Summary: In this article, you’ll learn about 50 of the best money saving tips for kids, teens and college students.
Regardless of your age or where you are on your financial journey, know that it’s possible for you to start saving money. Sometimes it can be as simple as putting your spare change into a savings jar or downloading a budgeting app to keep track of your spending and savings.
However, creating good spending and saving habits doesn’t happen overnight. It takes setting realistic goals and a commitment to making smart money decisions every single day.
While not all of these money saving tips will be relevant to everyone, read on to find the tips that apply to you and get on track to achieving your savings goals.
25 Money Saving Tips for Kids & Teens
Tip #1: Start with a Piggy Bank
For younger kids, a safe place to start saving dollars and coins is with a piggy bank. Any money earned from chores, mowing the lawn, or shoveling snow off of the neighbors driveway can be put straight in your piggy bank. Once the piggy bank is full, break it open to see how much money you’ve saved or start working to fill another piggy bank. From there, set a goal to save up enough money to warrant opening a savings account at your local bank.
Tip #2: Ask a Parent to Open a Bank Account For You
For older kids, perhaps with a little money saved up, consider opening up a savings account at a bank. You’ll be able to see just how much you are saving and track your progress toward your savings goals. Certain savings accounts offer interest earnings from the money in your account. Don’t be afraid to ask a parent or mentor to help you through this process.
Tip #3: Use Designated Savings Jars
Rather than keeping a wad of cash in your sock drawer, try using designated savings jars. Label your jars based on your goals. For example, one jar could be designated as college savings, another could be “play money,” for that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, etc.
However you choose to label your personal savings jars, make sure you set specific goals, with a time frame and how much money you need to have saved by that date. Using the “savings jar” method, is an easy way to organize your savings and watch it grow.
Tip #4: Make a Timeline
“I want to save $100.” Great! You’ve decided on the amount you’d like to save in order to reach your goal. However, the other key to setting goals and achieving them is holding yourself accountable to a timeline.
For instance, “I want to save $100 by December 1st.”
That is a specific goal, with a timeframe attached to it, which should create a sense of urgency to have $100 saved by a specific date. Remember, savings goals and timelines should be realistic to your individual situation. But, they should also push you a little bit outside of your comfort zone.
Not sure how to decide on a timeline? Look at how much money you earn each week and how much you can afford to save. If you earn $10 per week, and you put 100% of those earnings into savings, it will take 10 weeks to reach your goal. In this example, December 1st wouldn’t be a realistic goal.
Tip #5: Understand Wants vs Needs
Another money saving tip is to understand wants vs needs. While this may sound obvious, there is a big difference. So why is it so difficult to tell ourselves “no” when the newest iPhone comes out? As kids and teenagers, the lines between wants and needs can become blurred, especially if your basic needs have always been met.
Needs include food, shelter, and clothing. Anything on top of basic needs are considered wants, because they’re “extra”. Try making a list of wants vs needs and start living by the rule that needs should always outweigh wants.
Tip #6: Set Savings Goals
Let’s start with an example: Imagine that you want to save enough money to buy a new bike, and the bike costs $150. Assume your weekly allowance is $15. Depending on how much of that $15 you are able (or willing) to put into your “bike” savings jar every week (your savings rate), you’ll be able to figure out approximately how long it should take you to save up $150.
Failing to set a clear goal from the beginning will most certainly make it harder to achieve the goal. While you may make progress here and there, essentially you’re aimlessly throwing extra money into a jar, without reason or purpose. Saving money, just to save, is rarely going to motivate you to stay on track and hit the goals you set out to conquer in the first place.
Tip #7: Track Your Savings
There are lots of simple ways to track your savings. You can create your own savings chart and track progress in your own, creative way. Another great option for both young people and parents is to use age-appropriate savings apps. Here is a list and brief description of three, top-rated, easy-to-use savings apps:
- gohenry – an allowance management app that helps young people between the ages of 6 and 18 to spend, manage and save money.
- RoosterMoney – another allowance and chore tracker for parents and children to help manage allowances, chores and rewards, while teaching the value of money.
- Pennybox – a money management app, Pennybox helps kids become financially responsible, learning to earn, save and spend their own pocket money in a fun and practical way.
Tip #8: Track Your Spending
I’m sure many of you have found, like me, that it’s much easier to track your savings than your spending. Personally, I just can’t get onboard with the budget spreadsheet in Excel. Not to say that a spreadsheet isn’t a good budgeting option – it is. But when I’m out-and-about, there is zero percent chance that I’m going to pull up that spreadsheet on my phone to track my spending.
Luckily, we live in a day-and-age where technology is readily accessible and easy to use. Age-appropriate apps, like Greenlight, is a debit card for kids and teens that parents can manage and oversee. Kids can check their balances, create savings goals, track their spending and savings, and more.
Tip #9: Don’t Let Mistakes Set You Back
When you’re learning something new, regardless of age, expect to make some mistakes. Mistakes are an important part of the learning process. And while it would be nice to avoid them entirely, you can’t let mistakes set you back. Understand what you could’ve done better and use those lessons to motivate you toward your savings goals.
Tip #10: Use the 1:1:1 Method of Saving, Spending & Giving
This method suggests that there are three main things you can do with your money: save, spend, and give. An easy way to use the “1:1:1 Method” is to label three separate jars for each category. The idea is, if you’re putting money into your spending jar, you should also put money into your savings and giving jars. Each jar is equally important.
Tip #11: Understand the Impact of High Interest Rate Credit Cards
The moment you turn 18, you’ll likely be flooded with credit card offers. Don’t become another victim of high interest credit card debt. It’s easy to rack up money on a credit card. But paying off debt can feel a lot like swimming upstream, especially debt with a high interest rate.
Tip #12: Save First, Spend Last
The very first thing you should do after getting paid is to divide your money into your designated “jars.” Start with your savings jar and finish with your spending jar. Stick to this rule and you’ll be less likely to deter from your savings goals.
Tip #13: Be a Smart Spender
Another tip for saving money is to be a smart spender. Most of us work really hard for our money. As a young person, there is less on the line because you probably aren’t responsible for paying bills and supporting a family. So it may seem like all of the money you earn can be used for whatever you want! But the money habits you start to form at a younger age usually continue to adulthood. Commit to smart spending now. (A good way to “check yourself” is to revisit tip #5: needs vs wants.)
Tip #14: Understand That Stuff Costs Money
This may sound silly, but parents who have an “open wallet” policy with their kids will be at a huge disadvantage upon entering adulthood. Make sure you understand that stuff costs money and money comes from hard work and discipline.
Tip #15: Avoid Impulse Buys
Is that candy bar and soda pop worth half of your weekly allowance? Is it worth putting off the new pair of shoes you’ve been saving for for months? Impulse buys usually provide fleeting pleasure and often lead to regret. Stay focused on your goals and don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Tip #16: Don’t Compare Your Stuff to Other’s
Theodore Roosevelt said“Comparison is the thief of joy,” and he’s right. . If you are constantly comparing what you have with what others have, you may never be satisfied. Which brings us to our next tip…
Tip #17: Work for Contentment
Contentment is being happy or satisfied with what you have. Rather than having everything you want, focus on wanting what you already have.
Tip #18: Figure Out Ways to Make Money
Babysit, mow lawns, help neighbors with odd jobs, ask for an allowance, etc. There are always ways to make extra money and it never hurts to ask.
Tip #19: Find Free Things to Do For Fun
An easy money saving tip is to find free things to do for fun. This can be as simple as looking for free things to do. Play at the park with friends, build a fort, ride bikes, visit your local library, or pay attention to free community events, like concerts, movies, etc.
Tip #20: Bring Snacks & Drinks From Home
As kids, my siblings and I became pro’s at sneaking drinks and snacks from home into movies. We learned this technique from our very practical parents who thought buying an $8 soda from the concession stand was about the dumbest thing you could do. In adulthood, I stand by that same mentality.
Tip #21: Share Your Savings Goals with a Friend
Sharing savings goals with a friend is a great way to feel supported and add accountability. If you’re out and feel tempted to make an impulse buy, that friend can remind you to stick to your goals and they may even want to set some savings goals themselves.
Tip #22: Only Take a Small Amount of Money With You When You Go Out
This tip really works! Don’t even give yourself the opportunity to splurge on something that you’ll probably regret later. If you only have $10 to spend, don’t take $20 with you when you go out. It’s that simple.
Tip #23: Do Extra Chores to Make More Money
Chores aren’t the most glamorous way to make money. But, chances are, your parents could probably use the extra help and will be more than happy to do what they can to support good money habits.
Tip #24: Start a Small Business
Sell your handmade crafts, open a lemonade stand, offer a window washing service, organize a carwash with your friends, etc. Play to your strengths, use your imagination and the possibilities are endless…
Tip #25: Understand the Importance of Giving
Working hard to save up enough money to buy something you really want can be extremely rewarding. Saving up money to donate, gift, or buy something for someone in need can be equally, if not more satisfying than using the money for yourself.
25 Money Saving Tips for College Students
Tip #1: Apply for Scholarships and/or Grants
The cost of college is rising faster than the rate of inflation. And with the astronomical amount of student loan debt in the U.S. continuing to soar, applying for scholarships and grants is more important than ever. Securing even a modest scholarship or two will offset tuition costs for both students and parents. Find and apply for scholarships and grants here.
Tip #2: Open an Interest-Earning Bank Account
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have the money in your savings work for you. There are tons of interest-earning savings accounts that require little or no minimum balance. Check out the best online savings accounts.
Tip #3: Test Out of Classes or Transfer Qualified Credits
An often overlooked money saving tip for college students is to test out of classes or transfer AP credits. Just one college class can cost thousands of dollars. If you’re confident that you already know the material for a certain required class, ask your counselor about testing out of it. Additionally, if you took the same or a similar class at a community college, ask about transferring that course to your current university.
Tip #4: Learn About Taxes & Accounting
If I could go back to high school and learn about a topic of my choosing, without question it would be finance, accounting and taxes. Sign up for a finance class, research online, or ask your parents for tips and suggestions about taxes, gross pay versus net pay, budgeting, investing, etc.
Tip #5: Ask Your Parents to Open a Brokerage Account for You
Dip into the investing pool and open a custodial brokerage account. A brokerage account is a type of savings account at a financial institution (such as a bank), mutual fund company, or brokerage firm. The term “custodial” means that an adult controls the account for a minor.
Explore companies that interest you, read market and economic reports and then contribute a small amount of your own money to invest. Make sure you understand the potential risks and rewards of investing before putting your money to work.
Tip #6: Use Budgeting Apps
There are so many budgeting apps available today. To cut down on time spent researching and finding an app that works for your needs, here’s a quick list of the top-rated budgeting apps this year:
Tip #7: Apply for Financial Aid
An easy money saving tip for college students is to apply for financial aid. To do this, every year you are in school, you need to fill out a FAFSA. This is the key to getting financial aid. If you do not fill out a FAFSA every year, you won’t get any sort of financial aid, including student loans. Even if you don’t qualify for scholarships or grants this year, if or when your financial situation changes, you may qualify for financial aid in the future. If you need help filling out a FAFSA, here’s a simple guide.
Tip #8: Stick to the Three Types of Savings
Understand and stick to the three types of savings:
Tip #9: Open a Student Credit Card Account
Using a credit card responsibly is actually a great savings strategy. That is, assuming you pay off your full balance every month to avoid high interest charges. Student credit cards can offer cash back rewards on spending, $20 bonuses for keeping your GPA above a 3.0 and other incentives. You’ll also start building your credit score.
Tip #10: Know How to Earn Money
Millions of high school and college students work a part-time job. If your college schedule and demands allow, consider getting a part-time (or full-time) job to cover some of your expenses and minimize student loan debt.
Hint: look for an on campus job that allows you to study while at work.
Tip #11: Don’t Spend More Than You Make
This tip may sound like a no-brainer, but in practice, it’s not. Some people spend outside of their means everyday, typically using high-interest credit cards. Here’s where budgeting apps come into play. Start making a habit out of keeping a constant eye on money coming in versus money going out. This habit will serve you well in college and beyond.
Tip #12: Buy Used Textbooks
Did you know that students can buy or rent used textbooks? Did you know that you can also sell back last semester’s books? If a used textbook isn’t available to buy, see if it’s available to rent, shop around to compare prices online, or go in on it with a classmate.
Tip #13: Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Never leave home without your student ID. Discounts for students are available on almost everything, from laptops to clothes and food! Apple and Adobe offer student discounts on technology. Hundreds of retail stores like, Madewell, J.Crew and Forever 21 offer deals to students as well as local restaurants and chains. Be sure to always ask before purchasing and have your student ID on-hand.
Tip #14: Check Out Campus Amenities
Most universities offer free on-campus activities and amenities to their students. Take advantage of the campus gym, rather than paying for a gym membership. Be aware of free activities like movie nights, gamerooms, concerts, access to pools, etc.
Tip #15: Don’t Own a Car
Parking, gas and insurance expenses associated with owning a car can add up fast. If possible, opt to use public transit (usually free for students), bike, borrow a friends car or use affordable transportation services like Lyft and Uber.
Tip #16: Avoid Careless Use of Credit Cards
If you do decide to get a credit card, make sure you choose one with the lowest interest rate. Only make purchases on the card that you can afford, pay off the full amount every month and avoid late fees. This will help you start building good credit for the future.
Tip #17: Buy in Bulk
One of the best things my parents ever did for me in college was add me to their Costco membership. You can save a lot of money on nonperishable items and toiletries when you buy in large amounts from places like Costco and Sam’s Club.
Tip #18: Start Paying Off Student Loan Interest Now
Whenever possible, make a payment on your student loan interest. If you pay less than $100 per month toward loan interest, you could save thousands of dollars down the road.
Tip #19: Live with Roommates to Split Rent
We’ve all probably heard or experienced college roommate horror stories. I had some interesting roommates in college. But if they’re paying their portion of the rent, you will be amazed with the amount of crap you’re willing to put up with. On the other hand, you could also get lucky and find a great roommate and lifelong friend.
Tip #20: Sell Your Stuff
Take an inventory of all your stuff. Anything you no longer need or use can be sold to make some extra money. Even years after college, I still consistently take stock of my “stuff” and try to sell or repurpose unnecessary or unused items.
Tip #21: Print On Campus
Don’t buy a printer unless it’s absolutely necessary. Even if you have a printer, ink cartridges can be ridiculously expensive. Most college’s offer free or cheap printing services on campus.
Tip #22: Avoid Buying Name Brand Items
The truth is, if you’re a college student, you simply can’t afford to buy only name brand items. Whenever possible, look to buy generic brands. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference and you’ll save money long-term.
Tip #23: Make Your Own Coffee
The money spent on buying coffee at a local coffee shop may sound minuscule, but over time, it can really add up. Buying a $30 coffee machine and making your own is both convenient and affordable.
Tip #24: Limit Going Out to Eat
Going out to eat can be really nice, but it can also be really expensive. Go to the grocery store every week so that your fridge is always stocked. You’ll be less tempted to go out to eat.
Tip #25: Never Be Late on Your Bills
Paying late fees on your bills can be a killer and are completely avoidable. Get organized and make sure you know when your bills are due every month. If the option is available, enroll in automatic payments to ensure that you never miss a payment.
These 50 money saving tips for kids, teens and college students are a great place to start. Whether you choose to apply 20 tips for saving money or just one, it will help you establish smart money habits now and in the future.
If you’d like to learn more, check out another article about How Much Money to save For College.