If you haven't landed your first job yet, or if you're too busy studying to work right now, chances are, you're dependent on your weekly allowance for all the things you want to buy. But no matter how generous or stingy your parents might be, it's always a good idea to know how to save your allowance and how to spend those hard-earned dollars.
1. The First Question
If there's something you're dying to buy, the first question you should always ask is whether you've got to buy it yourself, or if your parents might pay. If they're willing to pay for it, save your allowance for something else! Parents are usually okay with paying for the necessities, and extra little treats once in a while.
2. Want or Need?
If you don't want to ask your parents to buy you the thing you want, or if you asked and they said no, now's the time to decide just how badly you really want it. If it's more expensive, it'll take some time to save the money for it — is it worth it?
3. The Easiest Way
Once you've decided you really do want whatever it is, it's time to start saving your allowance until you have enough to buy it. The easiest way to save, and avoid the temptation to spend, is to ask your parents to hold onto your allowance. Once they owe you the amount you need, they can either give you the cash so you can buy it, or they can just buy it for you. Zero temptation!
4. Open an Account
Most banks and credit unions offer free savings accounts to teens and tweens, so if you're ready to start saving for something big, why not ask your parents to help you open an account? Some accounts even offer interest, meaning that they pay you a little bit of money each year just for depositing and saving your money with them.
5. Go Second-Hand
There's no shame in buying things that have been gently used, so before you buy new, check eBay, craigslist, and thrift stores to see if the thing you want is available for less. If you're nervous about making a purchase online from someone you don't know, ask Mom or Dad for help.
6. Look for Sales and Discounts
Once you have the money in your hand, don't rush right out and buy it. Be patient and see if the item you want is going on sale soon, or if there's a coupon for it.
Once you have the new thing, it's time to start saving again! It's also a good idea to learn how to take good care of whatever it is you've just bought, so you won't need to replace it right away. If it does break, or get ruined, don't be afraid to ask about what's covered under the standard warranty - you might be able to replace it, or get money off a new one, especially if it's not your fault it's broken.
Saving your allowance, and spending it on the things you want, is one of the signs you're becoming an adult, and actually, there are lots of adults who won't be as good with money as you are already! These are good spending habits to learn now, and you're already on your way. What are you saving for right now?