Your parents have finally given you the green light to get a job and earn your own money. Awesome! But wait – where do you start? Do you head down to the local fast food joint where all your friends are working, or dig a little deeper to find more interesting opportunities?
Exploring Your Options
There are tons of employment opportunities for teenagers, which is great news for you. However, the volume of positions may be limited, depending on your area of residence. Here are some possibilities to consider:
- Cinemas (i.e. concessions, ticket window)
- Event Planning
- Auto Detailing
- Hospitality Management (i.e. hotel customer service representatives)
- Food and Beverage (i.e. food service)
- Newspaper Delivery
- Clerical Work (i.e. bookkeeping, filing)
- Retail (i.e. cashier, sales representative)
- Summer Camp (i.e. lifeguard, camp counselor)
And if you’re skilled in a particular area, such as childcare, writing, or landscaping, don’t be afraid to put your creative talents to use to rake in the dough.
The Benefits of Working
Beyond the almighty dollar bill, there are several benefits of getting your elbows greasy.
For starters, you’ll learn how to effectively manage your time to ensure that your performance in the classroom remains up-to-par, despite the new addition to your schedule.
(If you find that your schedule is too grueling with a part-time gig during the school year, a summer job may be a more viable option.)
Another valuable benefit of working as a teenager is getting experience. It can serve as a great resume-builder – both for future employment and for college – while helping you sharpen your communication skills.
Plus, you may even meet a mentor or two who can assist you down the road with your academics or entrepreneurial pursuits.
If you’re fortunate enough to get your foot in the door with the right employer, you may discover a passion that you didn’t know you had.
What to Do With Your Hard-Earned Cash?
Before you land a steady job and receive your first paycheck, you need to start thinking about what you’re going to do with your newfound wealth. (Chances are you’ll be far from wealthy after one check, but you never know what the future holds).
That’s where financial goal-setting comes in.
A budget will tell you where to spend or how to allocate your money, but financial goals will explain why.
Perhaps you want to save for a car, build a nice cushion, fund next year’s spring break trip, or buy a new iPhone. Regardless of the objective, you’ll need to acknowledge it as a financial goal and come up with an action plan to actually reach the finish line.
Dealing with Taxes
Like it or not, you’ll have to pay Uncle Sam – also known as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – what he’s owed to cover your tax bill. The good news is you’ll only have to file a return if you meet any of the following criteria:
- Your earned income is greater than $6,300.
- Your unearned income is greater than $1,050.
- Your gross income is greater than either $1,050 or your earned income of up to $5,950, plus $350 (whichever number ends up being higher).
You can read IRS Publication 929: Tax Rules for Children and Dependents for additional information.
Beyond standard payroll taxes at both the federal and the state level, the following will also be deducted from your paycheck:
- Federal and State (if applicable) Income Taxes
- Social Security Taxes (FICA)
- Medicare Taxes (MED)
Now that you’ve figured out how to land a job, set financial goals, and dealt with taxes, it’s time to devise a spending plan to make your hard-earned dollars work for you.