A Richer Understanding: Wanted … A Boss

My daughter (Geneva) started her first job two weeks ago. Getting a job can be a teenager’s first step towards financial independence and provides an excellent opportunity for her to understand the value of money.

I thought back to my first job and honestly I have no idea what I did with that money. There were one-off payments for band camp, summer school and a few clothing items for back to school.

No one gave me the talk, so here are a few things my wife and I will discuss once she receives her first check.

Bank Account

We are members of a great Credit Union that offers accounts for teens. Having a bank account will allow her to have an ATM Card and begin practicing being more responsible with money. This account is a non-interest bearing controlled spending account with electronic only access through her card. There are no checks and no paper statements, and all transactions are limited to the available funds in the account, no overdraft or NSF fees are incurred. Likewise, if funds are not available in the account, the transaction is declined. The card is accepted anywhere Visa cards are accepted, this is a helpful way for her to learn how to manage money without getting in over her head.

Keeping Track

Not knowing where all of my $180 every two weeks went ($3.35 Minimum Wage when I first started working) it would be cool to know what I did with it. No matter how much my daughter earns, it will be important to keep track of it. Many of us have accepted the advances in technology and keeping in line with the electronic only access of the bank account, we will set up an account with Mint to help her track income and expenses. Learning these skills early on will make it more likely that she will have good financial habits throughout life.

Now and Later

Eat some now, save some for later. 

Now (Spend): Geneva has many things that she is passionate about; dance, choir and personal care. She researches things like skin care and hair care and with that knowledge makes a lot of her own products. I will encourage her to buy those things for herself that aren’t necessities, teaching her independence and responsibility.

Later (Save): I know there are things she may desire; a new phone (or the latest), a car and most importantly saving for college.  There was no one to encourage me to save any of my earnings as a young teen. I will encourage her to save some money, even if just a few dollars each paycheck.

Social Life

I gave up parts of my social life to meet my needs, the money and the sense of responsibility drove that. I missed football games and maybe a few house parties. When Geneva applied for the job it was important to discuss dates that she would need off, the only restriction was a week at Summer Camp (the week of July 4th.)  She did miss a weekend getaway with the family and a sweet 16 birthday party however, concerning being social, I imagine she will find the balance on her own.


We all might be somewhat selfish when it comes to our money, however encouraging our children to share some of their well-deserved income teaches a valuable lesson of openhandedness and selflessness. This can be achieved effortlessly by treating others to a meal, buying birthday / holiday gifts for siblings or donating to charity. My hope is that our kids see that money is not the most important thing in the world. Time is our most valuable asset not money; quality time with family and friends. Money can be re-earned, if anything – when time is gone, it is gone.

Although, not emphasized above … saving will be the biggest pitch to her. I know it will not be a lot of money especially when school starts and her hours will decrease but the habit of saving each paycheck (even the smallest amount) will be valuable.

Do you remember your first job? How did you spend / save your money? Was there any advice anyone gave you?


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