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Jenniffer's Journey:

Get a Job

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you may remember a couple of months ago, I blogged about getting Ashley a debit card. Ashley had some money that she received as birthday gifts, and she put a portion of the money into her newly opened checking account with a debit card, and the rest she put into savings.  

Here we are now, over 2 months later, and Ashley’s checking and savings accounts are down to the bare minimums. From the checking - five dollars here, ten dollars there, almost all of it spent on food. Because apparently, it’s cool and fun to hang out with your friends at a restaurant instead of at home where there’s food that you don’t need to swipe your debit card to eat. And there’s nothing of substance left to show for in her savings. Because it was conveniently transferred to checking to cover said food outings. In this Project Money carnival we’ve been living, I hopped on the ferris wheel and Ashley is whipping it up on the tilt a whirl. Somehow, we’ve got to get on the same ride. And so, I decided it was time. THAT time. I sat Ashley down and dropped the “J” word. JOB!!!! As in, “you need to get a job”.

Up until now, Ashley’s source of income has been the Bank of Jenniffer. But that bank is closed for remodeling. And when it re-opens, there’s going to be a whole new business plan. And it will not involve automatic deposits into the Ashley-Needs-Money-To-Hang-Out-With-Friends account.  

During this Project Money remodel, I’ve learned a lot of things about saving, spending, and the importance of short and long term financial goals. What I didn’t know going into Project Money – and what I’m quickly learning – is that finding a job in a small suburban community for a teenager isn’t as easy as it sounds.

First, Ashley has this thing called school. And sports. And confirmation class. And church youth connection. That leaves about an hour or so after practice during the school week and Saturdays to try to earn some cash. Finding an employer who is willing to work around those commitments is a challenge.

Second, Ashley isn’t old enough to drive. That means wherever she finds a job, we have to work around my schedule too so I can get her to and from work. And because she hasn’t reached that magic age of driving, she has to find an employer that will hire kids under age 16. I never realized how many places don’t hire kids under 16; and even more who don’t hire anyone under 18. 

Lastly, Ashley is one of a couple hundred other kids in town looking to earn some extra spending money. Competition is steep. Even for simple babysitting jobs. Thankfully, the school counselors are really helpful to the students by working with the local community businesses to identify job opportunities for the kids. But in a high school with over 900 students, many of whom live in a village with 1 family restaurant, 1 grocery store and a couple of fast food restaurants, there’s a lot of kids looking for only a handful of jobs.

And so here is this week’s financial fun fact:  finding employment – whether it’s helping your teen find a job or finding your own job – is a job in and of itself.  It involves some research into job opportunities in your area, creating or updating your resume, and carving out time in your schedule to hit the pavement and reach out to employers. And if you are shy or a little introverted by nature, it will require you to get out of your comfort zone and cold call some potential employers. That, as you can imagine, isn’t as easy for a teenager as it is for an adult. In the end, all of your work finding a job will pay off. Literally.

So, I’ve added a new financial goal to my Project Money portfolio – bring in a bi-weekly paycheck with Ashley’s name on it. Then, we can work on some solid short and long term financial goals for her. And when that happens, we will celebrate her first paycheck over a Starbucks mocha. On her.


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