I am twenty-one, and I have my life together. I’m in a good college, I’m working toward the degree that I have always wanted, I know how to get a job and keep it, I know how to manage money and how to balance my checkbook, and I know that the reason I know all these things is because my parents raised me right. They taught me the meaning of a hard days work and they taught me how to work for my money so I wouldn’t spend it frivolously.
I was born in a small, rural fishing village in southeast Alaska, and since I can remember, I fished with my dad. By age seven or eight I started getting paid for being on the boat all summer – I would get five dollars a day. As I got older and started having more responsibilities on our boat, I started getting paid more. I remember the summer that I went from getting five percent of my dad’s earnings to getting seven and a half percent; I was so excited, but in reality I was only getting an extra $2.50 for every 100 dollars my dad was making, but over an entire summer that extra few dollars here and there adds up.
The summer of 2008 was my last summer fishing with my dad, and at that time I was getting twenty percent of what my dad was making. But, at that time I was also doing a good portion of the work on our boat. I would bring probably half the fish aboard, I would clean all the fish, ice about three quarters of them and I would do all the cooking and cleaning of the inside and outside of the boat. Fishing in the summer, you work long days. Up at 4 a.m. and to bed usually around 11 p.m. or midnight; we would average 19 hour days.
Every summer, I worked my butt off cleaning and icing fish. I hated doing it, but I did it. The money was good, and so was the company. Of course I would have liked to spend my summers hanging out on the beach with all my friends going hiking and having bon fires, but I was making money so that when school started I could buy clothes and anything else I felt I needed. I remember one summer I spent a good portion of my earnings on a wet suit, another summer I put most of my money toward buying a really nice Jansport hiking backpack. The summer that I turned 15, I used my fishing money to buy my first car, a Toyota Tercell. I loved that car. I never crashed it or got a ticket or anything because I bought it myself – paid for it with my hard earned cash; I wasn’t about to go do something stupid like drink and drive, or race; my car was my baby.
Growing up I new a lot of people, and still know a lot of people, that have everything bought for them. Those people have no idea what it is like to work for something. Not only are they going to be like a fish out of water when they go into the real world to try and get a job and live on their own, but they will also never know the feeling of working so hard for something and then finally having the means to get it – it is one of the best feelings. When things are handed to you, you don’t care for them. When you are given a car, an I-pod or $500 pair of Jimmy Choos, you don’t appreciate them and you don’t care if something happens to them because you just assume that your parents are going to buy you another one, which they do.
I strongly believe that parents should not spoil their children. Make them get jobs when they are old enough, teach them how to manage their money, make them save their money when there is something they just “can’t live without.” Not only will parents be teaching their kids important life lessons, they will be teaching them how to take care of themselves, which is really what we need, we can’t count on mommy and daddy for everything, forever.