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The Financial Lessons You’ll Learn From A Part-Time Job

By Aja Frost Aja Frost

Part-time jobs are awesome. If you’re in college, they’re an excellent way to defray your tuition costs (or afford all those late-night diner trips.) If you’re a grad, they’re a great way to supplement the income from your regular job.

And part-time jobs are also excellent because having one will naturally teach you some essential money lessons.

The impact of taxes

Being different is something that’s regularly knocked out of us when we’re younger. We’re brought up to act in a way that society deems acceptable. There are specific ways of doing things. From how we treat each other to how we behave in public. This baseline behaviour helps to fuel our future growth. We start to change, to properly get a grasp of how it all works and how we can fit into this system.

I remember opening my first payslip and thinking there’d been some mistake. I was supposed to be making $550 or so a month, so why was so much money missing? 

My mum patiently explained how taxes worked—to be fair; we’d had that conversation before, but I’d forgotten entirely about the government’s cut while fantasising about what I could buy with my new salary.

A part-time job prepares you to calculate how much you’ll pay in taxes when you get your first full-time job—and that info is super important!

The value of your time

It’s always easier to spend money that you haven’t earned. When my parents were footing the bill, I used to make a daily stop at Starbucks for a Frappuccino and a scone!

However, once that $8 started coming from my wallet, I realised each meal was costing me an hour’s worth of answering phones and organising files. I started eating breakfast at home.

Maybe you love expensive concerts. But is one night worth a whole month at your job? For some people, it is; for others, it’s not. When you’ve put in the time and the sweat, you can make calculated decisions about how much specific purchases matter to you.

The necessity of a budget

Once you’ve got a steady source of income, you need to figure out how much you’ll save, spend, and put away for the future. I’ll admit I didn’t budget the income from my first two part-time jobs, but by my third, I’d finally got a system. I reserved half of every paycheck for food, put 30% toward my loans, and left 20% for clothes, school supplies, going out, and other miscellaneous expenses.

If you don’t save any money from your part-time job, is it the end of the world? No, but if you don’t budget the money from your first full-time position, the consequences are a lot more dangerous. That’s why it’s great to get practice budgeting now.

The importance of a healthy attitude

Whether your part-time job is at a tutoring centre, restaurant, retail store, or office, how other people view you will always impact how much money you make.

And this is most evident in places where employees receive tips; the pleasant, cheery workers tend to get more than the sullen or disinterested ones.

However, the same effect plays out in every workplace. Not only will your peers be more likely to want to work with you if you’re kind and upbeat, but management is also much more likely to reward you with a raise, promotion, unique opportunities, or privileges.

The bottom line: even though your part-time job might not be having the most significant impact on your bank account, the financial wisdom you’ll gain as a result of having it is invaluable!


Aja Frost

Aja Frost

By day, Aja is a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California, and by night, she is a highly successful freelance writer and content strategist. Two years ago, she was writing for Cal Poly's student paper. Today her work is regularly featured on Forbes, Inc., Mashable, TIME, The Huffington Post, The Daily Muse, Newsweek and the Billfold just to name a few.

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