Saving money is always a good idea. Even a few dollars a week can add up to a lot over time and can help you pay for the things you might want later.

Saving habits

If you’re looking to save money, the sooner you start, the better.

Saving money is a good habit like brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day gives you a brighter smile and fresh breath now, but it will also save you future trips to the dentist to get fillings.

Just like brushing your teeth, saving money is a habit that will help you get the things you want now and will help you afford the things you want and need later.

Set a savings goal

If you get into a good habit of saving, you can start thinking about setting a savings goal for yourself.

Your goal might be to buy something small like a new console game, or something as big as a car or holiday.

If you know how much you need to buy it and when you’ll want or need it by, you can work backwards from there.

Savings calculator

Use this calculator to work out how long it will take you to save up for something you want.

Some things will have ongoing costs that you’ll need to be aware of. For example:

  • You may be able to save up to buy a car, but can you afford to fill it up with petrol regularly?
  • You might be able to afford a plane ticket and a hotel overseas, but have you saved enough to pay for travel insurance?

Use the ‘I want to buy or save…’ tool to help you consider all the hidden costs you’ll need to save for:

I want to buy or save...

We all want to buy things straight away, but sometimes there are hidden costs. This tool can help you think about what those costs are so you can make smart saving decisions.

Saving in a bank account

If your job pays you in cash or that’s how you get pocket money, then you’re probably keeping it safe somewhere in your house. That’s okay for small amounts of money, but if you’re starting to save for something big, you don’t want to risk losing it.

That’s why keeping money in a bank account is a good idea. Money in the bank is safe from accidents, loss or house fires, and if you use a savings account with an interest rate you can actually make more money from the compound interest.

Read about bank accounts and debit cards

Read about savings accounts

You can move money between your transaction account and your savings account.

Planning your spending

You’ve probably heard the word budget but it’s okay if you don’t know what it means. A budget is a plan to make sure you only spend what you can afford, and ideally, put savings aside too. Budgeting means thinking carefully before spending money.

As a teen you’ll have fewer bills to pay than the adults in your life. Learning how to budget as a teenager will help you afford the things you want now, and the things you’ll need as you get older.

Read about making a budget

Making smart spending decisions

Spending money on the things we want makes us feel good. Spending money on our friends and family does too. But if you don’t make smart decisions about what you spend, when you spend it, and why you spend it, you can find yourself in trouble.

Thinking carefully before you click ‘Buy now’ or tap your card on a machine is an important habit to get into as you get older. Spending money now could mean missing out on something later.

Read about dealing with debt and bad decisions

Staying safe while shopping online

Shopping online is a convenient and great way to help you compare prices to find the best deal. But it can also attract cybercriminals and scammers who will try to trick you into paying for things that don’t exist or stealing your financial information.

The best way to protect yourself from being a victim of cybercrime is to be informed and know what to look for to spot a fake website or scammer.

Before buying something online, take a few minutes to make sure that the product is real and the website you’re buying from is safe. If a deal seems too good to be true, it could be a scam.

The Australian Government website Cyber Security lists things you should look for when shopping online:

After buying something online, it’s a good idea to monitor your bank statement or transaction summary for suspicious activity.

Read about bank statements

Tips for teens/adults

Have a 24-hour rule before purchases. Making an impulse purchase and then regretting it afterwards can be frustrating. Sometimes waiting even a few days could mean that you forget about it or realise you really don’t want it as badly. Or it’ll go on sale!

They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Weigh up whether spending less on small things now is worth it so you can save up for that bigger, more exciting purchase in the future.

Don’t get caught short when a bill arrives. If you know you’ll need to pay for something later, there are 2 smart things to do. Put reminders in your phone calendar or on your bedroom wall for when you need to pay. Then make sure you either keep the whole amount set aside or put a little bit away at a time so you have enough when it’s due. Some bills will come out of your bank account automatically on the same day every month. Make sure you always have enough in that account for when direct debit bills come out.

Be wary of promotion emails or text messages offering an exciting new deal or prize. If they ask you to urgently click on a link to access the offer, don’t. Instead, go directly to the website yourself and check if the offer is real. Never provide your payment details over email or text message.

When buying something online, make sure the website has a lock symbol and “https” at the beginning of the address. If you don’t see the “s” at the end, then your data may not be safe. You can also search online to check if the website or product you want to buy has a good reputation.

Next time you decide not to buy something straight away, explain why to your teen. Is it because you realised it wasn’t something you needed right away? Or something you couldn’t afford this pay, but could next week? Or did you know you could get a better deal somewhere else or if you waited for a sale?

Bring your teen into the conversation when you’re making shopping or spending decisions. Talk them through how you compare products for value, or how you know when something seems too good to be true. Talk to them about how advertising is designed to influence you and you should always look closely at the terms and conditions. Show them how they can make their money go further, with savvy spending decisions.

If you’re saving for a big household purchase, such as a family holiday, talk to your teen about how you plan to save over time and the trade-offs you have to make. Maybe even work out a savings plan together. Will you put aside money each week from your pay? Or will you cut back on some purchases, such as eating out, so you can afford that family holiday? Getting your teen involved in household finances is a great way for them to learn about saving and spending money.

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