Learning how to be financially responsible as a teen will most definitely contribute to a person’s future financial success. Therefore, learning basic financial strategies and goals can help teens become financially responsible now and down the road. This way, they can be better prepared for getting rid of debt in the future.
Teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 years old scored an average of just 60 percent on the 2015 financial literacy test by National Financial Educator’s Council. Minnesota scored the lowest in financial literacy with an average score of 45 percent. This age group scored slightly higher in Massachusetts with an average of 61 percent. Of the respondents, less than five percent scored at or above 90 percent and 11 percent scored at or above 80 percent.
The research shows that managing money as a teenager can be extremely challenging. Especially with the added pressure of affording daily expenses while large expenses, such as a car purchase or college, are on the horizon. Many teens find that they have a large number of wants and an exceptionally small budget. By having the right financial strategies now, teens are in a much better position for the future.
Financial Strategies for Teens
1. Budgeting – A budget helps teens learn how to live within their means. The budget is a spending plan that details how much money is coming in and how much is going out. It is extremely important that teens learn how to set up a budget. This is true even when they have a limited income.
2. Saving – If teens want to save more, they can cut back on what they spend per week and add it to their savings. Learning to save has great advantages when it comes to creating a strong financial future. It is ideal for teens to save half of what they earn, especially during a time when expenses are lower. It can be easier for teens to save if they know exactly what they are saving for and how much money they will need. A “saving for a goal” calculator is a great resource to use in situations such as these.
3. Having a Bank Account – Once teens have learned how to save, they need to decide where to save it. Piggy banks can be a great and fun place to save money, but once teens start receiving checks or large sums of money, it is best that they open their own savings or checking account. Choose a bank that charges little or no fees for having an account and takes very little money to start an account.
4. Smart Spending – It is important for teens to practice self-control when it comes to spending their money. One part of self-control is thinking before you buy, and the other part is having the ability to distinguish between wants and needs. “Needs” are the things we can’t live without, such as shelter, food, and clothing. “Wants” are the things that make our lives more pleasurable, but we can survive without. When teens can control their spending on wants, they have more money available to save for future needs.
5. Smart Borrowing – Although taking out a loan may not be necessary at the moment, it is never too early to start learning about credit and how it works. Credit is a tool that allows you to buy now and pay later. The golden rule is charge only what you can afford to pay each month and make these payments on time. Another rule of thumb is not to open more cards than you need. Opening multiple cards in a short period of time can have a negative effect on credit.