Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lessons on the job, part 4

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 Elaine Coder

My first paying jobs were working in the corn field de-tasselling corn, babysitting and working in a small town (population 123) grocery store. My Dad was a farmer and self-employed electrician and plumber. My Mother helped Dad, but was also a full time Mom. They paid for our basic needs but any extra activities, expensive clothes, or other optional items outside the family budget had to be worked for. Our car insurance company offered a discount for maintaining a certain grade point average, and if I fell below that, I had to pay the difference in rates. Earning my own money helped me learn how to manage money. I didn't have bills to pay but I had to make choices about where I wanted most to use it. My parents were wonderful providers but once my money was gone, I only got what my parents thought was necessary.

My cornfield money went into savings because it was a larger amount paid at the end of the job and, obviously, was only seasonal work. I either kept the other little bit of money in cash for gas, after I was old enough to drive, and other things. Closer to the end of high school, I had a checking account, so I learned how to handle and reconcile my account. When I went away to college, I used money I had saved for expenses, and with the checking account my parents were able to make deposits for me if and when I had things that I had to purchase that were beyond my means.

The way my parents raised me taught me to respect money, make choices and budget accordingly. I've always been grateful for their wisdom.

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