When you’re under 21, managing what little money you have can be a real nightmare. The world of personal finance is something new to you. Something foreign and strange.
You wonder how to do things like budgeting, and how you can still have a little left over at the end of the month. Well, I tell you, there’s a lot to know. Getting to grips with the basics early will set you up for life. If you take financial responsibility early on, you’re setting yourself up with a skill you’re going to use your whole life. Pay attention, and learn.
You can’t manage your money if you have none. Income for an under 21 can come in many different forms.
It could be some allowance from your parents or guardians. This is nice, but it isn’t going to be much for most people. It’ll be something of a subsistence payment that you can use for occasional trips and treats.
Planning your finances with this has to be meticulous, you can’t just keep going back to your parents for money when you run out. If you want to show true financial responsibility you need to do it smartly.
If you only receive money at Christmas, birthdays, or other events, you have to plan for the long term. You might receive a decent lump sum at any given event. The trick is to make it last.
Now, if you want to be in control of your income fully, you need to get a job. Unless you’re already fabulously wealthy, you’re going to need a job sooner or later. If you have school or college to attend to, a part-time job can be fit easily into your schedule. You may not earn as much as you would full time, but it’ll tide you over.
Your first job is always going to be difficult. Nobody starts with a good job. You end up in an entry-level position and work your way up. Some people end up in better entry level jobs in better industries. Sometimes though, you have to do something you don’t like or don’t want to. That’s unfortunately how work is.
Once you’ve secured an income though, money management becomes a lot easier.
It’s smart to learn young that bargains are always going to be helpful when you’re trying to money manage. Don’t think because something is on offer or cheap that it isn’t worth your time.
If you have to take care of your food, discount food shops are on the rise and providing great deals. If you only have to figure yourself out a lunch, many supermarkets do meal deals that cheaply provide pretty much all you need to have a hearty lunch.
Likewise when you’re learning to drive, you want to find a good instructor at a low cost. The cost of driving lessons can mount up when you’re trying to be careful with your money, so you have to make sure you’re not paying out the nose for these things.
The same goes for your theory test. You need to do your research on where exactly to get the best deal.
Whether you’re going to work or just have to travel somewhere, getting around is a cost you may not be able to avoid. Whenever possible, try to walk. If you have a bicycle, you can get to places with that. Though that in itself provides its own cost risk. Maintaining the bicycle can get a little expensive, so treat it with care so you can space out those broken chains and flat tyres.
When you can’t get somewhere by walking or by bike, public transport is going to be your saviour. Never use a taxi if you don’t have to. The cost is never worth it, even if you do get directly delivered to and from your destination.
If you’re using a public transport method regularly enough, be sure to get a pass for it. There are passes for buses, trains, and trams amongst others. They require a monthly payment but if you’re travelling at least three or four days a week, you’ll make a handy saving over buying separate tickets each day.
Whether you’re looking to save for something specific or not, you’re going to want to keep your excess cash stored away. Having it burn a hole in your pocket is not going to help at all. It’ll only make you more tempted to splurge.
You can keep your excess in your current account, or you could lock it away further in a savings account like an ISA. An ISA will provide interest on your savings, relative to the interest rate at the time. Interest rates currently won’t provide much monetary interest for you.
That said, having your savings in a different account can help greatly in stopping you from spending it. Maybe you can even start saving for your retirement.
Weekly & Monthly Expenses
If you’re partying all weekend, you’re not going to have any excess. Likewise, if you just have too many bills mounting up. It’s important you don’t get yourself in a position where the bills are taking up most of your income. You should look over the best credit cards for college students, which are useful for expenses and finance planning.
It’s important to think really if you can afford something before you sign up for it. Cost it against your monthly income and current ongoings. Never do anything immediately, always think about it and if you need it.
Spending all your money in one go only makes it harder for yourself as the month goes on. Break up your spending sessions. You don’t have to spend it all drinking every weekend. Give yourself a rest, and maybe splurge on a night out or product once a month. It’ll help you control any rapid draining of your finances.
Finance is hard for anybody. It’s just being under 21 means you may not have much money to manage in the first place. With a little thought, you can make it last. Be sensible, and you’ll go far.