Finances & Money Kids And Finances

Teens And Money: Should Teens Work When They’re In Sports?

parenting advice, teenager life,work and school

I want my son to have a good financial education before he launches himself out on his own, therefore I take advantage of every opportunity I can to teach him financial lessons, as well as how to get the most out of his money. I want him to have a good work ethic, as well as a healthy respect for the power of, and the dangers of money.

Most of the time he seems to embrace what I’m teaching him. He’s discovered generic products, uses coupons, and even understands the concept of paying himself first. He works hard at his part-time job, and saves out of every paycheck. But every now and then, I’m reminded that he may choose to handle this finances differently than how I would prefer.

I was surprised to hear that he didn’t want to work at all until the end of the school year.

When my son joined the high school golf team, I supported him not working at his part-time job during the school week in order to go to practice instead. I even supported him to temporarily stop saving money out of every paycheck since his income would be greatly reduced during the season. I assumed he would continue to work weekend shifts to have spending money.

He and I had different opinions on how much he would work during the golf season.

When I asked him what weekend shifts he was scheduled for, he told me he had told his supervisor to simply take him off the schedule completely until the end of the school year. After seeing my look of confusion, he explained that since he would have to spend every day after school at golf practice, and do his homework afterward, he wanted the weekend to hang out with his friends.

He went on to explain his financial plan using his sizable tax refund:

  • The tax refund would be put in his savings account
  • He calculated how much he could spend each week to consume only his tax refund during the golf season.
  • Each Friday, the calculated weekly amount would be transferred to his checking account
  • Once golf was over, he would resume his usual work schedule, as well as saving out of each paycheck.

He went on to explain how his plan would allow him to not work at all during the golf season, have some spending money, but not drain his savings from the pre-golf season level.

As I listened to his plan, I couldn’t help but think back to when I was in high school.

I wanted to tell him how I continued to work at my part-time job even though I was in track. I was scheduled for shifts after track practice and on weekends. I continued to work, be in a sport and maintain a very high GPA. Being in a sport was my choice. It was an extracurricular activity that I chose to do in place of hanging out with my friends after school.

I wanted to tell him these things, but I didn’t. I was impressed that he had thought through his finances, finding a way to balance having spending money, maintaining his savings and being in high school sports. While it may not be quite how I would handle the same situation, it seemed like a reasonable plan.

What do you think, Clever Friends, should I have expected him to continue working on the weekends, or should I be happy that he thought through his finances and has a reasonable plan?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock


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Brock Kernin


  • I think you did the right thing in not saying anything. Your son showed he put a lot of thought into his situation and reached a decision. It may not have been the one you would have made, but that’s OK. Different stroke for different folks. The best thing a parent can do is let their kids make decisions and experience the results of their decision. He made end up deciding he wants more money, in which case I think he’d realize he needs to start working again. (I don’t think he’ll ask you for money.) If he finds he’s OK living with what he’s got, he just learned of the freedom that saving, planning, and budgeting can provide. It’s a win-win if you ask me.

    • A few weeks have gone by, and he’s purposefully decreased his spending because he knows he has no income coming in and wants to preserve as much of his tax refund as he can…I’be been impressed!

  • You’ll have to see how it works out for him. He may realize he misses the income. One thing, as parents, that I think we need to consider, is that maybe there’s a total time expected for non-school related activities, which would include work, sports, etc. Think of it like this, if he wasn’t doing any sports, you probably wouldn’t let him work 40 hours a week, correct? On top of school and homework that’d be too much. You might cap it at, say, 20-24 hours per week. This, to me, would be the time that would be available for work+sports, so you might present it that if he’s doing golf 12 hours per week (just making up numbers), he could very well have some time left to work.

    • That’s a good perspective, Money Beagle……when I look at it that way, he would have time left to work. I may gently ask him to reconsider working on the weekends.

  • I think ‘they’ should continue to work. Life doesn’t care if you play (as an adult) in a softball league or whatever sport you prefer. You better still be at work and earn your salary.

    This is merely my opinion, and at least your son did plan this out.

    • I understand your perspective, Dan…..however he is still a teenager, and sometimes we need to let them be teenagers too. 🙂

  • I’m so impressed he was able to come up with that plan! I think it’s fine. I played sports in high school and college, and it’s draining. Not every moment can be productive. Downtime with friends is important. And since he plans to work this summer, it’s not like he’s totally abandoned working in general. Sounds like a good kid!

  • When my husband and I were in high school, we were active in sports…. until we got our first part time jobs. The amount of time that homework (honors and advanced classes), practice, competition, and work took up was exhausting. So, what went was the sports. A decision we both regret, along with our parents. We had many, many years ahead of us to work. It would have only been two more years to be involved in the sports (because, let’s face it, we were not elite, college superstar athletes). Fast forward to our 17 year old daughter. She was a high school swimmer her freshman and sophomore year. She also found her love for theater her sophomore year. She is now a junior and has two honors classes and is in 4 music classes, so that means evening concerts and weekend events that are a part of her school grade. This year, she decided to leave swimming so she could participate in the fall high school musical that year (which was during swim season and practice for both were at the same time). She then participated in the winter play this year also. Each of these plays involved after school practice with Saturday morning work hall. Busy schedule… (BTW she wants to be a music teacher with a minor in theater arts education) Anyway… we made a deal with her that as long as she maintained her 3.5 grade point average, and was involved in the extra circular activities, that would be her “job” and we would pay for her gas and car insurance and give her some, some, play money. We felt that the discipline and work ethic she was learning from the activities she was in were just as strong if not more than what she could be learning if she had a part time job. She does baby sit occasionally, and helps with the church children’s choir to earn some extra money when she can. We have had people tell us that we are making a mistake by not making her get a part time job. I guess we do not agree. I do believe that even God rested on the 7th day. She works part time in the summer (when she is not going to music camp and bible camp). But all of these activities are still teaching her something, and now she is focusing on how they can help her earn some scholarships for college… yeah.. we are starting that conversation. So, she is aware that money does not grow on trees, and she does need to find a way to pay for college. So, I guess what I am trying to say, is it is not a blanket statement to say “Should a teen work when they are in sports/activities? Yes or No”. There is something to be said about learning life skills outside of a part time job. It would not be fair to an employer to have her as an employee when she could probably only work two or three days a month. She is still learning to budget based on the allowance we give her while she is in her activities, and any money she gets for her birthday or holidays she puts into savings. Yeah, a paycheck would ideally be the best way to learn about budgeting in the real world, but hopefully we are teaching her what she needs to know while also allowing her to participate in what she loves while working toward her future educational goals.

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