April is about more than awesome April Fool’s jokes, the April showers that precede the “May flowers” Easter Bunnies, and the start of warmer weather. April also kicks off Financial Literacy Month, a time we dedicate to making sure you, our future leaders, are on the path to financial independence.
Whether you earn a weekly allowance or plan on working a summer job, it’s important to build some money management skills so that you can make solid money-saving goals. Here are five tips any teen can use to make every penny count.
Set a goal and write out a plan. Maybe you’re saving for your first car, or plan to take a summer trip with friends. Or perhaps you’ve been crushing on a few new items for your wardrobe. No matter the goal, putting a plan in place is necessary. Write out how much you need to save and dedicate the proper amount from each check or allowance to your goal’s fund. Having it written out makes it easier for you to see how much you should be setting aside and keeps you on track. Monitor your progress, and even set a timeline. This way, you’ll spend only on things you need—and save the rest!
Pack a lunch instead of buying every day. School lunch, while it may not be expensive, adds up over time. If you’re buying lunch five days a week, do the math to see how much you’re spending versus how much you could be saving if you packed lunch using groceries you already have at home. Not only will you save money, but chances are you’ll find yourself packing healthier options!
Carry cash. If you have a bank account, deposit the majority of your money into the account and withdraw a set amount of cash per week. Whether you’re going to the mall or out to eat with friends, when your cash is gone, you’re done spending! Repeatedly swiping a debit or credit card often provides the luxury of not being mindful of how much you’re spending. By keeping cash on you at all times, you’re setting a budget and are more inclined to stick to it.
Determine wants versus needs. Do you really need a new cell phone case, or do you like it because it’s the latest style? So often we let our impulses control our spending, and those small impulse buys add up. Practicing restraint at the register and spending responsibly will keep money in your pockets for the times that really matter.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Parents are an excellent resource for helping kids and teenagers keep track of their spending/saving. Have them set up a savings account in your name and give them the money to put aside every pay period. If you receive a weekly allowance, have them deposit it directly into your account instead of giving it to you to spend. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up!
As we all know, girls see a future where they are financially independent and empowered, and 94 percent of girls want to make their own money instead of relying on their parents. Financial education is key to ensuring these money makers are also fiscally responsible. Check out the Girl Scout Research Institute’s Having It All: Girls and Financial Literacy study for more stats, tips, and research on what it takes to empower the future drivers of our economy.