While summer vacation is still a few months away, it will be here before we know it, and for parents of teens that might mean that your child is gearing up for a summer job—for some, their first experience in the workforce. Whether they will be working at a summer camp, selling tickets at a neighborhood movie theater, blending smoothies, or bagging eggs, arugula, and Pop-Tarts at the local grocery store, a first job has the potential to leave a lifelong impression and teach young adults valuable lessons that will serve them throughout their working lives.
Let’s explore a handful of them:
- Attitude makes a big difference.
While a first job can be exciting—a taste of adulthood, extra pocket money, etc.—it’s usually not riveting work. Many of the jobs offered to teens are monotonous or menial. Sure, we all hope to lead careers that we are passionate about and work at jobs that we enjoy, but the reality is, sometimes work is work, and chances are at some point in their lifetime, your child will end up working at a job they don’t like for a paycheck they can’t live without. What they can control is their attitude. A little positivity goes a long way!
- Welcome to the world of taxes.
To quote the TV show, Friends, “Who’s FICA? Why’s he getting all my money?” While the prospect of a paycheck is exciting for a first-time employee, your kids might be in for a reality check when their first payday comes. Yes, the reality of taxes is a buzzkill, but it’s also an important lesson. After all, they’ll be paying taxes for the rest of their lives.
- Budgeting is a lifelong skill that we all need to master.
Getting that first lump sum of cash is exciting. Will they purchase the expensive jeans they’ve been coveting? Splurge at the movies? Buy each shade of nail polish available at the drug store? The world is full of things to buy and the temptation for your kids to spend those summer paychecks faster than they earned them is strong.
That said, your child’s first job is a fantastic time to set them up to be a smart budgeter. Sit down together and talk through financial goals before their job begins. Are they saving up for back-to-school clothes? For college? To have spending money throughout the coming school year? Putting goals in place ahead of time can help ensure they stick.
- It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.
A first income is also a great time to stress the importance of planning for the future. Your average teenager probably isn’t giving too much thought to retirement, but this time in their life is a great opportunity to introduce the idea. Whether you help them to set up a Roth IRA or teach them the concept of a 401(k) by matching their contributions to their college fund, take advantage of this learning opportunity.
Bonus tip: Their job is not your job.
We all want what’s best for our kids, and that includes wanting to see them do well at work—even if that work involves scooping ice cream or dolling out French fries. However, their job is not your responsibility. If they are sick, they need to learn to call in and let their bosses know. If they sleep through their alarm clock, the consequences are theirs, and theirs alone. Of course, giving them some encouragement is great, but try not to let their job stress you out.
At The Humphreys Group, we believe in the power of a strong financial foundation. Gaining real world experience is a great way for kids to learn the basics of personal finance. If you’re the parent or guardian of a young adult and you’d like to give them the gift of a financial foundation, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’d love to continue the conversation and share additional ways you can set your kids up for success.