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5 Tips for Teens to Practice Financial Self-Care

Last updated August 17, 2023

5 Tips for Teens to Practice Financial Self-Care

Learning more about your finances and how they can impact your future is an important step in your college and professional journey. As you learn more about your finances, reflect on your relationship with money. Do you want to save more? Do you want to learn how to budget? Do you want to be more mindful with how you spend? Thinking about these questions is an important part of financial self-care.

You may already know that self-care is what you do to take care of yourself and your mental health, but how do your finances fit into that? Money is often the cause of a TON of stress and anxiety. When you practice financial self-care now, you set yourself up for financial stability in the future. Here are 5 actionable (and easy) ways to practice financial self-care.

Set clear and realistic financial goals for yourself

It’s important to have clear financial goals for the future. Whether they’re immediate goals, like saving $15/week by cutting down your coffee consumption, or long-term goals, like paying $50/month extra on your student loans to pay them off early, having something to look forward to is key.

Try setting small, monthly financial goals, like buying groceries instead of eating out (or ordering in) to save around $50. Accomplishing small goals first will give you the momentum to tackle a bigger goal the next month! Check out our budget tips to create a solid and realistic budget.

Be intentional with your money

Take a moment to step back and think about the things you want to buy. We recommend doing three things before you buy something:

  1. Sleep on it! If you give yourself time to think about it more, you may realize you don’t actually need it.
  2. Play “Would I rather?” For example: “Would I rather buy this pair of jeans, or save the money for a trip or car instead?” This can help you prioritize your long-term goals.
  3. Consider how much use you’ll get out of the item. Can it be used more than once? Is it practical? Does it bring you joy?
  4. If you’re still undecided, try the Value-Based spending formula! When you want to buy something, take the cost of that item and divide it by your hourly pay. For example, if your take-home pay is $15/hour, a $30 pair of jeans is 2 hours of work. Doing this helps you focus on the question, “how much time do I have to spend at my job in order to buy this?”. Re-framing your buying decisions in that way can help you prioritize buying things you really want (like a new haircut or a gym membership), and help you feel less guilty for buying the things you need (like food and groceries).

Being mindful of how you spend your money not only will prevent you from overspending, it can lessen the stress you feel when it’s time to pay your bills.

Set aside money for emergencies

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. Having a “rainy day” fund, or money purposely set aside for emergencies, can lessen your financial burden if something unexpected happens. If you need to get your car fixed or go to the dentist, you can pull from your emergency fund without putting the rest of your budget out of whack. We recommend setting aside 5-10% of your monthly income to go into this fund, whether it’s putting cash in a separate envelope or opening a second checking account. If your job lets you set up direct deposit, ask your employer if you can split your deposit into two accounts (checking and savings), that way a portion of your paycheck can be deposited into your savings account without even thinking about it. It may not seem like a lot at first, but it could make a big difference in the future!

Budget for expenses that make you happy

Financial self-care doesn’t have to be all about saving! Treating yourself to something every once in a while is a great way to stay motivated. Set aside some “Fun” money each month to spend on clothes, or going out with friends. Use our free budgeting guide to learn how to break down your monthly expenses and calculate how much money you could put towards guilt-free spending (we recommend 10% of your monthly income).

Talk to people about money!

When you talk about money with others, you lessen the stigma that surrounds it. Money talk sounds uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be! There’s no shame in confiding in the people you trust about your financial situation and goals. Try partnering with a friend or family member to be your budget buddy - you both make budgets and compare progress at the end of each month. Having someone to hold you accountable can offer you encouragement to keep going, and make you more likely to achieve your goals!

Practicing financial self-care isn’t easy. It will take some discipline and focus over a long period of time. We’re here to support you as you achieve your financial goals and give you the information you need to know. Be sure to check out our other money management resources to start your financial self-care journey!

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