If you’re a teen or young adult, you probably have some big dreams for the future. You may be making plans for college or traveling the world. You may even dream about accumulating enough wealth to become a millionaire. No matter what your dreams are, now is the perfect time to start practicing the good money habits that can help you meet your goals.
We asked Scott Credit Union’s Youth Advisory Council to give their ideas for earning money, saving money, and spending money responsibly. You may not become a millionaire anytime soon, but by sticking with these tips, you could be a hundredaire or even thousandaire before you know it!
How to earn money
Get a part-time job – Check online for job listings and ask around at local businesses to see what opportunities are out there. Summer jobs and paid internships are an especially good idea, since you don’t have to worry about the time commitment interfering with your school work. Most importantly, we recommend getting a job doing something that genuinely interests you. There’s an old saying that goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If you’re doing what you enjoy, it may not even feel like work. You’ll be much happier and more likely to stick with it.
Do extra chores around the house – Ask your parents if they’d be willing to pay you for helping out more. Maybe they need help cleaning out the basement and mowing the lawn. Or, you could babysit your younger siblings so that your parents can have a night out to themselves.
Start your own business – Offer your house cleaning, lawn mowing, or babysitting services to your neighbors. If you enjoy teaching things to others, tutoring is also a great alternative. For those who enjoy making things, you could start a business selling your creations.*
Declutter your life – Is your room filled with stuff you no longer need or want? Consider selling your unwanted clothes, games, etc. You could have a yard sale or even sell them online.*
How to save money
Get a savings or debit account – That old piggy bank you’ve had since you were eight is cute, but it won’t earn you any interest on your money. Make your money work for you by opening a Kidz Club Savings account or Teen Share Savings account or a Student Debit account, which is just like a checking account but without the checks.
Set a goal – Take a moment and think about why you want to save money. Saving for the future, in general, is a smart idea, though some people may have a specific purchase or expense in mind, like college, a car, or a new phone. Pick a dollar amount you want to save. This will help give you a better idea of your progress and an awesome sense of accomplishment when you finally hit that magic number.
Make a commitment to saving – Once you have a goal number in mind, think about how much you’ll need to save on a regular basis to reach that goal. Commit to saving money every week. You could pick either a specific dollar amount or a percentage of what you earn. Scott Credit Union recommends saving a minimum of 10% of your income.
Resist the urge to spend – Keep your eyes on the prize! Impulse purchases will only derail your efforts to save. Sure, that snack from the vending machine or cup of coffee may seem like a small expense, but small purchases can really add up over time, and it will take much longer to reach your savings goal.
How to spend money responsibly
Set a budget – Ok, so even the most money-smart among us can’t resist splurging from time to time. And, if you’re saving up for something big, like college, it may be unrealistic not to spend any of your hard-earned money until you reach your goal. Set a budget for yourself so you know exactly how much you can allow yourself to spend. Plan out your non-optional expenses first, such as your car loan, college fund, cell phone bill, gas money, savings, etc. Then, set aside a little space in your budget for the fun stuff. Just make sure that: (1) once you make a budget, you stick with it and (2) you aren’t spending every single dollar you earn.
Look for deals – Whenever possible, you should avoid paying full price for things. Keep an eye out for sales and coupons to help bring down your total at checkout time. It’s also a good idea to search for “[Business Name] coupon” online before checking out, to see if there are any out there you missed.
Take advantage of special discounts – Businesses realize that students have much less disposable income than their parents, so many places offer a student discount. Be sure to keep your student ID with you, and take some time to research what places can offer you a deal. You might even find a list of discounts on your college’s website. If your parents are in the military, you may be able to use military discounts at stores as well.
*Note: For those under the age of 18, be sure to ask for your parents’ permission and help before selling online.
SCU’s Youth Advisory Council consists of 16 active and outgoing members ages 16-20 who offer new ideas, feedback, and insight to the credit union to help serve members like them.