“Here’s another $8,” Rochelle said, holding out her hand. We had talked about trying to save money now that she was working full-time. She started by giving me $20 from her January interview money two weeks ago, then added $5 more the next week and now had added another $8. Right now she puts it in a piggy bank at my house that must be broken to remove the money. It is an old Mexican folk art bank in my Mexican folk art collection, and I have no desire to ruin the bank in order to remove the money. She isn’t earning any interest, but there is really no interest earned in a bank savings account these days anyway. In three weeks Rochelle has saved $33! “And I’m not missing the money,” Rochelle said. I had hoped she would see it that way.
“Does the grocery store have a profit sharing or 401K plan?” I asked. I knew they did and thought it was supposed to be a fairly good one. Rochelle didn’t know the answer, but we went to my computer and looked it up. After she has worked full-time for one year she can join their 401K plan. The company will contribute $1.63 for every $1 she saves for up to 2% of her wages. The webpage then showed what a $10/hour employee would save over 25 years saving at a rate of 5%. Rochelle will not reach her year anniversary until next November, but I wanted her to be aware of what savings can do. 401K plans need to be monitored to truly benefit the employee, but I can teach her that later. Right now she is seeing a light at the end of a tunnel; I wanted her to see the possibility of even more light.
I remember Rochelle asking me what I spent money on when we both worked at the department store. She rarely saw me spend money during store sales, though most of the other employees did. The employees usually bought things on their department store charge card to get a discount, but then didn’t pay off the charge bill which carried a 24.99% interest rate. If I did buy something, I always bought it with my store charge card but paid it off in the next transaction. That way I got the discount but didn’t risk having to pay an interest rate. I was not that smart when I was Rochelle’s age, however. I too didn’t pay my charge cards in full then. Rochelle is learning about money and debt. “I wish I knew all this earlier,” she told me. I wish I had learned it earlier too. She seems excited to have money in the bank and to think about the future. Having good things to mention about Rochelle’s life journey is refreshing . Everything, however, is still very precarious. Nothing has changed with childcare, nor transportation, nor with her mother’s health. A problem with any of these things will bring on another crisis. But for right now, Rochelle is able to think about the future.