How to Save for Something Big
Whether you want to save up for a cool video game or your college education, you're going to need a financial game plan. Just ask your parents who probably labor away, constantly dealing with paychecks, bills, tax software, and savings of their own. When it comes to establishing a financial plan, check out some of these ideas that'll get you started!
Get a Savings Account
If you're serious about saving your dosh, keeping it in a shoe box isn't going to cut it. It's time to start a savings account. This account should be separate from your checking or "spending money" account. Look for a bank that offers a higher interest rate (that's the money the bank pays you to keep your cash with them) and also make sure they don't charge you a lot of service fees. In fact, a lot of banks don't charge kids any service fees at all, so shop around to find the right bank for you.
Start Saving Your Money Now
The next step is to start putting money in your account. Start with whatever you have, whether it's five bucks or a thousand, it all helps. The best thing to do is to make a saving plan. Decide how much you're willing to put aside every month and then do it. If you already have a checking account, most banks will be able to set up an automatic transfer every month - so the cash will come out of your checking account and go into your savings automatically. This is helpful cuz it's way easier to save money if you never have a chance to spend it in the first place.
Advanced Options: Investing Your Money
If you have a serious goal (paying for college, backpacking through Europe after graduation, etc.) the best idea is to start making your money work for you. The way to do this is to invest your money somewhere where it's going to make more interest than in your savings account. Here are some options:
- Bonds: When you buy a bond it means you are lending money to someone (for example, your government or a company). With a bond you get a higher rate of interest than with a bank account, but you have to wait longer to get your money back (sometimes 10-15 years).
- Stocks: When you buy stocks you are actually buying a tiny piece of a big company (for example, you can buy stocks in Disney, McDonald's or Nike). You can often make a lot of interest in the stock market but you also run the risk of losing money too. If the stock goes down, the money you get back from your investment goes down too.
- Mutual Funds: Mutual Funds are like investing on your own, but instead you pool your money with other peeps and invest in a bunch of things (stocks, bonds etc.) with the help of a financial manager. This is a good option cuz you have a professional doing all the hard work, and it is less risky since you don't have all your investments in one place.
Other Investment Options
There are tons of other investment options out there and a financial advisor, banker or a money-savvy 'rent might have some cool ideas for your specific situation. If you're trying to save up for school, you might find that your government offers some saving help. Some countries and states will chip in to your college fund, while others will give you (or your 'rents) tax breaks. Check out your government's web site or ask your school counselor.