Being a teenager is kind of like being a first-year medical student. You’ve got tons of knowledge and a fair amount of experience, but plenty of things that once seemed familiar now seem strange and confusing.
Adulthood lingers on the horizon, just barely out of reach but moving ever closer. To help you enjoy the best possible transition from high school to college and young adulthood, it’s important to be familiar with some basic financial skills and helpful money-saving tips.
By practicing your financial savvy now, you can ensure that your college years aren’t haunted by ramen noodles and hole-filled socks. When you encounter a need, you’ll be able to immediately meet that need by spending some of your hard-earned, well-saved money.
There’s no better time to get started, so let’s check out these unconventional money-saving tips for teens.
1. Start Saving Now
Opening a savings account isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, at least not at first. But when you consistently add to it, you can watch an initial investment of a few hundred dollars grow into a sum of several thousand dollars over a few years.
If you aren’t 18 yet, you’ll need parental approval and assistance to open a savings account. You’ll also likely need an initial deposit. Choosing a savings account with a low-to-moderate initial deposit and reasonable interest rate is the best way to go.
The more you invest into your savings account, the more quickly you’ll see those savings flourish. You could also choose to open a savings account in the future, but you’ll be losing out on decades or more of potential interest.
Essentially, by choosing not to open a savings account, you’re stealing thousands of dollars from your future self. And while this option might not be the most unconventional money-saving venture, not many teens take advantage of opening a savings account before adulthood.
So, if you decide to act on this tip, you could be a pretty unconventional (and financially successful) teen.
2. Use a Variety of Tools
You could use your smartphone or tablet for way more than texting, social media, and games. There are several money-saving and finance-tracking apps available, and if you have a savings or checking account, you can easily keep an eye on all of your purchases and accounts.
App-based budgeting tools display how much you’ve spent, and on what. They can be helpful when trying to discern your spending habits. Knowing where most of your money is going can help you make cost-effective cutbacks. But, we’ll touch on that later.
Another way that apps and browser extensions can help save you money is by alerting you of the best possible deals and savings for product’s you’re browsing. Services like Wikibuy or Honey search the whole of the internet to find and apply the best coupons and sales, helping to save you money on each and every purchase.
When you’re not spending as much money on yourself, you’ll be able to better afford paying for college expenses.
3. Take Advantage of Scholarships
As a teenager, you’re in a beneficial position in terms of scholarships. The majority of available scholarships are granted to young adults and teenagers, making your chances at successfully earning a few quite good. A quick view of some scholarship listings can help you get acquainted with the many different types of awards available.
If you’re also doing well academically and proving yourself in extracurricular activities, you’ll likely be able to find hundreds of applicable scholarships. It may be tempting to only apply for the largest, most financially-rewarding scholarships, but don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap.
Applying to every scholarship you feel you may win can help you come away with a handful or more of funding sources for your schooling. You could apply for a $10,000 scholarship and fail to win it, or you could apply to one hundred $100 scholarships and win half of them. See the difference?
You can use this handy scholarship search tool to find the scholarships that match your personal profile, helping you to find and apply to the scholarships that are most likely to be granted. And if you are keen on applying for the big-ticket scholarships, you’ll want to practice your essay-writing skills.
4. Study Basic Finance Techniques
Have you taken any personal finance courses or lessons at school? If not, you’ll definitely want to spend a little free time reading up on finance basics, including maintaining a credit card balance, saving for emergencies, and balancing a checkbook.
Fortunately, there are several free online courses that you can explore to help you get caught up on this subject. And if you have any lingering questions, you can always visit a local bank and ask away. Most bank tellers and employees are delighted to answer questions about personal finance, and you may even end up with a lead for a potential job in the future.
5. Find Creative Employment
If you’ve applied to every local restaurant or retail outlet you can and received zero calls about your applications, you can still earn money. The trick is getting creative with your business opportunities.
If you’ve run out of money-making ideas, you can also browse the internet for some sudden inspiration. Our modern world is full of YouTube stars and social media influencers, but only a small percentage of the population finds financial stability in these positions.
Teens can earn money by:
- Doing Chores
- Mowing Lawns
- Pet Sitting
- Tutoring Children
- Taking Online Surveys
Asking your parents for suggestions or advice can also be a great way to get leads for potential employment opportunities. While school should always be your main focus, especially if you’re hoping to get admitted into a competitive college, it’s also a good idea to channel some of your energy and focus into maintaining some form of employment.
Doing so can ensure that you always have funds to put in your saving account. And, if you’ve been working particularly hard, you could always use some of that money to treat yourself to a nice lunch out.
Should you happen to find employment with a large company, be sure to ask about their employee educational assistance programs and awards. You may be surprised to learn that your employer could help pay for next semester’s courses.
6. Limit Unnecessary Expenses
Still, eating out can become an expensive habit. Learning how to cook and cultivating that skill is often far more rewarding than throwing hundreds away on fried fast food and fattening takeaway meals. You could be using part of that money to buy delicious, wholesome food.
When you’re eating from your fridge instead of dining out, you’re almost always automatically saving money. You can take that money that you would’ve spent on takeout and use it to treat yourself to something positive. Or, you could put it away in the savings account we mentioned earlier.
7. Have a Long-Term Plan
Finally, it’s wise for teens to develop a long-term money-saving plan. This can be difficult to do, especially if you’re not sure what you’d like to study in college yet. However, you don’t have to make a detailed itinerary of the next five years, you simply need to make a mock-up budget.
Would you like to take a trip to Europe within the next few years? Are you already building an emergency savings fund? Asking yourself these types of questions can help you make some hard decisions about how much you need to be saving and how much you can get away with spending each month.
Contributed by Matt Sattel of Huggable.com