Saving money is easy. Don’t spend it!
Okay, so maybe it isn’t always as easy as it seems. As a teen or freshly-minted adult, it can be frustrating to be caught between having your parents pay for everything and paying your own way. Most jobs that are available to high school and college students don’t pay very well, so, although it’s nice to have some cash of your own, it’s pretty easy to blow through it with online shopping or dinners out.
If you can sock away some of that money now, however, you’ll be better off than most of your peers in the future.
It’s really hard to imagine that anything you do at 16 could have any real effect on you at 26, 36, or even 46, but with money, it totally can.
Hang on for a minute, we’re going to explore some numbers.
Say you get a part-time job making $9 an hour. If you work ten hours a week, that means you’ll earn $360 a month for the time that you hold that job. Over the nine months of the typical school year, you’d rake in $3,240. Save that up over two school years and you’d have almost $6,500 just from that low-paying, part-time job. If you work over the summer, that could probably double. Note, however, that making over $6,300 as a dependent means you have to file a tax return at the end of the year, and each paycheck will be a little less than than $360. Still, that’s so much better than zero, and you’ll be building some job skills, too.
But what if you actually want or need to spend some of that hard-earned cash? I know many of you work so you can put gas in the car or pay for your cell phone. In that case, figure out how much you NEED to cover those charges, and save as much as you can of the rest. Say you buy $25 of gas per week, that’s $100 on gas per month. Depending on your family’s phone situation, that’s probably another $100. That leaves you $100 for other stuff. Save half of it. Putting $50 a month into savings would still net you $450 in nine months, and you’ll have $50 of fun-money to play with.
Of course, the above scenario is pretty basic, and everyone’s situation will be a little different. The point is, building your savings into your expenses helps train you to see saving as a natural, essential part of life, instead of a chore.
What’s even better is having a specific goal or reason to save. Something that will help motivate you when the temptation to spend every dime gets too much.
Reasons to save
Short-term goals like a new pair of shoes, or a gaming console, or even a car work as motivators because we crave the thrill of coming home with our new thing. These goals, however, lose their power as soon as they’re met, and they usually involve buying things that only lose value once we have them.
Long-term goals like finishing college, traveling to every continent, or starting a business are better because they have the potential to add some kind of lasting value to your life or career.
I would suggest coming up with one or two of each type of goal. Little wins in the form of saving for short-term goals can help keep you moving toward the long-term ones, which can sometimes seem impossible to reach when you’re just starting out.
Whatever your reason, the important thing is that you start a healthy habit of saving money. That maybe-not-so-distant future you will be so happy you did.
Think you’re not a saver? I doubt it. Check out The 4 Types of Savers to see which one you are!