How to Save Money in High School

Most of the advice out there on budgeting and saving money is tailored for adults, but kids in high school (and even younger) have opportunities to earn money while still in school, so they should be made aware of how to budget and save money as well. By establishing good money habits early on, high school students can have a good grasp of how to manage their money by the time they arrive at college or start a career. According to U.S. News and World Report, a recent study shows that high school students are saving more money for college now than in previous years. One report found that around 51 percent of high school students are saving for college, and of those, 83 percent saved at least $1,000 with 33 percent saving more than $5,000. Here are some ideas on how to save money while still in high school:

Start a budget. For those unsure of exactly what a budget is and why it’s a good idea to have one, a budget is very simply a framework or plan for your money. Your budget shows you what your income is and where it goes, giving you a clear picture of where you spend the most money every month, and where you can adjust your spending to save more.

Avoid credit card debt. Students as young as 18 receive credit card offers on a regular basis. If you aren’t aware of how credit cards work, it can be very tempting to think of your credit line as “free money” but there is no such thing! Banks depend on consumers to rack up credit card bills that they are unable to pay off completely at the end of each month, meaning the bank is able to charge interest on the balance. This is where banks make their money, and this is also where consumers can begin the slippery slide into overwhelming debt.

The only way to use a credit card and remain debt free is to pay the balance off every month. The best way to ensure that you can do that is to plan ahead and budget money to cover any purchases you plan to make using a credit card. Make sure that the cash to cover those purchases is set aside to pay the bill in full when it arrives. However, we recommend that you refrain from accepting credit card offers and get in the habit of paying cash for your purchases. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need credit cards to live a nice life.

Work a part time job. Instead of taking a summer off, why not fund your spending with a part time job? If you have an idea of a certain career path you might want to follow, look into a paid internship or part-time job in that field to get some hands-on experience and make money at the same time. A $10 per hour wage is not uncommon, and even after taxes you could be bringing home several hundred dollars per month. If you budget 20 percent of your money for fun activities, that leave 80 percent available to save toward a new phone, your first car, or your college fund. If you think you might be tempted to spend your savings, ask your parents to safeguard those funds for you.

Start applying for scholarships early. Even if you don’t save a lot of money during high school, you don’t have to wait until your senior year to apply for scholarships. Students can begin applying for scholarships in their freshman year, and continue through their sophomore and junior years. There’s never a bad time to begin applying for scholarships or saving for college, and the sooner you start, the more potential you have to graduate high school with a healthy cash reserve.