Are you a teen who is struggling with your allowance, let alone save up?
Do you have the tendency to habitually want to spend money every time when you are out?
Do you get allowances from your parents yet, often cannot spend within budget or even end up overspending, or having to borrow from your friends?
How can you even start to save up when you haven’t even started working and you have no income besides the measly allowance you get for school?
As teenagers (from an average family background), we often get limited amount of daily or weekly allowances, usually just (barely) enough for us to spend especially when we have extra curricular activities after school or when we have to go out with our friends.
As we grow older, the issue only seem to magnify when our allowances stay relatively the same but our activities and expenses increase. Over time, it becomes a touchy subject when we step into adulthood and constantly find ourselves struggling with our finances, wishing that we had received financial education in school instead of balancing ledger in accounting classes.
Have you heard of the term ‘saving up for rainy days’ before? At our teenage phase, it may not seem applicable to us, but you might be surprised to know that when you practise this seemingly useless habit, it will help you in your adulthood greatly.
Saving up need not be hard, nor does spending quality fun time with friends need to involve more allowance than you are getting.
Here is how you can get started.
Plant Good Money Habits
Before we can start practising good habits, we will need to eradicate the bad habits, work on our mindset towards money before we start planting the good ones.
First Step: Observe Your Spending Mentality; observe how you are spending your money.
Do you often overspend? Do you always have the urge to want to buy? Do you have the tendency to want to buy something every time you enter a shop? When you go grocery shopping, do you mindlessly throw in candies and drinks into the cart? When you are out with your friends, do you feel the need to treat them or buy something when they are buying? Is this habit learned from someone you know?
What we practice or the habits we build on are often directly or indirectly influenced by the people around us, be it our family members or our social circle. Mindless shopping is a bad spending habit which could affect us as we grow up because the amount that we will spend will only increase over time. As we become more accustomed to spending, it becomes ingrained in us that we eventually spend without even realizing what we have spent on.
Second Step: Understand your finances; how much you are getting each day and how are you spending your money.
Observe what you are spending on every day, especially when you are around others. Do you feel that the need to spend or buy is stronger? Do you know what you are spending on?
If you observe the adults and how they are spending their money, you might find that many have no problem with spending, and end up struggling to make ends meet by the middle of the month. It does not apply to everyone but what we practice when we are young, affect who we turn out to be in our adult life.
When you are out with your family, watch how the adults are spending their money. Are they spending wisely? Do they bargain for discounts? Do they work out the savings from their purchases or do they buy when it looks nice, or feel good to have, grabbing items from the rack without thinking much? Do you see a trend in terms of your spending habits to the people around you?
Third Step: Find out what money mean to you? What is the meaning of spending to you? Why do you spend?
[This is not the main cause, but major contributing factor in most situations] Most families are dual income these days, which means both parents are usually working during the week and have little time to spend with their children. Some parents may compensate what they cannot give (time, concern and attention) their children by gifting them what they want, material stuffs, more allowances, and so on. Hence, this builds the meaning and value of money to their children. To some, it may mean freedom to do what they want, or even a means of communication or attention seeking.
On the other hand, having money may seem like security to others. When one have money, it makes them feel more secured, confident or even more powerful against others.
Fourth Step: Change Your Perspective Towards Money.
Money is a powerful piece of tool, but unless you assign meaning to the value of money, it is simple a piece of printed paper or molded coin.
Money is not everything, but without money, you cannot do a lot of things. However, it does not mean you let money control your livelihood or the quality of friendships you will enjoy. Being around with friends, spending quality and meaningful moments together does not have to involve a lot of your allowances.
What is your perception towards spending? Do you have bargaining because it feels cheap? Do you reject buying from second hand shops because it feels like a place not for the rich? Do you go for brands because they make you feel classier? Change your perspectives because none of these are true!
Saving up can be fun and interesting, as well as engaging with your family and friends too.
How to make saving up easier?
Here are some ways we can make saving up, if not curb overspending fun and easier.
Save Every Coins You Have Left
You don’t have to spend every last coin in your pocket. At the end of everyday, drop your changes to your piggy bank and leave it untouched for the next 12 months. See how much your change accumulates by the end of it.
Make it your goal to have changes in your pocket everyday.
Realize that Enjoyment Need Not Be Expensive
If you are one who spends a lot on friends or on activities that seem to be engaging but not really (such as watching movies or buying new gadgets that your friends also have), can you now tell me how do you feel after each event? Do you feel like a better individual? Do you feel your friendships strengthened?
Enjoyment happens when you are engaged with each other. Playing sports together, helping each other out, studying or working on projects together or even exploring places on foot or bike can build on your friendship without spending much.
Explore Fun, Free and Meaningful Activities
Find out the various avenues you can tap on to save cost. For instance, make use of student rates and concessions. Certain places sell cheaper tickets or entrances to students or persons below age 18 during non-peak periods as well.
Explore activities that do not require you to spend money. Get creative and encourage your friends to suggest novel ideas of doing things together as well.
Manage Your Own Funds — Demonstrates That You Are A Responsible Individual
How many of us have friends who come from wealthy or well-to-do background, and how many of our friends are from humble families?
When we mingle with the richer friends, we find that we tend to splurge more and think less of saving costs. The richer friends have thicker allowances and more buffer to spend on what they want. Often times, we also end up spending more without us even realizing.
When we learn to budget our expenses accordingly, we also learn to prioritize what we need with with we have. For instance, instead of buying soft drinks and snacks, and skipping meals because you didn’t have enough $ left, why not prioritize and bring your own water. Each time you skip buying those soft drinks and snacks, it could easily save you $2–3.
The deal is not to spend blindly or have others perceive you as a rich person but to demonstrate that you are a responsible and sensible individual who knows how to make use of his/her money well, and getting the best out of each experiences.
Think and Experiment — Out Of The Box.
It is not easy to stop buying or change your habits when you are used to spending $x on each meal or every day. That means you will miss the yummy good food or the moments out with your friends doing fun stuffs. However, if we don’t change now, it will be more difficult to change a few years down the lane when you are so accustomed to spending first and suffering later because you have nothing saved up in the first place.
Do you know that you can save up and at the same time, spend on what you like or enjoy doing?
How about Paying Yourself (Saving Up) First? When you first get your allowance, allocate a certain amount ~15% of it into your savings (piggy bank) first. Dropping a 50 cent coin into your piggy back every day, could easily earn you $2.50 in a 5-day school week. In a year, you could have easily saved up $125 from this little oblivious habit.
How about Delaying Short Term Feel-Good Activities? Many of us want what we want right there and then. When we are hot and thirsty, we waste no time buying cold soft drinks. When something new comes up, we inevitably have to be the first one to own or try them out, but so what if we are a few weeks or months late? So what if we don’t spend on that new game which could cost $30 cheaper in a few months’ time? What if we waited for a few more days before deciding whether we want that new pair of shoes or not? Not only are you delaying buying something that you may not necessary want after all, you are also conditioning yourself to not be easily tempted. Delaying getting what you want does not make you a laggard or dull, it simply means you are making reasonable and responsible decisions. It shows others that you know what you want instead of following the crowd blindly.
Practice Sharing. How can you share food or drinks? Could you buy a bigger portion and split the cost? Could you buy a big bottle and share instead of ordering ala carte? How can you share a game that needs more than one player? Could you rotate or take turns playing what you have with your friends?
Invest in quality, not quantity or aesthetic. Brands do not always equal quality. A cheaper unknown brand could also be more durable than one that is expensive, looks nice and branded. However, there are also those with quality with some prices tag. Rather than buying something that is cheap and cannot last, it is more practical to invest in something of quality because a sub-standard item that requires repair or replacement constantly will cost you more in the long term.
Experiment for yourself, feel how it feels and tweak your ways to save up more each time. If you can, share with and teach your friends a trick or two on how to save more! Better still, engage your close friends to start saving up together with you and learn new ways to save up together.
In an ideal world, it would be fun, interesting and liberating when we don’t have to worry about what we spend or where the money comes from. However, have you ever realized how much are your parents or guardians struggling to put the money in your pocket, the money that you readily get whenever you ask from them, the cash that they might be having trouble forking out because you want to go out with your friends but they want the best for you, the expenses that have to be paid every month to keep your living environment comfortable? Don’t take what you have for granted.
Take the time to reflect on your spending habits, how and where you got them from, what money and spending means to you, to identifying the real meaning of money to yourself.
Learning to spend within our limit is a skill we all have to pick up sooner or later, if not now, then when you started earning an income for yourself. However, when you start now, you are starting on the right foundation now and it makes the process easier. By the time when you step into adulthood, not only will you have a savings of your own but you will also be leading a positive habit / lifestyle that others struggle to correct.
Do you have any secret methods that you practise and can share with us? Please tell us so we can all spend wise and save smart together.
Originally published at l3hub.org.