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Landing a job helps teen learn the value of a buck

Landing a part-time job has helped one teen

Landing a part-time job has helped one teen learn the value of a few bucks. Credit: iStock

Frappucino, macchiato, espresso, latte — you name it my daughter can churn up your favorite drink in a Starbucks minute. But that she can concoct these drinks — after landing her first steady, part-time retail job at a local Starbucks — is not what makes her a star in my eyes. It's that my eldest child has finally learned the value of a few bucks.

My children, like many others, grew up thinking money grows on our backyard trees. As hard as we tried to teach them that the dollar her dad and I earn comes from hard work, they never seemed to understand. So although it took almost 18 years, my cuppa ran over with joy to see that my daughter finally learned to appreciate a dollar — no thanks to me or my hubby or even Suze Orman — but because of her new job. Unlike her previous jobs, baby-sitting or tutoring, which earned her some pocket money, she's now experiencing the hardship of earning a paycheck — the many hours of standing on her feet, greeting every customer that walks in (even the unpleasant ones) with a saccharine smile and sometimes gulping her pride and saying, “I’m sorry, let me fix that drink for you” when a customer is not pleased.

As her high school graduation and prom were nearing last month, expenses related to her prom were the incentive she needed to pursue employment. As her bank account started to grow by small increments (it is a part-time, minimum-wage job after all), I suggested she spend some of her savings on a limo for the prom. She turned up her nose at my suggestion and blurted back, “I don’t want to spend my money on that.” She wanted to drive herself and save money. Had I ponied up to pay for the limo, I am quite sure, she’d have jumped at the offer. My teen also has become an expert at rebuffing my offers to spend her money on other occasions. When I shared this story with another parent, he said his daughter, too, had turned into a “cheapskate” after she got a job.

While my teen’s spendthrift days — at my expense — seem to be over and she is becoming more judicious in her spending, I am hoping she will still splurge and get her mother an overpriced Starbucks drink. I'll settle for once a month.

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