Summer jobs can offer early financial lessons

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Drew Keairnes knows his high-paying summer construction job lasts only a precious few weeks before he resumes college life at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Unlike other summer workers who earn and spend -- and spend -- Keairnes socks away at least two-thirds of his $350 paycheck for the lean times once classes recommence. "I keep out $100 for whatever I want to do," says Keairnes.

But he learned the hard way last year that the bucks he went through on "food, concerts and computer stuff" would have been a nice cushion during the year. "There were times I'd want to do something, but I didn't have the money," he says.

Thus is one of life's lessons already learned by this 19-year-old: money matters. And with a real job and larger paycheck still a few years away, Keairnes seems to already have a grip on fiscal reality.

While everyone feels better with change jingling in their pockets, one financial adviser counsels parents to use summer as a time to school their offspring in finance issues.

"Lots of kids say 'yeah, this is my money,' but parents need to remind them money isn't an easy-come, easy-go proposition," says John Fisher, a financial adviser with Dain Rauscher. "They've got to bank or invest some of it, otherwise it's down the drain."

Of course, high school and college students who work side jobs throughout the year to pay for expenses are well versed in the savings game. It's others who work primarily to stay busy who need fiscal coaching.

Experts like Fisher say earnings saved are out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind. Students seldom miss funds that never reach their wallet or purse.

Parents should encourage their offspring to track warm weather income on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. At the least, teens of any age should open a savings account.

Young workers have other incentives to look inward for reasons to be thrifty: it's their money. Cash cajoled from mom and dad without many strings attached encourages few, if any, serious thoughts about dollars and cents.

"Save more than you think you need," counsels Keairnes.

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