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Adulting 101: the Ultimate Financial Guide for Teenagers

Career & Money

December 29, 2023

The new year and the beginning of a new semester can be extremely challenging to balance. What adds onto the challenges is the question of finances. At first glance, the concept of finance might seem intimidating and daunting.

Worry not! This article will delve into developing a solid hand over your finances while being a student!

It’s just another snack.

Ever stood at the canteen counter and wondered how much money you’d spent on food that day? That your goal of saving X amount of money was getting further away from your reach. However, saving is essentially money accumulated over a period of time.

Just like how Rome wasn’t built in a day, similarly your savings won’t accumulate at the drop of a hat. Your savings accumulate over a period of time. Simple ways to save as a student include :

Applying for scholarships, grants and financial aid. This tip is especially relevant right now because almost all seniors now are neck-deep in college application season and senioritis. Hence, seeking out scholarships is one of the best ways to get at least part of your college costs covered. If you excel in one area, or are academically inclined, scholarships are your way to go.

Utilise student offers and discounts. While being a student is hard, there are certain perks that come with it. Along with the endless pile of assignments that are left unfinished, so are offers that you’re not aware of.

You can start using websites and apps that’ll help you find the best deals and coupons, especially those tailored for students. This is because many businesses, apps and websites offer discounts to students for various services, like streaming shows, clothing and even music!

Photo from Ben Duchac on Unsplash

Earning $$ as a student

Earning money as a student has multiple benefits to it. Not only does it give you a head start in building your credit score, it also introduces you to the experience of earning your keep. We all know the classic lemonade stand.

It’s one of the best ways to make money while providing an essential service. Similarly, you could start with part-time jobs, freelance gigs, online surveys and other hustles that fit your schedule and skills. You could open up your own thrift shop on Instagram, where you can also sell the clothes and jewellery you no longer wear.

In the realm of making money, there are tons of options that remain unexplored. Tutoring students in your area, or even online is a booming industry for those looking to make income. You can enrol yourself up for paid tutoring through networking with students in your area.

Seeking advice from your academic advisor or counsellor can also prove to be helpful. This will help you find suitable opportunities and prepare your resume as well. They could aid you in preparing your cover letter, and even negotiate your salary and benefits.

However, before committing to and choosing a job, there are certain situations you’ll have to factor in. With any sort of work, it is crucial to consider the pros and cons. These include the time commitment, skills required, flexibility, and the tax implications as well.

Photo from Micheile Henderson from Unsplash

The Art of Budgeting

Budgeting is essentially your “money diary.” Just like how you could journal your feelings, similarly budgeting is talking to your money. Your budget takes into account the amount of money you have, where exactly you’ve spent it and how much you choose to allocate to certain factors of your life. Common budgeting methods include the envelope method, the 50-30-20 budgeting rule and the zero-based budget.

Begin by taking inventory of your finances- this includes your monthly pay checks if you work a job, money that adults give you during family gatherings and the sort. Next, identify your financial goals. Perhaps you want to save up to buy your favorite artists’ album.

Whatever the goal may be, it’s best to put it down into writing. Putting your goal into writing provides you with the motivation to work towards it. The last step involves choosing a method to budget with. You could simply just track your expenses and classify them into categories as well. However, using well-established methods allows students to monitor their spending to saving ratio.

Photo from Unseen Studio on Unsplash

For example, the 50-30-20 budgeting method is a simple way to manage your personal finances.

  1. It involves allocating 50% of your income to your basic needs. In your daily life, these needs would include transportation costs and groceries. These needs are non-negotiables. These are situations you live through every day that absolutely require spending.
  2. The next 30% of your money goes to your wants. This includes hobbies like buying books, traveling and entertainment.
  3. The last 20% classifies as your savings. This is where your earlier identified financial goal comes into play. An essential rule of thumb is paying yourself first. Once you’ve set aside, say 20% of your money towards your goals, you’re putting in the work efficiently.

However, the percentages of 50, 30 and 20 aren’t set in stone. Everyone’s financial situation differs, and perhaps you’ll need to save more instead of spending depending on your financial goal. This way, you can alter the percentages to suit your unique financial situation. This way, you can balance your spending and saving habits, and achieve your financial goals.

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

The Learning Never Stops

Just like how the elderly have a pension fund to keep the finances rolling, similarly your financial journey has no ending. Accumulating knowledge about money is crucial because all of it is practical; everything you learn about your money is advice that you could apply down the road.

Financial literacy is available everywhere, on every corner of the internet. From Instagram handles dedicated to financial information for teenagers (like @teensinfinance on Instagram), information is available at your fingertips. Financial literacy covers areas like investing in stocks, setting achievable financial goals and paying loans.

It’s always the best choice to jump into waters after knowing its depth. Similarly, without having a strong command over your finances, you cannot make sound financial decisions. In order to have a great grasp over your handling of money, knowledge is key. Other good sources include podcasts, newspapers, journals, articles and books.

Good luck on your financial journey!

Nikitha Mahesh
1,000+ pageviews

Nikitha is an avid writer. She is passionate about the intersection of creativity, business and economics.