Is your teen looking for a part-time job? I hope they can walk, bike or take the bus
One of the themes that has been common today in the discussions about low wages for fast food workers involves whether those jobs should be considered starter jobs, or “pin money” jobs, rather than jobs one would raise a family on.
If you are not familiar with the term, “pin money” means money for extras, but not basic living expenses.
I understand that there is a distinction between working to pay the bills and working for extra cash.
But especially when high schoolers are concerned, the killer detail involves transportation. If the minimum wage worker needs to have his or her own vehicle for reasons that include schedules that don’t mesh with other family members or bus times, transportation expenses will seriously eat into his or her take-home pay.
I knew that when my daughter was in high school, and strongly suggested she find a job she could walk or ride the city bus to. She found a job she could walk to. One of my friends also told her children they needed to walk or bike to any jobs they took when they were in high school. They did.
Michigan’s minimum wage is $7.40 an hour.
For the sake of math, let’s say a high school student is working 12 hours a week. That’s $88.80 a week, or $372.96 a month, before taxes.
Subtract car insurance. If you don’t know yet what it costs to insure your teen, think about what it costs to insure yourself as a driver. And yes, car insurance is an expense even if the car purchase itself is long paid off. It also was an additional expense for my husband and I when we added a newly licensed teen driver to our policy, even though we had only two vehicles and my daughter and I shared a car.
Subtract gas money and basic maintenance such as oil changes.
Not a heck of a lot.
To be fair, some minimum wage jobs are valuable for reasons beyond the paycheck:
- They might provide an introduction or resume credit to an industry one would like to work in.
- Some employers offer free or discounted services, merchandise or products to their part-time staff.
- There might be a scholarship or tuition credit opportunity available to those employees.
- In some cases, a part-time staffer might be invited to apply for full-time work should a position open up.
But if someone expects a minimum wage job on part-time hours to be a money-making opportunity soley on its own merits, I hope a car is not required to get to the work site.