As a high school student, you may be new to making your own money — and all the fun ways to spend your earnings. And while splurging on new clothes, concert tickets, or electronics might be tempting, you should also consider the big-ticket items worth saving for — like a car or college.
Creating a budget can help you get a handle on your money, and help ensure you have money for the things that are important to you. And while “budgeting” doesn’t sound super appealing, it’s actually just a way to say that you track your spending — which you may already be doing anyway! Here’s how to formalize the process a bit, so you can get a grip on the money you have coming in and going out.
1. Start with a spending diary
Before you start making a budget, take a couple weeks to see where your money is actually going. Keep track of everything you spend, whether you’re putting a couple bucks in the school vending machine, paying for a college application, or going to a movie. If you have a Wells Fargo checking account, Budget Watch can help you track spending digitally.
Once you have some notes on how you’re spending your money, build a budget like the one below where you map out how much you’re earning and track your expenses. You may find it helpful to bucket your spending into categories like entertainment, food, clothing, sports, etc. And better yet, start to identify categories/expenses that are essential (like your school lunch, which you know you have pay for every week) versus discretionary spending (those new headphones you really want).
Be sure to build in some savings like the person did below, taking a few dollars out for college savings or a more expensive item you’re saving for: