Once you start working in high school and college, you’ll learn that money is much more confusing than it first appears. One of the most challenging things to understand about money is how to use it—how much do you spend, how much do you save, what are you saving for, how do you save? To start answering these questions and more, just keep scrolling!
Your parents have been earning money and saving money for a lot longer than you or your peers have. Don’t be embarrassed to ask them simple questions about how you should go about saving money. Getting your first pay check will be really exciting, but after that they’ll be happy to give you your first reality check and teach you what you should do with that money in order to spend it wisely.
Once you’ve talked to your parents and gotten a better understanding on how to use your money, you should make a budget. I recommend doing this on your own, not having your parents set one up for you, so you can learn how to be self-disciplined about your spending habits. Also, you can tweak your budget as you go along, spending more here and less there, until you learn the right balance for you.
In your budget, make sure you pay yourself first. That is to say, put money in your savings before you divide your check into shopping, dining out, going out, etc. Thinking about it this way will make you more inclined to save money, because you know you’re doing something nice for your “future” self, not just hiding money from your current self.
Thankfully, we live in the 21st century so budgeting is made even easier with the use of a budgeting app! I personally use Mint, but there are several other apps to fit your personal needs. Using a budgeting app will force you to hold yourself even more accountable in your personal finances. Plus, it well help you learn exactly how much you need to save if you want to build a safety net, travel, etc. An app will also show you what little things you're spending money on, like coffee or fast food, that you could easily cut back on to make spending money easier.
Friends are the silent enemy in the war against overspending. They’ll always be happy to invite you out to dinner, a movie, or a trip to the mall. If it doesn’t fit in your budget though, just say no. They won’t look down on you or be annoyed by you, if anything they’ll be impressed by your self-discipline! Eventually, when you think you can handle it, go out with them, just don’t order or buy anything.
A step up to learning how to say no is getting your friends involved. You all need to learn about saving money at some point, so why not do it together? Budgeting together can help you keep each other in line and focused. Plus, avoiding going out will be made much easier! You can choose to do more free things together that still help you bond just as much, like Netflix movie nights instead of going to a theater.
There are two meanings of saving money: one is active, taking money out of each paycheck and putting it in a separate account for later use or an emergency. Another is more of a lifestyle change, saving money in your daily, weekly, and monthly spending habits. Both are equally important, even if the difference in the second one seems less noticeable at first, it will make a big difference in the long run. One way to make sure you save money on a regular basis is by shopping smarter. Find the cheapest restaurants, stores, and markets near you that still sell quality products. You don’t have to stop doing fun things all together, just be more conscious about where your money is going.
Whether you're saving up for a summer trip or saving up for college tuition, these tips will make a big difference in your chance of success. The most important thing though is to stick to it. It will be difficult at first, but eventually you'll get used to your new, frugal lifestyle!