You’re finishing up high school, or your halfway through college, or worse, you’re about to graduate! Suddenly, you’re realizing that it’s time to stop spending every hour of the day playing Grand Theft Auto, and you should probably start taking control of your life… and your money.
Most teenagers and young adults have no idea what they’re doing with their finances. But, getting a jump on your classmates and boosting your financial knowledge is going to bring you so much closer to that Ferrari or that big house or whatever your financial goals are so much quicker.
So, these are 6 great financial tips for teenagers and young adults to help you get your money in order! Let’s go!
#1: Make Your Money Earn Interest
Now, this first tip might just be the best way to get you to where you want to be financially, and it’s something you can do right now! If you have money saved up right now in a piggy bank or under your mattress, get up off your computer, smash that piggy bank, rip up that mattress, and get that money in an interest-earning account.
I know, I know, you’re young and you want to spend your money on taking girls to the movies, new Jordan sneakers, and a slick new car. But, think about it this way: if you put money into an account early in your life and let it accrue interest, you could be set for retirement super early!
If you were to put $1,000 into a savings account that gains 5% interest every year, in 50 years, you’d be looking at $11,467! Not impressed by that? Alright, try this on for size. Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 index had an average annual return of 13.6%. If that return stays the same over 50 years and you invest that $1,000 in the S&P 500, in 50 years, you’re looking at over $587,000! That right there is the power of compound interest, ladies and gentlemen!
You see? That $1,000 dollars that you got for your bar mitzvah or whatever could literally be your entire retirement fund if you choose to invest it wisely! So, get your money into an interest-earning account, and get it there early!
Over time, you want to contribute more and more to your interest-earning accounts. But, the only way to do this is by saving rather than spending, and the only way to do that is by practicing self-control.
#2: Practice Self-Control
If you’re lucky, your parents probably taught you this lesson when you were younger. If you eat all the cookies now, you’ll have no cookies for later. But, if you save the cookies, you’ll enjoy the cookies even more later. It’s called “delaying gratification,” and it’s an important skill in every facet of life, especially with money.
It’s important to save your money for a time when you really need it. And money, unlike cookies, earns interest and turns into more money, like we just talked about. So, try to save money when you can, and put your savings away for the future.
Maybe learn to cook for yourself instead of paying restaurant prices every night. Maybe ride a bike to your classes instead of blowing money on gas. Maybe don’t buy that extra pair of shoes that you’re going to wear once or twice. All of these little lifestyle adjustments are ways of delaying gratification, and over the years, they’re going to add up and your savings account is going to grow and grow.
It’s entirely up to you, though. Before you pull out your debit card, think, Do I really need this? How much happiness is this purchase really going to bring me? Would this money be better off saved? This is the way that financially wise people think, and it’s how you should think too.
But, being financially wise goes beyond just practicing self-control. It’s also important to school yourself on the different ways that the financial world works and take control of your own financial future.
#3: Control Your Financial Future
Unfortunately, if you’re not schooled in the ways of finance, there are some people out there that might try to take advantage of you. And young people are the favorite targets of these financial predators because young people often don’t know diddly-squat about finances. Get educated!
Read some personal finance books. Go online and research credit cards, retirement accounts, mortgages, investments, and every personal finance tip under the sun. Or just subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch all the videos we’re putting out. The point is that you need to arm yourself with financial knowledge so that you can make sure your money is being used in your best interest, not to make money for some greedy banker.
Let me give you an example. NBA superstar Tim Duncan lost a whole $20 million because he gave his money to an untrustworthy financial advisor. This guy told Timmy Duncan that he was investing his money wisely, but was really just pumping it into businesses that he owned, which ended up losing a ton of cash. Now, Tim Duncan is spending even more money on legal fees to sue this guy.
Don’t let that happen to you. Learn the ins and outs of finance and make yourself 100% impossible to scam!
However, even if you protect your money from shady advisors or credit card companies, there’s still always the chance that some unforeseeable event happens, and suddenly you’re looking at some massive bills you never expected. What you need, my friend, is an emergency fund.
#4: Start an Emergency Fund
I know, you’ve probably heard your parents say it a million times, or your teacher, or your annoying old neighbor, “When you’re young, you think you’re invincible.” But, to be honest, it’s pretty true. While it might not occur to you on a daily basis, things like injuries, sickness, house fires, and car wrecks can happen, and they should definitely be factored into your financial plan.
If you truly want to be financially independent, you need to start an emergency fund, a little money set aside that you can go to if you’re ever in desperate need. You should regularly contribute to it and think of those contributions as a non-negotiable expense. That means that no matter what, a portion of your paycheck is going into your emergency fund every month. Trust me, it will help you sleep better at night, and you’ll thank yourself if you’re ever in a financial jam.
Maybe you aren’t getting a paycheck yet, though, and you’re just about to start your first job. Well, you’re going to want to understand how taxes work before you sign any employment contracts.
#5: Understand Taxes
When trying to plan out your financial future, it’s extremely important to factor in how taxes are going to affect the amount of money you have available. Many people tend to forget all about taxes, and then they’re surprised when a part of their income is going to the government.
If you have student loan repayments, rent, cell phone bills, and all those other expenses that seem to pile up, not accounting for taxes in your personal financial plan can really throw a wrench in the machine and leave you stressing about how you’re going to pay all those bills.
Luckily, there are resources that can make this a whole lot easier. Go check out PaycheckCity.com. You can put in your salary and they’ll calculate how much of that income you’re actually going to be bringing home with you and how much will be going to Uncle Sam.
That way, you’ll know exactly how much money you have for bills, to put away in savings, and to enjoy yourself with.
You want to establish a good relationship with the government by paying your taxes, but it’s also important to have a good relationship with your credit card provider, so you can get that credit score sky-high.
#6: Establish Good Credit
If you’re new to the world of credit cards, it’s important that you know how to keep your credit score up and establish a good credit score in the first place.
First of all, you should never spend more money than you have. Pushing up your credit balance is the quickest way to get a bad credit score. You want to keep your balance below 30% of your limit. So, if your limit is $2,500, you should keep your balance below $750.
You also want to always pay your balance off in full. That’ll keep you from getting charged interest, and will help boost your credit score. Use your credit card sparingly and pay your balance down to zero as much as possible, and boom, you’ve got a good credit score.
A high credit score can help you get good rates on a loan, better rewards, a nicer apartment, or even a better job! But, a low credit score is going to make getting any of those things really difficult. Start building up a good credit history, and start early!