What I Wish I Knew As A Teenager About Money

Thinking back now on things I would have done differently in my youth – saving money is definitely one of those things. Long gone now are the days of shopping at the mall with friends, buying fast food, and going to the movies every weekend without a thought. Now that I’m an adult, I realize how NOT disposable money is, and it’s something I wish I would have known sooner. If I knew what I knew now about money and personal finances, I could either be a millionaire or setting myself up for a healthy retirement. With that, we hope that you find some knowledge in this blog. That way, you can avoid the mistakes we made in our youth and set yourself up for financial success in adulthood.


First things first, know you have time on your side. 

You are in your prime! Young, and full of the ability to do anything in this life you dream of. And although you probably aren’t making thousands of dollars by any means, starting a plan to save, and invest will prove to be beneficial over time. For example; if you are 16 years of age, and make $200 a week. That’s $800 a month. With little to no bills to pay, even with saving only half of that amount every month ($400) when multiplied by 12 months in the year, you have already saved up $4,800! And within 10 years of maintaining those same habits, you could have $48,000 sitting in your bank account! How awesome would that be? That money that you have set aside by that time can be used for a car, your first home, or any other large purchases you will need to make in adulthood.


Make your saving and managing your personal finances a daily habit.

A habit is formed in 21 days, can you imagine years of saving money, and what that could mean for you? A habit is described as ‘something you do naturally, or automatically, with little to no thought’. Start making saving money, and the basics of personal finances part of your everyday life habits, and all this, won’t be as overwhelming. Starting a savings goal now, and learning how to work your personal finances will help you in the long run when saving isn’t as easy.


Track what you spend, and where you spend it at. 

As adults, even we have a hard time keeping up with our finances, especially cash. The best advice I can give you is this: Get yourself a bank account. Your parents can help with this, and it’s important to have them help you do your research on the right banking institution for you as a youth. Secondly, put your checks on direct deposit if you are working a regular job. If you are not, create ‘piles’ for your money. Ex: Your check is $200/week, you take out $50 for savings (in cash), $50 for fun money (in cash), and leave the remaining $100 in your bank account. Knowing where your money is going, and where you need it to go will help you now, and in adulthood.


Educate yourself on personal finances

School taught me a lot of things, but what it didn’t teach me was how to manage my personal finances, or even balance a checkbook, or do my taxes. Pretty important life stuff, right? It’s important to educate yourself on these things, even if the school won’t, or doesn’t. Many industries and businesses thrive and live off of your ability to spend money on things you don’t need, and keep you in the dark about what personal finances really means, and more so how to manage those finances. So get educated, learn what you can about managing money, after all, you are the main beneficiary.


You don’t have to go into debt to go to college. 

College is a wonderful thing and one of the best decisions you can make in your adult life. However, long gone are the days of having the privilege to go to a prestigious school, on loans alone are over. Don’t get discouraged! A smart way to navigate this road barrier would be to work and save to help pay for your college classes and expenses. With this, there is nothing wrong with attending a local community college or IT school until you are able to apply for any grant or scholarship you could be potentially qualified for. And choose a major that will always be in demand and one that you will get paid to do well. Collecting a monumental amount of debt due to student loans will delay you in life from purchasing your first home to starting a family. In years to come, you will have to keep your income in mind as your life begins to grow.


Build a Credit History for Yourself, now.

Start building your credit, before you even move out of your parent’s home. Talk with your parents about adding you as an authorized user to the tone of their own cards, even if they don’t give you a card to use. You being placed on this account will help reflect positive credit history as your parents are paying on their cards.  There are several free apps available such as Credit Karma, Experian, and Fico that can help you monitor your credit score as time passes.


Don’t be afraid of discounts.

Use that student ID! By doing so, you can get tons of discounts online and in stores. From Amazon Prime, transportation, movies, sports events to museums, anytime you are making a purchase, ask if they offer student discounts.


Don’t worry about missing out or not fitting in.

We know, it’s no fun watching the summer come as all your friends are having fun, going on vacations, movies, or other fun activities. It seems unfair, and it’s easy to think that everyone else around you has it so much better. But what they don’t know is that the real world is right around the corner, and soon you won’t be living at home anymore. Do the right thing, even if it isn’t a fun thing, and get yourself a summer job. Start saving for what you really want. Sure, swimming at the park is fun, but would you rather do that, or be debt-free when you graduate? How does retiring early sound? Or just having a healthy savings account.


And after all this, know that money isn’t everything. 

I know, this seems confusing. We just finished reading all about how money is so important. What do you mean? It’s easy to want a life we can’t have yet. Fast cars, designer clothes, big houses, but know that money isn’t everything. Do and be what makes you happy, just be smart about it. Think of your consequences and rewards. Here is the beginning of a financially smart and independent life!