College and Adulthood Planning – Work

You have started saving—or maybe you haven’t—for your kid’s future. The idea of saving enough for education or whatever next step your children choose beyond high school is a big source of anxiety for many people.

The good news is that your kids can definitely help with this financial equation. One way they can help is through work. Of course, their earning power is not the same as yours, but work can still be a big factor in helping to plan for their own future.

While their earning potential is smaller, so are their bills! They have no idea what it takes to run a household. But work can help them discover things about themselves and build a sense of responsibility along with savings for the future. With all this in mind, here is a look at what work can and should mean for your children as they make their way toward adulthood.

One of the great privileges of our work at UWP is getting to speak to high school students. We go in and talk about the basics of financial literacy and planning. It’s never too early to have those tools! As we speak at high schools, we are constantly amazed at how many of the students have jobs. When we ask the question, often over 75% of the students raise their hands. We love to see that initiative.

Finding Your Passion

As you may know, we are big fans of helping people find what they are passionate about and create a path to do THAT thing in a financially viable and sustainable way. As we reflect on our own work paths, we feel extremely fortunate. For example, one of us was an only child (we will let you guess who) and kind of spoiled if we’re being honest—not in the sense that they didn’t work—but they got to focus at a young age on doing the kinds of work they wanted to do. The work they did was usually either something a friend was doing or doing something that interested them.

We understand that a kid’s primary motivation might be just finding whatever job is available and earning some spending money. But our advice is to encourage your children to take jobs based on what interests them, so they can find and develop their passions and interests.

And if work options are limited, encourage them to stick with a job even when it is not the ideal one. On the other hand, you don’t want them to work in a job that is just a terrible fit. One of us quit a job after two weeks in telemarketing.

But eventually, we did find jobs that were a better fit. One of our favorite jobs was being a bellhop and shuttle driver at a hotel. Encourage your children to find their passions, so they aren’t just following their friends into theirs.

The Value of a Dollar

Money isn’t magic. One of the big benefits of work for high school age kids is that it gets them to finally understand where the money comes from. That debit card does not fill itself with cash!

A job teaches responsibility. Through work, we can teach our children how much things like cars, gas, insurance, accidents, and cell phones cost. Beyond that, we teach them what it means to have a schedule, to have other people depending on them, and to have expectations for what needs to get done during their time “on the clock.”

In each job they take, challenge your children to have a sense of why are they working there. Encourage them to find a mentor at their place of employment and discover what they can learn from the overall experience.


It is never too early to learn about budgeting. You want to introduce kids to the idea of a budget before they have a job. Once they have a job, you can begin layering on more complex budgeting concepts. This is critical to helping them build strong financial principles.

Work is a part of life, so kids need to understand what that means, why work is important, and how to make the most of it. Giving them a good work ethic and an understanding of why we work, and why we look for work we love; these are lessons they can take with them to build their own uncommon lives in the years to come.