Allison, 16, is working. This is her first job. She did this on her own. No pushing from us. Her allowance was not meeting her needs. (Allowance should never cover all of a child’s needs and wants, otherwise, they will never be hungry enough to go out and get a job.) So, needing more money in her life led her to the inevitable conclusion that she should get a job. She was exhilarated by the prospect. Surprised the heck out of both of us, but she pounded the pavement and has been working for over a month now.

Her first money lesson came with the interview process. She was totally perplexed by the number of questions she had to answer on her employment application. Tax questions. She eventually called us to come and sit through the process with her. Next up was the actual paycheck lesson. She was amazed by the “cut” for taxes. Taxes have literally come alive as a hot topic of conversation for Allison now because of this job. She finally has some “skin in the game” so now she is interested. We spent some time showing her how to make sure she was getting paid correctly (hours x hourly) and asked her about her benefits.

Allison works in a shoe store and as a result, gets a 35% discount on shoes. (The store requires the employees to wear their shoes.) She also gets a commission when she sells more than one pair of shoes — $1. All this adds up to more money than Allison has ever had in her hot little hands at one time.

So, we are revisiting discussions about the choices she has for her money. Now that she has her own money, these conversations have taken on a whole new meaning for her. Since she has been hearing us talk about choice since she was very, very young, thinking in terms of choice is almost instinctual for her.

So far her paychecks have gone to paying us back for the computer that needed to be fixed (because somehow it took a shower). Now that her paychecks are hers, free and clear, it’s time for us to help her allocate money into each of her choices. And even though she is a child of the Money Savvy Generation, she will not do this on her own. Some day, but not yet. She will once again need our direction.

I know she has an eye on a purse in the shoe store — so I better get talking!

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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