Staff writer and news editor (respectively)
We figured out the benefits of summer jobs early on in our high school careers. What started out as opportunities for quick cash turned into jobs that would provide a comfortable rainy day fund (at least for one of us).
Never having been a big spender, money from my first job still sits in a checking account I started when I was 13. Once I started making money, I would take my checks directly to the bank and deposit 100% of their value. This worked pretty well for the first two years, until my parents told me I needed to use this money to pay for my own expenditures.
Over the past couple years, I have taught myself to manage these expenditures so I can continually increase the size of my bank account. Budgeting is fairly easy at my age because most of the essentials like rent, utilities and groceries are paid for by my parents. Some expenditures that I have to pay for are entertainment (iTunes and movies), unessential clothes, food, parking and gifts to family or friends.
Food is one of the hardest things for me to budget. Going out to lunch seems harmless due to its relatively cheap price; however it is easy to lose track of what you’re spending. For example, a full meal at Chipotle is about $9.50. That doesn’t sound too expensive, and swiping a debit card makes it seem even cheaper because you’re not handling the physical cash. Say you go out to Chipotle once a week because you’re a senior and you can. After a month, you have already spent $38 on lunch, not including the gas you used to get there.
My budget allows me to spend about two thirds of that amount on lunch in a month. Using an app called Mint, I can track exactly how much I’m spending on what and it allows me to set limits for certain categories. It also shows any deposits I put in the bank and creates graphs of my spending.
Other than finding a job with incredible pay (which is highly unlikely), budgeting is key to securing money in an account that you will most certainly need in the future.
I began to earn my own money in the summer following freshman year. I decided to lifeguard. I struggled to pass my lifeguard test, specifically the treading water portion, but once I passed I had my first job. I earned a decent amount of money that summer and that carried me into my sophomore year. At this point, I did not have a debit card, so most of my money was savings. I spent my own money but a lot of my money came from my parents, and I had no expenses.
Junior year I worked as an intern, earning a grand total of zero dollars. Interning is a great opportunity to gain a lot of experience, but because of the lack of income, it is helpful to have a healthy amount of savings prior to taking the internship path. The following summer I had the same job, but I this time I made money. With the money I made came a debit card and expenses. Once I began to make money, I also had to pay for way more. I paid for gas, meals, and all of my extra-curricular activities. I also found it way too easy to swipe the debit card. I learned the hard way that money goes fast. My three tips to manage money properly are: constantly check on account balances, use debit and credit cards smartly, and limit extracurricular spending, so there is always money left over for the important things like gas.