Wouldn’t it be nice if mom and dad were walking ATM machines?
Sadly, you have to always be asking for money, learning to live on your allowance, or trying to figure out how to make your paycheck stretch to save for college and buy those concert tickets.
And, no matter how you get your spending money, blowing every penny of it leaves you broke when something special comes along, doesn’t do much to impress your parents and is a bad life skill.
So here are three tips to help you have something to spend on Friday night - and have something in the bank.
1. Eat at home.
The problem with eating out (especially at relatively inexpensive locations like Chipotle, McDonalds, or Panda Express) is that they don’t drain your wallet in one sitting. They’re so cheap, in fact, that you can quite easily build a habit of going after school every day.
You won’t notice the hole in your wallet until you don’t even have $10 to buy that last burrito, chips, and drink! Especially if you pay with a debit or credit card and don’t hand over any physical cash, it’s hard to judge what you’ve spent after two weeks of $7 purchases.
Eating at home is cheaper, period. Choosing to drive here vs. the local burger joint will save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
And, having friends over to make dinner together is fun, healthier than eating out and will prepare you for college where a lack of cooking skills condemns you to four years of eating ramen noodles and microwaving rice in a cup. (Embarrassing personal stories I don’t want to get into.…)
2. Save 10 percent.
You’re in high school now, but this tip will help you all throughout life. Unfortunately for your impulsive self, this is money for the long term. You don’t get to spend it on a big TV when you move into your college dorm.
When you get a paycheck (or a big check from grandma), do not spend it all immediately. The trick is to save 10 percent before you think of anything you might do with the money: a night at the movies, that BMX bike, flowers for your girlfriend, etc.
When you’ve just received that big check, it’s relatively easy to save a small portion of it. If you wait until the end, there’s never anything left over.
I know we’re all young and the furthest thing on your horizon is college, but you should start building up the habit of saving money now. The sooner you learn how to save and manage money the better off you will be at your parents’ age. (Just ask them!)
3. Hold that thought.
How can you be sure that you’re able to spend money on the things that you want?
Simple: Don’t spend money on all of the junk you don’t really want or need.
Most of the purchases you make on a day-to-day basis are just reflex. You’re hungry so you hop into the burrito place. You’re thirsty so you buy a Coke. Often, this reflex even affects purchases of bigger and more expensive items.
Whenever you’re looking at buying anything over $50, wait two weeks before making the purchase. You’ll find that most of the items you desperately wanted in the moment no longer appeal to you. This will keep money in your wallet and junk from piling up in your closet. The best thing about this strategy is that when you do find something that you really want, you’ll have the money to buy it!