Mr. Tucker and I both had pretty shitty first jobs. He worked in a camp for a stipend (which is really a volunteer position) when he was a teen but his first “real job” was in fast food. My first job was at 13 at a downtown restaurant with a takeout counter. When I was 14 I switched to working as an overnight busser on weekends. It was one of the two only restaurants that were open 24 hours so since I worked the weekends it was…not ok. Although the late 80s and early 90s were a different time, looking back on it an underage kid should not have been exposed to so many drunk people and their inability to keep their hands to themselves. Mr. Tucker also worked in a west-end fast food place after the bars closed and it was challenging in similar ways, mostly fights.
While I truly believe that everyone should work a shitty, low-paying job at least once in their life, I don’t necessarily think that should be your first job out of the gate. In fact, I think my most hated job (next to the ONE day I did telemarketing) was in a big box craft store* (yes, that one).
So when it came to the eldest, I decided to stack the deck in her favour. Because she loves skiing so much and has aged out of the lessons, she took her first ski instructor course this winter – and passed! So now she is a certified Level I Ski Instructor and she hopes to get hired at a local hill next season. I had also heard that the city was looking to fill a bunch of lifeguarding jobs, so she started down that path last fall. At 15, she now has her Bronze Medallion and Standard First Aid with CPR-C. This got her an interview – and a subsequent job offer – to work for the city this summer! Although I saw that you didn’t need experience in anything, it did recommend that you have some lifeguarding training and SFA/CPR was a requirement.
The eldest is blasé when it comes to continuing lifeguarding courses but at the very least what she does have has helped her get a job where she gets to spend all day out in the fresh air all summer. It’s also a job where there aren’t early mornings/late nights and it is more family-oriented (which doesn’t mean NO challenges but certainly reduces the potential to be around drunk, handsy people). She will also be placed in our general area of the city, which means she can probably bike to work which will also be great exercise.
My goal for both of the children is to get them to 16, pay for Driver’s Ed, pay for them to get their driver’s license and then set them freeeeeeeeeeeeeee to pay for the things they want after that**, by which I mean no more allowance.
I did sit the eldest down and drew her this fine sketch:
Behold! My incredible art skills make charts come to life!
I then told her that her first week of pay should be one of celebration: celebrate getting your first job and spend a week’s worth of earnings on buying things that she wants. But after that, it’s time to buckle down. I suggested that she budget:
50% to long term savings: this amount will go into a high-interest savings account for when she is unemployed or if she is in university and needs money to go out, buy herself things etc. Also, she knows that we have enough for a local school but if she chooses to go away for university she will probably have to chip in.
25% to long term spending: this is the money she can put in a savings account for the fall when she is in between jobs but still wants to go out and hang out with friends. Essentially, she will need to spread this amount over 4 months from September to December until she is working again in the winter. It’s basically teaching her to budget & monitor her spending so that she doesn’t run out of money.
25% to short term spending: this is the amount that she can spend free and clear every pay without having to worry.
In this example, I gave the example of a $500 paycheque to illustrate how she would divvy it up.
Do I anticipate that this will go 100% smoothly? I do not. BUT she at least has a game plan in mind and a goal to try and achieve when the stakes are relatively low. I feel like teenagers are kind of the perfect audience for this kind of budget teaching: they will test the waters and (most likely) find themselves coming up short. But they will learn the lesson and take it with them all through their financial journey. Like anyone, they will need to actually experience the highs and lows of money management until they figure what works for them. All you can do as a parent is teach the lesson, give them encouragement and support (not judgement) and hope that remember the lesson when they need it the most – when the stakes are higher.
She is eager to work as many hours as she can this summer but we will see what happens. Either way, it’s another milestone on the way to adulthood!
Filling out the ubiquitous onboarding forms – get used to this, kid
*I should have known that they’d be awful when “training” consisted of watching an anti-union video. They consistently understaffed and overworked people and the final straw for me was when they scheduled me at the same time that I had requested off to take a university exam. I walked out.
**Clearly we will still pay for clothes, food, shelter, education etc.