First Jobs Common Threads


#1

So after you start to read enough Net Worth Blogs you start to notice certain similarities that pop up in this niche scene. The frequency of lawyers, engineers or computer types. The compulsive frugality and thinly veiled narcissism that makes people want to not only leer at each others intimate numbers, but post our own for the world to see.

I suspect another less obvious trait shared by most of us. If we were to think back to our very first jobs, I bet we find a certain vein of creative adolescent greed and ingenuity. I’m talking about the jobs that predate any sort of formal work for a paycheck. I’m talking about the childhood hustles, let me give 2 of my examples.

The first business I ever started was ‘Bug Busters’. This was the 1980’s when Suburban America was smack in the middle of an unparalleled ‘Japanese Beetle Bug’ infestation that was reeking havoc on the yards of this once great land. To be clear, I am talking about the time before the Green and Yellow bags you put in your yard from the hardware store that virtually wiped the little bastards out inside of a year. There was no chemical cure in sight and it was driving our Dad’s to tears watching their once green lawns turn brown with clumps of mating beetles.

Have no fear for ‘Bug Busters’ was there. I would knock on your door and for $5 cash in hand I would troop around your yard, filling my bucket of hot soapy water with all of your little Asian invaders until we were both satisfied that I had killed a worthy amount for the price paid. I even had a T-shirt made up with Gold lettering on a Blue background with a picture of ants (no readily available image of the true enemy at the time, this was before Al Gore invented the internet).

The second business was also a service provided to those in need. I would go to Bingo halls with a very specific target population in mind. I looked for the ladies playing a minimum of six cards simultaneously. Then I tried to narrow down which ones looked most likely to be in need of a snack from the concession stand. I would offer my concierge services. Everybody got something, she got her nachos and I got a tip. The perfect symbiotic relationship.

My point is, if we shared our stories from these time frames in our lives, I’d bet all my bingo tips we have a shared experience or two. Those folks on the knitting blogs did not invent ways to make money like we did. Right?


How'd You Make Your Very First Money?
#2

Hahaha true facts!

I started my own newspaper when I was six years old: the Kids Gazette. I typed it up in a super-old version of Microsoft Publisher (Windows 3.1, baby!) and I sold it on the counter tops of local businesses in my hometown (grocery store, pizza place, etc.) by asking if I could put a few copies out with a coin jar for payment. I also sold ads to local businesses in the paper.

I worked on the Kids Gazette on and off from the time I was six until I was thirteen, eventually hiring “reporters” from my classmates, and paid them 10% of the revenues from the issue they contributed to. Generally, the paper made about $30 an issue, and costs were low because my mother worked at a copy shop and subsidized the printing for me!

I stopped when we hit middle school and the paper’s tagline (“By kids, for kids!”) no longer felt true. Plus, at that point my always-entrepreneurial parents had started their hot dog cart business, and it was a lot more lucrative for me to put in some hours working for them than to slave away on a paper that would only make about $30/issue. :smile:


#3

I loved Windows 3.1!

I wish I had a story about an interesting first job, but this thread is making me realize I could have made some of my activities profitable and never thought of it! I did similar bug activities with a friend (with cicadas) and also wrote adorable things (obviously), and even made websites from scratch with a very basic, third-grade grasp of HTML. But never earned a penny! Obviously intellectual curiosity was there, but I must have been lacking in entrepreneurial spirit at the time!

First job: Bus boy at a busy breakfast restaurant at age 16. Running circle around the place, picking up dishes, washing dishes, and cleaning up various bodily fluids. Not glamorous, but hey it helped me get a later restaurant job (which evolved into serving) in college that paid very well!


#4

This is the what I suspected, that the people you find on PF blogs were born like this, did you save any issues?


#5

My first was chasing down foul balls and home run balls at the local ball fields. $0.10 per ball.

I also would sneak into the local golf course at night with a buddy to go ‘diving for golf balls’, which we’d then sell by the dozen on the road that lead to the golf course.

I’ve also done storage auctions, vending machines, ATMs. My list is in this post


#6

I wouldn’t so much say “born like this” as much as, in my case, encouraged to try things like this by my also-entrepreneurial parents. :slight_smile:

I do still have a few old issues of the Kids Gazette on hand! Mostly the ones from when I was in 5th and 6th grade were the ones to survive.


#7

My Mom told me stories about when I was 2 or 3 years old I used to talk to the very elderly shoppers at groceries stores, and they would give me money just for talking to them and being cute I guess. Of course my Mom would give them their dollars back. When I was in middle school, My neighborhood was new with many houses being built simultaneously. I used to roll my red wagon with an ice filled cooler selling sodas to the construction workers. I made a tidy sum doing that for several years. My brother later suggested that I sold my Dad’s beer to increase profits.


#8

When I was 6 or 7 my friend and I saved all of our Halloween candy and hid it in his closet. We wanted to wait until all the kids had eaten their candy so we could sell it. We waited, more like forgot, until spring before setting up a stand in front of his house and selling it to the neighborhood kids. We didn’t make a whole lot, but most first jobs don’t when you’re 7 years old!


#9

Sound idea in theory, law of supply and demand.