How to save money as a teenager so you can get yourself a car, pay for college, or take a trip

There are plenty of reasons to save money as a teenager. Whether you’re looking to save for your first car, college, or a gap-year trip around the world, the most important part of saving as a teen is getting started.

Saving for life goals and big purchases is a great way to start to understand the value of money and work. And an even bigger benefit of learning how to save money as a teenager is that you can start building a savings habit that will last forever.

It’s a much harder lesson to learn when you’re older and have bills and financial obligations. Start while you’re young, though, and you might develop some good, lifelong habits.

If you haven’t already started to build a savings account, it’s never too late to get going, whether you’re 13, 19, or anywhere in between. Here are the steps to get started saving, and how to keep the habit going.

How to save money as a teenager

1. Start by opening a savings account

Start your savings account now, and you’ll always have a place to put the money you want to save for later.

If you’re under age 18, you’ll likely need a parent to help you set it up. Almost all banks offer savings accounts — ask your parents where they do their banking for a recommendation, or look into local credit unions.

You’ll probably want to find one without a monthly fee or minimum balance requirement, and a high interest rate is a bonus. Then, you’ll just need to bring the right documents and sign the paperwork to set one up to start saving.

You can also looking into opening a savings account online — you can typically get a higher interest rate that way.

2. Then, use that savings account

As you start to use your new account, you’ll learn about all the things you can do with it, like automating your savings, earning interest, and more.

Start using it as soon as you open it. Deposit gifts, a certain amount each month, or any other money you might have laying around. It won’t do you any good if you forget about it.

3. Start earning to start saving

There are plenty of ways to make money as a teen. And they’re not all traditional jobs, either — opportunities like creating things to sell on Etsy and listing unique clothing items on Depop are flexible enough to fit with your school schedule and keep you earning all year long. Having a summer job can also be a great way to earn and save.

4. Set a goal for yourself

It’s a lot harder to do things when you don’t have a goal in mind. To make saving easier, make a specific and measurable goal.

Want to have $1,000 by graduation for a trip? Need $2,000 as a down payment for your first car by the time you finish high school? Break those amounts into smaller monthly or weekly goals — it will make saving feel more attainable.

Open an online savings account today and start putting money towards your goals:

5. Make a budget

If you know how much you need to save in order to meet your goal, you’ll also be able to make a clear budget that prioritizes your savings. Getting into the habit of budgeting now will be a big help when you take on more bills and other financial responsibilities.

6. And stick to the budget

The hardest part of having a budget is sticking to it, and that’s true whether you’re 16 or 66.

Unfortunately, many get into the habit of skipping their monthly savings when they need more cash flow. If you can break that habit early and see saving as a necessary part of your monthly expenses, you’ll be one step ahead later in life.

7. Use an app if you need to

Most of us in the digital age find something helpful about being able to see our money and goals right on our phones.

And the good news is there are plenty of ways to do that. There are all sorts of money apps available, like Mint for budgeting, and other apps to help you save, such as Tip Yourself, which will allow you to give yourself a reward in the form of a tip to your savings account.

8. Look for ways to save on your expenses, and put those savings away

If you can find ways to save on the things you already spend on, you’ll have a lot more money available to save.

Going to the mall with friends? Scope out the clearance section of your favorite stores to save on the things you’d normally buy. Suggest a movie night at home instead of going out to the movie theater.

Then, take the money you would have spent and put it in your savings account.

9. Start planning ahead and get motivated

One of the most exciting parts about saving is thinking about what those savings will eventually become. Start thinking ahead about how you’ll use the money you’re saving, and how to maximize that money.

If you’re saving for a car, start learning about the costs associated with owning a vehicle, how to buy one, and which car is right for you.

And if college saving is your plan, start looking into dual enrollment options and Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes to start earning college credit while you’re still in high school, which can cut down your college expenses.

Doing things today to work towards your savings goal will help you to stay motivated as you start saving. You’ll be more likely to do the legwork of saving if your goal is in sight.

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