- Save 5% of All the money you get - Gifts, too.
Saving 5% isn't hard, it's only a nickel out of every dollar. But the earlier you start saving it, the faster it will grow. So, when you need a hunk of cash to buy a car, clothes for the prom, or an expensive trip with your classmates, it will be there for you.
- Have a Savings Goal.
Are you saving for a car? The prom? A trip? Whatever your goal is, figure out how much money you will need, and start saving. Having a goal focuses your brain power, and makes it easier to save (It's cool, too. Watch your friend's reaction when you tell them you are saving for a car).
- Open a Savings Account.
You can open a savings account online or at a local bank. You will earn a higher interest rate with an online savings account. Either way, you will need to have your parents open the account for you if you are under 18. If you want to be the only one who can access your cash, then save it in your room somewhere. Just make a commitment to save, and don't touch that money until you've reached your savings goal.
- Spend your money with a Plan.
Take a minute to write down what you want to buy and how much it costs, before you go to the store. At the top of a piece of paper, write how much money you have. Subtract the cost of what you want to buy. Is there enough left for your 5% Savings (leave 5% at home so you can't spend it)? Do you have enough for the tax? It only takes a minute to write it down, but it keeps you on track once you get to the store.
- Go online to find the Best Price.
Always compare prices at different stores to find the best price for what you want to buy. You will be surprised how much you can save just by shopping at a different store. Try Froogle.com or pricegrabber.com for online shopping, or go to local store web sites like Walmart.com or Sears.com to find local prices. You don't have to buy it online, you are just checking prices.
- Think of what you buy as an Investment.
An investment is something you spend money on that you expect to last for a while. So, ask yourself how long this thing (that you are buying) is going to last. If it isn't going to last very long, like a pizza, don't spend much money for it. If it will give you value for a long time, like a CD player, then it is a good investment and spending more money on it is a good idea.
- Don't Borrow Money without a Plan to Pay it back.
Avoiding debt (owing someone money) is best, but if you do borrow have a plan to pay it back. Write it out on paper (writing always helps to focus your brain to work on your plan, even when you aren't consciously thinking about it). Can you work it off? Can you earn extra money recycling aluminum, cutting grass, doing laundry for someone? If you can't come up with a plan, don't borrow money.
- Save all your Receipts.
You just never know when something you bought is going to break, stop working, or just not work right. If you have the receipt, it's easy to take it back (most stores will give you your money back on defective merchandise for up to 30 days after you buy it). And, receipts are your record of what you spent your money on. With a record of your spending habits, you can go back and see if you are making good investments or bad ones.