Most high schoolers are counting the days until they get to move out and go to college. It’s an exciting thing for teenagers to think about – but it’s also crucial for them to learn financial literacy first. Without basic financial knowledge, recent high school graduates could end up struggling with debt and credit problems later in life. To prepare for financial responsibility, here are 5 key money lessons for high schoolers to learn before graduation.
Spend less than you earn:
As basic as this sounds, it’s one of the most crucial principles for personal finance. If you don’t keep track of your spending, you could be in the red by the end of the month! To prevent this, start by creating a budget. Account for all your monthly expenses, such as toiletries, school supplies, food, or rent and utilities if you decide to live off campus. If your budget allows, you can also leave a little room for fun things like going out or shopping. Treating yourself now and then can help you stick to your budget. More importantly, staying on budget helps you avoid credit card debt!
Automatically save a portion of your income:
With most banks, you can set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. By saving money automatically, you won’t be as tempted to spend it all. Instead, you can use the savings to build an emergency fund. This will help you be financially prepared for emergencies, such as a medical or family-related one. It’s better than being stressed and scrambling for cash when life throws you a surprise. In fact, these aren’t just money lessons for high schoolers. Our credit counseling belief is that everyone should save money and have an emergency fund!
Understand how to build credit and manage credit cards:
Building credit now will help you in the future. After you graduate college and start the next phase of your life, you’ll need good credit for many goals, like renting an apartment or getting a car loan. Start building credit by getting a secured credit card. These cards function like real credit cards, but with a few differences. Your credit limit is usually whatever the initial deposit was, which can be anywhere from $200 to $1,000. Put small purchases on it and pay it off in full every month. This is how you start building good credit history.
Start thinking about saving for retirement:
It might seem odd to start thinking of retirement if you’re just a teenager. But although retirement may seem far off, saving early is the best thing to do. Unfortunately, many Americans are not financially prepared for retirement. Thus, being proactive is critical. Even if you’re just working a summer or weekend job, you can start contributing to a Roth IRA! This account is available to anyone with earned income. You might not be able to put away much at first, but it’s still a great start! The money you contribute will grow over time and benefit from compound interest. This is when your interest earns interest! Saving for retirement may not seem like the most “fun” use of your money, but trust us – your future self will thank you!
Understand how debt works:
If you’re applying to colleges, you may have to start thinking about student loans. Although debt is fairly common, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, debt is something that many Americans struggle to manage. Take the time to learn about debt before considering student loans or other forms of borrowing. Make sure that you fully understand the terms and repayment obligations associated with loans. If you choose to use credit cards, do so responsibly and pay off the monthly balances to avoid accumulating excessive credit card debt.
These 5 money lessons are a strong start to learning financial literacy, but it doesn’t end there. To become financially empowered, keep learning about the best ways to manage your finances. Start taking control of your financial future today!
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session today!