Teenager’s First Job: Things They Should Know (But Probably Don’t)

May 30, 2023 Family & Finances

Prepare your teen for their first job with essential tips on paychecks, budgeting, and appropriate work attire. Help them succeed in their new role.

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Parents and guardians play an integral role in helping children navigate life. With their first job, teens often get a taste of the real world, discover a sense of purpose, and have a newfound independence. This momentous occasion can also bring challenges and confusion. Help your teen prepare and avoid surprises by imparting some wisdom on the essential aspects of working.

Things Your Teen Should Know

Paychecks & Taxes

When your teen is hired, they’re generally paid by the hour. They’ll likely plan on spending it on their favorite things before their first payday. Expectations for that first “big” paycheck will be big. It’s typical and even expected for a teen to know very little about how paychecks are taxed.

Before your teenager gets their first pay stub, sit down with them to explain taxes and common payroll deductions. Sure, it’ll seem like a buzzkill, but your child needs to understand that there’s a difference between their gross pay and their take-home pay. It’ll help them not only understand how everything works, but also help them avoid feeling disappointed when their first paycheck arrives.

Budgets, Expenses & Savings

First jobs provide more opportunities to practice smart money management. Help them manage their expectations and guide them in building a budget they can stick to. It might be helpful to show your teenager your budget and how your income gets allocated to saving and spending.

If your teen is looking to save money for their first car, college, or a trip, work with them to establish a percentage of every paycheck that should be set aside to save up for those exciting milestones — after their bills get paid. Also, don’t forget to set a budget for discretionary spending and entertainment. Those categories are likely to interest a young adult or teenager, so they should be factored into their spending and saving plan.

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Career Opportunities

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Appropriate Work Attire

Some first-time jobs require your teenager to wear a uniform, while other workplaces will give them free rein on their appearance. So while this tip might not be directly about money, it’s money-related. Talk to your teen about the dress code at their new job. What are they expected to wear? How will they purchase the clothing they need for their job? How will they add to their wardrobe as required?

As a parent, you may be willing to help your child with their job-related outlay regarding clothing, but it’s a great idea to discuss building work-related clothing into their budget. Your teen may feel a bit bummed about the concept of buying work clothing with their freshly earned paycheck, but it’s a great way to help them understand how things work in the adult world.

You should also discuss grooming expectations based on the job they take. For example, some jobs require their employees to be clean-shaven, while others ask young employees to remove or hide piercings. Discussing how to adhere to these rules will help your teen succeed in the workplace.

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