Fun, freedom, nice clothes. If you can swindle all three as a teenager, you’re winning, right?
You might be one of those kids whose parents buy you designer clothes and you spend the school holidays in Hawaii. Or maybe your parents have grand plans for you. You’re chained to the desk in your bedroom, dinner is slid under the door and once you finish year 12 and get into University then you can think about hair, makeup and going out. Or perhaps you fall into the category like I did where your family struggles to make ends meet, being at home is something like the Hunger Games, arguing with your family the norm. And you have the choice of wearing second hand clothes or hand-me-downs.
No matter what life is like for you as a teen, you wondering if a casual job or could be the solution to some freedom, fun and money for clothes.
As a teen, I wanted a part-time job so I could be my own boss and make my own choices. All the important choices, like what colour I died my hair, what shoes I wanted, or how to afford an outfit like Posh Spice from the Spice Girls (yes, that did happen).
At 13, I was too young to get a ‘real’ job, so I decided I would babysit for money. I laminated business card sized flyers and scoped out houses within a 3 street radius and did a letterbox drop to the homes I thought that I was at less risk of getting kidnapped.
After a couple of weeks, I got my first babysitting job. It was a great deal. They paid me $9 an hour to make sure their 7 year old was in bed at 7pm. I had the TV remote to myself, got fed dinner and was allowed to use their home phone, free rein. I spent the night on their trampoline in the backyard talking all night to my friends all while getting paid. Fun, and freedom accomplished!
I soon worked out that $9 an hour babysitting once a month wasn’t going to be enough to reach my big goals, like a brand new bicycle. At 15 I used my baby-sitting money to buy an outfit that made me look responsible, and applied for a job at Kmart. A few weeks later I was working on the checkouts and greeting people at the front door.
It was tricky juggling school and a job at K-mart.
The freedom money brought became alluring and exciting. Many times I chose to work a shift at K-Mart over doing assignments. But eventually I became more efficient with my time. I had to.
A couple of years later in year 12, the school ran a program for students to start to learn how to run a company. My previous work experience had given me a glimpse in to the real world. I jumped at the chance to be part of it and was voted for me to be the Managing Director of our student company.
Just like a vampire craving the thirst of blood, I was drawn to business, to making money.
I fell in love. It became a passion, I thrived on the challenge of running a business, making money and leading people. In my spare time, I would trawl the local government run forums, bringing the information back to my business.
At the end of the program, our company returned a 400% investment to our shareholders. Not bad for a bunch of 17 year olds.
So, did I become a teenage millionaire?
No. I didn’t. However, what I did experience was starting to live in the way I pictured a millionaire would live, with freedom and choice in what I do.
So, did I do it the “right way? Who knows.
What I can tell you is some of the GOLD I gained from having a job while at school that helped me live like a millionaire then and now:
- Confidence – which comes out of practice./being in action.
- A relationship with money; learning what works for me.
- Expanding my social skills and network.
- Goal setting; set small goals, accomplishing them and setting and striving for more.
- Being creative and enterprising.
- Freedom to go for what I want without fear of failure and judgement.
These skills are priceless. I didn’t get them from a text book or a meme and I don’t need to remind myself to do these things 20 years later. I discovered these skills, they are now just part of who I am, naturally and without effort.
I became confident, enjoyed life, had an outlook of being free and excited about the future.
I had the freedom to take risks, make mistakes, and the courage to make my own choices. These skills and attributes have been fundamental to enjoying an excellent career where I have worked with high-profile global leaders and the best brands in the finance industry. I have run teams of people and manage millions of dollars of people’s money as a financial planner.
I have also collected some exceptional clothes along the way.
Now it’s over to you. I wish you all the experiences life has to offer, including a part-time job during your school years if that’s what is right for you.
Priscilla Rutherford | Financial Planner