Summer’s here, and while some teens are perfecting their tan lines, why not soak up some cash instead? Here’s five off-beat business ideas that’ll make summer sizzle with $$$ and success:

1. **Bedazzled Bike Brigade**:

Turn heads and pedal profits with a bedazzling business! Offer to bling out bikes with glitter, streamers, and LED lights. Kids will beg their parents for the coolest ride on the block, and you’ll be rolling in dough faster than you can say “bling bling.”

2. **Air Guitar Tutoring**:

Got mad air guitar skills? Share the love by offering air guitar tutoring sessions! Whether it’s teaching beginners the basics of shredding imaginary chords or helping seasoned air rockers perfect their stage presence, your expertise will have them riffing like pros in no time. If you want to see a real teen guitar pro on Biz Kid$ check out this video of Brandon Neiderhauer.

3. **Customized Sunglasses Stand**:

Shade seekers unite! Set up shop at local parks or beaches and offer to customize sunglasses with decals, paint, or even tiny googly eyes. Whether it’s a pair of shades with a pineapple motif or ones that transform into butterfly wings (yes, that’s a thing), your funky designs will have people lining up to shield their eyes in style.

4. **Watermelon Delivery Service**:

Who doesn’t love a juicy watermelon on a scorching summer day? Offer a delivery service where you slice and deliver fresh, chilled watermelons to beachgoers or picnic enthusiasts. Bonus points for throwing in a dash of salt or chili powder, because who doesn’t love a sweet and spicy treat?

5. **Pet Rock Painting Service**:

Let’s face it, everyone loves a painted pet rock. Offer a bespoke rock-painting service where people can customize their own quirky desk companions or garden ornaments. Get creative with designs like rockstar rocks or cosmic pebbles. It’s simple, fun, and guaranteed to rock their world!


So, there you have it — five hilariously awesome business ideas to kickstart your teen’s summer hustle. Check out our free business plan to get you started. Remember, the key to success is creativity, a dash of humor, and not being afraid to think outside the lemonade stand. Get out there, make waves (not just at the pool), and show summer who’s boss!

Monochrome image of sculptures depicting the "see no evil, hear no evil" concept with two gorillas.

If you’d listened to the financial “wisdom” of the pundits on social media over the last couple of years, you’d have been in for one heck of a roller coaster ride. If you happened to get lucky with regards to the timing of when you followed their advice, you could have made it rich on meme stocks (remember Game Stop?) or turned pennies into profit through cryptocurrency.

Or, if your timing was slightly different, you could have seen fortunes turn to rubbish with the collapse of FTX, or your rainy day turn to puddles with the drop in those very same meme stocks. The trouble with financial fads is that, for some, they can appear smart. As the old saying goes, “even a broken clock is right twice per day.” Just consider the total load of content put before our eyes each day last year:

95 million Instagram posts.

867 million Tweets.

300 million Facebook photos.

252,000 new websites.

Such was a single day of life in 2022. Information overload is an understatement. With that many pieces of content being written, just like a broken clock, nuggets of luck are sure to count among the counsel. After all, thousands of times per second, new thoughts are published, ideas are broadcast, and tips are shared. Those looking for lasting wisdom amidst the noise do so amidst a hailstorm of information.

In this age of information overload, let’s do something else. Let’s get back to basics.

Old wisdom works.

When Tess Vigeland, the host of NPR’s show Marketplace Money, retired, she signed off by sharing what she’d learned over her years hosting a show dedicated to finance. Her final words of wisdom?

Now here is where I could insert a bunch of the usual personal finance bromides. Spend less than you earn. Save all you can for retirement. Stick to a budget. Sure — all those are important. But after six years of dispensing financial advice or at least being in the room when we gave that advice, it really comes down to one thing: choices. And there’s almost nothing more personal in our lives than the choices we make.

Follow fads at your own risk.

Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, has been criticized over the years for avoiding tech stocks and the profits they reap. His reason? He doesn’t understand them, so he sticks to the basics he knows – t-shirts, bricks, chocolate, and toilet paper among them. His philosophy seemed questionable amidst the dot-com boom of the 1990’s, but wise amidst the bubble’s pop soon thereafter. When you avoid a financial fad, you’re limiting both risk and potential reward. Only time will tell which was wisest. In the meantime, stick with what you understand.


Compound interest is key (and never ceases to amaze).

It’s one of the oldest, surest, and most frequently ignored pieces of financial wisdom. It’s the power of compound interest, and it’s the financial equivalent of a superpower for the young. Invest early at a steady interest rate, and you’ll do far better than any “grown up” working to catch up at an older age. Need a reminder? This chart from Dave Ramsey reveals the power of compound interest through a few $2000 investments at an early age as compared to many, many more by an adult:


Ready to join us on our quest to get back to basics? Check out our page devoted to Financial Basics.

Three colorful keys lying on a white surface.

Take a quick survey of the 2024 New Year’s resolutions of close friends and family, and two words are likely to bubble to the surface: more and less.

“I want to look at my phone less this year.”

“I want to exercise more.”

“Eat less junk food.”

“Spend more time with my friends.”

“Worry less.”

Money matters often make the lists – spend less, save more. Or invest more, squander less. But as we discussed last week, a resolution that lacks specificity or measurement is difficult to achieve. This year, if money-related matters or more or less are on your mind, consider these strategies for making your financial resolutions specific and measurable:

Save a specific amount in a specific period of time

Depending on your age and income, a resolution to “save $1000 this year” could feel daunting. But broken down into smaller goals, the ten-Benjamin goal could be surprisingly achievable. Consider the weekly goal – just $20 per week, with 2 weeks to spare. Or perhaps the daily amount is easier to stomach: $2.74. If you find just one daily opportunity to squash your urge to splurge on a $3 item, a cool thousand could be yours at year-end.

Trade a specific line-item for savings on autopilot

David Bach’s book Automatic Millionaire makes the case for taking your goals out of your emotional hands into the code of a scheduled transfer. Want to save $25 per month? Set up an auto-transfer with your bank to make it so. Want to invest $100 per month? Set up a scheduled trade with a low-cost trading platform like Robinhood.

Hack recurring transactions for multiplied impact

Our subscription economy has an effect intended by companies but unintended by consumers: expenses we might have considered one-by-one twenty years ago (like purchasing an album) are now made on autopilot (e.g. Amazon Music or Spotify). 1999’s Blockbuster rental is now a monthly Netflix or Hulu subscription. Even book purchases can now be made monthly (like Kindle Unlimited). The result? Seemingly small monthly transactions of $9.99 add up to big annual sums. One rapid way to achieve your goals to spend less and save more? Slash some subscriptions. Take a look at your bank account, or better yet, use a tool like Rocket Money to uncover recurring charges and slash away. Just think: if you can find $30 in monthly subscriptions, a $360 plane ticket could be within reach by Christmas.

The bottom line? Think slow and steady.

The key to making your financial goals a reality is to consider the total impact of small decisions made regularly. Trading a recurring subscription for a recurring investment could have major implications once you harness the power of compound interest.

So this year, take your money goals to the next level: make them specific, make them measurable, and make them automatic.

Interested in learning more about the power of compound interest? Check out our online money course for teens, “How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000!

In case you misplaced your calendar, a glance around the internet is all you need to know which week it is. Ah, yes, the first week of January is here. With it, resolutions are running rampant. Some publications, celebrities, and entrepreneurs are going all in on ambitious resolutions, while others are keeping it small or scrapping the tradition altogether. Our suggestion? Get SMART.

One of the goal-setting gold standards is called SMART. The letters stand for ingredients to include in your goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. More than one celebrity have taken this advice to heart.

S: Get Specific

It’s difficult to follow through on a goal that’s vague, like “be a better entrepreneur.” Instead, define your goals as narrowly as possible.

TV host Ryan Seacrest got really specific about his goals for 2023, as in, down to the minute:

“Being comfortable with eight minutes of stillness or eight minutes of silence or eight minutes of doing nothing … without having to feel like I need to do something. And also learning how to play all these games my niece plays at 4 years old. I’m struggling to understand ‘Booba.’”

M: Make it Measurable

Don’t merely plan to “grow your business.” Quantify your resolution. For Cardi B, her desire for risk-taking had a clear goal: one.

Are you in Cardi B’s boat? We have an episode for that. Check out “The World is a Risky Place” today.

A: Anything That’s Actionable

Celebrity Kourtney Kardashian has a relatable new year’s resolution that requires a significant change of habits:

“To live more in the present and less on my phone”

While it’s actionable to be sure, making her resolution a SMART one would require measurement, among other things. One example? Decrease time on my phone by 30%, measured by the iPhone’s time tracking app.

R: Resolve with Relevance

Your goals should be relevant to your life. So what’s always relevant? Money. The money channel CNBC says most Americans’ resolutions fall into three buckets: to save more money, pay down debt, and spend less. Biz Kid, do we ever have resources for that.

Looking to save more? Check out our full page dedicated to saving and investing.

Ready to pay off that debt? We’ve rounded up our best content on the topic right here.

Time to reign in that spending? Define your money personality, then tailor your strategy to your money makeup. Our episode, “What’s Your Money Personality?” is your first stop.

T: Time-Bound or Bust

It’s not enough to decide what you want to do. Deciding when is just as vital. The good news is that tools abound for tracking the time portion of most any resolution. Here are some examples:

  • Reading: Serial Reader provides 20 minutes of reading for each day.

  • Spending: break your financial goals into small time-bound budgets each month with Mint, a tool that tracks your spending and tallies the truth.

  • Exercise: Apple Fitness claims to be “all the motivation you need.” Its trainings include programs to reach your daily, weekly, and long-term goals.

So what are some of your new year’s resolutions this year, Biz Kid? If they’re specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound, you should be well on your way to a better you in 2024!

A room filled with boxes and a truck.

In good times and bad, some things never change. Among them? The teenage dream of moving out. #Adulting, if you will. But recent years have made that aspiration increasingly challenging to turn into reality. From soaring inflation to the rising cost of living, the journey to independence is no longer as straightforward as it once was. This week, we’re diving into the factors that have made moving out more challenging than ever before.


Say it ain’t so. One of the primary culprits behind the rising hurdles to #Adulting is inflation. Inflation is the rise in prices of goods and services, leading to lowering purchasing power than the same dollars in your pocket had yesterday. As prices of everyday items continue to climb, the value of money diminishes, making it harder for teens like you to afford the essentials needed for independent living.

Rising Rent

Rent is one of the biggest items in any budget. And across the country, big cities are experiencing a surge in demand for housing, driving rent prices to unprecedented levels. This makes it especially challenging for teenagers, who often start with entry-level jobs that may not provide sufficient income to cover the high cost of rent.

Stagnant Wages

While living costs are on the rise, wages have not necessarily kept pace. Many entry-level jobs for teens come with low pay, making it difficult to afford rent, utilities, groceries, and other necessary expenses.

Student Loan Debt

For those who have pursued college, the burden of student loan debt adds an additional weight to the prospect of moving out. As the cost of education continues to climb, many teenagers find themselves burdened with significant debt before they even enter the workforce. This financial pressure can delay plans to move out and achieve independence.

Rising Interest Rates

As interest rates have skyrocketed over the last couple of years, some of the bills you already receive have risen as a result. Credit cards and some auto payments may feature rates that adjust after purchase, meaning that yesterday’s calculations may not be the same today. Translation: you may owe more money on last year’s purchase than you expected.

Need some good news? #Adulting may be tough, but we can make it a bit less so. Our dedicated Adulting page features inspiring videos and free content to help you make the moving out decision.

A cup of coffee and a book on a table in front of a christmas tree.

In a matter of days, the final exams will be turned in and the holiday jams will be turned on. Half the school year is complete and a time for joy, relaxation, and festivities awaits. But that doesn’t mean that a Biz Kid must put their dreams on hold. Far from it. Your holiday break is a perfect opportunity to harness your creativity, fuel your passion, and take significant steps in your entrepreneurial journey. Let’s explore some creative ways you can stay productive and get innovative over the next two weeks.

Look Back (and Ahead)

Take advantage of the downtime to reflect on your entrepreneurial journey so far. What worked well? What could be improved? Set realistic yet motivating goals for the upcoming year. Use this time for strategic planning and envisioning the future of your venture.


Holiday gatherings provide an excellent opportunity for networking. Attend local holiday events, connect with fellow entrepreneurs, and share your story. You never know when a casual conversation could turn into a valuable collaboration or partnership.

Host a Festive Pop-up Shop

If you make a product or craft, consider hosting a holiday pop-up shop. Create a last-minute shopping experience for your customers, offering special discounts or gift wrap.

Holiday-Themed Content Creation

Use the holiday spirit to your advantage by creating engaging and festive content for your audience. Whether it’s holiday-themed blog posts, social media campaigns, or creative videos, tapping into the holiday vibe can help you connect with your audience while they’re in the holiday spirit.

Learn Something New

The holiday break is a fabulous opportunity to acquire new skills. Enroll in online courses, attend workshops, or dive into books that can enhance your knowledge and capabilities. Whether it’s digital marketing, coding, or graphic design, expanding your skills could give you a competitive edge when 2024 makes its big debut.

Collaborate with Other Entrepreneurs

Reach out to fellow entrepreneurs in your network and explore collaboration opportunities. Whether it’s a joint marketing campaign, a collaborative product launch, or a shared event, chances are that other young entrepreneurs will have some free time in the days to come, too.

Create a Vision Board

Visualize your aspirations by creating a vision board for your entrepreneurial journey. Use images, quotes, and symbols (recycled gift wrap, anyone?) that represent your goals and dreams. Display it prominently near your workspace to serve as a constant source of inspiration.

Stare at a Wall

A famous journalist once responded to a question about their favorite hobby by saying, “I like to go home and stare at the wall.” Perhaps the most difficult task of all for a distracted, phone-addicted society, forcing yourself to be bored and clear your mind can be downright productive. You never know what your mind might come up with when given a moment to breathe.

This holiday break, enjoy your well-earned time off from schoolwork while taking advantage of the rare chance to get creative and entrepreneurial. Embrace creativity, connect with others, and take strategic steps toward your goals. It’s going to be a good year.

A woman is holding a sparkler in her hand.

Love it or dread it, ‘tis the season of giving. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re either a parent of an aspiring young entrepreneur, or a parent aspiring for your child to become a young entrepreneur. The holiday season is a fabulous opportunity to encourage their passions and channel their free time by giving strategically. (Last week’s annual Biz Kid gift guide is a great place to start!)

Think you’re alone in your attempt to steer your child’s interests via what’s under the tree? Far from it. History is filled with stories of famous lives forever changed by thoughtful gift-giving. Here’s one imagined from the famed commercial producers of John Lewis:

1.     The Gift of Music: Elvis Presley’s First Guitar A modest yet meaningful Christmas gift ignited a love for music that led to the King of Rock and Roll we all know today. At the young age of 11, Elvis unwrapped a guitar and the world unearthed a superstar. Consider gifting your child an instrument to cultivate their artistic side and potentially uncover a hidden talent.

2.     The Gift of Storytelling: J.K. Rowling’s Typewriter Tale J.K. Rowling’s journey to literary stardom began with a typewriter – a Christmas gift from her boyfriend. This simple yet powerful tool allowed her to bring the magical world of “Harry Potter” to life. You could foster a child’s love for storytelling by providing tools that encourage their creativity, such as a fun pen and journal or a laptop.

3.     The Gift of Gab: Oprah Winfrey’s First Radio Oprah’s exposure to the power of media started with a radio set received as a child. That early gift played a major role in shaping her record-breaking career. Consider introducing your young entrepreneur to the world of media through age-appropriate gadgets or subscriptions that nurture their curiosity (don’t forget to fill them with educational content like Biz Kid$!).

4.     The Gift of Innovation: Steve Jobs’ Electronics Kit The iconic co-founder of one of the world’s most iconic brands, Steve Jobs received an electronics kit that fueled his fascination with technology. As a parent, consider encouraging your child’s interest in STEM by providing educational kits or gadgets that allow them to explore the exciting world of innovation.

5.     The Gift of Drama: Charlie Chaplin’s Makeup Kit Charlie Chaplin’s iconic on-screen persona was birthed by a makeup kit gifted during his struggling years as a performer. That simple gift transformed his career and shaped the history of cinema. Foster your child’s artistic expression with gifts that encourage creativity, whether it’s a set of paints, acting classes, or a camera.

As you search for that perfect Christmas gift for your young entrepreneur, remember that sometimes the most meaningful presents are the ones that spark a lifelong passion. Whether it’s an instrument, a writing tool, a tech gadget, or a means of artistic expression, the right gift has the potential to set your child on a transformative journey toward success. Embrace the spirit of giving, and who knows? You might be laying the foundation for the next generation of influential leaders and innovators.

A white chicken standing on a pink background.

Perfectly positioned between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, a young entrepreneur named Nolan Stroy is counting his chickens before they hatch. But that’s no metaphor — the eggs his chickens lay are a thriving business for Nolan. 40 chickens produce dozens of eggs each day – eggs Nolan delivers to homes throughout his hometown of Murdock.

For Nolan, the age-old business is a lesson in marketing, faithfulness, and cost of goods sold (As Nolan says, “With 40 chickens, you go through a lot of water.”) His business was also a classic tale of starting small and growing with demand. The high school student started with just 10 chickens, reinvesting his profits into the purchase of additional chicks over time.

Nolan is far from alone in selling eggs as an early entrepreneurial endeavor. Fun fact: Famed investor Warren Buffett also sold eggs (in Nebraska, no less!) as his first childhood business.

One of our earliest Biz Kid$ young entrepreneurial feature stories was City Chicks – an organic egg business run by then-elementary-aged ”chicken wranglers” Giorgia and Jackson. (The two are now teenagers with life-size ambitions of their own.)

Thinking of starting your own egg business? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Rules & Permitting

Check your local regulations and zoning laws. You might need a permit – or find out that raising chickens is a no-no altogether.

Startup Costs

Calculate the total cost of purchasing chicks, building a coop, buying feed, and any other necessary equipment. You may find that the startup costs are quick steep.

Outdoor Space

Where will you keep your chicks? You’ll need a coop with proper ventilation, nesting boxes, and space for roosting.

Know your Breeds

Different breeds lay different quantities of eggs. Consider factors like climate, egg color, size, and frequency of laying before selecting one.

A black and white photo of a building with columns.

Yesterday’s headlines were clear: The Fed was leaving interest rates unchanged. Clear – if you know what the heck such a sentence even means. If you feel out of the loop, you’re not alone.

Wedged between Taylor Swift updates, “The Fed” has been a regular feature in the news over the last couple of years. For an agency given a one-syllable nickname, its role sure is complicated. Who – or what – is “The Fed” anyway, and how do they get to decide what interest rates…everyone…changes for…everything?

Here’s the skinny (as skinny as we can make it.)

Simply put, an “interest rate” is the cost of borrowing money OR the reward for saving or investing money. When you borrow money, you pay interest on top of the amount you borrowed. When you save or invest money, you earn interest on your savings or investments.

Got it. So what’s “The Fed” have to do with that?

The Federal Reserve, often just called the Fed, is the central bank of the United States. Its role is to keep the nation’s financial system stable (translation: to keep things from getting cray-cray).

The Fed’s main tool for influencing interest rates is its “Federal Funds Rate,” also known as the interest rate paid/earned by banks to borrow or lend money to each other overnight. If the Fed lowers the federal funds rate, it becomes cheaper for banks to borrow money. That leads to lower interest rates for consumers and businesses.

When prices rise too quickly (“inflation”), the Fed raises interest rates to make it harder to borrow, resulting in fewer dollars demanding goods and services. Lower demand should keep prices from getting out of control. That’s the idea, anyway.

How the Fed’s Decisions Affect You

Now that you understand the role of the Federal Reserve, let’s explore how their decisions impact your daily life:

1.     Loans:

When the Fed lowers interest rates, borrowing money becomes cheaper. This is good news if you plan to take out a loan for a car, home, or education. Lower interest rates mean lower monthly payments and less overall cost. However, when the Fed raises rates, borrowing becomes more expensive. That’s what’s happened over the last year. Prices got out of control, so the Fed raised interest rates, and now, it’s wildly expensive to borrow money to buy a house or a car.

2.     Savings:

On the flip side, lower interest rates mean that you’ll earn less interest on your savings accounts or investments. This can affect your ability to grow your money over time. When the Fed raises rates, savings accounts and other fixed-income investments become more attractive. Right now, savings accounts are getting record interest – great news for savers.

3.     Inflation:

The Fed uses interest rates to control inflation, which is the rise in the general level of prices. High inflation makes the dollars in your pocket less valuable. If the Fed perceives inflation as a threat, it may raise interest rates to curb spending and keep prices stable. That’s exactly what it’s done for more than a year.

The bottom line? The interest rates that affect everything in our financial lives, whether borrowing, saving, or spending, are influences by a powerful group of bankers at the Federal Reserve. What they decide in their meetings affects us all. Thus, the headlines. Okay, back to Taylor Swift watch.

A person is holding up a phone with the fortnite logo on it.

When Tyler Sullivan was ten years old, his mom approached him with a mystery: $200 in small charges had appeared on her credit card statement from Apple. This, after Tyler had become obsessed with the game Fortnite. Coincidence? Tyler insisted it must be. Mom didn’t think so, and an Apple phone rep confirmed her suspicions. Suddenly, Tyler was on the hook for $200 in cold, hard cash.

Three years later, Tyler is a teenage entrepreneur, thanks in large part to his little mistake – and his mom’s insistence that he pay for it.

The need to come up with $200 was no small challenge for a fifth grader. Too young to be employed, Tyler turned to the one income source that couldn’t tell him no: entrepreneurship.

His dad had a tasty recipe for salsa; his backyard was stocked with peppers ripe for picking. Tyler got to work crafting salsa in small batches and bottling them up as “Sully’s Slammin’ Fresh Salsa.”

Demand skyrocketed, the Sullivans’ kitchen became overcrowded, and a formal business license was in the cards.

Today, the recipe is in the hands of a professional kitchen and the jars are sold in farmer’s markets and stores throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Last year, the family’s earnings totaled $25,000, a sum they hope to double this year. Put another way, the total amounts to 125 times the price of Tyler’s Fortnite debt.

Talk about a parenting moment that paid off.

A white shark swimming in the dark.

Television’s most famous tank has a new shark. “Shark Tank,” the pitch competition TV series, just announced the addition of Michael Rubin to the series’ lineup.

Today, he heads Fanatics, the sportswear company with $8 billion in annual revenue and more than 18,000 employees. But his backstory reveals a Biz Kid through and though.

After starting a ski tuning service at a teenager, Michael was only 15 when he had amassed enough money to buy his first Porsche. He bought one, despite the fact that he wasn’t even old enough to drive it. His ski tuning business turned into a full-fledged ski shop – until the ski shop hit a rough patch. Soon, Michael had more inventory than he could sell. He hit the yellow pages, attempting to get rid of the excess. That exercise taught him a difficult lesson about the opportunities hidden behind the misfortunes of other businesses.

Eventually, the closeout business became his bread and butter. In the years that followed, he followed a series of lucky steppingstones into e-commerce, an acquisition by eBay, and a subsequent acquisition of Fanatics.

A winding road led Michael Rubin from a ski tuning business to one of the most famous boardrooms in all the world.

Wish you could have a piece of the action? If you’re a high schooler, perhaps you can. Shark Tank made a call for entries of high school students age 13+ to enter their social media contest:

“Visit @SharkTankABC on Instagram and comment with your answer to this question with the hashtag #SharkTankSchoolSweepstakes for a chance to win a video chat with a Shark, Shark Tank gear, or the Grand Prize trip to the Shark Tank set.”

The winner snags a 3-day/2-night trip with up to three guests to Los Angeles for a taping of the show and a meet-and-greet with the Sharks. If you win, can we tag along?

A sign that says trick or treat on a window display.

An old phrase has always made me stop and ponder: “debt is a tool.” Just like a saw or a hammer, the phrase suggests, debt can hurt or help.

Some businesspeople swear by debt – “leverage,” they call it. In a dream scenario, the idea is that a business loan can create the “runway” (time and resources) you need to start a business that will eventually pay off mightily.

When times are good and the entrepreneur gets lucky, the concept works wonderfully. Here’s an example. A real estate investor has $100,000 in their bank account. They use that as 20% down to purchase a home for $500,000. Their monthly mortgage payments are $3,000, which they cover with $3,000 monthly rent from tenants. In 30 years, let’s say the house has doubled in value. With the mortgage paid off, they sell the house for $1,000,000. The new math? Their $100,000 turned into $1,000,000. (Yes, that leaves out lots of details, like the property taxes and repairs they paid for on top of the mortgage payment.) But you get the idea – if they hadn’t used a loan in the equation, the math would have been less impressive. They would have had to save up $500,000 (yikes!), after which they would have doubled their money, rather than multiplied it by ten.

But consider the other side of the coin. If the economy slows, that $500,000 home could decrease in value, like many did in 2008.

Suddenly, you might owe the bank more than the home is worth. Worse yet, lower home prices will mean that you might not be able to cover your mortgage payments with rent. Suddenly, you’re given three rough choices: pay out of pocket each month to keep the home, sell it at a loss, or stop payment and lose everything you invested to the bank. If you’d bought it outright with cash, you’d be safe, waiting out the day when value returned.

The most difficult piece of this debate is how much is unpredictable. The economy goes up and down based on lots of factors – none of them within your control. Often, the difference between an entrepreneur who looked smart by using debt “as a tool” and one who looks foolish for doing so? Timing. Put another way, luck.

So we return to the question at hand: is debt a trick or a treat? The truth is you may not know the answer until the very end.