I entered the workforce at the early age of 13, when my family faced a few financial set-backs after a big move to a new city.
I, like other girls my age, babysat and did odd jobs in the neighbourhood growing up. Like many young kids, our first jobs are usually for family members. You know how it goes, you babysit your younger cousins or wash dishes in your uncle's restaurant as soon as you are tall enough to reach the sink.
Grade eight, however, was a little different for me when compared to my peers. When I say I entered the workforce, I'm tempted to say "the real workforce" - - but I wouldn't want to belittle daycare and working for family as a kid--learning to work is important no matter how it comes to you. What I'm referring to is having to apply and convince a stranger to take a chance on you.
I reached my full height at 13 and even though I didn't wear makeup yet, I looked a bit older than my peers. When I spoke, this also caused people to believe I was older than I was for some reason as well. (I still remember, during my first month at the new elementary school, being scolded for not being in a teacher's meeting while I walked down the hall. No joke.) I never understood that since it is hard to hear yourself, but all this combined, I was given the opportunity to prove I had a solid work ethic and that I didn't have to be asked or shown twice. I was hired as a hostess at a local restaurant and was given a regular weekend shift. Yes that is right. That meant elementary school Monday to Friday and work both Saturday and Sunday ... at 13 years of age.
My mother, Jeannie, involved me in the family budget early on, we were a team! (Actually we still are a team). Debit and credit statements were a part of my day-to-day life. So it was easy for me, at the age of 13 to realize more deposits were needed in order for their family to make it through this transition period. Even though it was an odd schedule for an eighth grader, you do what you gotta do for the family.
I proudly contributed and saved my money. My mother constantly encouraged me to keep as much money as I could in the bank. I will never forget however, that December of 1998, when I surpassed $1000.00 in my Royal Bank Leo statement booklet (yes, it was a kid's account) and my mom said it would be a nice treat for me to buy myself something really special. I had been working hard and keeping this schedule for four months by that point and had only been spending money on family needed and school related items.
That navy blue designer turtleneck sweater will always hold a special place with me. Got it on an amazing sale too!".
Little side note. Today that $1000 dollars saved making minimum wage would be more like $2500 to give you an idea.