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Wednesday 24th July 2024

Young and budgeting: top tips for budgeting in your teens 

Don’t know where to start with budgeting? Here are some quick and easy tips on how to set yourself up for financial success from secondary school student Joel Davies. 

Young people sitting at a table budgeting


Budgeting for some is easy during teenage years. Many get a steady stream of money from your parents, caregivers, and relatives for things you need or want.  

Or alternatively, you’re earning money from a part-time gig, which means you can spend it on whatever concert you desperately want to go to.  

Personally, I’ve said and heard the phrase “I’m broke” or “my bank account is at zero” many times. Unfortunately, money does tend to run out near the end of the month. So, what happens when we grow up and become self-sufficient adults?  

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One in three (34%) of students try to budget their finances and spending but struggle to stick to it according to research from Finder.com. Only one in five students (21%) have reported feeling confident in their abilities to budget and manage their money.  

It seems as if the education system is not ready to change in teaching young people such as me about money management for their present and their future, so who will teach us?  

While this article isn’t a holy grail of money management, hopefully, it will provide some insight and give some starter advice on how to begin finding ease in it. 

So, let’s dive in with some quick and easy tips to get you started on your journey to becoming a budgeting expert! 

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1. Start with a spreadsheet 

First things first, let’s get organised. An spreadsheet (be it Google Sheets or Excel) is your new best friend.  

It’s simple, customisable, and can do all the maths for you. Here’s a basic setup to get you going: 

  • Income: List all your sources of income (part-time job, allowance, freelance gigs, etc.). 
  • Expenses: Track everything you spend money on—food, entertainment, transport, savings, and even those sneaky coffee runs and shopping sprees. 
  • Balance: Subtract your total expenses from your income to see what is left over. 

Pro Tip: Google Sheets works just as well as Excel and has the added benefit that you can access from anywhere with an internet signal. Plus, it auto-saves, so no worries about losing your data. 

2. Get a GoHenry card 

Say hello to the GoHenry card—a prepaid debit card designed specifically for young people. It’s a fantastic tool to help you manage your money. Here’s why it’s awesome: 

  • Budgeting limits: Set spending caps for different categories to avoid overspending. 
  • Real-time notifications: Get instant notifications on your phone for every transaction. 
  • Parental controls: If you are still under 18, your parents can help keep an eye on things too. 

This card helps you practice spending within your means while giving you a taste of financial independence. 

3. The 50/30/20 rule 

This simple rule is a game-changer for budgeting newbies. It’s a guideline to help you allocate your money wisely: 

  • 50% Needs: Half of your income goes to essentials such as food, transportation, and bills. 
  • 30% Wants: Use this portion for fun stuff—movies, dining out, and hobbies. 
  • 20% Savings: Save this chunk for future goals or emergencies. 

This rule keeps your spending balanced and ensures you’re saving for the future. 

Pro tip: When you get older and begin having access to financial products such as credit cards or overdrafts, then the 20% rule applies first to paying off debt before starting saving. 

4. Use budgeting apps 

There are tons of cool apps designed to make budgeting easier and more fun. Here are a few to check out: 

  • Goodbudget: Tracks your spending, creates budgets, and gives you a clear picture of your financial health. 
  • YNAB (You Need A Budget): Focuses on giving every pound a job, helping you save more and stress less about money. 
  • PocketGuard: Shows your spendable money after accounting for bills and goals. 

These apps can sync with your bank accounts and automate a lot of the tracking, making budgeting a breeze. 

5. Set financial goals 

Clear goals can make budgeting more motivating and meaningful. Think about what you want to achieve financially: 

  • Short-term: Save for a new phone, a trip, or a special event. 
  • Medium-term: Build an emergency fund or save for college expenses. 
  • Long-term: Start investing or saving for a car. 

Write down your goals and track progress. Celebrate your milestones—each step gets you closer to financial success! 

Budgeting might seem daunting at first, but hopefully, with these tips and tools, you’ll find it’s not only manageable but also incredibly rewarding.  

By taking control of your finances now, you’re setting yourself up for a bright and successful financial future. So, go out and manage your money! 

Joel Davies is a Year 12 student at Westminster City School studying History, English Literature, and Spanish. He aspires to study in the USA and become a financial journalist, focusing on personal finance and the international economy.

Photo credits: Pexels

Joel Davies

Joel Davies is a Year 12 student at Westminster City School studying History, English Literature, and Spanish. He aspires to study in the USA and become a financial journalist, focusing on personal finance and the international economy.

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