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Should Teenagers Get Jobs?

It's summer vacation and kids are out of school. Some will be heading for a few months of leisure, while others will be going to work.

In this segment from Industry Focus: Financials, host Gaby Lapera is joined by Fool contributor Daniel Kline to discuss when it's OK for a teenager to get a job. That includes Lapera sharing why she went to work and why her father originally objected to it.

The two discuss the merits of getting a job along with what working might teach a young person. They also talk about how working can teach kids the value of money including the value of handling actual cash.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on June 28, 2017.

Gaby Lapera: Should kids work? That's what we're going to talk about today. Dan and I are both people with strong opinions.

Dan Kline: Yeah. Both of us worked growing up. I had a family business, and from the age of 8 and on, on Saturdays, my father worked from 7:00 to 3:00 and I went to work. And maybe I stuffed envelopes, maybe I counted things, maybe I just changed the channel on the television for the salesmen who were working and answering phone calls. But there was always work. That was important for me, because I wasn't a great student, and it showed me that there's more to life than school. So in a lot of cases, I think work can absolutely be important to kids. But if your kid is a driven scholar, or like my brother, who was a self-made Division I baseball player who would get up at 3 a.m. to, I don't know what baseball players do, throw himself fly balls or swing the bat or whatever it is. This is very foreign to me, then, OK, I think you're learning those things. Otherwise, work is important. You had a different work experience growing up.

Lapera: Yeah. I grew up -- my parents, for a little bit of background, are immigrants. They got here in '84. They both worked hard their entire lives. They actually came here originally for grad school and just stuck around forever. My dad has been working since he was 12 because his father died of a stroke when he was very young. So he's been working his entire life. So when I said that I wanted to officially start working, with a W-2, when I was 14, my dad was like, "No, I don't want you to, I love you so much, I worked so hard so that you didn't have to work. Do you think we're in financial trouble? Is that why you're trying to work? You don't have to work, baby!" And I was like, "No, I want to work." I grew up watching both of my parents work so hard, and I also wanted to contribute to the household, even if it was only for my own expenses, which I had a lot of, because I chose a very expensive hobby as a 14-year-old --

Kline:  I was going to say, short of being a heroin addict, you chose the most expensive hobby you could have as a kid.

Lapera: It's true. I was and am a horseback rider. I love ponies. If you want to send me a picture of ponies, listeners, industryfocus@fool.com -- always welcome.

Kline: See, I didn't do that. I'm struggling with this now. I have a 13-year-old, and I have a 13-year-old who's a smart kid. He has his interests, but school doesn't really captivate him and he doesn't really have a drive. But he's grown up with parents who are reasonably well-off. We live in a nice house, we have a vacation home, we can do what we want. So his sense of money and where money comes from is appalling. He's very into sneakers, and he'll say to me, "When I work, I'll just buy whatever sneakers I want." And I'll say to him, "How much are those sneakers you want?" He'll say, "$220." How many hours do you think you have to work at the local grocery store as a 15-year-old, after taxes, after everything, after me making you put money in a college fund or whatever I make you do with it -- how many hours do you think you have to work? It's like 30, you probably have to work 30 hours, maybe even more. That might be three weeks, three and a half weeks, in school, working eight to 10 hours a week. It doesn't register. So I very much want him to have a job.

Lapera: Yeah, I totally sympathize with that. One of the really great things about getting a job is it really does teach kids what the value of money is. An especially great way to do this is to have them cash their check and have physical cash, because it's so much harder to part with that dollar when you're physically handing it over to someone. And good Lord knows that I know that, because I used to work in the service industry, and I would leave with, you would mostly get tipped with $1 bills and $5 bills, so I'm sure the lady at the bank thought I did something else, but I would leave the bar with these stacks of $500 worth of $1 bills. It's harder to pay for groceries because you have a ton of $1 bills, but it's also a lot harder because it's like, ugh.

Kline: They call that the stripper's dilemma. You pay your rent in a thousand $1 bills. I just made that up. That's not a thing.

Lapera: It's actually funny, I used to have my dad go and deposit my money at the bank for me, because he was retired at the time and was happy to do favors for me. And apparently the first time he went in, it was a really small-town bank, and the lady was like, "Oh, this is a lot of money, sir." And he was like, "Oh, yeah, it's from my daughter!" And she stares at him with these big, wide eyes. And he's like, "No! No, she's a bartender! It's OK, I checked out the bar, it's an OK place to work! I take care of my family!"

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