Dear Dr. Tightwad: My teenager wants to get her first real job this summer, but she's a little intimidated by the prospect of looking for work.
How can I get her started on the right foot?
Answer - Before your daughter hits the bricks, sit her down and help her prepare a resume.
Young people with little or no job experience tend to sell themselves short on skills and accomplishments.
But making the honor roll, editing the school paper, playing a musical instrument or being a computer whiz can wow prospective employers and help kids focus on what they'd like to do.
There's nothing wrong with making a beeline for the nearest fast-food restaurant. Although "McJobs" are sometimes disparaged, it's quite a feat for young people to survive and even thrive in that pressure-cooker atmosphere.
But there is life beyond burgers:
- Expand your horizons. Don't assume that want ads are only for grown-ups. An ad for a part-time receptionist, for example, could lead to something more permanent.
Dr. T knows one young woman who signed on as a summer replacement at a doctor's office when she was in high school and was invited back each summer during her college years.
- Go into business for yourself. The computer whiz could tutor neighborhood kids.
A budding actor/actress or musician could provide entertainment at children's birthday parties.
Any ambitious teen can set up a summer-vacation service to water plants, feed pets and pick up mail when neighbors are out of town.
- Think like a grown-up. That goes against the grain for kids at this age. But a kid who hands prospective employers a neatly typed resume (with references) will knock their socks off.
So will a kid who dresses neatly (Beavis and Butt-head T-shirts are a no-no), speaks politely, doesn't slouch and looks people in the eye.
Despite what teens may think, adults aren't the enemy. In fact, they're likely to be so impressed with a young person's initiative that they'll be more than willing to give her a break - and maybe even a job.
Dear Dr. Tightwad: Our son will start college in the fall and we'll need to borrow from the federally sponsored student loan program.
Do any banks offer these loans with no origination fee or a low one? How about insurance fees?
Answer - Student-loan origination fees can't be waived, but you'll get a break on loans made on or after July 1. That's when the fee for Stafford and PLUS loans drops from 5 percent to 3 percent of the loan amount.
Insurance fees, currently up to 3 percent of the loan amount, will also be reduced then, to a maximum of 1 percent.