Summer jobs

by Finn

A recent discussion on the politics open thread got onto the subject of immigration, then onto a discussion of how a change in immigration policy has affected businesses that rely on seasonal summer workers, which led away from politics to a discussion of summer employment of Totebaggers. Apparently many employers who rely heavily on seasonal summer workers have difficulty hiring domestic workers, and rely on foreign workers on visas (Denver Dad also mentioned it could be a problem for ski areas relying on seasonal winter workers).

For those of us with HS and college kids, what are your families doing WRT summer employment? Will, or have, your kids take or taken any of the summer jobs historically associated with kids that age, e.g., lifeguard, cannery work, agricultural work, fast food, wait or kitchen staff, etc? Or would jobs more associated with career plans, such as internships, be in their past or future?

What kind of summer work did you do, and will your kids do similar work?

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181 thoughts on “Summer jobs

  1. “cannery work”

    Is this really a traditional HS/college summer job? I am not being sarcastic – I just have never heard of that as a seasonal/summer job in the places that I’ve lived. Would that be like canning tomatoes because the main season is in the summer or something?

  2. “cannery work”

    I worked for a tomato cannery when I was in college, my mom worked for a fruit packing plant when she was in high school.

    It is no longer a high school job because safety regulations require that employees be at least 18 for most/all jobs that require machinery or ladders or tractors.

    My kids are lifeguarding, doing AP summer assignments, taking summer college classes, and working for us. There is an exemption from the safety regulations for your own kids.

  3. DD#1 – Did a counselor-in-training (CIT) program after 9th grade with the goal to be a paid counselor the following year. She hated it and didn’t move forward. At the end of 10th, we had the summer of physics homework, which in about 2 weeks when AP test results come out, we will know if it was worth it. This summer, she has a part-time paid internship with the city that starts next week and runs for 6 weeks. She took a one-week computer science camp, which we later learned if you attend that college as a CS major and attended the camp, it makes you eligible for scholarship $$.

    DD#2 – Has a much bigger interest in money. She took a course in the spring and is doing a different camp CIT program in a few weeks so that she can work at the camp next summer. The “glitch” is she doesn’t turn 16 until the end of June next year and it is halfway through the camp season. However, they seem to like her and may be able to work her in the latter part of the summer. DD#2 is willing to do odd jobs for us that we would otherwise pay for and is working with a neighbor to see about taking over their lawn mowing for the summer.

    I did the CIT program after my sophomore year, but didn’t work at the camp because I could make more money elsewhere. So after Junior year, I worked a retail job and continued it into the early fall. But, then they wanted more hours than I could do with my school and extracurricular schedule. After senior year, I worked another retail job and took classes at the community college.

    Very few of my DD#1’s friends have jobs. Some are looking for them this summer. But, when their parents work and they don’t drive, it makes getting a job more difficult.

  4. None of my kids worked much during HS / summer breaks, usually because of other things they were doing like driver’s ed, an occasional summer class, club sports. DS1 was the exception; he did grounds crew and umpiring for the local little league (part time, maybe 25 hrs/wk and most of the work dried up after July 4). They all got their USAHockey referee certifications and worked at that Sept-Mar, a few games / week, but nothing regular during HS.

    Summer work during college:
    DS1: grounds work (spreading a lot of mulch) for the local University 40 hrs/wk, retail cashier, marketing intern for a AAA baseball team
    DS2: past 3 summers mechanical helper for the local teaching hospital facilities dept. Fixing wheel chairs, over-the-bed tables, other small movable things. 40hrs/wk. Simply a way to earn money. $11/hr.
    DS3 (just out of HS): starts at fast food place on Monday. $10.75/hr because of NY’s special ‘living wage’ plan for fast food workers. Hopefully he gets ~200 hours before he goes to college to give him a big enough stake for freshman year.

    I worked summers/breaks first as an usher and then later as a security guard at the Oakland Coliseum beginning after my sophomore year of HS. This was a great job. I did this thru college. I also worked for a small manufacturing company for a couple of summers as the delivery guy, driving a 63 Ford Econoline Van, 3-on-the-tree. Also great experience, especially the driving on the hills of San Francisco, so I have very little tolerance when someone says they cannot learn to drive a manual transmission. In college I worked as a loading dock receiver, cafeteria line / dishwasher (where I really learned Spanish), security campus escort (good for meeting and learning to talk to girls reasonably well even if nothing ever resulted).

  5. No idea if our kids will work or not. I had a lot of friends in HS who went to the tourist destinations, stayed in ‘dorms’ (crappy apartments) and worked for the summer, but I wasn’t 16 so couldn’t do that. I had several internships in the community theatre instead, same between HS and college. Then in college I was on tour with my singing group so no job, then a temp job as a bank teller, then a part-time internship (but converted to paid) for local public TV, then between college and law school another temp job answering phones. I never did any outdoor or ‘dirty’ work or any waiting on tables. Similar for DH, but he turned 16 earlier so worked in HS at a toy store (to get the employee discount on video games), and he worked in libraries in college for his work study job.

  6. My kids are too young for this, but here’s my CV:

    High School: Paper route, cornerstore cashier/sandwich maker, summers: waitress at Ground Round and Ruby Tuesdays, intern at manufacturing facility, next summer worked on the assembly line, occasional babysitting

    College: during the year: waitress for a caterer, office assistant for a professor, assistant chef/line cook at a hotel, summers and breaks – waitress/ assistant chef/line cook at a hotel, catering

    Grad school: office assistant for a professor, summer: intern at a legal aid society, BigLaw summer associate

  7. And I forgot – receptionist at Sears Automotive one summer and a 4 hour stint at the deli department of a grocery store.

  8. I worked at a car wash at 14 and honed my stick shift driving skills. McDonald’s at 15, which was kind of fun, but I never got as many hours as I wanted. And then at 16 I was old enough to become a lifeguard and pool operator, which paid a lot better and offered tons of hours and even overtime, if desired, and you could work these 12-hour days like they were nothing and leave feeling as energized as anyone feels after relaxing by and in a pool for 12 hours.

  9. DH and I were talking about driving stick the other day. We both learned kind-of in HS, but not really well. I would guess our kids will never learn to drive stick. And will they still learn to drive? I think so, but what about their kids? Our grandchildren might just take the self-driving Ubers everywhere.

  10. A family of neighborhood kids had a flyer out for things like pet sitting, baby sitting, yard work etc. They are 15, 13 and 11. There was only one other similar flyer a few summers ago.
    So, not sure what all the other kids in our neighborhood did with their time.
    My kids will probably go the CIT/Camp Counsoler route. We are close to a bunch of businesses so they could walk or bike there.
    I suspect though some of the summer will be given to school work and things like band practice. Our summer schedule that we followed for the past couple of years is probably going to change significantly next year.

  11. In college, I went to a fairly rural college where student employment during the year was hard to come by without a connection in the community. Too many students trying to fill not very many jobs and competing with some of the local adult community for some of the jobs.

    Starting January of my Junior year, I worked a telemarking job for a few months and then (finally) got a student job on campus in the library, but not very many hours. I went straight from undergrad to grad school. My on campus student job led to a “real staff” job during grad school in the same department. It paid less per hour than the TA positions, but came with benefits (pension, vacation, sick time and health insurance) and was a year round job that I didn’t have to reapply for each semester.

    I also went to school every summer in college. I changed my major the end of freshman year and had to do some catch up. Summers helped with that and getting a bit a head so my graduating semester gave me some time to job hunt (though in an awful economy in the state at the time was fruitless).

  12. I babysat and worked at my uncle’s garden center before I could legally work. Then I worked at my town’s general store and then the ice cream shop attached for probably 5 summers. I also did a stint one summer cleaning cottages on Saturdays ($10 per hour!) and worked here and there at my mom’s bank (winter break) and my aunt’s insurance company (summer after college).

    Everyone had a summer job where I grew up. I had friends making $10K per summer waitressing at local restaurants and my boyfriend at the time worked for his parents doing wood floors during the day and bar backed a few nights per week. I had a nice summer schedule, beach in the a.m./lunch time then go get ready for my 3 to 10 shift scooping ice cream, then out with friends/boyfriend, home by 1:00 a.m., sleep in. And I worked with a ton of people from high school so it was really fun.

    No idea if my kids will work. I’m certain the girls will probably babysit (my neighbors teenagers command $10 per hour) and think a summer job definitely has value.

  13. I am amazed, truly amazed, at all the ‘help wanted’ and ‘now hiring’ ‘come join our team’ signs I see everywhere I go. Granted, it’s all retail of some sort or another grocery, drug stores, mall, fast food/other restaurants, but also car washes, tire places, Home Depot/Lowes. Generally very low skill, entry level type work.

  14. Fred – Yes and my DD#2 would take them in a minute. However, most require you to be 16 and some retail (a store DD#1 would work at) requires you to be 18.

    Another “trend” I discovered talking to the HS counselor the other day is that most kids with these kinds of jobs tend to be the “non-academic” track kids. The “academic” track kids are pushed to camps and interships (paid or unpaid) in their areas of interest.

  15. High school Tutor
    College Dining hall
    Summer 1 summer clerk fed govt
    Dropped out and was a typist.
    Had to go summers when I renrollled
    Grad school TA, Mom At 22

    Kids food service hs and college. Town rec counselor. N E acquarium guide. Research lab MIT. College library. Internship hedge fund. Professional DJ. Tech Call center.

  16. This has been mentioned in the past, but the varied scheduling and last minute scheduled shifts make it hard for many teens. Several teenagers I know have already quit retail/fast casual summer jobs because of it.

  17. We were just discussing this last nigh at dinner.. Generally, we don’t see high school or college kids working in the supermarkets here, with one exception – a Fresh Market. There are always kids working there who graduated from our high school and are home from college. We know many of them. Otherwise, most of the workers in places like supermarkets or fast food come up from (I am guessing) the Bronx, and are often a little older. My kids told me that lifeguarding and golf caddy are still popular, and camp counselor. My oldest will be a counselor for a few weeks at a nearby computer camp, in fact, and he is hoping to turn that into a part time job next year, helping teach kids Java.

  18. Fred, anyone can drive a manual with enough practice. We backed out of our driveway onto a hill. 100 yds downhill was a culdesac, so we practiced “hill starts” literally every time we went out.

  19. Many of these businesses really don’t want kids home for the summer, because those kids go away. That was an issue for me even in my day – when I worked fast food in the summer, I actually lied and told them I was not going back to college in the fall. It was the only way to get the job

  20. “Many of these businesses really don’t want kids home for the summer, because those kids go away.”

    That was the beauty of growing up where I did – a lot of those places shut down anyway October through May.

  21. And businesses nowadays want total scheduling flexibility which means those jobs don’t work well for kids in school. This is an issue for my college students because they are so scared they will lose their part time jobs that they will miss classes when they get scheduled for work, and for many of these kids, missing class is the kiss of death.

  22. What do you want kids to get out of summer jobs? Income? Responsibilities? Real world experience? Something else?

    There is a certain attitude that people get when they’ve never worked a low status job. I saw one of my neighbor’s express it the other day. It’s hard to describe it’s a sort of haughty indifference. It makes me all stabby.

  23. “There is a certain attitude that people get when they’ve never worked a low status job. I saw one of my neighbor’s express it the other day. It’s hard to describe it’s a sort of haughty indifference. It makes me all stabby.”

    I’m guessing the Yale Dean that lost her job never worked a low status job.

  24. I dunno, when UMC kids work low status jobs just because it is “good for them”, it doesn’t help because they know they won’t be doing it forever.

  25. I’m guessing the Yale Dean that lost her job never worked a low status job.

    Exactly! She’s the poster child for it. I have a feeling she never worked busing tables.

  26. And on the flip side, my college students don’t do enough high status internships because they are so wedded to their ;low level jobs. It isn’t a financial issue – in CS, internships pay. I think it is limited horizons. But it kills them in the job market when they graduate, because employers expect CS majors will have done these things.

  27. For summers during HS, I was: lifeguard/swim instructor at city pool; swim instructor at cottage; junior ranger (through Ontario DNR – can only do this when you’re 17. You go to camps way up north [mine was 18 hours north of Toronto] and stay in bunks and do very physical forestry stuff like clearing portages, taking all the white pine out of a forest [don’t ask me why, but we spent a week doing that]).

    For summers during college, I was a canoe tripping leader at a residential camp in northern Ontario. I swam for college so didn’t have time to work but at some point I was a fitness trainer at a gym — maybe 4th year? — with my then bf (who became my H, who became my ex).

    My dad was very big on going for experiences rather than pay. We had to save enough for our college tuition, but mine cost <$2000/year so I could easily cover that with summer camp jobs. Ditto for my sibs, who did similar things as me – sailing instructor at cottage, waterski instructor, junior rangers for my sister.

    I have also told my kids to go for experience first, pay second.

    DS's HS summers: some community service camps, landscaping for a property management company, janitor for our CrossFit gym, Cutco knife salesman, summer program at Stanford, early reporting to crew practice.

    DD's HS summers: horse camp counselor, babysitting, early reporting to cross country, field hockey and equestrian team practice. Currently doing that au pair gig in Spain.

  28. I think it is limited horizons.

    If you walked them through it to the point they got an offer would they take it? I’m thinking take one of your better students and get him hooked up and then in future tell other students to talk to Dave about the internships. Just a thought…

  29. In the home country, there was no tradition of kids who were in school or college to work either during the vacation or part time in college. I was one of the very few who did. There was a lot of speculation as to why I was doing it. Part of it was because I wanted to see what a real job in my chosen major would look like, part of it was because I had a ton of spare time in college. I wasn’t paid much but I liked to show up at the small accounting firm and being the youngest person there I was treated fondly and it was a lot of fun. Like being in a sitcom.

  30. “I dunno, when UMC kids work low status jobs just because it is “good for them”, it doesn’t help because they know they won’t be doing it forever.”

    It’s still far better than not doing it at all. And if they need the money even if it’s only for their recreational spending, all the better.

    “What do you want kids to get out of summer jobs? Income? Responsibilities? Real world experience? Something else?”

    All of the above.

  31. DS’s college jobs: internship in Miami for a company that restores a certain vintage vehicle (office job). Currently working at the counter of a family-owned burger place in Alaska, plus landscaping, plus doing a serious amount of physical conditioning.

  32. Our former neighborhood pool in VA apparently hires very few local kids these days. Most of the positions are filled by Eastern Europeans on seasonal visas. Our older kids both worked there, but not full time because of swim team and drivers ed, like Fred described. Most of their friends were also working minimal hours.

  33. Risley, I did something very similar to your junior ranger program one summer! We didn’t travel though – we worked at a state park that was local.

  34. One additional thing that’s not mentioned in the article Saac posted is the change in (child) worker labor laws especially in re safety. When I was 14 I had a 1-day (night) job helping break down the traveling carnival that came to our school for a fundraiser. All kinds of injuries were possible, especially for a 14yo with no experience doing any of that stuff. Friends worked in delis using the slicer, which now in NY IIRC requires the operator to be 18. So because of those rules, combined with rules about how early/late kids at whatever age can work make summer hires of in-school teens on break undesirable. Not to mention the NY fast food wage law which makes hiring anyone expensive.

    +1 to Rhett’s point about the attitude toward others that’s developed in doing work where you are always the low (wo)man on the totem pole. DS2 mentioned that to me the other night when I was getting frustrated by the slowness of the person waiting on me (granted, I was tired, hungry, just wanted my stuff and to be gone). “Patience, Dad. She’s doing her best. It’ll all be fine.” He was completely right. And usually I’m the one saying at least to myself “everyone needs to be new sometime” and/or “a week from now, will it matter?”

  35. What do I want my DDs to get out of a summer job/internship before they graduate college?

    1. To some degree income – both from the standpoint of money does not flow as freely as I sometimes think they believe and to have the experience of handling money that didn’t come from family.
    2. To see that its not all about “me” – Learning that it is about how do I contribute vs. what can the company/boss do for me is good to understand. I see some fresh grads thinking the work world revolves around them. I think learning that it doesn’t in your first professional job is too late.
    3. To at least observe that “not doing” something can have a bigger consequence. Let’s face it, in school, usually the only consequence of choosing not to do some work or to not do it well is a lower grade. In the work world, choosing to not do something or do it poorly can affect not just you, but your team, your department, and even the viability of your company.
    4. In the case of internships – To help them figure out if what they think they want to do is what they thought it was and if what it means in the real world is appealing.

  36. Mooshi – interesting! Did you do the same kind of forestry-related things? We moved around a bit, even up north, to different fire stations. At some places, we’d paint the cabins or whatever–general upkeep for the fire guys. But mostly we were deep in the bush with all the mosquitos. We earned $10/day.

  37. Rhett said “I’m thinking take one of your better students and get him hooked up ”

    I actually did that with a couple of students this spring. And it panned out for one of them. But first I have to convince them that it is even worthwhile to get a resume together.

    I recommended a couple of students to my DH this year, who was looking for interns. One thing I noticed from that was how intently the resumes got scrutinized for PRIOR internship experience – and they wanted it just so. No web dev for them!

  38. Fred – your worker safety post reminds me that the summer I was lifeguarding, I took a bunch of one-off Manpower jobs before the pool opened. One involved my cleaning a ton of sharp scrap metal out of a room at a manufacturing facility. The stuff was way too heavy for me and there were no regulations about wearing boots, gloves, etc. They only needed me for a day – or maybe they needed someone longer but after seeing me struggle for the day, they decided not to have me back!

  39. We built trails, mucked out some really disgusting building that were buried in mud and nasty stuff, cut down trees (we used to sing the Lumberjack SOng) and cleared brush. Oh, and built some little benches from logs and repaired a footbridge. It was very demanding physically.

  40. The worst thing about my college dining hall job was that as kitchen helper the smell of food clung to me. I just wanted to get to the dorm and take a shower.
    I just couldn’t eat. The cafeteria ladies would encourage me to eat before my shift for free but I couldn’t. I lost a lot of weight while I worked there.

  41. “The worst thing about my college dining hall job was that as kitchen helper the smell of food clung to me.”

    Yes, this. I remember coming back to the dorm, showering, meeting my BF and him asking me to shower again! Something about the smell clings to your hair. My sis worked in a pizza place and same thing.

  42. DD is working for us this summer. She thought about getting a job in town, but I convinced her that working for us is better-more flexibilty and more money since we just give her cash. To those with teenagers who have real jobs have you set up IRAs for them? I plan to set one up for DD as soon as she gets a job (hopefully next summer).

  43. To those with teenagers who have real jobs have you set up IRAs for them? I plan to set one up for DD as soon as she gets a job (hopefully next summer).

    Yes, we are setting up IRAs for the kids. Why aren’t you paying your daughter on the books?

  44. We’ve already told DS3 that when he comes home from his fast food shift that he’s to strip to his skivvies in the garage, leave all his clothes there, and go get right in the shower!

  45. Sheep – I had my kids who worked at the University enroll in the Roth 401k since it was a snap. But IRAs, no. Maybe next year for DS3 if it actually looks like he’ll work a full summer.

  46. I had a bunch of different jobs during high school, college and the summers. My favorite was working at a country club waiting on people around the pool. The people could be real a$$holes, but it paid pretty well and was fun. And it was an excellent look at how the over half lived.

  47. One of my kid’s summer jobs during college was busing tables at a local country club. Most of the other employees, I’m guessing recent immigrants, spoke Spanish and did not realize my kid also did. They used to speak derisively of him and actually nicknamed him “college boy”. That experience was useful in a number of ways.

    When he was a student my H also worked at a local country club busing tables. At that time his fellow workers were mostly other students, not recent immigrants.

  48. I resent the double standard that allows the Yale dean to think that what she wrote on Yelp was perfectly acceptable (although maybe it’s not entirely a double standard if it got her fired), but I’m simultaneously sympathetic that it’s a harsh consequence for some offhanded remarks totally unrelated to her job duties.

    It makes you wonder at what point country music songwriters and recording artists are going to be taken to task for using — “appropriating”? — terms like redneck and white trash in their lyrics the way rappers are criticized for using the n-word. Especially when the country artists are rich, Lexus-driving folks who live in McMansions.

    Gretchen Wilson:

    ‘Cause I’m a redneck woman
    I ain’t no high class broad
    I’m just a product of my rasin’
    And I say “hey y’all” and “Yee Haw”
    And I keep my Christmas lights on my front porch all year long
    And I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels song
    So here’s to all my sisters out there keeping it country
    Let me get a big “Hell Yeah” from the redneck girls like me
    Hell yeah
    Hell yeah

    Chris Janson:

    Between the trailer and the dog
    And the cars on blocks and the hogs
    Out in the front yard
    Where us kids play
    No grass
    Yeah there was mama
    In her house shoes
    Smokin’ salem lights with the tattoos
    You add it all up
    That’s why they call us white trash

  49. Milo – In part, I think (and I tell my kids) that you should speak and write as if what you are saying will end up on the front page of the paper (electronic or hard copy) and taken slightly out of context. If that happens, will you be upset with how you now look to the world? If so, then don’t say it or write it.

    Example for kids – they make some snarky remark using inappropriate language on a friend’s social media. Now their school, potential college, potential employer, etc. may be able see all those comments even though you may think your friend’s social media is locked down.

    This becomes a bigger problem when you are posting on a more public site – yelp for example – where you intend for a wider audience to see it. It becomes an even bigger problem when you move up in your organization (employer, volunteer, school, etc.) because the way you behave is seen as a reflection on them. They do not want people who they believe they will have to perform damage control on if they can have someone who doesn’t pose that same risk.

    No one is perfect. Sometimes we all blurt out something that on reflection we wish we hadn’t done. But, especially in this day of a record of everything, you must think before you speak/write.

  50. , I think (and I tell my kids) that you should speak and write as if what you are saying will end up on the front page of the paper (electronic or hard copy) and taken slightly out of context

    I have that policy for work e-mails and IMs. I don’t want to accidentally send my remark to the wrong person and I don’t want my e-mail forward as part of the chain where I said something bad about someone.

  51. I agree with everything Austin Mom said, and I would also add – social interaction outside of a school environment. Both DH & I made really good friends at our HS/college jobs outside of school, and also it is definitely a good skill to learn how to interact with coworkers vs. classmates.

    I worked all kinds of jobs. I was desperate for extra spending money, so I started with a paper route (which I did by myself after school in 5th grade) and babysitting. And then working up through doing 3rd shift factory work if that was what I could find in the summers during college. By the time I was a junior in college, I was still able to start doing (paid) internships, but I would still do other PT jobs on the side. I hadn’t been out of a job for more than a few days from the time I was 14 until the time that I was 30, and then I had a stint of unemployment that lasted a few months.

    DH & I already talk to DS about what kind of jobs that he might want to do when he is in HS – working at the Italian ice stand, working for the Park District as a coach/counselor, handing out flyers to do yard work/.babysitting/tutoring to kids in the neighborhood, etc. At this point, he is not really interested in additional spending money, but I imagine that will change even though he is generously provided with everything he needs and most things he wants at this point. His wants will get bigger, and he’ll get less of them. I don’t know that we will force him to get a job (can you really do that anyway?), but we will strongly encourage it.

    @Milo – I agree completely on the mixed feelings on the Yale Dean. I guess at that level, you are a public representative of the school though, and so different standards could realistically apply vs. some entry-level person who gets fired for posting something stupid on Instagram that is in no way related to their job/company, doesn’t use the company IT equipment/network, etc.

  52. “To those with teenagers who have real jobs have you set up IRAs for them? ”

    OK, that is the most Totebaggy comment I have read all week.

  53. We set up a Roth IRA for our kids and match their (modest) earnings from summer jobs.
    The idea is that by the time they graduate they’ll be well on their way to having their six months worth of emergency savings and can then focus on 401ks and HSAs.
    (Remember that I do 401ks and HSAs for a living, so I’m hyper focused on this stuff. DH thinks it’s ridiculous).

  54. “It makes you wonder at what point country music songwriters and recording artists are going to be taken to task for using — “appropriating”? — terms like redneck and white trash in their lyrics the way rappers are criticized for using the n-word.”

    Part of the problem is keeping up with the latest derogatory terms. We’ve discussed this with the use of “thug” and I guess I’m showing my insensitivity/ignorance/racism by admitting that I just learned “cotton pickin'” is verboten. BTW, my older siblings picked cotton as their “summer” jobs.

    I don’t think I’m alone in being more (over) protective than our parents were when I discouraged some types of jobs and job-seeking. For example, when my D was about 12 or 13 I did not want her to post notices for or accept baby sitting jobs from people that I did not know.

  55. July – It took me awhile to place “cotton pickin'”. It was definitely used in my family growing up in a derogatory fashion: For example, “Get your cotton pickin’ hands off me, @@hole”. Only later when I was older did I consciously realize what it was referring to.

    When using expletives (which I try not to do in front of the kids) I do try to avoid the more colorful phrases like cotton pickin’ in an effort to not perpetuate them.

  56. Cotton-pickin’ finger-licken chicken plucker!

    Okay, that’s my obigatory Smothers Brothers reference for today.

  57. I had an afternoon paper route from 5-8th grades, detasseled corn one summer, worked concessions for school athletic events my junior/senior year, engineering internship then four co-op terms during college. I didn’t work for pay during college coursework- my free time was spent on choir.

    High school kids under 18 have a tough time finding jobs here- only a few retail establishments will consider them, and high risk jobs like using a peanut butter grinder or pumping gas are, I think, forbidden. I may encourage my kids to be church camp counselors when they’re under 18, which pays only room/board, in part for the experience and the peer group, or I may encourage them to compete for the jobs for which they’re eligible. I think parks and recreation hires some groundskeepers and scorekeepers/ball boys for rec league softball. Baby WCE might get a summer babysitting job; not sure if that would suit the boys.

    At 18, people often work on farms including picking/sorting vegetables and berries. School gets out here in mid June and starts in September (university not till late September) which fits with the agricultural season.

    DS1 and I discussed the possibility of being a woodland summer firefighter when they were recruiting next to his Scout activity. My boys could carry a 45 lb pack for 3 miles in 45 minutes at age 18, I think, and would be unfazed by sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent in remote locations. Based on her current build and my views about girls, I wouldn’t encourage woodland firefighting for Baby WCE.
    I thought about the firefighting discussion with DS1 when Meme posted her “To Be of Use” poem.
    Woodland firefighting opportunity:
    https://www.millertimber.com/

  58. “When using expletives (which I try not to do in front of the kids) I do try to avoid the more colorful phrases like cotton pickin’ in an effort to not perpetuate them.”

    I re-read stuff sometimes and have to laugh at myself. All I was trying to say was, I try not to say that stuff.

  59. I wanted to work summers when I was in high school, but my father wouldn’t hear of it. In his culture (he was born and raised in a foreign country), he would have been perceived as failing in his duty to provide for his family if a minor child of his (especially a girl) was working for pay. I finally was able to convince him to let me work at a day camp that was based at the private school that my brother attended. Most of the counselors had a direct connection to the school (e.g. they were students, siblings of students, or teachers), so I was able to convince Dad that this would be a good way for me to spend the summer surrounded by people from “good families” (to use a term that Mom and Dad used all the time).

    I, OTOH, am hoping for my kids to start earning money as early as possible. DS started a weekly after-school babysitting gig this past year at age 12. I also pay him do some routine administrative stuff for my law practice. He loves making money. He loves spending it, too, but that’s another issue.

  60. Because DS1 spent three years as a legal assistant at a BigLaw firm, working on discovery documents, his emails are models of discretion. He was surprised, however, that his colleagues at Midwestern Company where he now works do not follow the same rules of prudence. If he has anything remotely sensitive to discuss, he walks down the hall and talks to his colleagues.

  61. I’ve also set up IRAs for the kids. Long before I had kids, there was a story in the WSJ about how to make your kids millionaires by setting up IRAs to match their summer earnings during high school and college — this was BITD when estimated rates of return were something like 8% and the assumption was that kids would earn $2500 per summer for 8 summers. The idea was that the IRA would be parked for 50 years when it would be worth $1 million.

    That stuck in my head. Most people I know think this is nuts, but DS1 had more in that IRA than in his real job 401(k) at the time he left DC.

  62. “Something about the smell clings to your hair. My sis worked in a pizza place and same thing.”

    I would’ve found that very attractive.

  63. “To those with teenagers who have real jobs have you set up IRAs for them? “

    I’ve posted here before about setting up a Roth IRA for DS, and having all his earnings go into that (allowance and gifts have been more than adequate for his spending money).

    Doing so especially made sense because his earnings have been low enough that the income tax impact of putting his earnings in a Roth IRA vs a traditional (pre-tax) IRA was zero.

  64. “We built trails, mucked out some really disgusting building that were buried in mud and nasty stuff, cut down trees (we used to sing the Lumberjack SOng) and cleared brush.”

    I did similar work for free the summers after 8th and 9th grades (but without the lumberjack song). I was on the summer camp staff for the local Boy Scout council, and we spent a few weeks prepping the camp before the campers arrived.

    Most of the staff was about that age. Once we passed that age, we were old enough to get paying jobs, such as at the local cannery.

  65. “DD’s HS summers: horse camp counselor, babysitting, early reporting to cross country, field hockey and equestrian team practice.”

    Tying back to recent topic, the horse camp counselor (are the campers horses?) and equestrian team practice suggest, “Not UMC.”

  66. Speaking of subtle class distinctions (real or perceived), I realized that though the Y’s here are perfectly good and offer a ton of programs and great facilities, the swim club pools are considered to be a step up. We were the only family in our neighborhood with kids that took swim lessons at the Y.
    Being a working parent the camps at the Y the best fit for drop off/pick up times. The private clubs also have camps but the times just didn’t work.

  67. ““Something about the smell clings to your hair. My sis worked in a pizza place and same thing.”

    I would’ve found that very attractive.

    That’s a new one for me. I know some people like leather boots or what have you. But tomato sauce and oregano? Eh, I won’t judge.

  68. Oh, the smell was not tomato and oregano. No, it was the vegetable oil from making wings. Think deep fried used oil.

  69. Ivy, when I was in HS, and when my mom was in HS, the local pineapple cannery was the standby summer job. Pineapple season matched up very well with summer vacation, so for most kids, there was always summer work there if a more attractive job was not to be found. Field work in the pineapple fields was also a common summer job.

    My mom continued to work summers there the first few years after college (she was a teacher). Her first summer, she worked so she could buy a piano.

    The canneries here have long since closed, and there’s only a small fraction of land planted with pineapple relative to those days.

  70. “Oh, the smell was not tomato and oregano.”

    Oh, I thought she would’ve smelled like pizza, which is a smell I love.

  71. I’m trying to remember if it was the deep fryer oil or the oil they used to make subs. Either way, not a good smell. Sorry Finn!

  72. Hijack: If someone is interested in visiting Hawaii with particular interests in volcanoes, Pearl Harbor, beautiful beaches/resorts, nature/hiking, and the Jurassic Park ATV tour, then it seems the two islands to visit would be Oahu and the big island. Is Waikiki a good choice for a hotel suitable for hanging out and relaxing for a few days? Any other ideas and tips?

  73. July, by far the most legal accomodation choices available on O’ahu are in Waikiki, and there is a wide range of choices there.

    Waikiki is very walkable and also a pretty cool place to hang out if you don’t have to worry about parking; my kids and their friends like to hang out there. There are some very nice beaches there, lots of eating options, and IMO a few very relaxing days could be spent there.

    You can also easily find many options to get you outside of the Waikiki area to places like Pearl Harbor, Bishop Museum, and Kualoa Ranch (for the Jurassic Park tour).

    I’ve heard good things about Aulani over in Ko’Olina. It is a Disney resort, and from what I’ve heard it is like other Disney resorts in that you pay a lot but you get what you pay for. It is way over on the leeward side, so it’s more likely you’d want a car to get anywhere else on the island.

  74. Rhett, many people don’t give much thought to their children’s retirement security, and so taking the trouble to set up (and fund) an IRA for a kid seems strange to them. But for a tax lawyer, it’s a no-brainer.

  75. July, do you, or anyone who will be traveling with you, have a DoD connection (e.g., active duty, retiree, civilan employee)? There are other options available only to those with DoD connections.

  76. “taking the trouble to set up (and fund) an IRA for a kid seems strange to them.”

    It’s actually not much trouble.

  77. The way Benefits L explained the Roth IRA, I liked that. Definitely will keep that in mind for my kids. When you do it for a living or work at a financial firm retirement planning, college planning, saving for a home down payment become familiar. And my past employers have put the fear of eating cat food in your old age to convince you to save.

  78. Thank you, Finn! No DoD connections. I think forgoing a car or maybe just renting one for a day or two may be a good option if we chose Waikiki. I’ll check if they offer tours that pick you up at the hotel, which could work for some sightseeing.

  79. I regret not opening up IRAs for my kids for their first jobs, and now I’m trying to urge them to put away as much as possible during their 20s. They don’t embrace that message completely.

  80. “I dunno, when UMC kids work low status jobs just because it is “good for them”, it doesn’t help because they know they won’t be doing it forever.”

    Yep, totally agree.

    On the CS majors who don’t do internships–is there any way the program could require one (without making it a course requiring tuition)? Maybe make it a prerequisite for the junior or senior level courses.

  81. IRAs for your kids. I am just amazed. Isn’t that something that THEY are supposed to plan for, sometime in their 20’s? Seriously, that is just so helicopter, in a totebaggy kind of way.

    I can remember the exact moment when I first confronted retirement: when I did the paperwork for my TA position in grad school. I had to choose between the state plan and TIAA/CREF. I sat there thinking, wow, I am an adult now.

  82. S&M, because they are always paid internships, the school cannot get involved. We could require unpaid internships for academic credit, but tech companies don’t generally do those.

  83. It may be Totebaggy, but I started a Roth IRA for my stepson when he was 17 and was getting earned income, and by age 28 it was worth over $60K. And given how much you’re obsessing about freshman comp for your son, I don’t think you should be tossing “helicopter” epithets around quite so freely.

  84. “IRAs for your kids. I am just amazed. Isn’t that something that THEY are supposed to plan for, sometime in their 20’s?”

    The IRA question as brought up today was in regard to teenagers, not kids in their 20s.

    In their teens, I think it’s not just appropriate, but sometimes (e.g., before 18) legally necessary for parents (or some other custodial adults) to be involved in opening and maintaining the accounts.

    In addition, I also think it’s appropriate for parents to be involved at that time. IMO, that’s a good time to educate them on retirement planning. IOW, I agree that by the time the kids are in their 20s, they should know enough to open their own IRAs and 401k accounts.

  85. I agree with Finn. When I moved here in my 20s, I got to know about 401k and as soon as I was eligible, I opened one. I recall having more restrictive rules early on in my career. So, young people at the time may have not opened one as they tended to move jobs frequently.

  86. “Patience, Dad. She’s doing her best. It’ll all be fine.” He was completely right. And usually I’m the one saying at least to myself “everyone needs to be new sometime” and/or “a week from now, will it matter?”

    It is always so awesome when they pick up on one of those things we try to teach by example!

    My HS and college jobs–fast food, pharmacy cashier, babysitting (occasionally), dorm bell desk during summer orientation, lifeguard at a campus pool and at a camp one summer, German tutor. I also did a couple of internships with low-income housing providers, one for $1k, the other in exchange for a place to live. There were lots of chances to learn about being low on the totem pole in the first two, but I didn’t get it, didn’t process what people were trying to tell me there until a few years ago.

    DS is 14, too young for legal jobs. A few summers ago he had an awesome lemonade stand. I wonder what would’ve gone differently if I would’ve taken him to the churches a mile or two away when they got out. Neighbors said nice things, but he knew he wasn’t getting much money, aside from the occasional $20.. Before that, he did a little bit of yard work as an 8 year old, then decided physical labor is not for him. Fine by me. He has talked a couple of times about making websites for people, or setting up computers for them, but is no longer interested. This summer he is selling off a bunch of his old toys online and has agreed to give volunteering in a nearby church nursery a try. I think those things are great–for me, it’s more about him putting himself out there than about bringing in $$.

    The summer I worked in the dining hall on campus, I didn’t smell like food because I ran the dishwasher, one of those giant ones that has a convener belt and lots of steam. I ate before and after work. But working fast food in high school, I don’t think the stink was ever completely washed out of my polyester uniform. Finn, you are obviously not familiar with the odor. It smells nothing like food. Just dirty grease.

  87. Mooshi, then how ’bout a required prof development course sophomore year in which they put together standard job application materials, do mock interviews, and give some kind of end-of-semester short presentation? You could invite industry contacts to the latter. It could be either a fall course or a short spring course, so they’re done in time to do actual interviews for paid internships. And of course the class would include lots of excitement about “actually getting paid to do this!”
    I assume you were at a state park an hour or so East of the town where you went to high school? Didn’t you get Social Security that summer? I did for my fast food job. I think opening up a retirement account is the current equivalent. I haven’t done the math (and I didn’t read the WSJ article Scarlett did) but I assume the small deposits made early will have an impact equal to larger ones made much later, after grad school. And, expanding on what July says, if a kid just thinks it’s part of having a job, it will be much easier later.

    I don’t worry about a “list” of things that are somehow off-limits. If it’s an insult based on an immutable trait or comparison to another group of people, then I wouldn’t want to be quoted on the front page saying it, so I don’t use it.

  88. I babysat summers full time at 13-14, worked at Toys R Us at 15, then had a series of mall jobs like the pretzel place, cookie place, and Spencer’s. If something came up that I wanted off for and they weren’t accommodating, I just quit. I was working mostly because I hated being bored. I got a job at the nice department store and kept that one for years, working summers and holidays my first couple of years of college. They kept me on the system for years so I continued to get my 20% discount long after I stopped working. The last two years of college I had accounting internships, then a grad assistant position as Director of the Renters Advisory Council. Side note: it’s frowned upon to laugh when a girl comes in to complain that her ex-boyfriend, who works for her landlord, mows F**** You Jane in 15 foot letters in the ample yard.

    DD worked retail in HS, took classes some summers during college, and worked unpaid internships in her major. DS did not have his license prior to this year so has not held s job. He’s a fair skinned redhead, and two immediate family members have had melanoma, so I don’t let either kid lifeguard. He is looking for work now, but not looking hard. We have been out of town for various things which has made it a little more difficult, but we are home now. He has applied for things like lab assistant at the jr college, retail at a sporting goods store, and the new grocery store near us. He’s kind of an introvert, so when they say “tell me about a time when you provided good customer service”, he doesn’t try to bluff his way through or sell himself. If he doesn’t get something this week or next, he will take summer school starting early July.

  89. “IRAs for your kids. I am just amazed. Isn’t that something that THEY are supposed to plan for, sometime in their 20’s?”

    $5k at 17 becomes $160k by 67 @7%.
    $5k at 27 becomes only $80k at 67.

    Some people might say that senior year courses are something that THEY are supposed to plan for.

  90. July –
    We spent about 5 days on Oahu over Christmas 2015. We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village which really has to be about the most touristy place on Waikiki, but it was perfect for our needs and I had about 0.5Million Hilton points to spend.
    We used a small, local “limo” service to get our group of 10 from the HHV to Pearl Harbor and back (get your reservations for Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona 60 days out; I recommend you trying for your first morning, as early as possible. They start at 7am. Your body will still be on eastern time, so it’ll be easy to get up an meet your shuttle at 630.).
    We rented a car for 1 day right there at the hotel and drove around the whole island. We stopped to hike the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, had a pretty for lunch at a good hole in the wall in Ka’a’awa, got to the north end right after the rain stopped, and stopped at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (aka Punchbowl). It was a great day.
    The kids & I also went snorkeling one afternoon at Hanauma Bay County Park. I chose an operator that was well reviewed on Trip Advisor and they picked us up at the hotel and then again at the park allowing for plenty of time to snorkel. Beware the long line to pay/enter the park. Well worth it.
    I actually hired the limo service mentioned above for the trip from the airport and back again also. That worked great. I may have links still if you want me to email any of this info to you.

  91. On the Big Island we stayed at the Marriott (hey, we’re just regular MC folks) at Waikoloa and we also rented a car (minivan) for a day an drove around the island. The highlight was Volcanoes National Park. Start early, allow plenty of time. We stopped along the way several times including Makapu’u State Park to see/walk on the black sand beach. At Volcanoes be sure to drive all the way down to the ocean to see where the (now solid) lava meets the ocean. At the visitor center when it’s dark you can see the lava lake activity in Halema‘uma‘u Crater and glow of the Kilauea Caldera. Very cool. We drove to Hilo for dinner. The climate is completely different than on the western side of the island.

  92. Retirement and general financial planning, healthy lifestyle habits, driving, — these are all life skills that we can help our kids acquire when they are still living under our roof as teenagers. They are probably far more important to their long-term happiness than calculus.

  93. Hi from rainy Chattanooga. Timely topic: DD started training for her first official summer job, in the nature center at camp. Day 1 of training was “ok, clean out all of the animal cages before the animals arrive tomorrow.” She came home complaining about how exhausted she was, and I just chuckled and gave her a big hug and said, “welcome to the bottom of the totem pole.”

    My jobs: babysitting. Deli/pizza parlor in HS and college breaks. A fellowship one summer. Moved from pizza to Kelly girl because they paid better, still filled in at pizza place on and off. Lucked into summer associate jobs after both law school summers; after graduation, covered some lunch shifts at pizza parlor and then went to bar review classes at night.

    DD is now pushing again for a real job next fall, because she wants to earn more money. And to my own surprise, I instantly said no. Next year is her crazy school year, with 2 hrs of calculus, 2 hrs of engineering, AP Physics, and AP English/SS. Total batshit crazy. So there is no way I am going to send her out to work somewhere nights and weekends to boot. So I told her that next year is right out, but then the following summer she is welcome to find a job for the summer and her senior year.

  94. Laura, you obviously know her much better than we do. But could she be one of those kids who does better being busy? I know quite a few people who played sports in HS and they said they did much better academically during the season because they didn’t have time to waste, whereas out of season they found it too easy to let things go because they had so much more free time.

  95. Laura, I wondered the same thing as DD–a simple very PT job scooping ice cream or something to get away from books and presumably have less worry over whether she’s doing things right. That wouldn’t work for my kid, but he is also not going to ask for it.

    Guys, can you lay off Mooshi a little? It’s probably too extreme that I never see DS’s scheduling choices until just before school starts. There is obviously wide variety of ways to enact the long, slow process of turning such decisions over to kids themselves. Nobody goes at the same pace as anyone else. She’s given numerous examples of why she finds this works best for him.

  96. ‘Day 1 of training was “ok, clean out all of the animal cages before the animals arrive tomorrow.”’

    My very first job as as a HS junior was at a pet store and my first assignment was cleaning out cages. On top of that the place smelled yucky, just like our veterinarian’s office smells, of animals. I quit after about a week. That experience solidified my understanding that I am not an “animal person”. Since I was in a cooperative education program (definitely not on the calculus track!) I found another job the next week, working in the back room of a women’s clothing store. I stayed there about 3 years, then i worked at JC Penney in the camera department. Then I moved on to a camera store. Finally I qualified for a job at our department library on campus before I graduated on to a “real” job.

    I gained many things during those working years, but one of the most enduring is the chance to meet and interact with all sorts of people. Wonderful characters all — money-grubbing business men, people living on the edge financially and socially, traveling salesmen, wealthy hobbyists, both endearing and cut-throat co-workers, etc. I don’t think I would have had that chance by not working those jobs.

  97. Thank you, Fred! Your Hawaii trip sounds very much like what I have in mind. I may very well ask you for links if you still have them. Your comments made me consider whether I’d prefer a guided hiking tour of volcanoes or going on my own to the park. Maybe both! :)

  98. Nobody’s laying on Mooshi. It’s just interesting discussing and learning how people value and emphasize different things (even among people here who think of themselves as having very similar values.) Mooshi has never seemed to care much about financial independence, probably because she likes her job a lot, which is a good thing, and can’t see herself not working because that can only lead to someone turning into a TV-watching vegetable.

    Conversely, Rhett (and I, to a slightly lesser degree) tend to see academic courses as something that you just get through, get the box checked, and with as minimal effort as possible for the desired grade.

  99. July – Correction to my 804…Punalu’u is where the black sand beach is.

  100. tend to see academic courses as something that you just get through

    I love learning things. I really do. But you have to keep it in perspective and realize that there is an end game that you need to keep in mind.

    OK, that is the most Totebaggy comment I have read all week.

    IRA’s for teens is a branch of totebaggery I’ll admit. However, I don’t know how central it is. Certainly in MM’s world of academically focused totebaggery there is little to no place for IRAs and jobs for teens.

  101. The values that were communicated to me were get an education but you need to earn an income. I don’t think there would be much support for continuing as a student unless it was to be doctor or some similar high paying field with lots of years of education.
    My parents had me off the parental dime as soon as I got my first real job.

  102. “The values that were communicated to me were get an education but you need to earn an income.”

    I agree with that. And the working/middle class has always been all about that. The Totebaggery comes in at the point where they say “earn an income so that you can become a tax-sheltered owner/investor as early as legally possible at the most advantageous income tax rates and for the longest possible compounding.” Not that I don’t fully support that.

    Interestingly, it’s not entirely different from the Duggar sons and sons-in-law who are guided away from useless college and into investing and owning as early as possible, and certainly before you take an interest in courting. Own whatever you want: real estate, tow trucks, excavators, dump trucks, used car lots, and all of the above. Just own whatever turns a profit, and then buy more of it.

    I didn’t have an IRA as a high schooler, but my Dad set one up for me after I accepted my college offer, and he maxed out the contributions for four years.

  103. It is interesting to see how many of our sons’ 20-something peers are prolonging adolescence with extended “consumption” rather than “investment” post-graduate education. Often with enthusiastic parental support, which is hard to understand, except that some of the parents (who are also friends of ours) seem to be using grad school as a way to postpone their confrontation with the empty nest. I can certainly relate to that temptation, but it’s an expensive one on all sides IMO.

  104. prolonging adolescence with extended “consumption” rather than “investment” post-graduate education.

    Are you sure it’s consumption? I’ve mentioned before some of the consultants I work with all have “consumption” graduate degrees. There seems to be entire industries that use those sorts of degrees as a filter.

  105. Rhett – what would be a consumption grad degree as opposed to an investment one ?

  106. Rhett – what would be a consumption grad degree as opposed to an investment one ?

    English, nutrition, Spanish, etc.

  107. Although now that I think of it with a masters in nutrition you could presumably be a nutritionist which is a real job. So maybe it’s unfair to lump that in. I was thinking it was more the graduate degree a yummy mummy would have, but I guess it’s both.

  108. Nutrition is a profession. “Sports management” Masters is education as entertainment.

  109. “Sports management” Masters is education as entertainment.

    That’s totally a sales douche masters.

  110. A young woman of my acquaintance majored in Spanish and social work, and got an MBA, and according to LinkedIn is doing this: (I’m going to screw up some of the letters deliberately to make this less searchable)

    As Special Projects Coordinator, I oversee fund development strategy and initiatives for a program that promotes and manages shared space for nonprofits and small businesses in the D#nv3r Metropolitan area. I manage communications strategy and creation of all blog, social media, and external communications on behalf of the program. Additionally, I create program content and research evidence-based practices for a youth leadership program working with 15 5th grade-students at G@rden Pl@ce El3m3ntary that showcases the built environment around [Really Screwed Up But Revitalizing Local] neighborhoods.

  111. I didn’t realize “people like us” have parents max out their IRAs for them while they are in college.

  112. @DD/July: I have thought of that to a degree, yes. She does enjoy having lots of stuff going on. My concern is when it all becomes too much. She has a point every year when she gets overwhelmed and melts down from the pressure, and just starts tuning out and giving up (very much the “I’ll never meet my standards, so I’d rather not try so at least if I do poorly, I have the excuse that I didn’t try and I preserve the mental fiction that I *could* have done better”). And that point now tends to come in the late spring, when the teachers all realize they are behind and start increasing the workload and beginning prep for the finals and AP tests and everything. This year was her first experience with a real “finals week,” and she didn’t do great — most of the grades were a full grade point lower than the rest of the year. So I don’t want her to get to March and have all of that pressure plus 20 hrs/week of work on top of it all.

    But you do raise a good point, and I will think about it. She does terrifically well with “adulting” — when DH was out of town, she cooked, she did dishes, she took care of the foster kitties, and all with SO much less whining than when we ask her to do those same things as regular chores — she saw an adult role not being filled and jumped right in to fill it. So maybe I do let her give it a shot, with some clear rules, like she needs to keep her grades up (I’m just worried that using the grades dropping as a trigger usually means that I’m about a month too late in discovering there’s a problem).

  113. The need to slam other people’s courses of study, regardless of how well you know (or don’t know) those “other people” is a tiresome trait unique to this blog. I don’t see where it comes from, because in many things, people around here are not boastful, but man, is it fun to let it all out on those fools who’d choose to study x. Everybody clap yourself on the back one more time for not being so dumb!

  114. No time to post yesterday.

    “I dunno, when UMC kids work low status jobs just because it is “good for them”, it doesn’t help because they know they won’t be doing it forever.”

    I disagree, although I didn’t grow up UMC. During college summers, I waitressed and had an internship with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Those positions opened up my bubble more and gave me an appreciation for how hard some people have to work for so little. I knew that I wasn’t going to work those jobs forever. Those jobs gave me a deep gratitude for my education and for my upbringing (winning the birth lottery). I also worked for 2 weeks at Fingerhut as a telemarketer and couldn’t understand how people could afford all the crap they were ordering. Not until years later I realized that most of them were using credit cards. That job was terrible. Work study jobs at college were library shelving and office assistant in the Career Center.

    “IRAs for your kids. I am just amazed. Isn’t that something that THEY are supposed to plan for, sometime in their 20’s? Seriously, that is just so helicopter, in a totebaggy kind of way.”

    My kids are very young now, but I plan on matching any income they earn through college in an IRA. I believe that this will have a bigger long-term benefit to their finances than me giving them a car or other cash gifts. The ability to compound earnings from their teens is huge. I also will consider other ways to help them max out their retirement contributions when they are early in their career.

    My kids play soccer, and their refs have all been young teenagers. The refs make $25-35/game. I’m hoping my kids will be interested in doing something like that. I heard on the radio today that the local amusement park is having trouble filling positions for the summer and that they will hire 14-year-olds.

    I recall as a kid my parents forbid me to get a job at a convenience store or delivering pizza because they worried about robberies.

  115. Laura, I didn’t realize your daughter did that too! Mine has quicker cycles, and the downturn is not as predictable as yours’ seems to be. I certainly hear you on grades coming too late. Maybe you could agree to let her work first semester, conditionally. Then get her to tell you honestly how finals week went and spin some strategies (including taking a leave of absence at work/quitting until summer) for how to deal with the end of the school year stress. Just a suggestion. You’ve certainly got this. Your hug & comment at the end of cage-cleaning are awesome.

  116. “I didn’t realize “people like us” have parents max out their IRAs for them while they are in college.”

    LOL. No: “people like us” generally did NOT have parents who did this for us. But speaking for myself, I am in a better financial place than my parents were, both because I am higher-income and because I am 15 years older than my mom was when I was DD’s age (my mom was 35-36 and an Assistant Professor when I was a HS sophomore). So I have options for my kids that she did not — and this seems like a good one.

    I do think the kid IRA option is the total totebag way to give money to the kids, though. You both take advantage of the power of compounding, AND ensure they don’t spend it frivolously now, before they have learned better. So, basically, math skills + delayed gratification, all rolled up into one. :-)

  117. I just want to comment that setting up an IRA (of any kind) for a HS child is not something that I ever thought of, but I think it is a brilliant idea. Maybe my middle-class roots are showing. ;) It is one of many things that I am grateful to the Totebag for bringing up. DH & I discussed it, and he thought it was a great idea too. His HS/college job offered him an IRA once he got to be a shift manager, and he put a little away in that. He says it is one of the smartest things he ever did.

    I am also glad that my parents & other relatives (like a trusted aunt who is now an early retiree snowbird and one of my financial heros) pushed me to save in my 401(k) immediately and to never touch the $$. I wish I would have saved more in my 20’s, but at least I saved something. (same for DH)

  118. ” “Sports management” Masters is education as entertainment.”

    The people I know with masters in sports management or similar degrees typically are in college coaching where they are required to have a masters for the job.

    “I didn’t realize “people like us” have parents max out their IRAs for them while they are in college.”

    Interesting. How much can one put in an IRA a year? $5K? I think lots of parents on here spend that much on various activities and trips for their kids or have that much discretionary income leftover. Investing in an IRA for your kid seems like one of the best bang-for-your-buck investments around for helping your kid. There have been lots of discussions on here about buying new cars with safety features for their kids. It is odd to me that some would balk at investing in an IRA.

  119. This

    “How much can one put in an IRA a year? $5K? I think lots of parents on here spend that much on various activities and trips for their kids”

    and this

    “There have been lots of discussions on here about buying new cars with safety features for their kids. It is odd to me that some would balk at investing in an IRA.”

    were my thoughts precisely.

  120. A consumption degree is one that does not qualify or otherwise enable you to get a job that you could not have gotten without it. There is nothing wrong with getting a consumption degree — but IME too many students and parents don’t realize that this is what they are doing when they enter a graduate program.

    Rhett is right that some industries and employers use these degrees as filters, which transforms them into investment degrees, even if the actual content of the curriculum is not particularly rigorous or interesting.

  121. Tcm, I’m surprised the amusement park can decide for itself to hire younger workers. Isn’t gaining “an appreciation for how hard some people have to work for so little” possible to get without spending a summer on it? I mentioned earlier that my son did a couple of “landscaping” jobs (actually trimming hedges, pulling weeds and picking up debris after a storm) when he was 8, and then decided it wasn’t for him. I think that’s enough to appreciate that physical labor in the hot sun is hard. And we frequently comment on other jobs too, from the judge who ran the morning of traffic court he came to with me a couple summers ago to the people working at fast food windows. I try to point out the parts that we don’t see.

  122. I ran the numbers. If they started at 14 and you put 5k in a year until they were 22 and they never saved for retirement they’d have $1.5 million (inflation adjusted $650k). when they were 67. That’s an inflation adjusted $3k a month in an annuity which along with SS is a comfortable retirement.

    I suppose one objection would be that the early head start means they really don’t have to worry too much about retirement and where is the fun in that? They’d miss all the skrimping and saving and looking down their noses at those less willing to delay consumption.

  123. if the actual content of the curriculum is not particularly rigorous or interesting.

    It’s likely far more interesting to the nerotypical than actuarial science or corporate tax or any other of the more totebag approved degrees.

  124. Doing something once when you’re 8, while not without some benefit, is not comparable to spending an entire summer doing hard work. (Similarly, doing it for one summer when you’re 16 and muscular and flexible and fit, and only for recreational spending money, is not the same as doing it at 40 to support yourself and maybe children, year round with no end in sight and no realistic prospects for improvement, but that only furthers my point.)

    It’s also good to get out of the house, away from video games and TV, and hell, away from books. Meet people, talk to people. Learn a skill, learn how a certain business operates, even if you’re not going to “use” it. I like know a little bit about the car wash business from my summer that I worked at one.

    If you decide at 8 that physical labor is not for you, and then you’re deciding that school might not really be for you, either, the best thing is to get out of the house and start doing some actual work, somewhere, anywhere, to start learning about what might be right for you. It’s not going to jump out of the closet at you while you’re sitting around at home.

  125. “I ran the numbers. If they started at 14 and you put 5k in a year until they were 22 and they never saved for retirement they’d have $1.5 million (inflation adjusted $650k). when they were 67. That’s an inflation adjusted $3k a month in an annuity which along with SS is a comfortable retirement. ”

    Don’t run the numbers for private school tuition. That would be too depressing.

  126. Don’t run the numbers for private school tuition. That would be too depressing.

    Running the numbers for the Punahou School* (totally selected at random) I get $27,897,997 inflation adjusted $11,767,581 at 67.

    * Google says it’s $19,500 K-8 and $22,500 9-12.

  127. Opps my math was off. The numbers above would be if they continued to save $22k per year until retirement.

    With only the k-12 tuition money It’s $17,040,646 inflation adjusted $6,369,607 at 67.

  128. “With only the k-12 tuition money It’s $17,040,646 inflation adjusted $6,369,607 at 67.”**

    Ahh, but the peer group. :)

    (**In my mind, assuming a 6 or 7% return IS inflation-adjusted)

  129. Running the numbers for the Punahou School* (totally selected at random)

    LOL

  130. I second Milo’s comment — there is benefit to seeing what it really feels like to work those jobs for a longer period. I remember coming home after a 60+hr week at the pizza parlor (because I was the most reliable and lived nearby, I was the one they called when someone didn’t show), and being completely exhausted, and looking at my paycheck and doing the math and thinking about how hard it would be to actually live on that amount of money even with all the OT, and how exhausting it was, and BOY that was not what I wanted to do. And of course the “going every day even when you don’t want to”; the “finding things to do when you are bored”; and all of those other work-specific skills. These are all things that you “know” at an intellectual level if you are a reasonably intelligent person — but the real learning comes from the *feel* you get from living it, day-in, day-out.

    It was also very, very useful in developing those “soft” skills we always talk about that did not come naturally to me. Being introverted and not particularly socially adept, I was very intimidated in dealing with customers. But I learned to put on a “work face” and be polite and even joke around and generally act like an extrovert — it was “fake it ’til you make it,” and damned if it didn’t work. And that is something that most definitely carried over into my “real” job.

  131. LfB, I have weaknesses similar to yours (probably worse) and a paper route helped me develop in much the same way.

  132. Laura, those job skills you mentioned are generalizable across all types of work. Why is it necessary to learn them in an outdoor, physical job? (I fully recognize that your calculations may be different from mine, as you’re talking about white girls and I’m talking about a black boy in the south.) Office jobs and grunt jobs all have their specific soft skills. I’d rather my kid learn how to respond to someone’s surprise at his technical or language skills than that he learn intracies of being part of the landscaping crew.

    I’m not even sure he didn’t learn some of that stuff anyway. Being 8 means 2.5 hours of work is plenty of time to get tired and bored.

  133. S&M – I was commenting on the “It doesn’t help because they know it won’t be doing it forever” part. It DID help me even though I knew I wouldn’t be doing it forever. I have a lot of respect for how hard low-status jobs are, especially how hard some of them are physically. I’ve been stressed at my job from time to time, but I don’t have a hard job, especially compared to those who have to work hard physically. I gained a lot of perspective from my summers working in a way that I don’t think I’d get from only experiencing the job for a few days. Others may have a different experience, but I am responding to the “it doesn’t help part”.

    Milo & Rhett – here I am feeling all smug about my plan to fund my kids’ IRAs when they are young, when really the smart thing financially would be to not pay for private school and invest the tuition. I guess I am rich (tying back to the other threads this week) knowing that I can make a consumption rather than investment decision on education….well, either rich or stupid.

  134. TCM – for me, it’s always a matter of the alternative. The financially smarter thing for me would have been to not buy a boat plus pay a couple thousand a year in slip fees. But then the alternative is no boat.

    If you don’t pay for private school, the alternative is not no school. On the other hand, we could never afford private school, anyway, so the exercise for me is entirely academic.

  135. On the job comments – my DH, his siblings, my sibling and any number of adults from the home country didn’t have a job prior to their first job which was a professional job. Straight from college to the workplace. Yet all of these people managed to navigate through not only their country but a different country’s workplace and culture so my take is you don’t necessarily have to have all the boxes checked before you embark on your adult life.

  136. Milo – I’m not upset or anything on the comment about private school. If we weren’t paying for private school K-12, we would definitely have a lot more money for other things. But we’re really happy with our decision. And I’m sure you are really happy with your decision to buy a boat. I think it was a super smart use of your money to buy the boat for all the enjoyment you and your family get out of if. I am not a boat or water person at all, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to buy a boat. On the other hand, we could never afford a boat (because of private school!), so the exercise for me is entirely academic. :)

  137. ” I heard on the radio today that the local amusement park is having trouble filling positions for the summer and that they will hire 14-year-olds.”

    I worked there for a couple of weeks one college summer before I got an offer for a paid internship in my field. I was a junior in college, and therefore qualified for one of the “good” summer jobs in the group sales office. I had a nicer uniform, but still a uniform. I think it was a blue polo shirt. (this was for when we had to go to the air conditioned booth to let the field trip/church groups into the park and give them their stickers) Some of the jobs had safety requirements, but I think back then (late 90’s) there were some 14 & 15 year olds doing foodservice things during the day.

    “Retirement and general financial planning, healthy lifestyle habits, driving, — these are all life skills that we can help our kids acquire when they are still living under our roof as teenagers. They are probably far more important to their long-term happiness than calculus.”

    I agree. I also think that working at least a little bit in HS is more important than maxxing out on AP classes, but we’ll see how I feel in 5 years.

  138. “I do think the kid IRA option is the total totebag way to give money to the kids, though.”

    I haven’t given my kids any money via IRA. DS uses his allowance and gift money for spending, and puts all of his job earnings into his IRA.

    OTOH, DD spends every cent she gets, which right now is just allowance and gifts. She’s applied for a job next school year and we think she will get it, but it won’t be many hours, and she may end up spending all of what she earns there. Perhaps we’ll just play a shell game and move an amount equal to her W2 earnings from her custodial account into a Roth IRA.

  139. “How much can one put in an IRA a year? $5K?”

    For 2017, the limit is the lesser of $5500 ($6500 for those 50 and over) and the amount of earned income.

  140. “a consumption rather than investment decision on education”

    I see I’m not the only one who sees it this way, although we do see it as partly an investment decision. We do seem to be in the minority here.

  141. “On the other hand, we could never afford private school, anyway, so the exercise for me is entirely academic.”

    I have no doubt that if you and your DW decided it was what you wanted for your kids, you would’ve found a way to afford it.

  142. Finn, we sent our kids to private schools at great expense, but we regarded that as an investment in human capital. It is harder to so regard a post-graduate degree; otherwise you are setting your kids up to be professional students.

  143. Finn – My colleague with a SAH wife manages it because they paid off the mortgage early before tuition really kicked in. At the same time, they don’t save anything for retirement beyond employer match. They vacation at an aunt’s beach house. They don’t go out. I can almost never get him to even go to lunch occasionally from work. And I told you about fixing his 20-year-old car.

    The irony is that he posts all this Dave Ramsey stuff on Facebook about how debt is evil and don’t be a sucker. So yeah, you don’t have any *debt* per se.

    OTOH, he is the only person I know who correctly and confidently called the 2016 Presidential election back in the summer of 2015, after the famous escalator ride.

  144. Finn, we sent our kids to private schools at great expense, but we regarded that as an investment in human capital. It is harder to so regard a post-graduate degree; otherwise you are setting your kids up to be professional students.

    Looking back do you think things would have turned out any differently if the boys had gone to Affluent Suburban DC High? I know you’ve mentioned that you avoided a lot of nonsense but would the end result have been different?

  145. Scarlett, that’s part of why we sent our kids, but whenever I write the checks and reflect on whether it’s worth the cost, I always come back to the fact that my kids have enjoyed their time at the school, and I believe they’ve been happier there than they would’ve been at the local public school.

    I also like their peer groups there.

  146. Finn – Do you think the added happiness from private school would be greater than the added happiness they’d get if you could instead turn over a $300k or $400k investment portfolio at college graduation?

    I’m biased having gone to public schools, but I can tell you how I would answer that. And it’s not like I didn’t have friends at public school.

  147. FWIW, DW was not particularly happy in Affluent DC Suburb High, and asked her parents to send her to private (not sure if that would have solved the problem, but she believed a smaller environment would have helped). They were like NFW, can’t afford it, or maybe they said that they wouldn’t be able to pay for college if they did. So she graduated after junior year and started college a year early and joined a sorority (Horrors!) and loved everything about college.

  148. Rhett, Finn answered for me. All of our sons really enjoyed their school years and developed wonderful relationships with the men who taught them, relationships that have continued to this day. That was worth a lot. They also were forced to embrace areas of study, such as art and music and drama, that they might not have chosen if they had had to audition for a choir or play rather than participating as part of a required class. They were all in public schools for varying periods, so we have a good idea of what that experience would have been like.
    Which is not to say that they would have been destined to misery had circumstances kept them there. Most kids seem to do fine at Affluent Public School. But I would make the same decisions again. We could never have afforded private K-12 for three kids, but the financial sacrifice we did make was worth it, for us. YMMV

  149. Milo, I think DS would choose the school. He’s not really into material possessions, and I think he’ll be able to do well enough for himself financially to be happy without the investment portfolio.

  150. Finn – Do you think the added happiness from private school would be greater than the added happiness they’d get if you could instead turn over a $300k or $400k investment portfolio at college graduation?

    I’d pick the university. Being able to say (just to use my own preferences) “I went to Stanford” is something you always have. No matter what. Even if you’re homeless. Money is great, I’m all for it, but you can earn that over the years. You can’t ever make up for having a second-rate college degree. You’ll always be second-rate to a lot of people, and maybe even yourself.

  151. You’ll always be second-rate to a lot of people

    A lot of people? I think a lot of people never ask where you went to school and don’t care at all. You might hang out with some real jerks.

  152. I thought Milo’s question to Finn was in regards to private K-12, not a private college.

  153. My answer was to the K-12 question, but I think the same answer will apply to college.

    And Rhett has made the case many times that the private college is an investment that should pay off. The private K-12 education could possibly have a similar type of payoff.

  154. You might hang out with some real jerks.

    Or be descended from them. Or hang out on blogs with them.

  155. I thought Milo’s question to Finn was in regards to private K-12, not a private college.

    Yeah, true.


  156. You might hang out with some real jerks.

    Or be descended from them. Or hang out on blogs with them.”

    Hey don’t look at me! (Well, in other ways I’m sure I am.) But I ascribe no value whatsoever to a college’s name brand.

  157. I have no idea where my current boss went to college. Nor my last one. The one before that went to NC State.

  158. But I ascribe no value whatsoever to a college’s name brand.

    Yeah, not you.

  159. The private K-12 education could possibly have a similar type of payoff

    I’m sure you’ll agree that the data to support that possibility is non-existent for both k-12 and college.

    Scarlett and Finn what would you say to the idea that private school is “easier” than public? From my perspective, the parent/student relationship to the teacher in a private school is more employer/employee. In a public school the relationship is more the student is the employee and the teacher is the boss. As such, in order to thrive in a public school you need to “manage up” to a degree you don’t in private school.

  160. What I love about economics is the concept of utils and measuring consumption in terms of utility and not dollars. I get a lot of utils from sending our kid to private school. Like Finn and Scarlett, I appreciate the peer group and relationships we are developing in the school community. Both DH and I did well academically and athletically in high school but struggled more to find our place socially. My experience wasn’t awful, but I was very happy to go to college. DH had an extremely miserable time K-12 in very small, rural Iowa to the point that he doesn’t care to ever go back to his hometown and hasn’t for several years. One of DH’s biggest reasons for sending our kids to private school is he is worried our younger son will end up like DH’s brother. DH brother is very smart and funny but fell in with the wrong social group and has made some very bad life choices over the years. Our school conferences this year reaffirmed some of our reasons for sending the kids to private school.

    Private school tuition here is much less than the coasts. We paid ~$12.5k/each this year and that goes up to $20k/each in high school. We live in a smaller house than most of our friends. Our mortgage + school is probably equivalent to what many pay for their mortgage alone. When I think about retirement, I calculate that to maintain our current lifestyle, we will need significantly less than our current income due to no longer paying for tuition and mortgage. I don’t intend to leave a financial legacy for my kids in terms of a big inheritance. I don’t place a high priority on inheritance since I know we won’t get any from our family.

    Rhett – yes, in many ways private school is easier than public school. I am also outsourcing a lot of my parent worry and parent oversight to the school too because that is part of what I’m paying for. My kids get more of the public school boss/employee dynamic through sports and their coaches.

    As my kids get older, I care less and less about them succeeding monetarily and more about being happy. I have more middle class dreams for them. I think sending them to private school has a better chance of them being happy and that gives me a lot of utils.

  161. We are switching Baby WCE to a church preschool/childcare program with half-day kindergarten in part because public schools here no longer offer half-day kindergarten and we think the public school kindergarten experience the boys had (~30 kids, very fixed curriculum but only 2.5 hr/day) is not ideal for an all-day introduction to school. We will probably move her back to public school with the boys in first grade,when the curriculum/teachers start to gain more flexibility.

  162. Rhett, many private schools do aim to take the load of managing up and similar stresses off the kids, freeing up their energy for higher academics.

  163. “I’m sure you’ll agree that the data to support that possibility is non-existent for both k-12 and college. ”

    Hey, you’re the one who kept making the point about the financial payoff for the private college.

    “what would you say to the idea that private school is “easier” than public?”

    I’ve mentioned here many times how our discussions of certain school issues have made me appreciate my kids’ school more because it handled many of those issues better than many other totebaggers’ kids’ schools.

  164. From a previous discussion, another reason to open a Roth IRA for your kids:

    Finn on March 25, 2015 at 6:08 pm said:

    My understanding was that you can take out your Roth IRA contributions, but not earnings, without any penalty or tax due whether or not you have reached age 59.5.

    However, a look at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590b/ch02.html#en_US_2014_publink1000231057 shows that this isn’t exactly correct.

    First of all, it looks like withdrawals made ” after the 5-year period beginning with the first taxable year for which a contribution was made to a Roth IRA ” are completely tax and penalty free. (DS had a part-time job last year, and this is one more reason we will open a 2014 Roth IRA for him; apparently, that would allow him to make tax and penalty free withdrawals from his Roth IRA starting in 2019, even if he only contributes a few dollars for 2014).

    Contributions withdrawn before the due date for those contributions are tax and penalty free.

    Between one and 5 years, it looks like allocation rules (which sound like the same rules that cause problems for people who have large traditional IRA balances, and want to do backdoor Roth contributions) come into play. The part of the distribution allocable to earnings apparently would be subject to tax and penalty.

    So to LAgirl, I suggest you make a Roth IRA contribution before April 15, and make sure the contribution is for tax year 2014. This will start your 5 year clock at January 1, 2014. Even if you have a limited amount of cash on hand, put at least a few (literally) dollars into your 2014 Roth to start that clock.

  165. For a given year, you typically have until the federal tax deadline for that year to contribute to an IRA. E.g., April 18, 2017 was the deadline for tax year 2016.

    If you made Roth IRA contributions for 2016, you could withdraw them tax and penalty free before April 18,2017.

  166. Transformative assets. That’s what early IRAs are, and paid-for college, etc. My kid is great, makes good money, works insanely hard (his wife was commiserating with me about exhausted husbands), etc. But they are homeowners in a very expensive market because her parents and we all pitched in for the down payment. That perpetuates wealth, and perpetuates the have/have not divide. I’m still going to do it, but I recognize it for what it is.

    https://commonwealthmagazine.org/economy/sociologist-thomas-shapiro-says-that-a-lack-of-assets-not-income-is-holding-africanamericans-back/

  167. I think my comment got caught in the spam filter. July? Could you check?

  168. I identify with tcmama’s comment entirely.

    The financial comparison isn’t really just the tuition either. My taxes are much lower than in an affluent suburb as are the commuting costs, not having a second car, etc.

    I would say that private school isn’t “easier” for the student exactly, but that the benefit of the “employer-employee” relationship as a parent is responsiveness. That’s part of what I am getting for my $$. Influence and responsiveness to issues. Along with all the other things people have stated.

  169. SM, if I get what you mean, yes, that’s one case in which someone might want to take money out of an IRA before the deadline.

    But another could be that a Roth IRA was being used for double duty as a rainy day fund in addition to retirement fund, and it rained before the deadline.

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