Student Money Smarts
It's never too early to learn good spending and saving habits. Check out the resources below for some tips to keeping your finances in shape when you're under 30.
Elementary School: Learn how to earn money and why it's important to save.
Middle & High School: Check out the resources here for help in creating a budget and saving money while you spend.
College: With newfound independence comes financial responsibility. Get tips for managing your finances wisely as you plan for the future.
You’re growing up and assuming more responsibilities. And maybe you’re getting an allowance for some of those chores you do around the house. Perhaps your relatives have finally started giving you cash for your birthday.
And now that you’ve gotten a little taste of financial freedom, you want more! Here are a few suggestions for how you can earn money if you’re under 18:
- Get a part-time job.
- Referee at local youth sporting events.
- Tutor younger kids.
- Do extra work around the house.
- Walk dogs or pet-sit.
- Do yard work.
- Get a paper route.
Now that you're earning money, it's important to start saving money and here's why:
1. Emergencies: You forgot to put your soccer ball away last night and the dog chewed it up. Your parents refuse to buy you a new one because it was your responsibility to bring it in. If you don’t have any money saved, you won't be getting a new ball.
2. Current Expenses: Need money for a new game or baseball glove? If you’ve set aside some savings, these expenses will be easy to pay for.
3. Future Purchases: Prepare today for future major expenses like buying a car and paying for college.
If you want to start saving and earning dividends at the same time, ask your parent or guardian to help you open a credit union account. Then you can look at your statements together and see how your money has grown!
Get a head start in life by mastering the basics of finances now. It's the best time to do so, since you're likely starting to earn a little more, perhaps from a part time job.
Creating a Budget & Making a Savings Plan
Creating a budget and saving money isn’t easy. It takes a little practice and a lot of discipline. A good way to start is to develop a savings plan. A savings plan shows you where your money comes from, how much there is and where it goes. Here is what to do.
Pledge to stick to your plan.
Figure out how much money you have coming in each month.Count your income from your allowance, part-time job and any other sources.
Work out how much you want to save. Divide the money into several different categories including everyday expenses, savings for large purchases and savings for the future.
Put your plan in writing. Track how much money you have coming in and how much you spend.
Set spending limits.
Adjust your plan as needed.
Now take a look at where you spend your money. Do you overspend in several categories? By keeping track, you’ll learn about your spending habits. Then you’ll start to see ways to save.
Saving Money While You Spend
Saving money isn’t just about putting money in a savings account. You can also save money by being a smart shopper. Here are some ways to stretch those dollars:
Don’t impulse shop. When you’re hanging out with friends at the mall, don’t buy something just because you think it looks cool. First, step back and ask yourself the following questions: Do I really need this item? Am I sure that I’ll use it or wear it? If I make this purchase, can I still pay any debts I owe? Can I find this item cheaper or on sale somewhere else?
Shop the sales. If you shop the big sales to buy needed items, your shopping will stay focused and you'll get more for your money.
Shop places other than the mall. The mall is one of the most expensive places to buy things. Try outlet stores, discount stores or consignment or second-hand stores instead and save some cash.
Go to matinées and discount theaters. Movies are expensive. To help you save money look in the newspaper for discount theaters, go see a matinée (usually a show before 5 p.m.) and don’t spend money on refreshments at the theater.
Don’t waste money on sub-par products. Research items before you buy them to be sure that they do what they’re advertised to do. Check out consumer or specialty magazines and read their reviews and comparisons.
Now you're not only saving money, you probably need to borrow some too. Don't fall into the trap of many college students: amassing thousands in credit card debt before your four years is up. Also, don't waste money on things you don't need to, such as expensive ATM fees.
Getting a Credit Card
Obtaining credit is a big step. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand what you’re signing up for. Look at the following:
Interest Rates: How much do you want to pay to borrow money? 21%, 18%, 12%? Are you earning that kind of interest on your savings? No! Be smart; shop for the lowest interest rate you can find.
Late Payment Penalties: You could be charged a $35 late fee on a $50 monthly payment! Always make sure you know how much the late fees are. Then avoid paying them late by mailing your check several days before the due date.
Beware of Introductory Offers: Some credit cards charge little or no interest for the first six months to one year, but after that the rates go up. Read the terms of the credit card carefully so you know what the rates will be.
Annual Fees: Some credit cards have annual fees; some don’t. If the card has a fee, check out the reason for it. Does the card offer benefits, such as store discounts or travel rewards? If you don’t need the benefits offered, pick a card with no annual fee.
Look for all of this information in the "Fed Box” of each credit card promotion. Remember, AllyFed is always a great place to get a credit card!
How to Avoid ATM fees
It’s all about planning ahead. $1.50 here. $2.50 there. ATM surcharges keep rising. Your financial institution and the institution that owns the ATM you’re using may charge you for the transaction. Does it seem like you’re wasting good money? Well, you are! We can help — we’ve compiled a list of easy ways to help you avoid ATM fees.
- If you have a VISA Check Card, use it any place you can! Don’t spend your cash at restaurants, department stores and other places that take VISA. The money will come right out of your checking account.
- Budget your money throughout the month so you make fewer ATM withdrawals.
- Access surcharge-free ATMs.
- Use the cash back option at grocery stores, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, CVS and others.
- Avoid ATMs in hotels, casinos, restaurants, and similar locations. They usually have high surcharges.
- Consider using traveler’s checks, personal checks, and credit cards instead of ATMs when traveling.