Saving money as a teenager is hard, especially when you have friends who are out buying new clothes and going on weekend trips. But it's not impossible. Here's how teens can save.

This article is part of a series teaching essential personal finance concepts to teenagers. At Money Under 30, we believe that it’s never too early to become financially responsible; we hope this series will be a good place to start.

Whether it’s a new iPhone, that trip you’ve had your heart set on, or bigger goals like buying your first car, you have big dreams as a teenager. Your parents might help you get some of these things along the way, but saving your own money towards these goals makes achieving them more rewarding.

Here’s how teens can save:

1. Start a savings account

As young YouTube enthusiasts like Emily Wass will tell you, you might feel conflicted or unmotivated to put money in your savings account if you’re not making much. But no matter if it’s $10 or $100, it can help.

Whether it’s for each day, week, or month, set saving targets and stick to them. A savings calculator will give you an indication of how long it will take to reach your goal.

Once you’ve established targets, put the money you plan to save for that period in an account. This will help reduce any temptation to spend. If you’re working part-time at your local supermarket or merely getting an allowance, put some of it aside.

Contributing to your account on a regular basis and following your targets establishes sound financial management and encourages better spending habits.

HSBC DirectHSBC Direct Savings would be the perfect bank to start saving with.  They currently offer a 0.15% APY which is in the top 1% of all nationwide banks and there is no minimum deposit required to open the account. In addition to savings, HSBC Direct Savings also has a variety of CD’s and checking accounts available designed to get you wherever you need to go.

With HSBC Direct Savings, there are no monthly maintenance fees so your account balance will only grow.

2. Separate spending money from savings

Though you’ve stashed the money you’ve made in a savings account, you might be tempted into thinking you should spend that money if you’ve run out of cash right? No—don’t touch it!

Your savings are for essentials and emergencies, not for more straightforward purchases like food and so on. The smart thing to do is to have a checking (or “transaction account”) and a direct deposit account which you can access on demand. You can always start a student checking account and put some of your money in it in case you don’t want to keep too much cash on you.

This way, your goals won’t be conflicted. Savings accounts are created for the long haul while checking accounts deal with your everyday needs. Always keep that in mind.

3. Keep track of your purchases

You can save money easier if you keep a book of your purchases. That way you have a record of your spending so you know whether you’ve been spending more than you should be. Keep all your receipts and write down your spending totals.

Always date your entries and divide your money into categories, i.e., your income and expenses. If there’s cash that you can’t track for one reason or another, make a note of it and even write small reviews of the things you bought. Once you see some of the figures besides items you purchased, you might realize just how silly it was. Whether it’s a bad movie you watched or a party that bored you to death, you’re more likely to be watchful and selective in your spending.

If you’re not into the old-school method of writing stuff down, you can look into apps that will give you cash back on your purchases. If you ever shop at a grocery store or convenience store, you can snap a photo of your receipt with the Fetch Rewards app and earn rewards for buying top products like Pepsi and Hershey’s. 

You can even make use of some of the tools provided by your bank’s own online programs. Many banks are able to categorize your spending and showcase it in easy-to-read charts and graphs. This allows you to see your bank account in real-time and get a better idea how much money you’re spending.

I’ll caution you though, being less invested with your money (pun intended) means you’re less connected to it—and thus you may spend more. By taking the time to track receipts and write down purchases manually, you will be well-informed where all of your dollars are going and will end up being more cautious with your spending.

4. Ask your parents

Yes, that groan you’re making while looking at this suggestion can be heard all-around. But, it’s not a bad thing to ask your parents for help when trying to save a few bucks.

You can ask your parents to match your weekly or monthly savings by contributing something to your account. If you put aside $25 a week for the month and show your parents that you’ve stuck to that target, you can ask them to contribute $100 at month-end. Once you’ve shown them that you’re serious about putting aside money, they’ll reach out and help. It’s not a shame to ask them.

5. Do housework

If you’re too prideful to ask your parents for help and want to turn something you don’t like into a money maker, offer to do more chores around the house for more money. Fold laundry, wash clothes, clean, all those things you’re not too fond of doing. You can also watch your little brother or sister at an hourly rate.

You can also offer to buy groceries for your neighbors and help them around their houses as well for a fee, as well as mow their lawns or shovel snow. Turn chores into scores of cash over the while whenever you can.

6. Use your student ID

Another idea you maybe didn’t think about much, your student ID can be so much more than just a card with a less than flattering picture of yourself. As Seventeen Magazine recommends, it can get you up to 10% off at Urban Outfitters, Charlotte Russe, and some of your other favorite retailers.

Getting all the discounts you can make saving a whole lot easier, and ensures you can put more of what you make in a safe place until you need it. It would also be a good idea to ask about student discounts and deals everywhere you go. Some businesses may not openly advertise their student discounts but would be more than happy to provide them if you ask.

7. Spend smart

When you spend, it doesn’t mean you have to spend alone. Think about sharing costs with your friends or siblings where you can, whether on magazines, trips, books and so on. Capitalize on any interests you share with people by splitting the things you each want.

Also, try and collect as many coupons and gift cards as you can. If the gifts cards you get are for things you’re not interested in buying, feel free to re-sell them. Gift marketplaces like Raise will be happy to flip them for a fee.

8. Get a summer job

If you’re old enough, getting a summer job will help you save some extra cash when necessary.

If you don’t have any significant plans during your summer vacation, why not make money? It keeps you from making regrettable decisions with whatever allowance or little money you may have. Plus, it allows you to keep replenishing your account(s) until it’s time to hit the books again.

Summer jobs are also an excellent opportunity to gain experience. They can help you get better jobs in the future that offer higher pay.

Summary

Saving money as a teenager is hard, especially if you haven’t yet developed the skills to make it in the working world. It’s also tough when you have friends who are out buying new clothes and going on weekend trips. But who said you need a wealth of experience to bring in wealth?

Improvising helps, as well as keeping distinct records tracking how much you spend. There are also benefits as a student that you can use to your advantage, apps to help you access your accounts, and you can even turn your hobbies into revenue makers.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Start saving towards your future while your future is way ahead of you!

Read more about finances for teens

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About the author

Chris Muller picture
Total Articles: 197
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.