Picking Up Pine Cones: A Lesson in Earned Wage Access

A lesson in earned wage access

My grandfather was smart, hard-working, and generous. He poured his sweat, blood, and tears into his work as a mechanical contracting company’s purchasing agent. When I was a child, he taught me the importance of hard work and how it felt to receive my wages in a timely fashion. That, in turn, helped develop my work ethic. I learned lessons through a simple job: picking up pine cones from his yard in exchange for quarters.    

My grandfather was an artist by nature, so he cultivated his yard with the same passion he delivered in canvas painting. He found beauty, creativity, and growth in everything he touched. My grandfather tended to it all, from honeysuckle to rose bushes, as well as the cones that dropped from his pine trees throughout the year. He supplied me with the tools I needed, like gardening gloves for protecting my hands from the pine cone’s prickly points, and a plastic stick with a claw at one end for picking up multiple pine cones or reaching ones trapped in bushes and garden beds. He gave me a plastic grocery bag to store them and to quantify my work so he could pay me fairly. One bag earned one quarter.

I was always paid immediately after I filled up a bag, not when the yard was clean or on a two-week timetable. Receiving my payment after each bag made me eager to get back outside, find more pine cones, and earn more quarters. Immediate pay made me feel good about my work and motivated me to do my job efficiently. I always walked away from my work feeling accomplished, proud, and valued. I also felt great as I saw the yard transform before my eyes and the pride in my grandfather’s eyes as he saw his charge working hard. I wanted to be better for myself and for him, and our work–reward cycle encouraged me to remain highly engaged and to care about what I was doing. 

My grandfather taught me that work wasn’t just about making money: it was about dedicating my time to achieving something and celebrating the reward of being successful. He taught me about fairness and the value of timely pay for hard work.

As I’ve learned more about PayActiv, I’ve reflected upon my childhood job and realized the importance of both the time and the timing of pay.

As workers, the health of our relationship with our employers and ourselves—our productivity, our happiness—depends on being paid for our time and efforts in a timely fashion. PayActiv enables employers to give workers access to the money they have earned when they need it. On payday, employees receive their usual paycheck, minus the money they’ve already accessed. The PayActiv benefit only allows access of up to 50 percent of earned wages to ensure that employees still receive a paycheck on payday. 

In addition to Earned Wage Access, PayActiv also lets employees track what they spend, pay their bills directly, access Uber, shop on Amazon, save for the future, and even speak to a financial counselor.

When we can access the money we’ve rightfully earned, we feel our value more consistently, while we are simultaneously able to meet life’s financial demands with less stress. When stress is reduced, fear is reduced, worry is reduced, and confidence soars. As workers, access to our earned wages helps us feel seen and appreciated, as we work to create the life we want.

My grandfather was the best employer I’ve ever had because he gave me the tools and attitude to succeed. Best of all, he showed me how working hard, and being compensated for that work, could look and feel like.

Though I was covered in grass and dirt and sweat by the end of a day of picking up pine cones, I was also happy, proud, and paid.

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Access is more than a paycheck.
It's peace of mind.

Access is more than a paycheck. It's peace of mind.

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