Do You Remember Your First Paycheck?

I still remember the exact amount:


Give or take a few nickels, I really do remember the exact amount of my first paycheck.  For some reason, I think of this memory quite a lot – about once a month.

I got my first job at a local grocery store at age 15 after months of pestering by my mother.  It was the place to work in my neck of the woods.  I remember primping for well over an hour before my first day on the job.  My parents still have a picture of me in my white polo and tan khakis uniform headed off to my first day at work reminiscent of those first day of school pictures with your new backpack in tow.

What I remember even more was my first schedule.  The schedules for the next week were always posted the Friday before.  I remember sheepishly creeping into the break room to check my schedule before I had officially even started.

40 hours.


Since it was the summer, the manager thought he could schedule me from 1-9pm Monday through Friday that week.

I could not believe I was going from long summer days lounging at the neighborhood pool and chatting with girlfriends on the phone to the 40-hour work week grind.

Although the first week was brutal, I felt unbelievably rich when I got my hands on my first paycheck of $163 to be exact.  This was more money than I’d ever had in my possession at one time.  Sure, I’d get $20 here and there from relatives for birthdays and such, but this was well over $100!  Hooray! I was rich!

Of course, the first thing I did was went out and spent $115 on Doc Martens.

Hey, us working girls had to be stylish, right?  After all, I still had $48 left over which was like six-figure pay to a 15 year old girl.

I’m not quite sure why I think of this paycheck so much.  Maybe it’s because I know how far I’ve come since my paychecks are much larger now (thankfully).  Maybe it’s because that was my first real taste of independence – and I liked it.  Or maybe, just maybe, that’s when my love affair with money really began.

Do YOU remember your first paycheck?


  • Oh wow… I wish I remembered what they were exactly… I think about $150-$175… living large! I also blew mine on Doc Martens… I was obsessed with the Mary Jane styles and had two pair!

    My social security statement recently came in the mail and I found myself reflecting on my first job… I think I brought in $3000 or so that first year. If only I had been a saver then…

  • Great Question! I used to be a teacher’s helper in the Sunday School at my temple. My paychecks were probably about $70, but I thought it was AWESOME! Now if my paycheck were that much I would live in a box on the side of the road.

  • I don’t remember at all, but that’s really interesting to think about. Probably less than 100! I was a grocery store checker for my first job too.

    I have no idea what I spent my measly earnings on!

  • i don’t remember all the details of it but i’d guess it was about the same as yours. i made $7.50 an hour so after taxes it was probably around $200 if i worked 40 hours that week but my first week was training and probably less than 40 hours. can’t remember what i spent it on.

  • I don’t remember the amount of my first paycheck (from my first job at Sears), but I do remember the incredible freedom and pride that I felt in having my own money and paying for the gas and insurance on my hand-me-down car (an ’81 Monte Carlo). Minimum wage was $4.25/hr when I was 16, so I imagine my check wasn’t all that much. 🙂 I do like receiving the Social Security statements each year that show your yearly salary for every year that you’ve worked. Talk about getting the big picture!

    • Gosh darnit, Bonnie. I’m so sorry, I just realized I totally forgot to e-mail you back!! Expect a reply soon! 🙂

Leave a Comment