My friend Sarah’s little brothers Nick and Alex are 10 and eight years old, respectively. Sarah is one of my best and oldest friends, so I’ve known Alex since he was born and Nick since he was just a kneebiter. With their parents’ permission, of course, they kindly took some time out from their busy schedules of watching Adventure Time and playing video games to chat with me about their career aspirations, taxes and how best to manage one’s money.
What do you guys want to be when you grow up?
Nick: I’ll be a pilot. Wait, actually a basketball player and a pilot.
Alex: Because it’s cool. You can have swords.
Nick: Because my favorite sport is basketball and it was always my dream of playing it. And then I can fly jets and planes. I’m also going to be a cowboy and other people.
What other people?
Nick: Well, um, I’m going to be noticed.
Why are people going to notice you?
Nick: I’m going to do good deeds, stuff like that. I’m going to look good for all the people.
And they’re just going to love it so much that they’ll give you money?
Nick: Yeah. And I’m going to be the cleanest and put deodorant on 10 times a day.
The deodorant company will pay you for smelling so good because of their deodorant?
Nick: You can also buy the deodorant sticks at Kroger for probably only one dollar.
If they pay you because you’re making it popular, that’s called a sponsorship. If you’re a super attractive male model and you wear their deodorant all the time and you’re like “I love this deodorant,” then they might give you money.
Alex, what’s the best part of being a ninja?
Alex: Helping people. Stopping bad guys.
What kind of training do you need to do that?
Alex: Maybe, you know those things that you do, it’s like high, those things for practicing for boxing?
You mean the hanging bags?
Alex: The hanging bags. Maybe also train in cutting lots of things with my sword.
Are you guys going to make a lot of money?
Where are you going to get it from?
Alex: The bank.
Nick, how are you going to split your time between being a basketball player and a cowboy and a pilot?
Nick: I’m going to do it over the weekends.
You’re just going to work all the time?
Nick: Yeah, but on some of the weeks I’m just going to take breaks and on Saturdays.
What are you going to do on your breaks?
Nick: Buy video games and play them.
What else are you going to buy?
Nick: I’m also going to buy stuff that we need and pay my taxes. ‘Cause the government ain’t shuttin’ down my house.
You don’t want them to do that.
Nick: That would be stupid ’cause they would also shut down your power. That would be the stupidest thing in your life.
If you don’t have power you can’t play your video games.
Nick: And even worse, they would shut down the TV.
Alex, how do you feel about taxes?
Alex: I don’t know what taxes are.
When you are older and you have a lot of income, you have to give some of it to the government.
Alex: I don’t like it. If he tries it, well, if he doesn’t give me anything back, I won’t.
You won’t? You’re not going to pay your taxes? What if they come to your door, and they knock on your door and say you haven’t paid your taxes, what are you going to do?
Alex: I don’t know. That’s wasting money.
Nick: I’ll rescue you. I’ll beat them up into sandwiches.
Where are you guys going to live?
Alex: Right by this house.
Nick: A place that’s near my parents’ house.
Nick, if you’re going to be a cowboy and a pilot, will you have to travel a lot?
What places do you want to visit?
Nick: Maybe I’ll visit Canada, if anybody needs a ride there.
I’ll let you know if I need a ride.
Am I going to get free rides in the plane because I’m your friend?
Do you think it’s better to save your money or spend it?
Nick: Save and spend, both.
Nick: Because you need to save your money for taxes and I’m going to spend my other money on really fun stuff.
Alex: ‘Cause there might be an expensive thing I want.
Do you have any money right now?
Nick: No, I don’t have any money in my wallet.
Alex: Yes, I don’t know exact.
Nick, did you spend it all?
What did you buy?
Nick: Video games.
Which video games?
Nick: Um, the only video game that I can remember that I bought is Batman: Arkham City. And it’s not LEGO. It’s real.
Alex, are you saving up for something?
Alex: A Nerf gun shotgun.
Are those expensive?
Alex: Yes. Meijer’s has it, I don’t know exactly what place they’re at.
Would you guys ever go into business together?
Alex: Maybe. Yes.
Nick: If he’s not too mean.
Julie Beck is a writer and editor in Chicago. She’s going to hold Nick to that promise of free plane rides.