Financial Literacy–a phrase at which most college bound teenagers cringe. While this topic may evoke the seemingly endless parental lectures of “growing up” and “real responsibility,” financial literacy is a tool valuable like no other; a tool that can transform a teenager’s future if understood and utilized correctly. Follow these quick and easy tips to prepare yourself for a sound financial life outside of high school!
If you haven’t already, apply for a job! As high school students, it can be extremely difficult to find the time for school and a job but you don’t have to work 40 hours a week in order to gain a thorough understanding of money. Work part-time on weekends or, even better, utilize your FBLA knowledge and start your own business! Whether you babysit, work at a grocery store, or create your own computer-repair business, you will be learning the value of money.
Over time, you may find yourself having difficulty spending your hard-earned money or you may have difficulty saving your money. It is critical that you strike a healthy balance between both spending and saving. Buy what you need, but make sure to differentiate between needs and wants. This skill may not be acquired immediately but rest assured, the more you practice, the more you will learn.
When you feel as if you are ready, open a checking and savings account. Find a federally insured bank or credit union with low or no fees, open both checking and savings accounts, and set up direct deposit of paychecks. This way, your money will be divided between both accounts, ensuring that you will always have some pay set aside. When you are 18, you can open a savings-backed credit card with a low spending limit. Make sure to borrow no more than 10 percent of the limit and pay it back in full every, single time! This will allow you to build credit.
Most importantly, discuss finances with your parents. You don’t have to go into the nitty-gritty details of family finances, but ask questions and make sure to ask for help when you need it! It is especially important for high school seniors to discuss college finances with their parents. Discuss topics such as: Who is paying for college? How do you or your parents plan to pay? Will you be taking out loans? Will you be filling out the FAFSA, CSS, or both? College is one of the biggest and most important investments of your life–talk about it!
As Future Business Leaders of America, you have a major responsibility: to serve as a role model for your peers. The positive actions and decisions you make, have a positive effect on your classmates. Your future matters, so start preparing for it!
2017-18 FBLA National Treasurers Council Member