Lesson #1 — Get Your First Job Early in Life

Last week after discussing the topic of net worth a few folks asked for the secrets of my success. This post will be the first in a series detailing the decisions and events in my life that have led to that large number.

The truth is I don’t have any secrets. I have taken a simple, common sense approach to saving money. I do believe a number of childhood events framed the foundation for my achievements, but I took the early lessons in life and applied them to my decision making processes all along the way. Some of the decisions took place in high school and college, and for those you’ll be well beyond changing your past, but the lessons are still worth noting.

So without further ado… Lesson #1… Get Your First Job Early in Life

At age 15, I went to work at the only place I could… a daycare center within walking distance of my home. I worked eight hour days, Monday through Friday, for the entire summer. In the beginning the job was fun. I was a teacher’s assistant in a 3-year-old classroom, which meant I got to play games like a kid all day. But by the time fall rolled around the job totally changed. I began working after school from 3:30 until 6:00. All the parents were supposed to pick up their children by 6:00, so if I worked any minute over 6:00 I didn’t get paid. Instead, the parent’s were supposed to pay me $5 for every 15 minutes they ran late. (This was to discourage parents from arriving late.) But wouldn’t you know the parents that consistently ran late always seemed to forget to bring cash with them. So more often than not I worked from 6:00 until 6:30 or 7:00 for free.

But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part came when the center decided to cut costs by firing the cleaning service and asking the lowly teaching assistants to clean the center every evening. So now, instead of watching children from 3:30 – 6:00pm. I watched them from 3:30 – 4:30 and then spent the last 1 1/2 hours vacuuming carpets and scrubbing toilets. Within months of the job description change I received my driver’s license and with that a new job at a day care center down the street.

At age 15 I learned three very valuable lessons that many people don’t learn until much later in life. First, in a low-paying job, it takes a lot of time to earn enough money to buy the things you want. Second, employers can, and often will, totally disrespect their employees. Third, if you are unhappy, find another job that pays more money, and is more enjoyable, then quit.

1 thought on “Lesson #1 — Get Your First Job Early in Life”

  1. I agree 100% with the points you make. Early work experience is a very valuable source of real world education (but usually pays very little).

    If you are unhappy with a job, don’t quit until you have your next position lined up. A person who is in employment is usually seen as a more desirable employee than someone who is unemployed and, depending on circumstances may be in a better position to negotiate the next position.


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