With the end of high school in sight it’s easy to get carried away with visions of travelling the world, popping bottles, and throwing lobsters with your mates in celebration. The sweet taste of freedom is getting closer to your lips each day, and you want nothing more than to spend your money with reckless abandon. The problem is, you are still in school and you’re really not earning loads yet, so it’s bloody hard to save. We understand this entirely, so we got the nice people over at Westpac to help us compile a little guide to help you save while you’re in Year 12, so you can make the most of your post-school period.
Set a Goal
Before you start any saving it’s important to know what you’re saving for, as this will determine your goals and to what extent you should be pinching pennies. For example, if you’re planning on backpacking across Europe for the whole summer, you’re probably going to want to save more aggressively than if you just wanted to go for an ace schoolies week. Once you know what you want, you can set yourself a saving goal and figure out a budget to reach it.
Obvious Life Tip #32: you’re gonna want to have a reliable source of income to get any amount of saving done. Again, this part can be difficult when you’re trying to balance school and sport and seeing friends, but it’s definitely achievable if you consider your options. Try to keep working in Year 12; you can always adjust your number of shifts depending on your workload at the time and how much you need to save.
There are the usual weeknights and weekends, plus the opportunity to pump heaps of hours during the holidays (and snatch up all the public holiday shifts you can get your mitts on). You can also try to supplement your income with odd jobs around the house or neighbourhood. If you’ve got a big saving goal, remember you can always use some or all the summer period after final exams to work full-time and make better bucks.
Since you’ve got a saving goal and you know when you want to reach it, you can figure out how much you need to save every week. E.g. saving $300 in three months means you need to save $100 a month, or $25 a week.
Deduct this weekly savings amount from your weekly wage. Before you can start spending this leftover money though, you also need to deduct any necessary or regular payments you’re already making, such as your Netflix subscription, phone bill, or paying for petrol in your car.
Now you’ve got your spending money for the week. How does this compare with your actual spending from the last few months? If the numbers don’t match, you may have to be more disciplined with your spending. This is the hard part, but you gotta remember what you’re saving for; cutting down on cheeky burgers after school might mean you can go to that music festival on the weekend, and over a number of months your savings can land you a pretty set of wheels or plane tickets to an island paradise somewhere.
Now that you’re putting away money every week, you’re going to want to put that money in a good place. A savings account is going to be your best bet, because they’ve got higher interest rates than your regular transaction account, meaning your savings are gonna grow faster and you’ll get rewarded for the money you don’t spend (with more money!)
There are a few different types of savings accounts, so it’s important to research your options and decide what’s best for you and your style of spending and saving. There are regular savings accounts that pay interest and let you access your money freely. These are useful if you find yourself dipping into your savings frequently.
However, if you are strict with not accessing your savings, goal saving accounts like the Westpac Life savings account (available once you turn 18) offers a great interest rate if you meet the monthly minimum requirements; but remember you’ll only get the bonus interest on the months that you grow your balance. It’s a good way of encouraging you to deposit your money, but don’t stress too much – you’ll still get a decent interest rate even on the months you don’t manage to grow your savings.
If you’re keen to sus out the different kinds of accounts on offer, have a gander at Westpac’s savings accounts. There’s a bunch of different options depending on your spending habits, including a youth account for the under 18ers to start saving early. A savings account will only take a few minutes to set up, and it’s decisions like these that will help you hit your saving goals in Year 12 and have the money to celebrate afterwards.
Got some burning financial questions or want to know more about how to handle your money? Year13 and Westpac have teamed up to bring you FinLit, a financial literacy program teaching you everything about money that you never learnt in high school.
Whether you’re moving out, buying a car, muddling through your taxes or trying to sort your super, FinLit has the info you need. Suss it out here.
This information is intended to be general in nature and should not be relied upon for personal financial use.