The Money Girl

May 24, 2012

About a month ago, Sarah started her first real job.  (Well, other than her jobs of washing dishes and emptying the garbage at home for which she gets paid non-munificent amounts of moolah.

After two weeks of working at the gift shop of a local restaurant, the big day arrived.  She got to take her first paycheck to the bank to cash it.


We do all of our business at this bank (the manager attends our church) so we had to be sure to share with the teller that this was Sarah’s very first check.  She was properly impressed.IMG_0346

Does she look just a little bit proud?IMG_0347

As soon as we left the bank, I  thought I would ask my money-laden daughter for a loan.

She turned me down flat.

Sigh.  It seems as though she already had plans for that money, like putting part of it in savings for her first car and giving another part of it in the offering at church.   (We have taught both kids since they were small to give 10% of everything they earn to God. Nathan and Meagan, as newlyweds, are still following that principle.)

Thankfully though, my wage-earning progeny did decide to designate a few dollars for a Goodwill shopping trip with me where she scored several stylish shirts for about three bucks each.

What a gal!

And speaking of first jobs, Sarah and I would love to hear what you did for YOUR first job.   Do you remember what you got paid per hour?   This could be an interesting trip down memory lane!


83 responses to The Money Girl

  1. Fran Alexander May 28, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I baby sat for .50 cents an hour, I would watch a dress shop in town and when the dress I wanted went on the $5.00 rack I would buy it. As back than we could only wear dresses or skirts to school. Than when I was 17 I got a job at a local restaurant and made like a dollar something plus tips, I saved my money and bought a car for one hundred thirty five dollars didn’t last long but it was mine. Those were the days on the 60’s and 70’s.

    • Fran,

      Sounds like you were very frugal with your money to save $135 out of a pretty low salary.  Good for you!  And I loved your story about waiting for a certain dress to hit the $5 rack.  A woman after my own heart!

  2. Guess I forgot to say where my first job was. 

    I cleaned motel rooms for two years when I was 14 and 15.  My friend’s parents owned a little 10-room motel in my home town of Sparta, WI.   (In fact, I think the motel is still there; it’s called the Spartan Motel.)  I learned all about mitering bed corners and putting the “sanitized for your protection”  strip across the toilet seat after I had cleaned the toilet.  (Does any one remember those strips?)The worst part of it was knocking on doors to clean a room when you thought someone had already checked out.  And they hadn’t.  And they were grumpy about it.  I think I earned around two to three dollars an hours but hey,  when you grew up in a family of eight with a very modest income, those were big bucks for me!

    By the way, Sarah is getting $8.50 an hour on her gift shop job.

  3. Jimandkimwatts@yahoo.con May 28, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I worked at the local K-Mart for $5.50.

  4. Congratulations to Sarah!! That first paycheck is a big deal. 🙂

    I did a lot of babysitting and volunteer jobs when I was in high school, and I also did a bunch of film and TV shows, for which I was paid in cash. The first one for which I got paid by check was…working as an elf in a local department store’s Santaland. It was so much fun. It was a fairly elaborate setup so we didn’t just bring the kids in to see Santa, we got to interact with them. It was really lovely to have a hand in bringing the magic of the holidays to life.

    There’s a funny, albeit bittersweet, story that goes along with it. At the time, my grandmother was terminally ill and was in hospice care. She liked to tell the nurses that her granddaughter was an elf and watch their reactions. Of course, they thought she was losing it, but she was having a chuckle at their expense…her granddaughter WAS an elf. 🙂

    • Denise,

      Love that!  I can just see the twinkle in your grandmother’s eyes as she doled out her zinger line, knowing all the while it was true.

      And how fun for you to get to work with TV and film shows; definitely an  interesting life when you pair those with the elf-ing gig!

  5. Pilotbutterfly–Ann Martin May 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I think my first job was working at Christmas in a toy store.  After that short time I went to work at Howard Johnson’s Gift Shop in our new motel for about six months.  That was the end of my senior year in high school and summer before college.  I have no idea what I made an hour.  I enjoyed the gift shop because we are at a I-95 exit and got lots of travelers.  Proud of Sarah.

    • Ann,

      I didn’t even know that Howard Johnson’s even had gift shops.  Learn something every day from my blogger family!  Yes, I can imagine you got a lot of customers, being right on I-95.

  6. I too worked at the Dairy Queen like Heidis below me and was paid a whopping $1.75 an hour.  Just typing that makes me go “yikes!”.  🙂    The money I earned paid for my extra-curricular activities I was involved in (cheerleading uniforms, shoes) and was a great start to learning what a great feeling it was to contribute and earn my own way.  Best of luck to Sarah! 

    • B-mom,

      You’re absolutely right.  It’s no much the amount of money that kids get on their first jobs,  but it’s the fact that they’re getting their first taste of what it means to earn a living and pay their own way.   It such an important rite of passage–$1.75 or not!  🙂

  7. My first job was as a clerk at JoAnn’s Fabrics.  $2.85/hour.  I was 17.

    • Nancy,

      I love to putter around in a JoAnn’s Fabrics store; lots of cool stuff there.   I hope you got a little discount along with your pay because there would be a lot of great stuff to buy!

  8. What fond memories this question evokes! My first job was as a drinking glass washer at an old,  grand hotel–The Antheneum–overlooking beautiful Lake Chautauqua  in the southwest corner of New York state. The Institute is a religious, cultural, musical and educational center and is open just eight weeks in the summer.

    This was in the early 60’s.  After room and board was deducted, the wages were minimal. But the memories are priceless—such as attending church or seeing “South Pacific” in a 10,000 seat outdoor ampitheater complete with a huge pipe organ. Bobby Kennedy also spoke there and stayed at the Atheneum.

    After that first summer, I “graduated” to waitress and worked there for four more years. And as someone else mentioned, I too was able to pay for my college education.

    • Judy, you got me so intrigued by your description that I had to find the hotel on line and look at some of the pictures.
      So very beautiful!   I can only imagine what a delight it must have been to be a  young lady just starting out in life and getting to be a part of such a magnificent backdrop.

  9. Lisa from Georgia May 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    My first job other than babysitting was at Shoney’s. I was the hostess/cashier for $3.85 an hour. I loved the job…hated the uniform. I am so proud of Sarah! I am proud for you and Steve. She and you have been through so much.

    • Lisa,

      My family will tell you that I am a BIG fan of Shoney’s hot fudge cake although I haven’t had one in a while.      I have to agree-the uniforms there aren’t real stunning but oh well.  

      Thanks for your kind words to our family.

  10. Good work, Sarah – saving, giving and spending.  You got the formula down pat.  Let’s see, my first job… many years ago – I worked at a real estate company as a receptionist/typist part time – still doing that (not the reception part) after all these years and with attorneys now, not realtors.  I should have surveyed the “land” a little more before I spent 30+ years doing this! 

  11. I was Christmas help for JC Penney during my senior year of high school. When I was laid off after Christmas, I worked for a small, local corporation, where I spent the next 15 years, til I had my kids.


  12. Congrats Sarah!  My daughter, Haley, is your age and working her second summer at our pool club as a lifeguard … for a dollar less than minumum wage!  lol  She loves what she does, though … hope you do, too!  🙂

    And my fist job (19860 was teaching aerobics … to children … in a tanning salon!  Got paid $10/class.  🙂  Loved this so much, I continued to teach aerobics (but graduated to a real gym!) AND work with children in summer camps, while I was in college.  Until I married, actually, in 1994. 

    Have a memorable Memorial Day weekend!  🙂

    • LizziLou,

      Your daughter must be an amazing swimmer to be life guarding at her age.  I know you’re proud of her.  Seems to me though, that life guards should be paid way ABOVE minimum wage since they have some pretty important jobs!

      Since I’m a total flop at aerobics I admire anyone who can it!

  13. In 1952 upon graduation from high school, I worked at an insurance agency taking dictation and typing letters for the agency’s president.  I was making a salary of $180 a month and worked there until I married your Grandpa in 1954.

    Sarah, enjoy your job and make new friends!  
    Grandma Smith

    • Vernie,

      How exciting to hear from you!  Is this the first time you’ve signed here?  (I can’t remember!)

      Anyway,  I didn’t know that you worked for an insurance agency’s president typing letters.  No wonder you’re such a good typist!    Thanks for letting all know your first job.

  14. In 1949, my first job, other than on our family farm, was at PWall Mfg. Co. in Grove City Pa making blow torches for 75 cents an hour.  I had a woman boss.  At first I worked on the assembly line then was promoted into testing dept.  In Sept 1950, I took a job in the bank making $200 a month until March, 1952 when I entered the Air Force.

    Proud of you Sarah!
    Grandpa Smith

    • How great to hear from Grandpa Smith, too.  This is our lucky day!

      Ken, I imagine that it must have been highly unusual to have a woman boss in 1949, especially in the nitty gritty environment of making blow torches.  Blow torch maker, banker, fighter pilot . . . that’s quite a line up.

  15. My unofficial first job was babysitting for $4 an hour. My official first job was as a “chicken flicker” at Chick-fil-A in 1992 for $4.25. I am glad the chicken flicking days are long over!! 🙂

    • Leelah,

      Love the “chicken flicker” line.   🙂   

      I really like Chick-Fil-a and wish there was was one closer than 2 1/2 hours away because I feel personally responsible for keeping those chicken flickers busy!

      • 🙂 I’m only sorta kinda partially kidding about flicking chicken. My chicken boss made me stand out in the mall (during Black Friday, too) to give people samples of chargrilled chicken….attached to toothpicks…that I found could be ever so slightly flexible…..FLICK! 

        I was also subjected to a chicken suit and a cow suit on a few occasions….TRAUMA! 20 years later I still have a phobia re chicken and cow suits. Fortunately, I’m still able to consume chicken….as long as it’s not on a toothpick….and not being gifted to me by a synthetic cow or chicken. 

        Come to think of it…..isn’t it odd that a chicken was handing out chicken?…. I’m not sure I like the message that sends about birds of a feather not sticking together, etc., It’s like, “here, eat this chicken, pleeeeease, and oh dear lordy I may be next. SQUAWK!”  Ok, perhaps I’m slightly over analyzing the scenario.

        I’m off to have some tofurky or Quorn chicken…..

  16. Tammyhelfrich May 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I worked at the YMCA. Don’t remember what my hourly wage was.

  17. My first job was babysitting, primarily for one family who got babysitting provided to them through a social program because they had a child with serious health problems and couldn’t hire just any local kid to take care of him. Worked spectacularly well for me, because I loved the family and both of their kids very much, and the program paid many times what the standard babysitting gig would have… it seems incredible even to me, but I think I’m remembering correctly… it was at least $12/hour!

    • Kristina,

      Sounds like a win win all around!   You didn’t just get paid great money; you loved those kids.  And loving the kids meant you were a GREAT babysitter!

  18. My first job, WAY back around 14 years old (that would be 1973), was as a target at a golf driving range for $1.75 an hour. Okay, technically my title was “shagger,” but here’s what I did: I put on a batting helmet and walked around with something called a “shag bag” picking up the balls the practicing golfers were hitting. In case you missed it, that was “hitting” – as in present tense! About two weeks in, when I realized that the number of balls whistling by my head was too great to be coincidence, I decided that being a shagger was a poor career choice and tendered my immediate resignation.

    Thanks for another entertaining story!


    • Gordon,

      As usual, you made me smile!  (You seem to have a gift for making people smile.)

      I’m glad you survived your first job and moved on to better things.  Also glad you at least had a batting helmet to protect you from the golf ball fusillade.

      Still praying for your sweet granddaughter.

  19. My first real paying job was working at a hair salon washing the towels and tidying up.  I made $3.85/hour.  I was only there a few months and then broke my ankle and had to quit.  Then my next job I worked at Marineland for the summer in the pizza place.  I made $5/an hour.  I was thrilled! 🙂  That was a big raise and a huge social life came with that job.  Then my next job I worked as an executive assistant making $10/hour.  That was huge.  Got me an apartment and a new car! 🙂  Now all those years later… the best job of all… a teacher… making a measly $12/hour… and it’s been about 25 years since I made $10/hour… but ….  this job is by far the best!

  20. My first job was working in the fake flower section of a large, warehouse-like home goods store. I had to unpack a lot of boxes, put price tags around each and every individual flower, and load them into their stands on the shelves. It was boring, tedious, dirty work that I got paid minimum wage for (that was $5.15 at the time), but it paid for my first computer!
    The first paycheck is always so amazing. All of a sudden, you have money! A LOT of money! Well, not really. But it sure feels like it! Enjoy, Sarah!

  21. Other than babysitting (which actually made me a lot of money!  $500-$800 a month in the summer!!!) my first job was at Dairy Queen in the mall.  I made $6.00 an hour.  I really liked it there!

    • Krista,

      Wow!  You must have been a very busy babysitter to have earned that much every month.   Of course, DQ has the perk of being able to get Dilly bars.  (Do they still have Dilly bars there? I always loved those.)

  22. My first job was at the newsprint paper mill where my dad was the shipping supervisor.  I actually worked on one of the paper machines, making paper.  It was an awful job, but I think I made about $11/hr. (this was in the early 80’s, so that was good money!)  It was only a summer job, but I made enough to pay for college.  🙂

    • Gayle,

      I’m always fascinated by any part of the newspaper business but I guess making paper might lose its fascination after a little while.  But good grief, that was GREAT money!    That certainly  made it all worth it!

  23. My first job was as a cashier at a little convenience store in the center of our quaint sea-side town up here in Massachusetts. I was THE FIRST GIRL THEY EVER HIRED! LOL. Okay, the year was 1976. It was part time after school. I have absolutely no recollection of the hourly wage.

  24. Stefanie in St. Louis May 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    My first job was at Tastee Freez. I made $3.15 an hour and lasted three whole days before I quit….

  25. I worked at the village grocery store and minimum wage finally hit about $1.50 per hour. Life was quite simple then 🙂

  26. my first job other than babysitting (35 cents an hr)  was  cleaning house for this grummpy old lady.  she watched and commented over every task she gave me.  Ialso  had to  cook her lunch and sit with her while she ate (I didint get to  eat  i was the help) so I could wash the dishes afterwards. made 50 cents an  hour  for  that.I was in  high school  then
    in college I worked in a furniture factory cant rem  what I was pd it all went to my school bill. my next paying job was many  years later as a hospital housekeeper dont know what I got then  but the top pay I got before I quit was under $9 an  hour.

    • Loved the story behind your behind your house cleaning experience.   I imagine you had to grit your teeth a little every time you want to work.  good for you for sticking it out, especially at fifty cents an hour!

  27. Congrats Sarah-so much fun to get a first real paycheck. My first job was an aide at a preschool. I don’t remember the hourly pay, but my 2 week paycheck was about $70.00.

  28. My first real job was at Mr. Submarine. I made $3.75 an hour until I was promoted to night manager and then I made a lofy $5.00 an hour. Congrats! 🙂

    • Rebecca,

      Never heard of Mr. Submarine but I’m assuming it’s sort of like a Subway shop?  Nothing like rising in the ranks and becoming a night manager at such a whopping salary.  I’m sure you must have been very proud of yourself.

  29. Wow, Sarah…. you have made more than I have this whole year teaching. (I must admit that I gave probably 99% of my salary to the other teacher that I hired.)

    My first job was being a receptionist at a stock brokerage for the summer, but I don’t remember the pay.
    However, I do remember when I became a teacher, I got $150 a month (for 9 months).  When I applied to teach Head Start, I had to tell my present salary.  Fortunately, the employer assumed that it was $150 per week, and I got paid according to that scale.  I LOVED teaching Head Start, but it was just a summer job.  I have to brag that they kept my lesson plans as a sample for future teachers throughout the program.

    • Mrs.  Pam,

      Whew!  That was a happy misunderstanding that your employee thought you meant $150  per week.  And congrats for making lesson plans that are being used for future teachers.  Somehow that doesn’t surprise me. 

      I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind giving your present salary away.  You always have plenty of cool stories to tell!

  30. I was a crew member at McDonalds whilst I was doing my A levels 

  31. Michelle Zammat May 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

    My very first job was working at Roy Rogers at the Maryland House (pit stop for travelers). I think my beginning wage started at $5.25. I was just excited about my first real job.

  32. Congrats Sarah on your first paycheque!! Awesome 🙂
    My first job (other than babysitting) was as a cashier in a grocery store. I can’t remember the pay but I am sure it was very low by today’s standards!  It was good experience and I got to chat with all the cool kids’ moms.  Boy o boy, the things I learned… 😉

  33. $4.10 an hour at Waldenbooks. I remember when I got my first paycheck thought I was rich – I had never received $90 at one time before!

  34. I worked in a graphic arts department for a small silk screening company. My job was to photograph the designs in the appropriate transfer sizes (shirts or caps) and burn them onto film for the other departments to adhere onto the silkscreens for printing. I made 5.50 per hour.

  35. I was a lab tech in a genetics lab on campus.  I did really exciting stuff like washing glass beakers and entering data into Excel spreadsheets.  I think I was paid $5.20 an hour.

  36. I remember it well (I think).  And it was about 60 years ago (I was about 8).  My parents owned a gift shop, and my early jobs were to: rubber stamp our shop name and address onto paper bags, and to write the price of greeting cards, in pencil, on the corner at the apex of the envelope.  For 25 stamped bags I’d earn 5 cents.  For a box of card which cost 5 or 10 cents each, I’d get 1/2 cent each, but for the EXPENSIVE cards, which cost 25 cents, I’d get 1 cent per card.  I was WEALTHY!!

    • Jan,

      How fun to hear the line up of all your jobs and their accompanying pay scale.   And what a treasure to get to work with your parents!  I would have enjoyed working there with you!

  37. Ah a walk down memory lane, let’s see, can I REMEMBER back that far.  Oh yes, it was right out of high school and I went to work for Tennessee Eastman.  I made a whopping big $2.92  an hour.  However, like Clatoure, money went much farther back then.  . . . . . Sigh.  made enough to buy a brand spanking new 1969 Camaro (now if only I had kept that car it would be worth mucho money today.  Oh the ignorance of youth!  Congrats Sarah you have joined the ranks of working people, so proud of you !

  38. I worked at the Dairy Queen for $2.85 per hour!  Made enough to pay for my first two years of college!  THose were the days…………..

  39. I was a bank teller and made $3.25 an hour, however money went much farther way back then. I decided to quit and go to college after we were robbed and I saw most of the action since I was the vault teller. Quit scary, but hadn’t thought about that experience in years!

    Congrats Sarah on your first check!

    Cindy from Sonoma

  40. I ironed for a family for $.50 per hour. Later I worked in a bakery but always got the worst shifts since I was a kid.

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