How to Save Money as a Teenager – A Practical Guide

saving money

It can be hard to save money as a teen, but it’s not impossible. You might want to put aside a little extra before you go to college. Or perhaps you’re saving for a big purchase such as a new tablet or even your first set of wheels?

Whatever is motivating you to save, our essential tips on how to save money as a teenager are a great starting point.

The following practical guide will teach you:

  • How to work out your savings goal
  • How to set money aside
  • How to open a savings account
  • How to earn a little extra cash
  • How to avoid wasting your money
  • The right way to ask for help

Let’s dive right in.

Minimum Wage in US

The pros and cons of saving money as a teenager

Teenagers are in a unique position when it comes to saving. One of the biggest challenges when considering how to save money as a teenager is the lack of income. Teens aged 16-19 form the lowest income bracket in America, with many only able to work summer jobs.

The great news though is that even if you’re earning the minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour, then you could still make upwards of $250 a week during the holidays depending on your shifts. This may not seem like much, but it could go a long way towards your savings goal.

Your wages might be low, but so too are your expenses at this stage in life. If you live at home with your parents, then you probably don’t contribute towards rent, mortgage, groceries, utilities or any other living costs.  

As all the money you do earn is yours, you’ll be able to contribute a large chunk of your incoming cash and put it straight into your savings.

How much to save

You might be tempted to start saving straight away without a plan of action, but this would be a mistake. By coming up with a clear financial figure to work towards, this will make your savings goal tangible and achievable. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you have a strategy to follow.

First, decide what exactly you’re hoping to save for. Whether it be a new guitar, a surfboard, a pair of AirPods or a gift for your girlfriend, do some research into the amount of money you’ll need to save up. Remember to budget for any sales tax or essential extras such as a case for an iPad.

Next, you need to give yourself a realistic deadline of when you want to have saved your money up by. You might be lucky enough to have some teen savings already, which you can deduct from the total you need overall.

Once you’ve worked out how much you still need to save, simply divide this figure by the number of weeks or months until you hit your deadline.

How to set money aside for your savings

Setting aside money begins with having a safe place to keep it, which means you’ll need to open a teen savings account. Your parents may already have opened one for you or can help you with linking a savings pot to any other bank account you might have, like your current account.

A savings account will earn a small amount of interest, so the bank pays you regularly for keeping your money with them. The more you bank in your savings pot, the more interest you’ll earn. Although the amount may be small at first, this is a great incentive and should motivate you towards saving hard.

If you already have some teen savings, then begin by banking these into your new account as a great starting point. Do you receive an allowance from your parents? If you’re looking for top tips on how to save pocket money, the best strategy is to ask for them to bank this straight in there too.

The same goes for wages. Ask your employer to automate your payment so that it goes directly into your bank account. If you never physically see your money, then it’s much easier to save it than spend it.

Of course, you can still have access to your cash if you need to pay for expenses, but that will involve you making a physical withdrawal from an ATM which you can try to avoid doing.

Earning a little extra cash

Saving money as a teenager is made a whole lot easier if you have a decent income stream. Although it can be really hard to find the time to earn money as a teen, there are plenty of ways to make a little extra and fit this around school or your other sports or club commitments.

If you already have a regular job, then you might ask your boss if you can pick up some extra shifts. Remember too, that if you’re working, you’re less likely to be out and about spending your hard-earned cash, so extra work is a win-win for your savings account.

There are plenty of easy side gigs you can do too, including:

  • getting a paper-round
  •  washing cars
  • dog walking
  • babysitting

Your parents can help spread the word around your neighbourhood that you’re available for this type of work. In fact, they might even have some odd jobs around the home they could pay you for. Anything from sweeping leaves to cleaning out the garage could net you a few extra bucks!

If you’ve got skills that could be put to use as a freelancer, then you could set up online as a part-time:

  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Copywriter
  • Programmer.

It’s usually free to set up on platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr, and you could make way more than a paper-round once you’re established.

Bad habits to avoid

If you’ve been finding it hard to save money so far then you might already have picked up some bad spending habits. Not sure where your money goes? Then it’s time to find out.

Start to note down every time you spend a dollar and keep track of this for a week, or better still, a month. There are expenses apps such as Mint or YNAB (You Need A Budget) which will help you organize your funds.

Once you know where you’re spending your money, see if there are any cheaper alternatives which can help you save your cash and put it towards your long-term goal instead. These are known as trade-offs.

Do you find yourself grabbing fast food between school and practice? If you’re spending $5-10 a time, and are doing this three times a week, then you’re wasting between $390 and $780 over the course of six months.

How about packing a sandwich and bringing some snacks from home so you can save the cost difference instead?

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Get your buddies involved

Do you get FOMO when your friends are going out and spending money without you? If you find that you want to join them, then why not let them in on your goal? By sharing your ambition to save money, you might end up motivating them to join your new thrifty lifestyle too.

Peer motivation can really help you to work harder to reach your goal. You can even turn this strategy into your very own saving money challenge and get a few of your friends involved to make it more interesting.

Asking for help

If you’re really struggling for ways to save up money but are genuinely trying hard, then it might be time to approach your parents. It’s best to wait a few weeks or ideally a month to show them what you’ve been able to save during this time.

Once you’ve demonstrated that you’re:

  • Working extra
  • Making cuts to your budget
  • Have already saved X amount towards your goal

…. then they may be willing to match your savings amount with their contribution to your pot.

You may be worried about asking for their help and of course, this will depend on their personal financial situation. But if you agree to a 50/50 deal, then it will take half the amount of time to reach your savings goal which is a pretty great incentive.

Deciding how to save money as a teenager 

Now that we’ve shared some of our top teen saving strategies with you, it’s time to have a think about applying these to your own individual circumstances. 

No one’s financial situation or goals are identical to someone else’s which is why you should take a close look at your own personal incoming funds and expenses. From here you can use some of our best money-saving tips to drive you towards your savings goal. For support along the way and access to an extensive collection of personal finance knowledge and guidance, check out The Finances Hub blog. To kickstart your savings journey, we also offer a FREE save $5000 in 52 weeks action plan. Download yours today.

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