Handling life and work as a high school student

Faith Wages, Reporter

Kelly stared up at the top of her bedroom ceiling, exhaustion weighing heavy on her body. The mere strength to get back up and do homework for the next day was the last thing on her mind. From a long day at school to an even longer day at work… the night was just in need of being over.

Students all over the high school are responsible for working, paying, and making sure they get an education.

I work at the Best Buy here in Richmond,” senior Taylor Florence said. “Right now I pay for two car payments, my full insurance, health care insurance through my work, and regular costs from day to day living. I pay for everything on my own.”

Some students have even dug into the real world and lived on their own for a short while.

“I don’t live on my own now, but I did before and it was tough,” she said. “I had to pay a lot of rent, but I moved back in because I was taking care of my brother.”

For other students, it may be all based on the business of their job to succeed in what they need to get done.

“Being a waitress [Bob Evans], there’s no guaranteed amount of money you’re going to get,” senior Gina Schoettmer said. “It’s just dealing with it within my head.”

Doesn’t matter the job, the outcome is still needed for deadlines.

“I need the money because no matter what, I still have bills to pay,” Schoettmer said. “I want to wait till I am 18 and I graduate so I can get a job that will help me further my career somewhere in the medical field.”

To some, it does get easier the more of a routine it becomes.

“Last year it really took a toll on me because it was my first job and junior year was rough but not so much this year,” Schoettmer said. “It’s a lot easier because I am used to the lack of sleep and needing to do homework at work.”

For some, the experience of their first job, along with school, was a learning experience.

“My dad actually cut my days down so I would be able to balance them this year,” junior Aaron Bonds said. “But I know that need be, I can put the work into paying them off.”

This experience has been used to learn new habits and skills.

“I am cross-trained to both cook and pack, but I mostly cook at Lee’s Famous Recipe on East Main,” Bonds said.

Some students have issues with getting the homework done on time for their classes, or even dealing with sleep or staying alert.

“Last year I struggled with sleep and I couldn’t keep working six days a week and coming home at 11 each night balanced with eight-hour school and AP and honors homework,” Bonds said.

Schedules while school is out can also weigh on a student, and it can also birth new habits in a positive or negative way.

“I was working full time during the summer, you know 40 plus hours a week, it was kinda tough to balance everything and I even picked up side jobs here and there just to compensate,” Florence said. “I am kind of a workaholic, I try to keep myself busy. It’s a bad mindset to get into, but I had to stay busy. If I wasn’t hanging out with friends or if I wasn’t doing a specific task, I was at work.”

For most cases, there has to be a method to the madness.

“I just have to have an organized schedule and it’s not that bad,” Schoettmer said. “I don’t really get time to do anything but work and school.”

Some students may find it easier to handle the things their life needs throughout the school year instead of during the off-season.

“It’s easier whenever I’m in school because I don’t have time to spend money,” Florence said. “I’ll be quite honest, it’s a lot easier because I’m not out and about in my day. Usually, I go to work for about eight hours during the summer. I’d go to a job and then go to another job and work a little bit more, and I found it easier if I was always in school and working because my remaining time was just consumed in homework. I take AP classes and everything consumes my time and I’m not out shopping because I don’t have the time to do it.”

Certain issues this school year have already benefited students for the better.

“The free and reduced lunch program they introduced here helps a lot because I was paying like $20 every two weeks for lunch just here,” Florence said.

The ways of learning finances can come from any source; school, family, and even friends can teach someone how to care for money earned.

“It was more of a survival mode because honestly my parents are terrible with money and everybody else in my life has been too,” Florence said. “I am one of those people who are like ‘this is for this’, or ‘I can only spend this’. I have a savings account so when I get paid, some of it goes into savings. It’s a good rule of thumb for me to set back so much money per month- so I have a growing savings account, just because I pay attention to what I do.”

When faced with difficult situations, there can always be a set plan to go for when needed. Florence has learned on her own how to achieve just that.

“I’d start to reevaluate myself because maybe there’s a lifestyle change I need to be making,” she said. “Maybe I’m spending too much in gas, where am I going? I know when I can spend, I know when I can splurge, I know when I can treat myself. But when it gets tough, I feel like that’s when I need to hit the brakes and reevaluate what I’m doing and think of different solutions.”

The cases in which a students job helps in school-related issues, it is very important to a high schoolers schedule and time management.

“I normally can keep up, but I just talk to my boss, because they’re more lenient to give me days off,” senior Joshlyn Sandlin said.

Sandlin works at the skate here in Richmond, being an employee for approximately two years now.

“Sometimes when we don’t have school skates, it’s hard,” she said. “Right now I am the only one who works on the snack bar, so I work almost every session.”

Future plans fall into place for some, once a financial stance is secure.

“I am currently saving up to move out of my house and in with my boyfriend before my first semester of college in the spring,” Schoettmer said. “It’s just a step forward in our relationship and my life.”

Some may have struggled at the start, but now as time passes, it gets easier as the daily contribute to real life starts to settle.

“At the beginning I did, because of immature money management along with impulse spending,” Bonds said. “But struggling at the start taught me how to manage.”

Florence even ties her own experiences to lessons taught previously that sounded ridiculous at the time. Such lessons can teach more about common sense and money management than realized during the younger stages in life.

“Get as much knowledge about money as you can, especially if you’re going to college,” she said. “Learn as much about loans, finances, or anything you can so it’s like a protection, a blanket. You may find yourself in a situation where ‘Nancy bought 47 pineapples and she only needed one but they were on sale’. What are you doing? You don’t need that many pineapples. You only needed one, so just buy one. Cut a loss on $2.50 per pineapple.”

Along with the idea of being home, some are not as gifted with as much privilege as desired. But the ability to live under a roof still being paid for is an advantage.

“In the long run, it’s easier to live at home,” Florence said. “Think about it, you’re not paying rent, you don’t pay for the water or utilities, the cable bill. You’re just kinda free-loading. With me, I am not home long enough to free-load as I’d like to.”

The smallest tips can help influence future habits.

“It’s really easy to manage your money when you know what you need,” Florence said. “Pay attention, stay educated, and realize what you’re doing.”