How old were you when you got your first paying job?

I was eight years old when my dad who was a Dentist decided that by brother and I were old enough to be the custodians at his office. With carpeted offices and saliva vacuums no big deal right?

When I was eight the dental office had asbestos tile floors and spit sinks, our job every night was to go in the office and empty garbage’s, clean bathrooms, sweep floors, clean the chrome on the base of the dental chairs and clean the spit sinks along with making sure the outside was swept and weeds pulled.

 On Wed nights we had to buff the floors with a commercial size buffer and make sure you could see the shining waves in the floor wax. We had to be exact or in the morning dad would call and get us back to the office before school to get it done right.

Saturdays were the best we would take all the furniture out and strip the wax off the floor and re wax the complete office.

Dad was a big spender he paid us each $12.00 a month.  The spending money that my brother and I earned over the years taught us how to conserve our money. At 8 and 9 years old we had credit where we bought a TV on payments and a reel to reel tape recorder.

When I was young I had friends who worked on Ranches, and Farms every morning and evening they had chores to do. They had to feed the animals or clean stalls; milk cows all kinds of fun things.

What was your first paying job?

How old were you?

What did you learn?

If you have children what are you teaching them about work and money?

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26 Responses to “Work Ethic for Kids.”

  1. I was a hustler when I was a kid so probably very young. I’d say about 8 or 9 when I started washing cars and cutting lawns.

    Steve Chambers
    Body Language Expert

  2. Like you, I started early, at age 8. My grandfather managed a full service gas station & hired me to work on weekends. This was before the law about having to be 16 to pump gas.

    So, a car would pull up & I would ask what they needed & then take care of their request. So, I would fill the car with gas, check air pressure, check the oil, wash the windows, direct people to the bathroom, go buy them sodas & chips or candy bars, whatever they wanted to purchase.

    I learned a lot about work ethic but most importantly I quickly learned that my demeanor had the biggest impact on whether people came back to our gas station/store (repeat business) & how much additional purchases they made besides the gasoline for the car (upsells, cross-sells, one time offers).

    My son is three & he already is actively involved with household chores (puts away his toys every night, helps em with grocery shopping & putting away the groceries, cleanign the house, everythign I can involve with).

    The Success Secrets

  3. Peggy Larson says:

    My father owned restaurants so my first job was bus “boy?” I was 13. I had tried babysitting at 12 but it wasn’t for me.

    My daughter earned money doing household chores. Then volunteered at the hospital. Then worked as a cashier at Target at 16.

    It’s important to educat kids in the art of Saving! It’s hard to do b/c it’s the first “real money” of their own. But, we always use the example of our friend Dino, who has saved 25% of each and every paycheck he’s ever earned. He’s now 45 and works, or not, as he chooses and he pays cash for everything!

    Peggy Larson
    Quilting – Colors and Fun!

  4. I was 12. I worked at the local baseball diamonds in the snack bar. It was a wonderful experience!

  5. I got paid to do chores as a kid but I don’t remember how much or how old I was. I think I was 12 and got $5.00 My first real job I was 14 and I made about $12-$15 per week. After making that money for a while and having my OWN money I used to wonder how I lived without it.

    Lisa McLellan
    Babysitting Services, Nanny Services, and Nanny agencies

  6. Mark says:

    I grew up on a farm and from as early as I can remember, of going out to herd cattle with my mom. I was probably 7 or so… I started driving at 11 or 12 on the farm. Farming established a strong work ethich beacuse lifestock doesn’t take sick days, vacations, weekends or holidays…nor do they care what the weather is like or how you feel… the job had to get done regardless of circumstances… this has helped me as an adult… When we moved to town my first paying job was at a grocery store at 14. That’s when I first met Uncle Sam and Uncle FICA… =(

    Direct Selling Advice, Leveraging Relationships for Long-term Profit

  7. Hi Dale,

    oh my goodness, reading the other people’s comments here I am almost falling off the couch giggling. I had previously thought that for a girl growing up in a University town that I was pretty impressive doing baby sitting et al by age 11 or 12. Then I hear about the back 40 and milking cows at age 7! Goodness!

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Single Baby Boomer Dating Expert

  8. Sonya Lenzo says:

    I was the oldest in a large family so I started babysitting for my parents, doing dishes and other household chores at 8 or so for about $5 a week. Then at 14 I got a real babysitting job for 1.40 an hour. Boy I thought I was something. I learned that if you did a little extra, like picking up the house and the dishes, and always showed up, you got a good reference for the next job!That early money taught me to prioritize what I wanted, but that if I wanted something badly enough, I could earn the money for it.
    Sonya Lenzo

  9. Rob Northrup says:

    started shoveling snow at 9 for neighbors, at 10 I had a local paper route in Minnesota (the Post) and from 11-12 I had a Mpls Star route which included the Sunday paper as well. I covered about 75 homes each day on my bike and 130 homes on Sundays– in Minnesota it is often cold at 5am on a Sunday morning. Plus, in those days newspaper delivery boys had to collect from our own customers for the service every two weeks, and we had to track down deadbeats. Plus we got rewarded extra for new subscription sales.

    At 13, I started to work as a delivery person for a florist, and before long I was jack of all trades at the florist for three hours after shool each day and every Saturday for 8 hours. I did this till I was 16 when I started to work as a bagger at the grocery store half mile from my house. In the summers before college I had the following jobs:

    1) unload 50# bags of potatoes off freight trains onto semi-trucks 10 hours a day
    2) work as press operator in a plastics injection molding plant
    3) night janitor for 5 office buildings
    4) night watchman for Fort Snelling in Minnesota
    5) construction site guard for the Metrodome under construction

    Then I went to college and paid my own way working the first year as a draftsman, and then I co-op’ed at IBM every other quarter for the rest of my Georgia Tech career. At the end of my degree, I had a total of only $7,000 in student loans.

    I learned that there are many things I don’t want to do as an adult at an early age.

    Seize the Day,

    Simple Family Survival Tips For Disasters and Emergencies

  10. I recall my first job was a paper route. I don’t remember the age I was, but I was also playing Little League baseball at the time, which would put me between 9 and 12 years old. Winter sucked. I remember having to pile the papers onto a sled and pull them through the snow on my route.

    My daughters are starting their jobs now too. I guess I’m like your father. I make them come to my office and sweep the floors and wash the windows. But they’re saving up for a video game system, and I think they’ll enjoy it a lot more by having to earn the money themselves.

    Tim Van Milligan, helping you Make Money Online, God’s Way!

  11. bryan says:

    I started working at my step fathers butcher shop at 7…I had to scape the blood off the meat cutting blocks…I learned that you have to be willing to work hard to make money.

  12. I babysat at around 12, and I worked summers starting at 13. I made minimum wage – whatever that was at the time. I loved having my own money, especially because it was tight at home. Unfortunately I didn’t learn enough about savings, which I am now having to reformat my brain for.

    Fun and Free Activities

  13. As a kid I did all sorts of things to make money, mow lawns, wash cars, paper route, sell candy at school just about anything to make some money. I still have fond memories of those days.
    Scott Sylvan Bell

  14. My first paying job was when I was 14 and was hired as a groom at a horse breeding and training farm. I don’t remember what I was paid. I worked HARD cleaning stalls, tack, grooming horses and exercising them, and whatever else odd jobs needed to be done.

    I learned that I did still want to be a veterinarian.

    My kids get an allowance, half of which goes into savings. If they want spending money then they “withdraw” money from the allowance box. They don’t spend much.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT,CES
    Corrective Exercise for Every Body

  15. MarkSpizer says:

    great post as usual!

  16. Shane says:

    I guess I always thought of my first official paying job was when I was 16 but I always had lawn mowing gigs and helped with the family business etc. Oh, I almost had my Denver Post paper route completely blocked out but now thanks to you it’s all back. I had over 100 subscribers and the Sunday paper had to weigh 10 pounds and was the size of a giant log!

    Hypnosis – Change Your Thoughts and Change Your Life –

  17. Carl Hanshew says:

    yea decent Work

  18. Although I babysat and did hostess helping at parties when I was about 12, I really call my first job bussing tables at a restaurant when I was 14. I had official work papers, etc. I learned that my hard work paid off. I had money in my pocket and got extra tips from the waiters and waitresses because I was on top of their tables. Faster turnover meant more tips for all of us.

    Jen Battaglino

  19. Dewayne Chriswell says:

    I was hauling coal in for an older lady at 13. Early mornings didn’t seem to work for me. Yard work fit better.

  20. Great post – lots of memories!

    Worked all my life: as the oldest sister, had a lot of chores, then started caring for other neighbors’ children,to helping my brothers’ with their paper routes, to lemonade stands, you name it…. the way to have money was to earn it and save it!

    Mixing Romance, Feet & ESL lessons
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  21. Mike Norris says:

    I was about 10 when my Dad took me to the barber shop and dropped me off. He had me a shoe shining job. Also kept the store clean. Best paying customer was a blind man. Still remember it to this day he gave me $1.00 each Friday.

    Safety Is Everyones Business

  22. Lynn Lane says:

    My first job was on my Grandpa’s tobacco farm. I worked around the barn for about .25 cents and hour, I think I was about 8 years old. I graduated to the field when I was about 10 years old. I remember those Hot and Humid N.C. days in the fields. I also remember working all summer when I was a teen for about $200.00. My brother and I used that money to buy school clothes at the end of summer.

    I learned how to work hard and to produce quality.
    I also learned to work through the pain and keep moving forward.

    Good subject.

    Lynn Lane
    Warrior Of Success

  23. David says:

    I’ve noticed that people that do great in business typically had a mini-business when they were young.

    Marin County Roofers

  24. Mike Casey says:

    My dad got me started young. He always taught us that if you wanted something then you must work to earn it. I was probably 6 or 7 when he got me started. He ended up starting a landscaping company so that we could work. Its made me a go getter and a hustler ever since. I think its important for everyone to establish work ethic at a young age.

    Mike Casey

  25. michael says:

    my dad paid my brother and I $2 a day to work in his construction fabrication shop.

    I decide not to go one day so my dad paid him $10

    I never missed another day after that!!!!


  26. Ellen Egan says:

    My first job was to do chores around the house (dinner dishes, tidy up the living room, etc). Now that I have kids, I’m trying to remember when I started doing chores for money. I’m going to guess 6 or 7 but, I wouldn’t swear to it. Then, of course there was babysitting around 12 and lawnmowing at 14. I found it very liberating to know I could make my own money, put it in the bank and watch it grow.

    Ellen Egan
    Public Speaking Expert