I also have a savings account that I opened with the help of my mom. It earns interest! That means that I earn extra money on top of what I put in the account. For example, for each $50 I put in that account, I might earn about an extra dollar. Pretty cool! If you want to open a savings account at a bank, talk to a parent/guardian and see if they can help you. Great question!
MORE Q & A - Click HERE to see more!
Hello. How do you save all your money in one place? -- Alaina, age 7, Kentucky
Hi Alaina, Good question! I like to divide my money up into three separate categories: Spend, Save, and Share. The Spend category is where I save money that I want to use to buy something (maybe a new toy!). The Save category is where I put money that I plan to save for a long time. And the Share category is for money I want to donate or use to help someone or something. Maybe try this yourself and see how it goes. Good luck!
How do we know if we win? -- Ania, age 12, District of Columbia
Hi Ania, The contest semifinalists will be contacted in February or March (after the contest ends, on January 31). First, the judges will read through all of the amazing entries! There's still plenty of time to enter...good luck!
Are websites allowed? -- Jackson, age 11, Nebraska
Hey Jackson. Do you mean are websites allowed as entries in the "Grow Your Own Business Challenge"? Good question!
I went to "Contest" and clicked on "Official Rules" to check out the details. Here's what I found:
"The Idea/Entry must:
a. be within a defined Competition category – specifically a new product and/or service business idea.
b. be a new and unique business idea that could be (but not limited to) an online business, a physical retail business, or a combination of both.
c. be a measurable improvement as solely determined by Administrator (BKFK) if it is an improvement to an existing product or service business."
Looks like a website is allowed! Good luck, dude!
what is mr.buffets mission statement for this program? -- Charles porter, age 14, Nevada
May I be so bold as to ask what you might suggest for a mission statement? The Secret Millionaires Club "Learn & Earn" program goal is to help young people learn about finance, business, and entrepreneurship in a fun and easy-to-understand way.
hi jones how do i start a buisness -- Eric, age 13, West Virginia
Dude, check out the whole website. That's what it's all about! Start with the webisodes. Then, talk to a trusted adult, like a parent/guardian or teacher, for more help. There are some cool activities under "Games" that will help you, too. Good luck!
Hi Elena! I am having trouble coming up with a great idea for SMC. I really enjoy playing sports, helping people in need, and helping animals in need. Could you maybe give me a few starter ideas? -- Claire, age 10, Nebraska
Hi Claire, I bet you have some great ideas. It sounds like you know what you like--that's a perfect start! I can't give you specific tips (that wouldn't be fair)...but I CAN tell you to check out the webisodes, games, and activities on this site to help you figure out ideas! Also, look for a problems or things that could be better in your areas of interest...and then come up with some solutions! That's a great way to start a business. And this applies to everyone who's trying to come up with an idea! Good luck!
Hi Elena, I was wondering if you can be in teams up to ten? And if you can be disqualified from the competition...can you back out of the Secret Millionaires Club once you start? ~Ria -- Ria, age 11, Oregon
Hi Ria, Kids can enter the competition individually or in teams of 2-4. You can start an entry and then save it without submitting. This gives you time to work on your idea and make it as good as possible! But once you submit, you're officially a contest entrant. Pretty exciting!
How long does the contest last? Is it year round? -- Ria, age 11, Oregon
Hi Ria! We usually launch the "Grow Your Own Business Challenge" in the fall, and it usually ends in the winter. This year, it launched on October 20, and it will run through January 31, 2015. That means you can enter now!! Good luck.
I have a question for you. Is it possible to log in as a team? -- Christian, age 8, California
Excellent question…indeed, you may enter as a team! Teams are comprised of 2, 3, or 4 people for the purposes of this contest. Each team will have a team leader, and that person will be able to log in and create the contest entry. We encourage teams to gather around and work together while the entry is being created so everyone can get involved. You can get started with your entry here. If you have additional questions, you'll likely find answers to them in the how-to-enter video. Great good luck!
How would you budget your time and money if you wanted to go somewhere for a day and you wanted to hit say 5 to 6 places? -- Esha, age 11, Pennsylvania
Hmmm…I guess that would depend on the places I wanted to visit. Will they each cost the same amount? If so, I'd divide by 5 or 6 (the number of places) and use that amount at each place. (Example: If I start with $12 and divide by 5, I could spend $2.40 at each place if there are 5 places. Or if I divide by 6, I could spend $2 at each place if there are 6.)
Another way to do it is to spend very little at the beginning of the day and save most of it for the end of your adventures. Or, make a deal with yourself that when you run out of money, you'll stop going to new spots! If you know approximately how much each place will cost in advance, make a budget. You may have to go to fewer places, but that's okay.
What ideas do the judges look for in the Secret Millionaires Club “Grow Your Own Business Challenge”? -- Aidan, age 12, Kentucky
The judges look for the most splendiferous ideas! To be precise, judges look for ideas that are:
- About new, wonderful businesses that they've never heard of
- About greatly improved businesses (existing businesses + a new idea or “twist” that makes them distinctly better)
Here's how the judges assess ideas:
- Uniqueness – 40%
- Depth and description – 30%
- Feasibility of execution – determining each entry's ability to be a successful business – 30%
Are you planning to enter the competition? If so, good luck!
How do I save up money? I spend it as soon as I get it. Help! -- Hailey, age 13, Florida
That's a great question! I recommend making a plan. Maybe you could aim to spend XX percent, save XX percent, and donate XX percent each time you earn or receive money. So for example, if you earn $10, maybe you could determine in advance that you'll:
- spend 15% (as an example)—or put that in a “spend” bank (like a piggy bank)
- save 70% (for example)—or put that in a “save” bank (consider asking a parent/guardian if you might be able to open a savings account!)
- share 15% (for example)—maybe there's a group or cause you'd like to donate to or help? Ask a parent/guardian for ideas.
Also, ask a parent/guardian to help you stick to your plan—maybe you can come up with some creative ways to reward yourself if you stick to it! If you follow a plan, you might be surprised at how quickly your savings will add up. Good luck!
What can I do to help myself think of a product? -- Henry, age 11, Washington
Great question! So, just one thing: a product is just part of a business. It's what the business sells. (Or, the business sells a service–or both!). So once you come up with a product, be sure to figure out how to sell it in a business if you're planning to enter the “Grow Your Own Business Challenge” (this year's Challenge launches on October 20!).
Try coming up with a product idea, try asking yourself these questions:
- What products do I have that I could improve in a big way? How could I improve them?
- What products do I want or need (to help me or make my life better) that don't exist? (Have a parent or guardian help you check online.)
- What products do my friends and family have that they would like to see improved?
- What products do my friends and family want that don't yet exist? (Think of using products to solve problems or make things better.)
Is it a good idea to save my money for traveling to help other people? -- Haven, age 13, California
Stupendously interesting question, Haven! I'm really fond of this idea. But a few questions have to be asked:
- Have you discussed this with a parent/guardian or trusted adult advisor, such as a teacher? (Always start there!)
- Do you have any debt that you should pay off? (e.g., if someone has loaned you money, consider paying that back first)
- Have you received parent/guardian permission to travel to help others?
If your answers are (in this order):
- Yes, and they approve!
- No ? or, yes, and I'll pay it off first.
Then, I'd say do your research and look into it carefully…then pat yourself on the back for thinking about saving your own money to find a way to help others. If it all works out and you decide to travel to help others, bonne chance–and bon voyage!
Who was the first member of the Club? -- Katherine, age 10, Texas
Hi Katherine! That's a good question. ☺ If you watch the “Be Cool to Your School” TV episode, you'll learn the story of the Secret Millionaires Club. Have fun watching!
How much money should I set aside for spending? -- Kyle, age 11, New York
A fine question! I would recommend you first assess your needs. Is there something you'd like to purchase? If so, how much will it cost? How much will you need to save to buy it?
Then, consider that you'll likely want other things eventually (in a few months, a year, or longer)…and it's always good to have some money saved for things you might want when you're a bit older, too.
Generally, it's recommended that each time you earn money, you save some; set some aside that you can spend; and consider sharing a portion of it with groups, people, or causes you care about (such as a pet shelter). Talk to a parent or guardian about how much you might spend, save, and share. Enjoy!
Do teams have to split the money from the contest if they win it? -- Nathan, age 11, Massachusetts
Winning team members each earn a certain amount of money. But each person on the team can decide what to do with the money they won (usually their parents help them figure that out). Remember – you have to enter to win! Peace out.
I played your money game. It's so hard! How do you think I will do on my math test this year? I am worried, really worried. Can you give me advice? -- Kaelin, age 9, New Jersey
Money and numbers can be confusing, right? They usually get easier to understand if you practice and take your time. Try not to worry about your test – just do your best! Here's my advice: Study for the test, and ask a parent or teacher to help when you study. Then, try your hardest. Good luck!
What ways can I make money other than a lemonade stand or doing chores? -- Janae, age 11, California
Running a lemonade stand and doing chores are great starts!! The next thing to do would be to ask a parent or guardian for suggestions. Then, check to see if it's okay to talk to your neighbors to see if they need help with things, such as walking their dog, cleaning up their lawn, washing their car, and so on. If someone needs help, tell them what you'd like to charge (ask your parent/guardian for ideas about this), and then see if they'll hire you. Do your very best job. Good luck!
Do you want to be like Warren Buffett? -- Claire, age 6, California
Yes, I'd love to be like Warren Buffett! I want to be a success at whatever I do. I hope to be a good entrepreneur. I want to “give back” by donating money and time to people and things that mean a lot to me. I like to learn from people like Mr. Buffett, and from other people with great ideas and strengths, too. What about you, Claire: Do you want to be like W.B.?
What do I need to do to enter the business idea for the kid's contest? -- Nico, age 11, California
Cool—you're going to enter the “Grow Your Own Business Challenge”? That's rad, dude! So it's pretty easy. Wait till October (that's when the competition launches). Then, click on “Contest” and follow the guidelines. Basically, the idea is to come up with a new or super-improved business idea – a business that doesn't exist yet, or one that you can make way better than something that exists. Then you answer some questions, submit your entry online or by mail, and dude – you've entered! Check out the cool games and activities on the site, too. They'll help you make your entry even better. Good luck!
How is it at the Club? -- Viet, age 7, Virginia
Hi Viet! It's really great to get to learn about finance and entrepreneurship from my friends and Mr. Buffett. You can learn, too! Check out all the fun activities and games on the site. Have fun!
Do you like sports? -- Justin, age 11, New York
Do I like sports? Do I ever! The real question is, is there any sport I don't like? It's just like with business and finance: if you practice the lessons, you can get pretty good. Peace out, dude!
Can you give me a business idea? -- Viet, age 7, Virginia
Salutations, Viet! May I ask…why on Earth would you want MY business idea? Surely you can't imagine that I would necessarily have an idea that's better than one YOU might come up with! Here's what I can give you…a bit of advice. I advise you to take an inventory of what matters to you. What do you like to do? How do you like to play? What interests you? Then, think about starting a business that incorporates one or more of those things. For example, dog lovers sometimes become dog walkers. Good dancers sometimes become dance teachers. Excellent students sometimes become tutors. Or, if you want to come up with a brand NEW business (like people do in our “Grow Your Own Business Challenge”), examine the products and services around you. What could be improved? What's missing? What could people use help with? Once you've come up with a trouble-fixing idea or a concept for something helpful and new, talk to a parent or trusted adult to find out if that thing has already been invented. If not, consider entering it in the 4th annual GYOB Challenge, launching this October. The best of luck to you!
How did you become so smart? -- Tess, age 10, New York
Hi Tess. Thank you for the compliment, really…I bet you're smart, too! I'm not sure I'm that much SMARTER than other people. I just try to pay attention to my experiences and learn from them. Everyone can try to do that! Plus, there are different kinds of smarts: book smarts (what you learn in school); people smarts (how you get along with people); entrepreneurial smarts (knowing how to deal with money and business)…and more! What are YOU smart about? I bet it's a long list!
I am starting a dog walking business. I need to know how much to charge each person to get 100 dollars. I have to walk 40 people's dogs before the week is over to get my business on the map. How much do I have to charge each person? -- Katrina, age 13, Colorado
My dear Katrina,
Strictly speaking, if you were to walk 40 dogs—or provide 40 dog walks—in one week and your goal was to earn $100, you would need to charge $2.50 per dog walk. ($100 divided by 40 equals $2.50). But may I suggest you consider scaling back your schedule? Even I might consider 40 dog walks in such a short time to be quite ambitious. Here's what I'd recommend: Check with your family, friends, and classmates to see what the standard rate for dog walking is in your area. Then, set a reasonable weekly or monthly goal for yourself based on that rate and the number of customers you're able to acquire. Happy dog walking!
What does "budget" mean? -- Pete, age 10, Idaho
Hey Pete – that's a good question! “Budget” can be a noun (person, place, or thing) or an action word (verb). When it's a noun, it means “a plan for using money.” (For example: Tracy's monthly budget included $25 for buying toys.) When it's a verb, it means “to plan the use of” or “to put on or in a budget.” (For example: Carrie wanted to budget carefully so she would have more money saved at the end of the year.) Good luck with your budget!
Elena, how many times have you interrupted Radley? -- Clem, age 11, New York
Hi Clem! Interrupted? Well, I'm not sure I really interrupt…do I? I guess maybe I do. I feel like we're just talking, though. And I always have so much to say! I know it's not polite to interrupt, but sometimes I just can't help myself. But I'll try. Maybe your reminder will help me remember! Have a good day, Clem. ☺
I am trying to enter the contest. It asks for a business plan document as a proof at the end. I would like to see an example of a business plan to write my own. Please help.
-- Arjun, age 11, Arkansas
It's cool that you're going to enter the contest. That's great! So, are you asking about question number 12? Here's what it says: "Optional: You may attach up to 3 supporting documents. These may include a detailed business plan, research data, or images that support your business idea."
So…it's optional to attach a business plan! If you do want to include one, unfortunately we can't give you extra tips on that, because it wouldn't be fair to the other contestants. Good luck with your entry!
Hey Smart Lisa!
I just need to ask a few questions and i shall be on my way. Can you turn in 2 business ideas? Where will the Business Challenge take place? How many judges are there. Will you have to present your business idea in front of the judges? Those are my 4 simple questions to ask you.
See you later girlfriend! -- Carly, age 11, Georgia
Hey Carly - you sound pretty smart yourself!
1) You can turn in as many different business ideas as you'd like. You could also work with a group of 2 to 4 people and submit as many team entries as you'd like. (Or, you could do both!). Just remember that each business idea must be submitted as a separate entry.
2) Finalists will be flown to Omaha, Nebraska in May, each with a parent and a teacher they nominate, to celebrate with other finalists and present their ideas to a panel of judges.
3) The judges are leaders in the fields of business, finance, education, entrepreneurship, and so on, and the number of judges varies, but will likely range between 4 and 10 people.
4) Finalists will have to present their business ideas to the judges.
Have more questions? Contact us directly through this form.
Thanks - see you later, girlfriend!
I'm so excited about the contest but I don't know what to do in the contest! Are there any examples on the website of the previous winners entry? -- Josh, age 8, New Jersey
Dear Josh S., An excellent inquiry! I find your question both timely and thoughtful. Fortunately for you, I can provide you with three suggestions. One: ask the people around you, such as friends, parents, teachers, etc. what sorts of problems a new product or service might help them solve. Or, think about what problems or challenges in your own life you might solve with a new product or service. Two: watch the webisodes! They provide some excellent insight. And three (last but not least): click here to see some ideas submitted by previous finalists. Best of luck to you, Josh S.!
Hi Lisa! What happens when two people submit the same business idea. I have another question too. How do you know that you won the grow your own buisness challenge. One more. Is Warren Buffet of of the judges? I have so many questions. PLEASE ANSWER SOON!!! -- Erma, age 8, Georgia
Hi Erma! Are you planning to enter the contest? If so, that's great! So...if two people submit the same business idea, the judges will consider the quality of the entry?how much thought has been put behind the business idea, how well-planned it is, etc. And as for Warren Buffett, he is not a judge?what happens is that the finalists have booths (kind of like at a science fair) displaying their ideas, and Mr. Buffett comes around to each booth to talk with the finalists and hear their great ideas. My advice? Make sure you submit your entry before January 31st! Lisa
How many different rounds of the competition are there? Also, do you know EXACTLY when you are able to vote for the winners and how many times you are able to vote? Can you vote for yourself? I have so many questions about the contest that I need answered…so please answer. -- Jenna, age 11, Nebraska
Hi Jenna! The judges just announced the Finalists! They had a very hard job because so many of the hundreds of entries were really, really good! Starting on or around May 6, you and all the other SMC fans will be able to vote online once a day for your favorite finalists. Finalists may also vote for themselves, and online votes will count as 20% of the overall vote for finalists. Five Individual and three Team Finalists will travel to Omaha near the end of May to pitch their ideas to Warren Buffett and celebrate their success. There, one individual and one team will be selected Grand Prize Winners and win $5000 per person! Grand Prize Winners will be announced by the end of May. Does this help? If you need to know more, check out the Official Rules with a parent or teacher. Okay? Bye bye!
Hi Lisa. Can this year's semifinalists and finalists enter next year's GYOB challenge? -- Hannikah, age 10, Washington
Hello, Hannikah! Yes, this year's semifinalists and finalists may enter next year's GYOB challenge. The finalists were just announced—get ready to vote for your favorites online starting on or around May 6! The judges had a very difficult time selecting the top entries since there were so many fabulous ideas. This year's entrants should definitely consider entering again next year…and yes, the way the contest is set up, a person may enter from year to year, as long as each entry is a brand new one that's unique to that contest's entry period. So enter away—and best of luck!
Radley, what does SMC mean? -- Joe, age 12, Maine
Joe, Joe, Joe. I have to wonder if you are perhaps posing a joke, shall we say? The possibility crosses my mind owing to the fact that at the top of the “Ask SMC” page?the page on which you presumably posed this question for me—there is an answer to this very question. Although I must say that in today's world it is also quite easy to quickly get distracted and consumed by what's going on around us—what's that, Elena? Wait just a moment, please!—so it is possible too that while you've been clicking through the website and watching the webisodes and such you have perhaps missed the words “Secret Millionaires Club.” SMC stands for Secret Millionaires Club. That's us!
Is the trip to Omaha all expenses paid? -- Brandon, age 13, New Jersey
Radical question, dude. Check out the “Prizes” section of the Official Rules. Peace out.
Hey Lisa: True or false…a rational investor would choose to purchase a share of common stock if its market value is greater than its intrinsic value? -- Joe, age 17, California
Hmm?that's a pretty tricky question, Joe. Even though I'm in the SMC, I'm not a financial advisor—I just like to learn more about business, finance, and entrepreneurship. But if by “market value” you mean what people are willing to pay for a stock, and by “intrinsic value” you mean what the stock is really worth, then I'm going to guess that this is probably false. Am I right? This is the sort of question you might want to take up with a trusted business mentor. Cheers!
I want to buy a safe stock and only put 20 to 40 dollars into it. Do you think Portland General Electric Company, or POR, is a good start? -- Jay, age 10, Texas
Dude, can I be honest with you? You're way over my head here. Yeah, I'm in the SMC and all, but I'm still learning. I learn something new every day, actually. Mr. Buffett talks about that in Webisode 13. From what I can tell, picking a stock involves a whole lot. There's research, getting to know the company, thinking about your finances…wow. It's sort of making my head hurt. So anyway, what I can tell you is, definitely talk to a parent or teacher about this. I think it's good to be careful with your money, so you probably should talk to the people you trust the most. And hey, good luck!
Hi Radley. When will we know that we won? Is there going to be another contest? -- Croix, age 11, Massachusetts
I find your questions particularly easy to relate to, Croix. I personally know that when I'm in the midst of a situation that puts me in the position of waiting, I too find myself teeming with anticipation. To assuage your concerns, we've addressed some of them in the paragraph at the top of this page. You'll find out when the semifinalists will be notified and when all of our fans can begin voting for finalists! I also encourage you to refer to the Rules document with a parent or teacher to determine additional information. And regarding your question about another contest, yes, there will be a new GYOB Challenge beginning in the fall…but for the moment, I join you in awaiting news from the judges poring over the thousands of great entries for the 2nd Annual GYOB Challenge. It's truly thrilling!
Where are you an exchange student from? -- Reyna, age 10, New Jersey
Hi Reyna. I'm from China! My father is an ambassador to the United Nations, so I've been lucky enough to travel around quite a lot. I see that you're from New Jersey. That's cool! I've never been there. But I bet there's some really hip fashion in that area, being so close to New York City and everything. Bye bye!
I would like to start a business, but I don't know what to do. -- Bobby, age 12, Massachusetts
Greetings and salutations, Bobby! You've come to the right place. Fortunately, we've recently answered a question quite similar to yours. Peruse Elena's response to Reign from Georgia for some excellent advice. And best of luck with your new venture!
I have a marketing idea I want to pursue for Amazon's Kindle Fire. How can I protect my idea before sharing it with corporate? -- Alexa, age 17, Wyoming
Wow, Alexa?that's pretty exciting! One really good thing to do would be to talk with a parent or teacher about this. Then, you'll probably want to look into things like copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Ask an adult to help you figure out anything that confuses you. And good luck!
Do you guys have any new webisodes? I've seen all of the ones on here right now and I can't wait for more! -- Max, age 12, Massachusetts
Gracias and merci, Max! It's delightful to hear that you're fond of our webisodes. Your taste is impeccable! And I admit to rather enjoying making the webisodes with my pleasant and pecuniary SMC pals. As of late, we've been directing our attention to creating more TV episodes. Did you perchance happen to view “Down and Out in Beijing” on March 10? My sense is that it was a fine show, if I do say so myself. Stay tuned to The Hub TV Network to ascertain when the next TV episode will air?there will be one in short order. And again, the sincerest of thanks!
How much do you get paid to do the webisodes? -- Croix, age 11, Massachusetts
Hey, Dude. How's it goin'? So, about the webisodes…why do you ask? My parents always said it's not polite to talk about how much you make, or something. Anyway, the most important thing for me is just getting a chance to hang out with my buds in the club. Very cool!
Hey Radley. How many times have you been interrupted by Elena? -- Ramsey, age 12, Virginia
Oh, countless times, Ramsey. Countless! I attribute it to her natural ebullience and her pervasive excitement about her adventures. With that in mind, I am able to withstand the interruptions. I suppose it doesn't hurt that Elena's generally a wonderful person I truly admire. And some might even suggest that I'm on occasion long-winded, though I do think that's probably something of an overstatement and certainly not an excuse, per se, for interruptions. But I know Elena well enough to know she doesn't mean anything by it, despite how it may seem to onlookers. In fact, dare I confess that I almost find her interruptions somewhat charming? Ah, well, perhaps that's going too far, candidly. It's more that I take it as an endearing personal quirk to which I attribute no malice. Does that make sense?
What episode did you join? -- Cristian, age 9, Virginia
Greetings Cristian! I try to join the team for all the TV episodes and specials (have you watched “Be Cool to Your School”?). But as an exchange student and dyed-in-the-wool fashionista, I don't always have time to make it for the online webisodes, though I wish I did. Check out The Hub TV Network to find out when the next special will be on TV. I'll be joining the other members of the SMC crew in “Down and Out in Beijing”—and so will my cousin! The show airs on Sunday, March 10. Tune in!
Hi Elena. I was wondering…how do I start a business? -- Reign, age 11, Georgia
Hi Reign! Geez, that's a great question. Let's see…first maybe think about what you like to do best(Webisode 10 talks more about this). Then, think about what sort of thing you want to sell your customers. Will it be a product (a thing, like a container of hot cocoa)? Or will it be a service (something people do for others, like walk dogs or shovel snow)? After you figure out what you like to do and what you'd like to offer, you'll be on your way! Check out all of the webisodes and the rest of SMCkids.com for more tips (have you tried the Building-a-Business Brainstorm?). Then, stay tuned for the “Grow Your Own Business Challenge” online voting. Since we have thousands of entries (the judges are reviewing them right now!), I bet the top entries will include some really wonderful and inspiring business ideas. Thanks for your question!
Do you have any idea when the winners of the contest will be announced? I'm really excited to find out, even though winning is a one in a million chance. I still think I have a good chance. Please answer my question as well and quick as possible. It's too exciting. -- Jenna, age 11, Nebraska
Jenna, you're not the only one who's excited, and I understand why! My pal Elena was asked a similar question by a girl called Emmeline. Here's the scoop: the judges are reviewing all of the contest entries right now—they're amazing!—and there are thousands, so it's going to take some time (more than a month). After the judges have gone through all the entries, semi-finalists will be selected and notified directly. Then, when the finalists have been selected (after another round of judging), you and your family and friends can help the judges select the grand prize winners by voting for your favorites online! In May, the finalists will travel to Omaha to pitch their business ideas to the final panel of judges—and to meet Mr. Buffett (he's really cool). After that, the grand prize winners will be announced! If you haven't already, check out the complete rules with your parents at SMCkids.com/learnandearn/contest/rules.
I need to help people, but I don't know what to do. -- Ema, age 7, Ohio
Hi Ema! Wow—what a great goal! The world needs more helpful people. And the wonderful part is, there are many helpful things you can do that people will really appreciate. First, check with your parents to get their permission. Then, think about these things: can you help a neighbor by walking his or her dog? Or can you help shovel snow or rake leaves? Could you help a younger student at school with his or her backpack? Or maybe you can help mom and dad by doing a certain chore, like cleaning dishes or loading the dishwasher. The possibilities are really endless! My advice would be to observe the people around you (at home, in your neighborhood, at school) and see how you might be able to help. And always ask for permission first. It sounds like you might really enjoy Webisode 16, too—especially the Words from Warren. Thanks for writing!
I want to make money, but I have no idea how, because my parents forget to pay me. What should I do? -- Nik, age 11, Florida
Hey Nik! It sounds like you've been getting an allowance from your parents sometimes—is that right? If that's the case, good for you—an allowance can help you learn to save and manage money. But there are other great options for making money, too. Have you thought about starting a lemonade or hot cocoa stand? Or how about checking with your neighbors (get permission from your parents first!) to see if they have any tasks you might be able to help them with? Also, you could ask your parents if they might consider regularly giving you a set amount for an allowance. It might help if you offer to complete certain chores around the house (for example, maybe you could feed the dog every day and take out the trash.) But be sure to follow through with your offer—watch Webisode 26 to see what I mean. Lots of kids earn an allowance by doing things to help their parents or family. Maybe check with your parents to see if they have any particular chores in mind. Then, ask for a reasonable amount, and be prepared to respectfully negotiate. Good luck!
Why are you ALWAYS late to meetings? Are you ever on time? -- Sarah, age 11, New Jersey
Hi Sarah! I'm so sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I was running a little behind. Just let me catch my breath…
There, okay. Umm…I'm late because I'm really busy running around doing things? Yes, that's it…I really am busy! I guess it's because I believe in what Mr. Buffett says: “Be smarter at the end of the day than you were at the beginning.” I'm always trying to learn something new…and sometimes that takes a while. Have you watched Webisode 13? If you do, you'll see what I mean. (By the way—for that meeting, I'm on time!) ☺
How come you always have to speak technically? Why don't you just speak in a way that everyone can understand, so Jones doesn't have to keep defining what you say for us? -- Sarah, age 11, New Jersey
Sarah, I'm delighted you've approached me with such a meaningful question. As it happens, Jones and I do approach the use of words rather differently, don't we? I suppose I've grown fond of our diverse ways of speaking, much as I'm fond of the fact that I'm not precisely like others and others are not precisely like me…though I do sometimes wonder in a sort of anthropologically curious way what it might be like to have a twin who talks just like me. But that's neither here nor there…I digress…I find it quite a bit more interesting that people speak in so many different ways, all things considered. I suspect that some like-minded souls may admire my adeptness with vocabulary, while others of course prefer Jones', shall we say, directness. My sense is that both ways have their place. And I'm nothing if not willing to try new things, so…let's see…um, peace out, dude!
Ever since I won the SMC GYOB contest with my friends last year, I can't help but wonder whether the stocks Mr. Buffett gave me will be worth more if I buy more of them, sell them, or just keep them. I've seen reports of his company's conditions, management, financial equity, quality, and service, and all are satisfactory or above. Should I keep the stocks, buy more, or sell? Thanks.
Yours, -- Charles, age 12, New York
Congratulations on your outstanding entrepreneurial accomplishment in Omaha! We SMC kids were told all about the event and the prodigious minds that were in attendance.
In regard to the stock, it certainly sounds like you've done your research and given the issue due consideration. What I can assuredly tell you is that there will undoubtedly be financial implications to keeping, selling, and/or buying more of the stock. In other words, there are pros and cons associated with each action, and as you know, the stock market is a fickle business. Beyond that, truly, it's hard to say with certainty. It's obvious that you have pondered the possibilities. Have you consulted with your parents and trusted mentors? Perhaps after consulting with them and further contemplating the potential short- and long-term consequences, you'll arrive at a resolution appropriate for you. Best of luck!
How do you know so much business vocab? -- Kevin, age 10, Pennsylvania
Stellar question, Hi. I'm truly delighted you asked! I take considerable pride in recognizing and remembering words that are new to me, especially words related to commerce and entrepreneurship. Frequently, I happen upon these words in the context of business conversations and while reading to learn more about a company in which I may have some interest. Then, I look up the meaning of the words and strive to incorporate them in my daily vocabulary. I'm a big admirer of lexicographers, and don't even get me started on how often I use a thesaurus! I relish every opportunity to say what I mean in the most expressive way possible. Mr. Buffet tells us that in business, and in life, how you present yourself is important. You can acquire more knowledge on this commendable topic by watching Webisode 21. I tend to believe that using an excellent vocabulary is an integral aspect of making a good impression. Here's to the power of words!
When will we know who won the “Grow Your Own Business Challenge”? -- Emmeline, age 10, Massachusetts
Ooh, Emmeline, that's such a good question. It's exciting, right? Our judges are reviewing thousands of terrific contest submissions as we speak—it's a lot of work! It will take more than a month for the judges to review all the entries. Then, semi-finalists will be notified directly when the judges have finished their work. Afterward, when the finalists have been selected, there will be a really cool round of online voting so you and your friends and family can help the judges select the grand prize winners. The finalists will travel to Omaha in May to meet Mr. Buffett and present their business ideas to a final panel of judges. Then, grand prize winners will be selected and announced! If you have any questions about the rules, be sure to read them with your parents at SMCkids.com/learnandearn/contest/rules. And stay tuned!
Where is Lisa in the webisodes? -- William, age 9, New York
Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. Always the questions about Lisa. I grant you, William, she's a marvelous girl—I understand your interest, certainly. My perception, to be forthright, is that she's exceptionally busy, what with her exchange—student groups and fashion events. She does try to make time to join us in our TV specials, though. Have you had the opportunity to view “Be Cool to Your School”? Lisa spends considerable time with us in that episode. In addition, I believe you may view the most recent TV episode, “Avast Ye Downloads,” online for a limited time. Nick Cannon joined Lisa and the SMC in this episode?and of course, Shaquille O'Neal joined us with Lisa in “Elena's Shaqtastic Adventure.” Check your local listings for The Hub TV network to find out when the next TV episode will be airing, as Lisa will very likely join us again. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa…
Can you sing, and do you like one of the boys? -- BJ, age 13, Minnesota
Thanks for your question, BJ. I can sing, but whether or not I should—especially in public—is another issue entirely. And yes, I do like one of the boys&mdin fact, I like both of the boys…but maybe not the way you think. I like Radley (as a friend) because he's on top of all the latest technology and is really interesting to talk to—and I like Jones (also as a friend) because he's easygoing and fun to be around. I feel like I learn something new from them every day. Watch Webisode 13 to find out more about the importance of daily learning. Ciao, BJ!
This is a work question. I'm in beta club at my school and I need to do 10 service hours for it. But how can I babysit to earn the service hours if no one calls me about babysitting or returns my calls? I need advice, and fast.
P.S. Should I work with a partner? -- Jane, age 11, Georgia
Hi Jane! This is a great question. So you're interested in babysitting to earn your 10 service hours? Good idea! Here are some things to maybe think about:
- Are your parents comfortable having you babysit?
- Have you babysat before? (Sometimes it helps you get clients if you have references.)
- Do you have neighbors close by with younger kids who might need a babysitter?
If you're ready to get started and have some potential “clients” (parents you'd babysit for), think about how you might advertise your services. Also, it's important to try to make a good impression on potential clients. Do you have a partner in mind who might be able to help you advertise or assist you in pitching your services? That might be a good idea—but keep in mind, you may need to split your profits. Also, check with your beta group leader to see how a partnership might affect your service hours.
Have you checked out Webisode 8, Webisode 21, and Webisode 26? These might give you some good ideas, along with Webisode 3 (about creating a working plan) and Webisode 11 (about partnerships). And don't forget—babysitting's probably not your only option! Have you ever considered walking your neighbor's dogs, shoveling their snow, or helping them in other ways? There are many possibilities…just think about what you like to do and what you're good at, and then check with your parents and your beta group before moving ahead. I'm rooting for you!
Since I'm starting an online business, I'm thinking of whether to charge a membership fee or run advertisements to gain profit. Which one (or both) shall I choose, and why?
Yours, -- Charles, age 12, New York
What a splendid question, Charles! I can tell you're of a fine financial mind. For this particular predicament, each possibility has its merits. What I'd recommend: if time allows and your parents approve, research similar (perhaps competitive) online businesses to see which business model they're using. Then, consider the advantages and disadvantages of the various options. What do you gain by charging a membership fee, running ads, or both? What do you lose? It's evident you're headed in the right direction in life, no matter which option(s) you choose for your business. Kudos on your excellent thinking!
Why don't you seem as smart as the other SMC kids? -- Morgan, age 9, Alabama
Ouch, dude! Hmm…I guess to people who don't know me I might seem that way. But I think everyone's smart in their own way. Like, Radley is tech-smart, Lisa is fashion-smart, Elena is socially smart, and I'm sports-smart! Also, I learned from the SMC that it's a good idea not to judge people before you get to know them. Check out Webisode 25 to learn more. I also learned that it's good to be open-minded. You can find out more about this in Webisode 20. Have a good one!
Why are you not in all the shows? -- Morgan, age 9, Alabama
Thanks for the question, Morgan! Like a lot of people, I'm very busy and have many things going on, so because of schedule conflicts, I'm not always available, unfortunately. But ever since I got here (I'm an exchange student?did you know that?), I've been trying to make a good impression in the shows I do appear in. Watch Webisode 21 and Webisode 26 to learn more about the importance of making a good impression and building a good reputation. Even though I'm not in the webisodes, I highly recommend them?enjoy!
How do you put up with Jones!? -- Arianna, age 8, Alabama
Oh, Jones isn't so bad once you get to know him. He's actually a great guy! What's really wonderful is that Jones, Radley, Elena, Mr. Buffett and I are all connected by a common interest: learning about finance and business! But it's more than just that…we're also learning from Mr. Buffett (together!) how to handle our day-to-day challenges in a better way. And when it comes to Jones—and everyone!—I like to keep an open mind. Watch Webisode 20 to see more about what I mean.
Do you love fashion?! -- Arianna, age 8, Alabama
I Do love fashion, Arianna! But that's just part of what I love. I also LOVE getting a good deal; learning about business, finance, and entrepreneurship; and being part of the SMC. We fashionistas like to be fabulous and financially fit. Have a divine day!
In the build your own business challenge, if I win, will you guys help the invention and business to get started, or do I just win? Also, is there any major in college that includes all or most types of engineering? -- James, age 13, Colorado
Wow, those are some big questions, dude. So here's what happens if you win the “Grow Your Own Business Challenge”: you'll be awarded $5000! If you and your parents think it's a good idea, maybe you could use some of that money to start your own business.
If you win, you'll also get to meet Warren Buffett in person and tell him about your new business idea. He's a really cool guy who knows a massive amount about business and things like that.
I'd like to help you out with the college major thing, but since I haven't started applying to schools yet (I'm only in 8th grade!), I'm not really sure. I'd say check with your parents, teachers, and school counselor for that kind of advice. And hey, good luck!
Where are the worksheets? -- Alajia, age 9, Nevada
Thanks for sending me a note, Alajia. That's a pretty name! Let's see?are you looking for SMC activities you can do with your family? You'll find them on the Family Activies page.
If you're looking for activities you can do by yourself, head on over to the Games page
I hope this helps, Alajia. Have a fashionable and financially fabulous day!
I take dance classes, and a famous dancer is coming to teach a master class. It costs $15, but I have to pay for it myself. The dancer is also selling t-shirts and bracelets. I don't have enough money to pay for all of it, and it is in 2 weeks. If I get a job like a hot cocoa stand, I might get enough money, but the only problem is I am shy. I need over $30 to pay for it all. What should I do? -- Liliana, age 9, Colorado
Liliana, I'm quite glad you asked. This is an excellent example of a situation that calls for a compromise! Watch Webisode 8 to find out more. Sometimes you can't have everything you want?but very often, if you're willing to make a trade-off, you can get something valuable. In this case, I recommend prioritizing. If you go to the master class but don't buy a t-shirt and a bracelet, you'll only have to save $15. If you receive an allowance, perhaps some of that could go toward the class? Also, depending upon your whereabouts, you may be able to shovel snow and walk neighborhood dogs to raise funds. Be sure to get permission from your parents first. Then, I recommend finding a partner to work with you and help you with your shyness. Watch Webisode 11 for more about partners. You'll probably need to split your profits (the money you make), but the sales experiences may be easier for you if you work with a friend. Best of luck!
I want to know more about you! -- Marielle, age 8, Texas
Thanks, Marielle—I'm flattered! You can find out the basics about me by clicking here to go to the Characters page. Essentially, I'm a practical person: I like to get a good deal every time I invest in anything, and I like to know all the details before I buy. But I also love fashion (I always find the best bargains!) and art (another way of bringing beauty to the world). Watch our webisodes and new TV episodes to find out even more about me—and have a divine day!
I'm very glad to know that this Q & A is set up. Thank you!
But I would like to ask, why isn't the club called the "Secret Warren Buffet Club" rather than "Secret Millionaires Club"? The word "millionaires" seems a little hyped up.
Thanks & regards, -- Shangya, age 22, New York
That's a really good question, Shangya. Let's see...we're not called the "Secret Warren Buffett Club," since that might sound like the club is just Mr. Buffett's, when really, it's a club for us all, and Mr. Buffett is our mentor. He says, “the more you learn, the more you'll earn,” so we pay close attention to his advice, and we're all learning from his lessons. We (secretly!) started the club with Mr. Buffett to raise money to help our school and other kids. And we're all “millionaires” in the sense that we're gaining a wealth of knowledge from Mr. Buffett so we can be successful in life. Thanks for your question!
I made a lemonade stand and only 1 person came. It's on a busy street and there's no competition. Please answer soon. -- Abby, age 8, Arizona
Abby, congratulations for focusing on location and competition! That's really smart. There are also other things that can factor into the success of a business. Have you watched our webisodes(especially "Lemons to Lemonade")? They provide some helpful ideas about how to make a business successful.
Here are a few ideas: Did you sell lemonade when it was cold outside? If so, you might consider switching to something warm, like cocoa. Also, was your lemonade offered at a reasonable price? You may want to ask around to see what the going rate is in your area. Finally, was your lemonade tasty? Maybe do a taste-test with family and friends to see if they have suggestions. And if all else fails, remember what Warren Buffett says: "In business, and in life, there are no failures. We just toss what didn't work and learn from our mistakes." Good luck!
I have a question about stock trading. Have you ever traded in the stock market and if you have what age did you start trading? Did you enjoy trading and make money right away or did it take time? -- Grant, age 10, Michigan
What a splendid question! It was not so long ago that I purchased my first stock. I had been interested in money and stocks for some years, and my parents became aware of my interest. So after some thoughtful guidance from them—and subsequent to my taking the initiative to learn about the companies I was interested in—I bought my first stock. I selected a company I had a strong interest in so that it would be stimulating to learn more about the company and its industry. The whole process was a superb learning experience—and, I have to admit, quite fun! I haven't yet sold the stock (which of course means I haven't yet made any money), but I can share this: with the guidance of my parents, my future is looking bright!
I have twenty-five one dollar bills, two ten dollar bills, and one five dollar bill. My mom says she'll give me a fifty dollar bill in exchange for my money. But I'm not exactly sure if I have the same amount of money than she is trying to give me, since she wants to give me one bill and I have twenty-eight bills. Is she giving me the same amount? If so, how? -- Leanne, age 8, Illinois
Leanne, the one $50 dollar bill your mom wants to give you IS equal to the amount you have. Here's how to figure it out: just add the numbers on the bills together to get 50! If you think about it, you'll see that this isn't different than being given a dime in exchange for 10 pennies. Plus, your mom won't charge you a commission for changing money?lucky you! Want more practice figuring this sort of thing out? Check out the "Counting Money" game.
My mom works at a business with my grandma. Is it okay to work with my family? -- Brooke, age 9, New York
Cool, dude. But hey, I hear it's sort of up to your business and stuff. Some businesses have rules that don't let family members work in the same place. Some are okay with it. And even when it's allowed, some families decide they don't want to work at the same place. That's cool. The place you work and your family just need to be clear about what's allowed. They should talk about stuff like what will work for them in terms of getting along and what everybody expects and things like that.
My mom says I should save my money, but I want to buy a video game. What do you think? -- Brett, age 7, New Jersey
Your mother is attempting to teach you an especially valuable lesson in business: the importance of saving. Not even the best business can grow and be successful if it spends its money as fast as it makes it. Likewise, you as an individual will have more financial flexibility if you save some money to have when you may need it. And even if you only save a relatively small portion of your money, over time it will add up, and in a short time you'll be able to buy as many video games as you want! In the meantime, might I suggest finding a part-time job or asking your parents if there are chores you can complete at home in order to earn some extra funds? Also, I recommend you watch Webisode 4 for more SMC thoughts about the importance of saving money.
I want to start my own business. What should I do? A car wash? -- Tom, age 8, California
That sounds great, Tom! Really, the most important thing is that you find something you enjoy doing. Watch Webisode 10 to find out more about this from the SMC. If you're not happy doing your job, you won't be successful. If you enjoy washing cars, that can be a terrific way to earn some extra money. Whatever you do, be sure to provide a good service at a fair price. Good luck!
How can I figure out what to be in life if there are so many choices? -- Lexi, age 11, Michigan
Good question, dude! I'd say try finding something you like. It doesn't matter what it is. Have you watched Webisode 10? Check it out. You can be a banker, a police officer, a doctor, or a railroad engineer. Whatever you pick, if you like it, you'll never look at it as work.
I started babysitting, and I am really happy to get the money and put it in my savings account, but I want a raise. How should I ask? -- Mariah, age 11, California
First, write down all of the reasons why you believe you deserve a raise. Some of the things which will be important to demonstrate are reliability, honesty, and dependability. You might also be able to demonstrate that other people in the neighborhood are being paid more than you for the same service. Then, make an appointment with your employer and present your case. Be sure to dress professionally when you ask for the raise. Watch Webisode 21 for more about the importance of professional appearance. Also, the better prepared you are to present your position, the more likely you are to be successful. Good luck!
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