Teens and Money

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$159 billion. That’s what market researchers say teens spent in 2005. If you’re one of those free-spending teens, do you know what you bought with that money? Do you know how to develop a budget, handle money from a job, and balance a check book?

As you move into adult life, financial literacy is a must. Here are strategies to get you started.

Credit Cards

  • Keep and use only one or two credit cards.
  • Keep spending in check by using a credit card with a low limit or a prepaid card.
  • Pay off all charges every month.

Savings and Investments

  • Compare fees and interest rates before you open investment accounts.
  • Set aside six months of living expenses in a “rainy day” savings account or a certificate of deposit.
  • Sign up for automatic investments with a low cost mutual fund. Even $50 a month adds up over time.

Loans

  • Shop ’til you drop for the best terms and interest rates. Compare banks, credit unions and in-store financing.
  • Larger down payments reduce the total finance charges you pay. Making extra payments has the same effect.
  • To avoid borrowing entirely, set aside a specific amount each month in a savings account to finance your needs or wants.

Learn

  • Take a course in personal money management. Understanding and directing your own financial affairs is empowering.

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