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Charlie and the Slime Factory: Teaching kids about debt

The story in this weeks’ blog is an exciting follow on from my popular story ‘The Invisible Slime Story’ which helps your kids learn about keeping up with the Jones’. If you’ve not read that story then I recommend you do first - you can find it here.

This time we see Charlie and his friend Frey go to the Slime Factory where they get into trouble. They also learn more about slime (debt) and clever marketing tricks used to get people to cover themselves in slime.

Quick Recap: For those that have already read ‘The Invisible Slime Story’”

Charlie moved to a new town where it appears everyone has lots of money. When trying to make new friends Charlie notices that all the kids in the new town have really nice and expensive clothes.

To fit in with the new kids he goes to a store to get a new shirt but doesn’t have enough money. Luckily the kind old store lady, who wears massive sunglasses, lets him buy the clothes if he agrees to pay her back later. The clothes he gets seem really heavy.

When he is next in the store, he finds the old ladies' massive sunglasses and can’t resist trying them on. Through her glasses he discovers that nearly everyone is covered in a horrible green slime which can only be seen through the glasses. It turns out that people in the town don’t have a lot of money, they all borrowed money to make sure they had the same clothes as everyone else and they were all covered in Invisible Slime (debt).

Now Charlie and his new friend Frey want to find out more about the slime.

Charlie and the Slime Factory 🏭

🗓️ Thursday, 25 July

Frey and I decided to meet up at the shopping centre to see if we could find out where the old lady from the clothes store was getting her slime from.

We waited in the car park so we could see the back door of the store. It was seriously hot outside so, after waiting for hours, Frey decided to go and get some ice drinks. I continued to wait.

Then I saw something I didn’t expect. People who work in electronics stores, the computer game store, and the jewellery store all came out to get their buckets of slime refilled too. Turns out that it’s not just clothes that are covered in slime, pretty much everything is.

We needed to know where that truck got the slime from. I ran across the car park and grabbed onto the back of the truck just before it was leaving.

Just as the truck started to drive off, I could hear Frey shout:

“Charlie, what are you doing? What about your Ice Slushy?!”

She started running after the truck she dropped my slushy all over the floor. Luckily the truck driver didn’t notice her and get suspicious. I waved to tell Frey to go home.

The truck didn’t go very far before it arrived at a huge factory just outside of the town centre. It started to turn to go into the factory car park and I managed to jump off and hide in a bush.

The factory had loads of people walking about outside, all wearing blue overalls. There were hundreds of trucks being filled with slime and leaving the factory.

Then a big black car arrived. Out came a really old bald man with a stick wearing an ill-fitting

suit. He was followed by probably the biggest man I’ve ever seen. He was wearing blue overalls like everyone else. All the workers looked so scared as the old man walked past them and into the main entrance to the factory. I had no idea who that man was but thought he is surely the big boss!

I need to get inside that factory to learn more. However, that will have to wait until tomorrow as I’m not going in there without Frey.

🗓️ Friday, 26 July

Today was one of the most exciting and scary days ever!

As soon as I woke up, I cycled to Frey’s house to tell her what I saw and that we needed to go back to the factory.

When we got to the factory, we noticed a small gap in the wire fence which we could crawl through.

We wandered down by the side of the car park. Some of the workers saw us and gave us strange looks but luckily they were all too busy loading the trucks to stop us. Phew!! We then saw a door into the factory which was slightly open. We peaked inside and didn’t see anyone. We walked inside slowly. Both of us were so scared that we’d get into trouble.

The corridor had brick walls and windows into meeting rooms. The lights were all off in the rooms so we couldn’t really see what was in them. We tried to open the doors to the rooms but they were locked, except one.

We crawled into the room and closed the door behind us. I was about to turn on the light but Frey managed to stop me as someone might see us. We used the small light from our mobile phones to look around.

The walls all had white boards. They were covered in writing and drawings. We didn’t really know what it was all for until we got to one of the boards at the back of the room. It had “Trick people into believing they are saving money when they are spending” written on it.

Underneath was loads of drawings of signs saying things like:

“Buy today and save £15”

“Buy-two-get-one-free, offer ends tomorrow”

“The more you spend, the more you save”

Just as I said to Frey “Surely they won’t be able to make people believe they are saving when they are spending”, someone turned on the lights in the next room. We looked and saw it was the old man and the giant. Luckily, they didn’t notice us.

We knew we had to get out of there. We crawled out of the room, down the hall and out the factory.

I was so relieved we didn’t get caught.

We knew what we did was scary but Frey wants to take it up a notch and go back to the factory again tomorrow to find out even more about the slime.

I don’t think I’ll get much sleep tonight!!

🗓️ Saturday, 27 July

I thought yesterday was exciting / scary - it was nothing compared to what happened today!

Mum woke me up to tell me that we were going on a family trip to the supermarket. I pretended I didn’t hear that last piece. I got dressed and grabbed my bike and went straight to the factory. I knew I was going to get in trouble with my Mum but it was worth the risk. I left a note to say I’d be back before lunch.

When I got to the factory, Frey was already there. She hadn’t slept at all, just like me.

There weren't as many workers around, probably as it's the weekend. However, we noticed the old man’s big black car in the car park. That means he was in the factory and probably with his giant friend.

We ran down the other side of the factory from yesterday. Unfortunately, there weren’t any open doors but there was a window slightly ajar above a big dumpster. We climbed up on the dumpster and looked through the window. There wasn’t much light but we could tell we were in some sort of storage room with rows of shelves.

As we climbed through the window and jumped down, a soft voice said:

“Who’s that? Who’s there?”

It didn’t sound like a guard or anything like that. It sounded like someone was hiding in the store room like us.

We didn’t say anything and slowly walked behind a row of shelves. Again we heard:

“Is someone there?”.

It was then we saw through a gap in the shelves an old lady who had been locked in a cage. She seemed pretty old and harmless.

We went over to the cage. At first she was really scared, I think she thought we were going to hurt her. She then realised we were just kids.

We began to ask her what was going on. She then told us she was the woman who first created the invisible slime. She created it to help people who really needed something but couldn’t afford it, like a house or to look after their family in an emergency. As these people didn’t want others to know that they needed help, she found a way to help make the slime invisible.

Years after creating the slime to help people, her brother, known as Mr. Credit Tree (he’s the old man we saw yesterday), felt he could use the slime to make himself rich. So he locked his sister in the cage and forced her to reveal the secrets of the slime. Mr. Credit Tree knew that if he could get people to use slime, not just for the things they 'NEEDED' but, to use it to buy things they 'WANTED' just to impress other people, he would become rich!

Not only did he succeed in getting people to buy the things they didn’t really need, he also found his sister’s secrets to making the slime grow and adjusted it slightly. Now it grows really quickly but most people don’t realise as it's invisible!

As exciting as it was to learn all about the slime, we needed to get the old lady out of the room and fast. That’s when we heard the door open and the lights come on.

It was our worst nightmare. There stood Mr. Credit Tree and his giant friend! They didn’t look in a good mood at all!

Mr. Credit Tree said to the old lady:

“I bet you thought someone had come to rescue you, didn’t you my dear sister?”

He then laughed and ordered the giant to grab us and put us in the cage with the old lady.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my whole life. Frey and I grabbed each others’ hands and closed our eyes.

What happened next completely shocked us.

Instead of the giant coming over to grab us, he grabbed Mr. Credit Tree by the back of his suit and lifted him right off the ground. He then walked over to the cage, opened the door, signalled for the old lady to get out and then put Mr.Credit Tree in the cage and locked the door.

He then said:

“I might have been OK tricking adults into covering themselves in slime - they should know better. But I’m not going to stand around and let you damage these kids who are trying to avoid getting slime on them. They are our future. This has to stop!”

The giant escorted us and the old lady out of the building.

I remember the last thing he said to us. “We might not be able to stop adults being covered in slime but you have to tell as many of your friends as possible about the slime. The more friends you tell, the greater the chances of kids avoiding being covered in slime as they grow up!”

Frey and I are now trying to think of ways to let all our friends know about the slime.

The old lady said she might be able to help stop the slime but that’s for another day.

The end

Key messages from this story

1. Background to slime (debt)

It’s important for kids to know that debt (slime) was first used to help people who needed financial help - such as to start a business, buy a home or provide support in times of emergencies. Debt is still used to help people in these situations (good debt). As these people didn’t want others to know they needed help, people didn’t talk about the money they borrowed and hence no one knows who has borrowed what, i.e. the slime is invisible rather than green.

Over time people started using debt for the things they wanted rather than needed. Now people use debt all the time as no one will know they are using it. If the slime was green, I.e. people could see how much others had borrowed, less people would use it.

This story provides a good opportunity to talk to your kids about the differences between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. If you’d like to teach your kids more about the difference between ‘good debt’ and ‘bad debt’ please read this blog.

2. Some of the tricks used to get us to spend more

As our kids grow up, we need them to understand the clever ways in which companies get us to spend our money. A lot of companies don’t just say ‘Spend £100’. They use lots of marketing tricks to get us to feel like we are saving or missing out if we don’t spend, e.g. Special offer, buy today and save £25.

The more our kids understand about marketing, the less likely they are to spend impulsively.

To help your kids appreciate these tricks. Here’s another story about someone trying to save money but who ends up spending due to marketing tricks.

3. Slime (debt) grows without most people knowing

Make sure your kids are aware that slime grows. Most people cover themselves with slime (debt) and don’t really see / appreciate how much it is growing over time. The more that our kids fully appreciate this, the less likely they are to want to use bad debt. For more on how to teach your kids about bad debt, please see this blog.

4. Importance of talking to people about money

Pretty much all companies want us to spend our money. There are very few parties who are incentivised to ensure we look after our money and learn about the dangers of debt. This means we should all do our bit to ensure debt is only used when needed and that the costs of debt are understood.

See if your kids can remember the ‘Invisible Slime Story’ and encourage them to share it with a friend or a family member. The more this message spreads, the more likely the next generation will use less slime than people today.

Note: Mr. Credit Tree is actually a character from my upcoming book Grandpa’s Fortune Fables. To learn more about this book, please see here and sign-up to receive email updates. It will be ready well ahead of Christmas and will be a great stocking filler which will have a positive impact on your kids’ future.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. If there are any particular money topics that you like me to write about then please let me know at

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