Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lessons on the job, part 3

Editor's note: This week on Twitter, we're giving out tips on securing summer jobs for teens and college students. You can find us on Twitter @family_finances. Contribute your own thoughts on this in comments or in a separate e-mail to

By Laura Price

Though I certainly did my fair share of babysitting as a young teen, I got my first "real" job as a secretary at a doctor’s office when I was 16. When I started driving, I was required to pay my parents 32 cents for every mile I drove, so having a job was a necessity in order to drive. Getting those first paychecks was really exciting! It was nice to know I didn’t have to ask Mom and Dad for money anymore (okay, so it still happened occasionally). It was like magic – now all I had to do was write a check and it was mine.

Luckily, though, I had parents who taught me the importance of saving and passed along some of their financial discipline. I had also grown up knowing I’d pay my own way through college, so most of every paycheck went to savings. And though I saved, I did spend, and I did make spending mistakes, buying things I really didn’t need. It now helps to think of those silly purchases way back when, as a reminder of how much I really don’t need.

It definitely changes your perspective as a teen when you have to pay for things yourself. I’m now thankful that my parents didn’t make it easy; I certainly gained appreciation for the dollar having to earn it.

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