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Get a Job?

by Lori Sciame | June 22nd, 2011 | Teens

This past weekend, the money in my wallet never had a chance to get comfortable. As soon as I replenished the supply, my 13 year-old would think of another item she desperately needed. Who would think that lotion, face wash, conditioner, and nail polish remover would be a matter of life and death? And since her friend was visiting from out of town, they had to cram a month’s worth of activities into three short days – movies, baseball games, restaurants!

I came to realize that it had happened.

My daughter has transitioned from being a tween to being a teen, and the increase in expenses that comes with that change shocks me.

When I first dreamed of having children, the thought of loving and nurturing little ones thrilled me. Before I knew it, I had three wonderful kids to care for. Sure, I understood that it would cost a bundle to raise them, but I didn’t fully comprehend the enormity of those costs. I think reality hit the year I learned my oldest would need braces. That same year he would also travel to Washington D.C. with his school, and to Japan with a teacher. Ever since then, the expenses have kept coming. And the price tags keep getting larger.

To put it into perspective, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated in August of 2009 that a child born into a family in 2008 will cost his or her parents about $221,190 ($291,570 when adjusted for inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities until the age of 18. Mind you, that’s just necessities! The “fun” stuff is not included.

So, unless you have an extremely high paying job, or you have a trust fund, how does a parent of a teen (or multiple teens) afford his or her child’s many wants? It’s not easy! But I found a solution. Help your teen find a safe, age appropriate job.

My oldest found his first job at 15 in a photography studio, and my second oldest began working at 16 for a minor league baseball team; however, before their first “real” jobs, they babysat, mowed lawns, and coordinated garage sales to earn extra cash. Now, my youngest daughter needs to take a turn at earning money, so she is set to begin babysitting for a family friend next week.

There are many benefits for the teen that helps the family by working. First, he or she will learn the value of a dollar. (I bet you can remember the first time you truly earned your own money). Other benefits include learning interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, and even manners. He or she will also begin feeling more independent.

As a parent, you will be pleasantly surprised by the effects earning a few dollars has on your early teen. It will not only help to increase his or her self-esteem, it will also help a child realize that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” And in truth, a strong work ethic never hurt anyone!

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