What Should I Save Up for as a Teenager?

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Are you a teenager who has a part-time job? Maybe you do odd jobs for people in your community like mowing lawns, waterproofing wooden decks, and walking dogs. Regardless of what you do, you are earning money and you are wondering – what should I save up for as a teenager?

First, good for you! By working and earning money, you are showing both initiative and responsibility. Developing a strong work ethic and saving money when you are young are things you can benefit from for the rest of your life.

Before you we do a deep dive into some things you can save money for, check out this short video on some easy ways to save money. Some of these simple strategies could help you save faster.

15 Easy Ways to Save Money as a Teen! | SimplyMaci

If you currently don’t have a savings goal, the following are 20 things to consider saving for.

1. College

If you are college-bound, saving for college is a very smart decision. Going to college is expensive. Even if you score a full-ride to a school with free room and board, you will still need some money to pay for your living expenses.

Just a few things you’ll need money for as a college student include:

  • Books
  • Gas for your vehicle
  • Car insurance
  • Meals and snacks
  • School supplies
  • School activity fees
  • Laptop computer
  • Other personal expenses

2. A Vehicle

One of the most common things that teenagers save money for is to buy their first vehicle. It’s a rite of passage for many.

While new vehicles are very expensive, you may be able to find a good deal on a used vehicle that is in good condition with low mileage. If you do your homework and buy a brand that is known for being reliable, your vehicle may last for many years. It could get you through college and beyond.

When it comes to vehicles, purchasing the vehicle is not your only expense. You will also need money to pay for gas and insurance. Vehicles also need periodic maintenance, and you will need additional money for oil changes, new tires, and other things to make sure your ride stays in tip-top shape.

3. Travel

If you are wondering what should I save up for as a teenager, travel is another popular option to consider. Many teenagers travel with their families on vacation and may need some spending money to buy souvenirs, meals, snacks, or something else.

A senior trip is another travel opportunity you may want to save money for. Many schools organize trips for their graduating seniors. These trips are great opportunities to have an amazing experience with your classmates before you go your separate ways in life.

In addition to senior trips, many schools offer other travel opportunities that you may want to save money for. School-sponsored trips can be great educational experiences and they are also great ways to get to know some of your classmates better.

When I was in high school, I participated in my school’s science club and got to go on an official school trip to Florida where we visited Cape Canaveral, The Kennedy Space Center, and Cocoa Beach. It was an amazing experience that I fondly remember years later.

4. A House

For most people, their homes are the most expensive things they will buy in their lives. Because of this, it’s never too early to start saving for a down payment on one.

You may be tempted to think that you don’t earn enough to start saving for a home. But every bit helps. Even if you can save a few thousand dollars during your teen and college years, you’ll be much closer to making a down payment on a home than others.

Many people live in apartments after graduating from college until they can save up for a down payment on a home. There’s certainly nothing wrong with apartment living, especially if you aren’t sure if you are going to live in a place for very long, but by investing in a home, you can build equity as you make your monthly payments and the home increases in value over time.

5. A Business

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Does the idea of working 40 or more hours a week for “the man” for the rest of your life not sound very appealing? If so, saving up money to start your own business might be something to consider.

You may have heard the phrase “it takes money to make money,” and this is true. Whenever you start a business, you’ll need money to invest in equipment, inventory, a business license, and other expenses.

There are many affordable small business ideas that teenagers can do that have the potential to grow into full-time incomes. Many large lawn care and landscaping businesses, for example, started off with little more than a lawnmower and a truck and trailer to transport it to customers’ homes.

Another example of a small business you can start for very little money that has the potential to grow into a full-time income is flipping used items on eBay. Many people source used items in their communities that are undervalued and sell those items on eBay for a profit. It’s called flipping.

Items can be found at flea markets, garage sales, auctions, and other places. You can even do your shopping from home by browsing used items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and other online marketplaces.

If you are interested in learning more about flipping things for profit, Rob and Melissa Stephenson are a couple who earn a full-time income with flipping who also teach others how to get started and grow flipping businesses of their own. Their online course, Flipper University, teaches you everything you need to know to source products, list them on eBay, ship them, and other things.

Check out Flipper University to learn more about making money flipping used items.

6. Retirement

You’re never too young to start saving for retirement. When you’re a teenager, retirement may seem like it’s something far off in the future – but it comes a lot sooner than you think. The sooner you can start saving for your retirement, the bigger your nest egg will be when you reach your golden years.

According to a study by TD Ameritrade, most millennials don’t start investing for retirement until they are in their late 30s. The longer people wait to start saving for retirement, the less they will have when they need it, especially when you consider how much can be earned through the power of compounding interest over time.

Related: Online Jobs that Teens Can Do from Home

7. Books

Are you a bibliophile? Perhaps you’re like me and you love browsing through a bookstore or getting lost in a good novel (the book is always better than the movie – always). I don’t know about you, but there’s always been something about bookstores that I find relaxing.

Compared to many forms of entertainment, books are relatively inexpensive. You may be able to get a few weeks worth of reading out of one. When you’re done reading a book, you can either add it to your collection or sell it to get some money out of it to buy another book.

Another great benefit of books is that saving to buy a book is a very achievable goal if your income as a teen is very modest. Saving $20-$30 is much easier than saving hundreds or thousands of dollars when you don’t earn very much.

8. A Laptop Computer

These days, having a laptop computer is necessary for many things. You’ll need a good laptop if you plan on going to college, for example, You’ll also need one for many careers and business opportunities. Having a laptop isn’t just about playing video games and checking out the latest posts on social media, it’s a vital necessity.

If you are wondering what should I save up for as a teenager, a laptop computer is a goal to consider. In today’s high-tech world, you need to know how to use a computer for many occupations. It’s no longer optional. The sooner you learn how to use a computer, the better.

9. Entertainment

Do you like to go out of the weekends with friends? Maybe you like to see a movie on occasion, eat at a nice restaurant, or do some other activity. Although there are some free things you can do with friends – like hanging out at a park or watching a movie at someone’s home – many activities are not free.

Another thing you may want to consider saving money for as a teenager is entertainment. You could save money for weekend excursions, short trips, and other things. Just be sure not to spend all of your hard-earned money at once so you’ll always have a way to pay for things when an entertainment opportunity arises.

10. Driver’s Ed

what should i save up for as a teenager

In addition to saving money to buy your first vehicle, as previously mentioned, you may also need to save money to take driver’s lessons. While many public school systems offer driver’s ed for free, not everyone attends public schools. Many students study at home or attend virtual schools online.

And those students still need a way to learn how to drive.

While many teens’ parents teach them how to drive, most states also require the completion of a formal driver’s education program before they are permitted to test for their driver’s licenses. These programs aren’t free.

The cost of driver’s ed programs varies a great deal. It depends on the school and where you are located. Prices may be higher in areas where there is only one driver’s education program due to a lack of competition.

In addition to saving money for driver’s ed training, fees may also be required to obtain either your learner’s permit or license (or both). Permit and licensing fees vary depending on where you live.

11. Clothing

Everyone has to buy new clothes on occasion. Fashions change and clothes wear out over time. You may also only get one or two years of use out of a pair of shoes before they need to be replaced.

Some school activities may also require special clothes. You may need to buy special clothes for gym, for a school play, or for something else. If you participate in a sport, you may also need to buy special shoes.

Saving your money to buy new clothes when the need arises is another goal to consider. Many teenagers like to buy clothes right before the start of the new school year.

You may be able to save money on clothes by buying them when they go on sale. For example, many stores put their summer clothes on sale right before the winter season to make room for new inventory. This may be a good time to stock up on new clothes – when you can get some great deals on them.

Another way you may be able to save on clothing is to buy used clothing. Many people donate perfectly good clothes to thrift stores, for example, when they either gain or lose weight. Thrift stores usually sell used clothes for just a fraction of what they cost new.

You may also want to check consignment clothing stores for great deals on used clothes. Don’t forget to check online, too. ThredUp is a consignment website that primarily deals in used clothing that is in great condition.

Another goal to consider with clothing is to save up money to buy a job interview outfit. If you want to get hired for your dream job, you can’t show up to the interview wearing casual clothes. You need to dress to impress.

12. The Prom

A major expense for many teenagers is their proms. Tuxes, dresses, after-prom dinners, and other things all cost money. Great memories are often made on these special nights that people cherish for the rest of their lives.

Although most people rent tuxes, prom dresses are different – they are usually purchased. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to buy a really nice one though. Keep in mind that most people who buy prom dresses only wear them once. This means you may be able to get a great deal on a used one that is still in like-new condition.

If you are shopping for a prom dress, consider checking Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and other online marketplaces for used dresses. Also, there are some websites that specialize in used prom dresses that sometimes have great deals.

Related: Freelance Jobs for Teenagers to Earn Extra Money

13. A Musical Instrument

Are you a music aficionado? Perhaps you really want to learn how to play the guitar, clarinet, or the drums. If so, saving up to buy either a new or used musical instrument is an achievable goal for a teen who works part-time.

Learning how to play a musical instrument is a very personally rewarding thing. It’s a skill you can continue to use and enjoy for the rest of your life. I learned how to play the drums in high school and still play to this day.

It’s also worth mentioning that the drums are one of the most affordable and quietest instruments there is. Although this may sound counterintuitive, there’s a very simple explanation.

To get started playing the drums, all you need is a pair of sticks and an inexpensive practice pad. You could probably buy those items for $50 or less. This is all you need to learn how to play your rudiments. And it could take you 1-2 years to learn those before you are ready to move up to an electronic or acoustic drum kit.

The reason why the drums is also one of the quietest musical instruments to learn is because many of the practice pads on the market are made out of hard rubber material that simulates hitting a drum without the loud drum noise. Electronic drum kits can also be very quiet if you use headphones or keep the volume turned down.

In addition to buying new or used musical instruments, you may also need some money to pay for music lessons. While it’s possible to learn a lot about playing musical instruments from watching videos on the internet, it’s difficult to replace one-on-one instruction from a skilled teacher.

14. College Application Fees

Many students who are college-bound don’t just apply to one school and hope for the best, they usually apply to several schools. A student may apply to several wish schools, for example, several schools the student has a strong chance of being admitted to, and possibly several safety schools, too. A typical student could apply to a dozen or more colleges or universities.

Most schools, unfortunately, charge application fees just to apply.

Many schools these days don’t miss an opportunity to extract money from you. Tuition, in fact, is increasing at a rate that is even higher than the cost of healthcare. Sadly, many students have to go deep in debt with student loans just to pay for their educations.

If you are wondering what should I save up for as a teenager, college application fees is a goal worth considering. Most colleges charge $40-$50 per application, but other schools may charge more.

15. Summer Camp

Many teenagers enjoy spending time at summer camps. Who can blame them? It’s a great way to get away from home and school for a while, get to know some new people, and enjoy various activities.

In addition to being fun, many summer camps are also highly educational. In fact, there are some summer camps that are offered by colleges and universities where bright students can take college classes and earn some college credit. There are also summer camps that specialize in certain things you may enjoy like horse riding, playing musical instruments, fitness, sports, and other things.

Many summer camps charge fees to participate. And even if you attend a free summer camp, you may still want to save some money in case you want to buy extra things while you are there like snacks and drinks, camp t-shirts, and other things. It’s also a good idea to keep extra money on hand in case of an emergency of some kind.

16. A Study Abroad Program

Quite possibly one of the best educational opportunities a teenager can experience is a study abroad program. In these programs, talented students live and attend a school in another country, usually for a year.

Study abroad programs are incredible educational experiences for many reasons. You get to learn all about a new culture, possibly learn a new language, and even experience living away from your family. In these programs, you can have experiences that many of your peers could only dream of.

If you are considering participating in a study abroad program, you might want to consider saving up some money to take with you. There may be fees associated with the program, and you’ll also want to have some extra money while you are living in your host country for things like extra meals, souvenirs and keepsakes, and other things. It’s also a good idea to have some extra money for emergencies and other unexpected things.

Another thing to save up for with a study abroad program is airfare. Travel to and from countries can be expensive. The cost can increase dramatically if you want to return home for a visit once or twice a year.

17. A Deposit for Your First Apartment

After you graduate from high school, your plans may include getting an apartment somewhere. Maybe you would prefer to live in an apartment instead of living in a dorm on your college campus, for example. Or maybe you plan on working right after school and you need a place to live that is close to your new job.

If you will be renting an apartment in the near future, you will need some extra money for a deposit. Landlords typically require a security deposit that is equal to a month’s rent. These security deposits are usually held for as long as you remain a tenant and can be used by the landlord to pay for damages or to clean the apartment when you move out.

18. A Class Ring

To many, class rings are much more than rings that signify their graduating high school class. They are important keepsakes that remind them of some of the best days of their lives. They are reminders of important friendships, memorable events, and dreams for the future.

Class ring costs vary a great deal depending on the ring style you choose and what it’s made of. You may be able to save money on a class ring by opting for gold or platinum plating instead of solid gold or platinum.

Another option to consider with class rings is to have a local jewelry store make one from an old ring or another piece of jewelry that you are no longer using. Not all jewelers can do this, but some may be able to melt down an old ring and recast it as a beautiful class ring.

Related: How to Save Money When You Don’t Earn a Lot

19. Build an Emergency Fund

Sometimes things happen that we didn’t expect. Maybe you accidentally leave an electronic device outside and it gets rained on. Or maybe you accidentally drop and break a musical instrument right before a concert. Whatever the case, you need to replace those items – and soon.

If you have some money saved up for an emergency, you may be able to pay for whatever it is that happened without having to take out a loan or go without. It all depends on how much you have saved up and how expensive the emergency is.

20. Tutoring

Another potential goal to save up for as a teenager is tutoring. If you are taking a subject in school, for example, that you are struggling with, hiring a tutor to help you learn the material may help. It could be any subject that you are struggling with – math, science, playing a musical instrument, etc.

Hiring someone to tutor you on a subject you are having difficulty with is something you may benefit from for the rest of your life. For example, if you are struggling with the math section of the SAT or ACT, obtaining a tutor to help you improve your score could help you to get into a good college or university or a competitive degree program.

What Should I Save Up for As a Teenager? – Final Thoughts

There are plenty of things that you could save up for as a teenager. If you have several goals in mind that you are thinking about, you might want to consider prioritizing them. List them in order from the most important to least important and save for the one at the top of your list first.

Developing a habit of saving is something you can benefit from for the rest of your life. It’s about teaching yourself the art of delayed gratification. It’s about setting goals and working to achieve those goals.

What should I save up for as a teenager?

It’s your call. Hopefully, the ideas mentioned in this article will give you a few things to consider as you work to grow your savings.

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Cyrus Vanover

Cyrus Vanover, MBA, is a financial copywriter who has written for companies of all sizes. He is also the author of the personal finance book, "Earn A Debt-Free College Degree." His goal is to help families save money, make more money, and achieve financial independence. Based in the mountains of Virginia, he enjoys hiking the local trails, listening to 80s music, and reading books on military history in his spare time. Read more.

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