Most videos, no matter how much time and effort go into making them, won’t go viral, but some do. When a video goes viral, depending on the platform and how it’s monetized, it could earn anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a million or more. If your child makes a video that goes viral, they could end up with a hefty viral video paycheck. This is often unprecedented territory for even the most financially savvy parents. Here are a few tips on how to best handle the situation.
Use a Big Paycheck as a Conversation Starter
Instead of decreeing what your child should or should not do with their windfall, take the opportunity to have a conversation with them. While you’re the parent, the conversation will likely go much more smoothly if you keep in mind that your child earned this money. Even if a single viral video doesn’t constitute your idea of work, your child has a paycheck to prove that someone values what they created.
The tone of the conversation will obviously vary depending on the age and personality of your child. If your child is 15 and has never earned money before, the conversation will probably look different than if your child is 19, no longer lives at home, and has a steady job. Ideally, no matter your child’s age, you’ll have already had some conversations about money before, but if not, make sure to spend some time thinking through the main message you want to convey about money before you talk to them about the viral video paycheck.
Balance Fun and Responsibility
No matter your age, an unexpected windfall is exciting. Allow your child to enjoy the excitement. Depending on the size of the paycheck, work with them to decide on an amount or percent that they can spend however they wish, then save the rest. What the child decides to do with the “fun money” at their disposal is totally up to them. As long as it’s legal and doesn’t break any already existing family rules, consider it fair game.
You may wish for your child to save or invest all of their earnings or keep them from spending money in a way you deem irresponsible. However, if your child never has an opportunity to spend their own money, how will they learn to make their own financial decisions?
For example, maybe your child decides to put the “fun money” toward buying the newest sneakers instead of toward a music festival their friends plan to attend. You may know your child would enjoy the music festival far more, but it's the child’s choice to make. When your child misses out on a fun opportunity with friends, they may learn far more than if you had made the decision for them.
Viral Video Paycheck: Future Expectations
The other thing you’ll want to discuss with your child is their expectations going forward. Maybe it seems obvious that this is a one-time windfall, but your child may not think so. If your child wants to pursue making money from viral videos, first take the time to hear them out. Even if their plans are completely impractical, try to understand where they’re coming from. This is not to say that you should agree with your child or go along with all their plans, but the conversation will likely go much more smoothly if you take time to see things from their perspective.
Whether your child is a YouTube star – with a viral video paycheck to prove it – or not, having age-appropriate conversations about earning, saving and spending money is important. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a wealth of money education resources for kids of all ages.
consumerfinance.gov, "Consumer Tools, Money As You Grow"
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