Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?

By Will Chen on 10 January 2011 (Updated 21 January 2011) 38 comments
Photo: Amy Gizienski

Editor's Note: Congrats to @darastar and comment winners Eric and BRIANM. We gave out no Facebook prize because due to a technical glitch beyond our control, this story was not properly published on Facebook. So instead, we gave out an extra commenting prize instead.

The first paycheck is one of the most important rites of passage into adulthood. It is a symbol of your financial independence, a declaration of your readiness to become a productive member of society, and probably the beginning of your life-long hatred of the payroll tax.

How did you spend your first paycheck? Did it go straight to a college or car fund? Did you give some if it to your parents? Did you learn any special lessons?

Share your story with us and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Enter 1 of 3 Ways:

  • Post your answer in the comments below, or
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry), or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, January 17th at 11:59 pm Eastern. Winners will be announced after January 10th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
SarahB

When I received my first paycheck as a teenager, my parents told me I had to put 50% in my savings account and could do as I wanted with the rest. Babysitting money and money from my other part time job (yes, I held 3 jobs at once in high school in addition to many extracurricular activities) were to be spent however I wanted. Over the years, these funds went to paying for a trip to Washington, D.C., school clothes, makeup, and a few special things I really wanted. By the time I graduated high school I had enough money to pay for most (but not all) of my college expenses that I had to cover myself.

Guest's picture
Emily

It went straight into savings. Save when you can!

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Guest

I'm pretty sure I bought weed.

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Anne

I saved it and eventually bought my own French horn!

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Sara Lang

I saved half of my first paycheck (for a trip to Italy) and spent the other half on CDs. I ended up having enough in savings that I think my first paycheck was actually the base of the emergency fund I have today!

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Selene Montgomery

My first paycheck was over 45 years ago, but I'm sure part of it went to my parents as I was expected to pay board .

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Selene Montgomery

I Like Wise Bread on Facebook.

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Knvles

I bought a computer so I could do my homework in high school.

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Guest

I bought a brand new LCD TV. It was glorious!

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lo

about 70% of it i gave it to my family.
My first paycheck was quite a lot of what I was used to spend so giving back to those who supported me up to that paycheck was the right thing to do.
I never regret that decision and 10 years have passed since that day.

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Renee

I spent my very first real-world paycheck on an amazing pair of Paige Premium Denim jeans and a T3 hair dryer. That dryer lasted me three years and was worth every penny.

I think I fit into the jeans for about two years post-college until my mid-20s snuck up on me :(

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Scott

I bought a computer.

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Maria S

I don't remember.

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Eric

My first paycheck was a signing bonus from my first job. I used the bulk of it to buy myself a new laptop and put the rest in the bank.

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Mat

My first job was in a bookstore and I spent my first check, in its entirety, on books.

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Kate

My first paycheck was about this () big, but I managed to squeeze enough out of it to buy a winter coat. Unfortunately, my family had just moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and what I thought would be sufficient protection against winter weather proved to be about as useful as a coat of Swiss cheese. The only month I could wear my new apparel with any comfort was August.

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Emily

Hahaha... it went straight to my savings :-P

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Laura D

I don't remember, but I'm sure I saved most of it, heh.

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straight into savings all summer till I got home and bought my first SLR film camera :)

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kristina wittchen

I put my first paycheck towards my student loan.

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Joel

I was in my mid teens. I kept half of gross pay; the rest went to my parents. Of "my" share, I think it was something like 10% tithe, half saved, and the rest free to spend. Those were simple days. :-)

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Lynda

i took my immediate family + significant other out to a nice dinner and saved the rest!

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Nicole

Paid rent!

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KelR1

My first job was babysitting. I can't recall exactly how I spent my first real earned money but, because I was quite young, I'm sure it involved candy, a Duran Duran album, and nail polish. When I turned 16 and got an official PT job I probably spent that first paycheck on clothes and concert tickets. I wasn't a big saver back in the day.

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Nicholas

My very first paycheck (which was part-time) went straight into my savings account, as most of it did since I didn't make very much. However, most of my first paycheck from the first full-time job I worked went straight to my rent payment (which went to my parents since I rent their condo) and the rest went into savings.

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kiki

I donated my first paycheck.

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BrianM

I'm 23, now working on my Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I've been steadily employed for the past 8 years, but I've never gotten a paycheck. I'll be able to pay off over half of my student debt when I graduate in less than a year, but no boss and no regular checks. I started my own business in 9th grade, and it's grown from a hobby to a side job to a college stint to a profession. In all that I have seen and done, I've learned to go and try and leap for what you want - ours (the US) is a society that accepts those who leap and don't quite make it but steadfastly supports those who do.

If and when I do get that first paycheck, I'll be sure to try and think of a way it can help me make a new leap to let me keep doing what I love!

-Brian

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Carolee

I spent my first professional paycheck (first job out of college) on make-up! I went straight to the Lancome counter at Macy's, got a makeover and bought about 70% of products the artist used! No regrets-- not only had I reached "adulthood", I looked & felt the part as well. However, that type of frivolous behavior has stopped with age & the reality of adult expenses!

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Sandra

The first paycheck I received was for like $80 and I spent it on a watch and lunch at the Olive Garden with my mom. I thought I was living the good life.

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gina

I put my first check towards my college savings account.

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Kira

I am 14 years old and just got my very first paycheck! My parents are letting me cash it and keep the enitre thing with strict instructions that this will be the one and ONLY time I get to keep the enitre amount. In the future it will be a 50/50 split with my savings account. I am holding off on any specific purchase right now but looking forward to having a fat wallet for the first time in awhile!

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RitaD in Tennessee

I received my first paycheck 30 years ago, when I was 13...working a paper route on my bicycle every day after school. I was paid monthly, and my first check was a little over $100. I really thought I was rich. I saved most of it so I could buy Christmas gifts for my family with my very own money. Sweet, simple times.

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Gina

I earned my first paycheck at 16 and used it for gas so I could drive to and from school and work.

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Raina

I earned my first several paychecks while still a teenager living with my parents, and they disallowed me from doing anything with those checks besides putting them into savings. By the time I graduated from high school, I had over $6000, so I was grateful for their insistence.

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Weston

Bought the album Full House by the J. Geils Band. Put the rest into savings.

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Guest

Every penny was saved from my first paycheck as a paperboy. It went into my first savings account.

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Dee

My first paycheck was during high school. It was only $50 (I only worked weekends) BUT i gave it to my church :) I LOVE to serve my Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST because He gave me life by dying on the cross for the sins of the world. I've been taught that whatever we do for others especially the church, we do to Jesus. Therefore, my first pay check was to my church :)

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Eric

I got my first paycheck when I was 15. I think I used it to pay for my first scooter's down payment(I used to live in Taiwan). haha