You’re a high-schooler, and you have financial responsibilities, but the problem is that you don’t have much money to work with. So what can you do? Well, here are five tips for making sure that your finances are in good shape before you leave school:
Don’t be over-dependent on your student loans
As a high schooler, you’re probably thinking about where you want to go to college and what major you want to pursue. But it’s also important to think about what comes after graduation: paying back student loans.
The average college graduate in 2016 left with $37,172 in student loan debt. This number is only going up: In 2013, the average amount owed by graduates was just under $30K; by 2017, it had grown to nearly $40K.
The best way to avoid being over-dependent on your student loans? Make sure they’re not all you have at graduation—and practice being financially independent before then!
Open a checking and savings account
Try to open a checking and savings account as soon as possible, even if you don’t have enough money to do so. This will help you learn how to save your money and prepare yourself for the future when you have a job or get an allowance. As per the experts at SoFi, “There are many different types of accounts from which customers can choose, depending on their needs and goals.”
You can only open an account at a bank or credit union, not at other places like grocery stores or department stores. When choosing where to open your accounts, look for one with low fees and good service—for example, some banks allow parents (or other adults) who are active in the community to open accounts for teenagers free of charge! Whatever questions you might have, including ‘how old to have a bank account?’, ‘how much fees do you charge?’, etc. can be answered by the bank’s website or their representatives.
Fix a Budget and Limit Your Spendings
Once you’ve set a budget for yourself, it’s important to stick to it. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Make a list of your monthly expenses and rank them from most important to least important. This will help you prioritize your spending and avoid blowing money on things you don’t need or can do without.
- Create an account for each expense category (e.g., food, entertainment, clothing) and track it each month by transferring funds into those accounts as needed using an online banking system like Ally Bank® or Mint®.
- At the end of each month, look at how much money is left in each account while comparing it against how much was allotted for that expense category during that time period.
Rent textbooks when possible, or buy used instead of new
There are some great ways to save money and get the textbooks you need for your classes. Here’s what you can do:
- Rent textbooks from an online service like Chegg or Amazon. They’ll send the book to your home, then pick it up at the end of the semester and reimburse you based on how many days remain in your rental contract.
- Buy used textbooks whenever possible—they’re often much cheaper than new ones, and they’re just as good! You can usually find them at local second-hand shops or online retailers like eBay.
- Borrow books from friends who were in a class with you last year if they’re willing to lend them out (and not sell them).
Get a part-time job with benefits.
A part-time job with benefits is a great way to make money and gain experience. You’ll be able to earn extra cash for school supplies, work towards a car payment, set up an emergency fund or save for retirement. A part-time job also gives you access to discounts on items that you need now and in the future. For example, if your bank offers free checking along with a monthly bonus when you open an account and get a direct deposit from your employer, this may be worth looking into!
If you are looking for ways to prepare yourself for college and beyond, the best advice we can give you is to start saving money as early as possible. The sooner you start planning for what lies ahead, the better off you will be when entering adulthood.