Teenagers like to spend their money, there’s no doubt about it. Me? I want a new handbag, new make-up brushes, the new issue of my favorite magazine, and there’s fifteen books I ordered in at work waiting for me to buy them. I also want to do another overseas trip in February next year (either to America or Europe), do a year of college overseas, and I was considering also doing five months through the Disney College Program at some point in the next four years.
Do I have enough money for all that? No. I have enough for the make-up brushes, and the magazine. And the books and the handbag if I dip into my savings, but I won’t, because I hate doing that. I’m reluctant to part with my own money, and I don’t mind saving. Here are my top 8 tips for teens wanting to save money:
1. $1 a day.
Buy a plastic tin, or something which you can’t get into easily. Put $1 a day into the tin, for a year, for a total of $365. Make sure the tin is really hard to open — I tried this trick last year, and tried to open my tin “early” with a can opener, when I really wanted money and had no money in my “spending” account left over. Suffice it to say, the tin didn’t open, and I ended up just scratching the side of the tin (and lightly cutting my finger accidentally with the can opener, which was just, well, karma).
2. Link your checking and savings accounts.
This is something I really like. I have a savings account linked with my main checking account, the one my paycheck is direct deposited into. I’ve set it up so every two weeks $75 gets automatically transferred into my linked account — a total sum of almost $2,000.
3. Make sacrifices.
This is something I really don’t like, but is necessary. If you have a specific, large goal in mind (like an overseas trip) you have to sacrifice something now in order to gain something later. It only works with something you were definitely going to buy, so you don’t miss the money. For example, in order to get to college and back three times a week, it costs me $2 to take the train to the bus station, then $2 to take the bus to college. Round trip, that’s $8 per day, and $24 a week. Instead of catching the train to the bus stop, I now walk, which is thirty minutes each way. That saves me $12 a week, and $48 a month — the equivalent to four or so books in America (yes, it’s all about books with me), three products from Sephora, or one-sixth of the cost of a Kate Spade handbag from Bloomingdales.
4. Extra pay.
If you have a job, and get any shifts that you weren’t counting on — say, someone was sick and gave their shift to you — transfer your extra pay into your savings. You’re not missing any money that you wouldn’t normally get, plus it’s one step closer to the amount you want.
5. 10% rule.
With this one, any money you receive — whether it be allowance, wages, birthday, Christmas, whatever — save 10% of it, no matter how much — or how little — it is.
6. Create different funds.
Think about your expenses (shopping money, going out money, present money, savings, etc.) and have different accounts, jars, whatever for all of them. Any money you receive divide equally between all of the accounts. That way you’re guaranteed to have money for everything you need — but make sure you don’t exceed the amount you have in a jar at any one time. If you do borrow from the others jars for one expense, charge yourself interest to repay it.
7. Spare change and leftovers.
Any spare change you have left in your wallet at the end of the week, put into your savings account. The same with any money you have left in your bank account the day you get paid next — divide the leftover amount in half (you don’t want to do all of it, just in case you need extra money for some reason the following week) and transfer that into your savings as well.
8. Get a job.
If you don’t have one already, get one. Even if it’s babysitting once a week, mowing the neighbor’s lawn, or walking dogs, do it. 1) It’ll automatically make you think twice about spending your own money, when you think about how many hours you put into it to earn it, and 2) It gives you more freedom than asking your parents for money all the time, or living on an allowance alone. Plus, we have to be financially responsible at some point — may as well be now.
That being said, though, if you’re thinking about getting a second job, I would wait until you’re out of high school. Juggling high school and two jobs is really hard — I did it last year, and while I’m really glad I did it, it was really stressful. I am thinking about getting a third job now, though — I have too much time on my hands and need more money.