High school students — typically those between the ages of 14 and 18 — are at the beginning of their financial journey, and one of the most important financial habits to learn is saving.
Many high school students may begin to enter the workforce and land part-time jobs while in school. They may also receive financial support from parents or mentors, and while a parent or mentor can help put a student on the right path, it is important that the student take ownership of their savings.
At this age, there are so many goals to prepare for, not the least of which is moving and going to college or starting your career. The earlier a teen starts saving, the better prepared they will be.
- 61% of people aged 13 to 18 have a bank account, while the rest are unbanked, according to a 2019 survey by Junior Achievement.
- The same survey revealed that 32% of adolescents receive allowances for doing household chores.
- Data from Pew Research shows that 36.6% of teens had summer jobs in 2021 – the highest summer employment rate for teens since 2008.
- 62% of Gen Zers (ages 15-21) have started saving, according to TD Ameritrade’s 2019 Young Money Survey.
- While 77% of adults surveyed by Bankrate have at least some emergency savings, only 24% of Gen Zers say they have emergency savings, according to the Young Money survey.
- Teens aged 13 to 19 said they spent $2,274 on average each year, according to a 2021 Piper Sandler survey.
How high school students make money
With 36.6% of teens having summer jobs in 2021, employment is a valuable source of income for many high school students. According to data from the Pew Research Center, the largest employment sector for employed teens was food and hospitality, followed by retail.
The 2021 teen employment rate marked an upward turn in what had been a downward trend – the rate is the highest since 2008. With a higher percentage of older high school students employed, more students will have the opportunity to build up their savings.
A National Library of Medicine study found that while a job can provide learning opportunities for high school students, it’s important that work hours don’t crowd out other vital high school experiences, including extracurricular activities. and friendships. Surveyed students with regular but limited work hours had higher academic aspirations and were more likely to want to save for college.
High school students can also boost their savings with money from gifts or allowances. 32% of teens receive an allowance to do household chores, Junior Achievement reported in 2019.
How High School Students Spend Money
Teens aged 13 to 19 reported spending an average of $2,274 a year, according to a 2021 Piper Sandler survey.
The destination of these expenses differs according to gender. The main expense of the men surveyed was food, while the main expense of the women surveyed was clothing.
A small number (9%) of teens surveyed have invested in cryptocurrency in the past year. Of those who did, 78% were men.
Here are the top categories where men and women said they spend their money:
High school expenses and average costs
High school students and their families are spending more and more on school-related costs. An annual Deloitte survey found that the average amount spent on back-to-school items was $612 per student in 2021, a 16% increase from the previous year.
Technology products faced the largest cost increases. Spending on electronic gadgets – including phones, tablets and digital subscriptions – increased by 47% over the previous year. Meanwhile, spending on computers and hardware increased by 28%.
Here are the main back-to-school expenses and their average costs:
|Costs||Average amount spent|
|Clothes and accessories||$232|
|Computer and hardware||$111|
Source: Deloitte Back-to-School Survey, July 2021
10 tips for saving money in high school
The high school years are a great time to start saving money and building financial literacy. The teenagers are old enough to find a job, but their parents still have big expenses. This means they have less to spend on rent and utilities and more that can go to savings.
Some goals high schoolers might want to save for are a spring break trip, a car, and college. Here are some strategies for bringing those goals closer to achieving them and becoming wiser with money.
1. Create a budget
A budget can help you prepare for spending and limit unnecessary spending. Use a budget to calculate school expenses, bills, fun activity costs, and savings contributions. Try to check the budget regularly each month and consider using a budgeting app to help you get started.
2. Set goals
Goal setting is an important part of a savings strategy, so you can plan ahead what you’re saving for. These goals may be to save for college, to move house, or to go on a trip. Determine how much you need to save for each goal and adjust your budget accordingly. (Opening a CD can be useful when backing up long range goals.)
3. Create a checking account and a savings account
It is important to have separate accounts for expenses and for savings, so that you do not lose sight of the money which must remain intact. Plus, with a savings account, you can enjoy higher returns and be rewarded for keeping money hidden. Try to avoid accounts with high fees.
4. Automate savings
There are many banks and apps with autosave features. Once you have a checking and savings account, set up automatic transfers of a certain amount to the savings account at regular intervals, or download a money saving app that automates savings.
5. Get a credit card
Many credit cards have age and income restrictions, but some credit cards are designed for students. Using a credit card and paying it off on time can have significant long-term financial benefits by establishing a good credit history. Your credit history will factor into things like renting an apartment or taking out a student loan.
6. Set aside an emergency fund
Having an emergency savings fund is essential to prepare for sudden and unexpected events, such as losing a job or paying a medical bill. It should only be used to cover emergency living expenses. Aim to have at least $500-1000 set aside for an emergency fund while in high school and continue to build this fund as you take on more living expenses over time.
7. Take advantage of student discounts
High school students can get many discounts on items with their student ID, usually around 10 or 15% off. Nike, Urban Outfitters, Apple, and Adobe are just a few brands that offer high school student discounts.
8. Get a summer job
During the school year, you’ll probably want to limit work hours to focus on school. Summer is a good time to take on a job with longer hours and earn some extra money, which you can use to save.
9. Buy used
Try going to a local thrift store or an online thrift store, like Depop, to find discounted clothes. Also consider getting used textbooks instead of buying new ones, as you can often find them much cheaper that way.
10. Avoid impulse buying
A bad habit to avoid is impulse buying. This can lead to a drained bank account and regrets. Try to curb your urge to buy something non-essential by writing it down and seeing if you still want it after a week or two. Otherwise, that money could be used for savings or something more essential.
Best Banks and Credit Unions for High School Students
Some banks and credit unions offer accounts designed for high school students. Accounts can come with lower fees, bonuses, and special savings features.
- Alliant Credit Union: Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 can open a teen checking account with Alliant Credit Union, with no monthly fees and a high interest rate of 0.25%. The account offers co-ownership between the teenager and a parent. Additionally, eligible credit union members can be entered into a draw to win a $2,000 scholarship.
- Axos Bank: The Axos Bank First Checking account is a joint account for teenagers and their parents. There are no monthly fees or overdraft fees. The account can help teens limit their spending with a daily transaction limit of $500 for debit and $100 for cash withdrawals. It also earns 0.10% interest on all balances.
- Capital one: Capital One’s MONEY Teen Checking Account comes with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Although it is managed by the teenager, parents can also track their child’s account and lock or unlock the account’s debit card. It also allows parents to add rewards when their child reaches a savings goal. In addition, the account earns 0.10% interest.
- hunting bank: High school students can open a Chase High School checking account with no monthly fee. Those who have the account also benefit from monthly fees waived on a Chase Savings account. The high school checking account comes with Autosave, to help students build their savings, and parents can track account activity.
- USAA Federal Savings Bank: USAA offers a youth checking account. It costs $25 to open, but there are no monthly account charges. While teens have limited access to the account, parents can also set controls such as debit card spending limits. USAA accounts are restricted to military members and their families.
At the end of the line
The high school years provide a great opportunity to start saving, as students begin to earn employment income, but are not yet financially burdened with the many responsibilities that come with adulthood. High school students can set goals to encourage them to save, such as buying a car, going on a trip, or paying for college.
Having a savings account is essential for developing financial literacy and building savings. Try to create a budget and factor in regular contributions to the savings account, with the goal of having an amount set aside for an emergency fund. Also consider using a personal finance app, such as a budgeting or money saving app, to make money management a little easier.