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The advice I gave my daughter when she got her first job

effie zahos money editor

My daughter got her first summer job and while she may have baulked at the pay ($13 per hour) the lessons that will come from working and earning her own money will be greater than anything I could teach her.

The first thing she did was to sort out her bank accounts. Like her mum, she’s working on a bucket system.

She’s always had an online saver account but now that she has a regular income she’s opened up an everyday account and linked a debit card to that.

She prefers her fortnightly pay to go directly into her online saver and from there she transfers her allocated spending money into her everyday account.

It’s the opposite of what I do but given her affairs are quite simple this works for her.

Her goal, she says, is to save enough money to go travelling when she finishes high school.

Given that she has no interest in heading to the Goldie for schoolies week (I blame myself for that as we head to the Gold Coast every year for Christmas) I fear it will be an overseas destination meaning the bank of mum and dad may need to step in.

If you’ve got a teenager who is about to start their first paying summer job then here are six things they should do to set up some good money habits.

  1. Sort out their bank accounts

An everyday account linked to a debit card and an online saver is all they need to get started. Take care when choosing a savings account because often the best rates are only applicable if you adhere to minimum deposit requirements. You may find that your child just doesn’t earn enough to get these headline rates. Our Best of the Best issue could help you sort out which accounts may best suit your teenager.

  1. Set some saving goals

Setting goals, such as going on a holiday, gives young savers the motivation to stick to their plans. Get them to work out how much of their pay they can afford to save and how much they can use for spending.

  1. Get a tax file number

If your employer doesn’t have your tax file number (TFN) your wages will be taxed at the top rate of 47%.The easiest way to obtain a TFN is through school – often at the school office or through the careers adviser.

Kids’ income from part-time work is known as “excepted net income” and it is taxed at ordinary tax rates. Kids can earn up to $18,200 and not pay tax.

  1. Get some help

Download an app like the Moneysmart TrackMySpend app. It can help you track your day-to-day spending to find out where you can save.

  1. Get super wise

If you’re under the age of 18 you have to work a 30-hour week and earn over $450 gross in a calendar month to be eligible for employer super contributions.

  1. Use your time wisely

It’s important that your teenager maintains a good balance between work time and school time. Get them to put a schedule together so they have enough time to complete everything including some much needed downtime.

To help teach your kids about money these Christmas holidays, grab a copy of The Great $20 Adventure and follow the story of Max and his dog George as they contemplate what to do with a gift of money.

Written by Effie Zahos

Effie Zahos

Editor Effie Zahos started out as a graduate trainee for one of Australia’s major banks. She moved to TV in 1997, kick-starting her career in finance journalism as head researcher for Channel Nine’s Money Show. A regular finance commentator on TV and radio, she is the author of The Great $20 Adventure.

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