Many high school students are counting down the days until they get to move out and go to college! The idea of being on your own is exciting, but it comes with much more responsibility. Because most schools do not offer personal finance classes, their students will graduate financially illiterate. Without basic financial knowledge, recent high school graduates could end up struggling with debt and credit problems later in life. Here are 5 money lessons for high school students to learn before graduation.
List of 5 Money Lessons for High School Students
Spend less than you earn.
This may seem fairly basic, but if you don’t keep track of your spending, you could be in the red at the end of the month. A great way to ensure you’re spending less than you earn is to create a budget, and stick to it. A budget will show you how much money you’re taking in every month and how much you need to allocate towards utilities, groceries, and other bills.
Automatically save a portion of your income.
With most banks, you can schedule automatic transfers from your checking account into your savings account. When you save money automatically, you won’t be tempted to spend it. The money that you save can go towards an emergency fund, and then you don’t touch that money unless it’s an emergency. If an unexpected medical or family emergency comes up, you can at least be financially prepared. It’s better to be prepared than to stress and be scrambling for cash. In fact, these aren’t just a money lessons for high school students. Everyone should be saving money and have an emergency fund!
Understand how to build credit and manage credit cards.
Building credit was a bit of a tricky concept for me to wrap my head around when I first learned about it. What do you mean you need to have credit to build credit?! It sounds like a catch-22, but you can start 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. Once you get a secured card, put small purchases on it and pay it off in full every month. This is how you start building good credit history. A good credit score is needed for everything from finding an apartment to getting a low interest rate on an auto loan.
Start thinking about how you will save for retirement.
For high school students who just work weekend or summer jobs, it may sound strange to start thinking about retirement. However, anyone with earned income can invest in a Roth IRA. Many Americans are financially under prepared for retirement. As a teenager, it might be a good idea to start putting some money into a retirement account. The money you put in an IRA will grow over time, so the earlier you start, the better. That gives the money more time to grow. It might not be the most “fun” use of your money, but your future self will thank you!
Understand how debt works.
As you start applying to colleges, you may have to start thinking about student loans as well. Debt is not something to be taken lightly, and unfortunately it’s something many Americans struggle to manage. Before you take out any loans, you’ll need to figure out when you’ll have to start paying off the debt and how you’ll pay it. Even if you don’t choose to go to college, there are still ways you can fall into debt. If you don’t use your credit cards responsibly, you could find yourself with a mountain of credit card debt. Debt doesn’t have to take over your life. As long as you understand the loans you take out and pay off your credit cards every month, you can avoid debt problems!
These money lessons for high school students are just the beginning of the journey to becoming financially literate. It’s up to you to keep doing your research and learning how to best manage your finances!
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session today!