A generation ago, the big thing was to save for a car. Nowadays, owning your own car isn’t as necessary or as much of a status symbol as it used to be. Take that first paycheck or two and buy yourself a new phone, shoes, or TV. Even still, there are even bigger things teenagers will want. Still, saving strategies for teenagers don’t have to be entirely about planning for a responsible future. Maybe your last year of high school is turning out to be a real drag. Okay, so you decide to work more and save more than you would otherwise. That way, when you get to be a freshman in college, you’ll have some savings so that you don’t have to work as much then. Or, you know, you could end up borrowing a little less.


Tips for First-Time Job Seekers—Even before you graduate high school and are still only looking for a part-time job to save for a car, college, personal shopping habits, or just to help the family, there are things that you should look for, before you settle on the first job posting you find:


  • Can you find a job that pays a “livable wage?” A lot of jobs for teenagers only pay minimum wage with the knowledge that teenagers don’t have to worry about major household expenses. Other employers look to recruit and retain workers, even “unskilled workers,” by paying a livable wage. These employers may not advertise these postings to teenagers, but are willing to consider them. This can be the difference between $7-$10/hour and $15/hour. Wondering how a livable wage is defined where you live? Check out this calculator produced by researchers at MIT.


  • Finding a job you don’t hate, or at least a job where you’re likely to make friends to balance out the negative stuff. It’s never too early to set the expectation that your job should fit your personality and contribute to your life in some way beyond monetarily. Not the social type and have little interest in making friends, for example? Look for a work/study job in which you can pursue your academic goals—or even just read for part of the time.