www.whyville.net Apr 24, 2011 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Financially Stabilizing My Life

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My twelfth birthday was, in a way, special. 2004 was the year my parents "stopped" financially supporting me. I mentioned this in my previous article "When I Was Thirteen" (article ID: 12026), and it brought doubts from fellow citizens. Therefore, I'm going to explain what I meant by my lack of financial support, then and now.

My parents are firm believers that children should learn money management at a young age. I was never given an allowance before my twelfth birthday, nor did I have everything handed to me. I received hand-me-downs from cousins, was only allowed two new pairs of shoes a year, and only allowed to buy a gift for a friend if they were having a birthday party. If I wanted a game or a toy, I had to save money from my birthdays or Christmas, or do chores for the neighbors for very low pay. Yes, I did chores at my house. I was required, weekly, to wash my parents cars, clean the kitchen after dinner, vacuum the upstairs and downstairs, clean three bathrooms and dust the living room, all with minimal help from my brother and sister (who were eight and ten at the time). Despite the amount of chores I did, I was never paid for any of them; my parents thought the few clothes I was allowed to buy, the shoes, or the gifts for my friends, as well as food to eat and a roof over my head, were payment enough for the amount of chores I did.

On my twelfth birthday, and every year after that until I was sixteen, I was given a weekly allowance that equaled my age, but I was only paid once a month. Every month, on the 1st, I was given $48, and advised to spend it wisely. At first, I was so amazed that I had so much money all at once, I spent it on frivolous items: Pokemon games, toys, CDs. It was all amazing until school came around and I had no money for school supplies or clothing.

You see, the stipulation with my new-found allowance was that I had to purchase everything: clothing, shoes, school supplies, gifts for friends. My parents no longer bought those things for me. If I wore through my tennis shoes, I had to save for at least two or three months until I could buy new ones. If my winter coat no longer fit, I had to save for months in order to buy a new one. Eventually, I understood that I had to review all of my clothing on a regular basis in order to determine whether or not the clothes would fit in a few months. If not, then I had to save all of my money in order to buy a new pair of jeans.

For a few months, it was painful. I was twelve, and could not afford to go see a movie with one of my friends or buy new clothes all the time. Since my dad owns several The UPS Store locations, I decided to ask him if I could work for him. I had to go through the entire application process. I had to go to the store, ask for an application, fill it out and return it. I had to wait around for a few days to get a call for an interview, and wait a few days after that to be told that I was hired. For the first few months I was working, I was not paid, but when I turned thirteen, I was paid in a lump sum from the money that I had earned when I was still twelve. I had to pay taxes, just like everyone else does, as well. I was also paid minimum wage, which in 2005 was $5.85 an hour. Since I could only work a few hours a day, and only a few times I week, I was only getting about $70 per two week pay period. While it wasn't a whole lot, with the addition of my monthly allowance, I was finally getting somewhere.

In 2008, my dad sold his The UPS Stores, and my job went out the window. I was no longer employed, and eventually had to find another job. At fifteen, it's hard to convince someone who isn't your parents that you can do a job and perform it well, and with a smile on your face. Fortunately, I found a job at another The UPS Store location. It was hard to convince my future boss to hire me, but he did, and even gave me a raise from $5.85 to $7.50 an hour, because of my experience. I ended up working for Gene at that particular The UPS Store from early 2009 until July of 2010, when I moved to go to school. Finding a job where I live now wasn't too hard, either. I ended up going back to work for my dad, but not only providing customer service, but also doing bookwork, and earning another 50 cents an hour.

Since then, I quit my job for personal reasons that I would rather not get into on the Internet, but I since I quit in January, it was hard to find another job. My parents still don't support me, but they don't in any way, shape or form. I am required to buy my own food, pay my phone bill and car loan, buy clothes, furniture, gas, textbooks, school supplies and anything I want for my apartment. I eventually found a job working for The Rush (a 24 hour gym, which is great for my rather interesting school schedules), but it took a few months to find it.

My point is that I've been supporting myself for the past six years, and I'm still alive. I might not have been able to afford going out every night or buy clothes to fill three closets until I was sixteen, but even then I didn't spend all my money as soon as I got it. I learned to save my money over time because of the lesson I was taught on my twelfth birthday. Because of that, I'm currently attending school for free, I bought several decorative pieces for my apartment, and am able to pay off my car loan in two years without the possibility of a repo.

While six years ago, I thought having to learn this lesson was a punishment. But now, I'm very grateful for my parents teaching me these lessons, because I've also taught myself to spend very little at the grocery store (thank you, Extreme Couponing!) and save whatever I don't spend. Now not only do I support myself completely by myself, but I'm also financially stable for a college freshman.

I would encourage all of you to start saving your money instead of spending all of it as soon as you get it. Look for a job as soon as you're legally allowed where you live (most places, you can actually get a real job when you turn thirteen, as long as it isn't deemed hazardous), and if you're younger or can't find one, see if your neighbors have pets that need walking, children that need babysitting, or houses that need to be cleaned. Find reasonable rates, too; obviously no one will want you to watch their children if you charge $20 an hour. Think about major purchases for a while before you make them: if you wake up a few days later wanting it just as much as you wanted it a few days prior, go for it, as long as you have the money.

If you save your money, you can be financially stable when you're in college, instead of looking through your couches for laundry money.

Going to watch Hines Ward on "Dancing with the Stars",


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