Whether you get a regular allowance, have a part-time job, or your parents give you money whenever you ask, you’ve no doubt figured out by now that if you spend that money impulsively, you often find your wallet or purse empty when you really need or want something.
So, to help you take good care of your money (which translates into taking good care of yourself), here are some savings tips especially designed for you.
Savings Tips for Teens
The first thing to “get” is that to always HAVE money, you have to pay ATTENTION to it. If you don’t, it’s gone quicker than the checkout person can say, “Is that cash or credit?”
A great way to help you pay attention to your money is to keep track of your spending for a week or two. Get yourself a little notebook and write it all down (yes, everything). The longer you can track your spending, the clearer your existing spending habits will be. Let’s take a quick look at your money personality. Which one of the next three “personalities” describes you?
1) You don’t spend money regularly but when you do, you spend it on large ticket items.
2) You mindlessly spend little amounts of money every day, often not realizing how much you’re spending until it’s too late.
3) You spend a little here and a little there, often agonizing over every purchase.
If you’re one of the first two, you are definitely a spender and you might find that you are out of money more often than you’d like.
If you’re the third type, you’re probably a natural ‘saver’ and savers almost always have money for the things they need or want. If you’re a saver, you’re already analyzing your purchases and you know where your money goes. This is a good thing. Just note that savers can also miss opportunities that come their way because they’re so busy saving they forget they need to invest that money to make it grow as well.
If you are a spender, here are some specific saving tips to make sure YOU always have money for the things YOU need and want, too. (Savers, you might want to do these too!)
TIP #1: USE A CHECKBOOK REGISTER TO TRACK YOUR SPENDING
Yes, most adults and even teens use debit cards now (in the US) and because a debit card is so small, it easily fits into your wallet. This means that you aren’t set up to write down the details of each transaction. Things like check number, date, who the check was written to, the amount of the check and finally, the running balance. In the “old” days when most of us had checkbook registers, we knew how much money we had in our bank accounts because we kept track.
Nowadays, we are omitting this important step and often don’t know, really, how much money is in our account. Yes, we check the balance often online, but this is not the best way to track your money (ask any wealthy person).
When you write it down, and keep your balance up to date, you get a clear picture of your spending patterns and habits (and saving money is all about habits!). You’ll notice that you spend differently when you track your spending in more detail. A normal checkbook register easily fits into a purse or bag. But if you’re a guy and/or you don’t have room for a full-size register, try printing up something like this that fits in your pocket. This is 4.5″ x 2…about the size of an iPhone or other smart phone.
Tip #2: DEVELOP FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE
All over the web, there are tons of tips telling you (the teen) not to carry very much cash. It’s assumed that if you don’t have it, you won’t spend it. But the truth is you’ll actually spend more when you’re using your debit card or a credit card.
Wealthy people ALWAYS carry a a lot of cash because they like to see where their money is going. It makes it more “real”. The thing is…they don’t spend it on every little thing they think they want or need.
Here’s what to do:
a) Decide how much cash is safe to carry in your wallet.
b) When you want to buy something, ask yourself this question, “Can I do without it today?” If you can, don’t buy it. Most of the time you’ll quickly forget about the item and you’ll have saved the money you would have otherwise wasted.
c) If you’re saving up for a larger purchase, make sure you deposit money into your savings account on a regular basis so it can accumulate safely. Only when you have more than the amount you need should you buy the thing you’ve been saving up to buy.
Tip #3: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR MINUTES AND TEXTS
In other words, know your phone plan! If you are the one who’s responsible for your cell phone bill (and ESPECIALLY if you’re not), watch your minutes and texts. You do not want to experience the shock of a higher than expected phone bill. Keeping tabs on your minutes and texts help keep your phone bill in line each month and helps keep you in line with your parents too!
Tip #4: TAKE YOUR OWN LUNCH
Taking your own lunch from home is a lot healthier and a whole lot less expensive. Adults in financial trouble quickly admit that eating out is often their biggest mistake financially. Once they stop eating out all of the time, it’s amazing at how easy it is to pay their other expenses AND have a little money to save and invest each month. If you start this money-saving habit now, you’ll be a lot less stressed later.
Tip #5: EDUCATE THYSELF
You’re rarely going to learn about money, saving, investing, creating businesses, etc., in school or at home. So, if you want to be financially successful in life, it’s up to YOU to teach yourself about these important topics. Spend your school breaks at the library reading financial books that adults read. It’s the best investment you can make in your future. Better yet, form an investment club at school and learn together. (And if that’s not cool, then do it in private… because having money is cool.)
Tip #6: MAKE YOUR OWN MONEY
Making money is different than EARNING money. When you earn it, you are trading your time and energy for money. You work an hour and get paid for an hour.
When you MAKE it, you’re working lots of hours building businesses and then getting paid over and over and over again for that same hour. There’s nothing sweeter than learning how to write your own paycheck when you’re young. By doing this, you’ll always be the CEO of your own life and you’ll never be dependent on a job.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
There are hundreds of great websites with simple ways to cut your expenses and save money. Spend some of your Facebook time learning about money and how to invest it. Learn how to get and keep more money in YOUR pockets rather than putting it into others’ pockets. Be the one others come to for money, not the other way around. Life will be a whole lot more enjoyable this way.
If you have any tips for teens, bring ’em on. There’s plenty to go around! (Money, that is!)