The Essential Guide to Happiness and Money for Teens

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If you are a teenager, you have the opportunity to make happiness and financial security key aspects of your life. There is a way to make the most of what you have so that you can have more of what you love.   The steps are very simple and don’t cost a thing.   Here are nine money tips that can help you:

Discover What You Really Enjoy and Prioritise

Finding activities and things that bring you enjoyment will, by definition, bring

you enjoyment.  As such, it makes sense to find out what these activities and things are.   One of my prime motivators for being frugal is so that I have more money and energy left put towards the people, activities, and things that are key priorities in my life.

Yes, I used to be a teenager and I had hair.

Yes, I used to be a teenager and I had hair.

Yes, some of these people, activities, and things may very well change over the course of your life, but some may not.  Pursuing an education and a career that is attuned to that which brings you enjoyment is a wonderful thing. Being aware of and making time for the people, activities, and things that bring you enjoyment is, well … enjoyable.

I am not encouraging you to run off to become a narcissistic hedonist gazing at yourself in a mirror whilst eating peeled grapes all day on your own private tropical island , but rather to take the time to discover what your priorities really are and to work towards making them key components of your life. Prioritising is an important life skill that will help you to maintain focus and to achieve goals throughout your life.

Work Hard at School

I am sure you probably hear this all the time, but there is a very good reason for this.  Here is the fact in the form of an algorithm: good marks = many options and bad marks = few options.   You may not feel that options are super important right now, but you will enjoy the ability to choose between a large number of schools and job opportunities as you get older (even if the value of a college degree is declining).

Start Saving Now

Your age is a huge advantage here.  Starting young means that you have a long time to let your savings grow (through the power of compound growth) and that you can recover more easily from financial mistakes than can an older person.  You can retire comfortably quite easily if you start when you are young.  Here’s how Warren Buffett does it.

Learn How to Cook

Yes, learn how to cook.  It is an essential life skill that, not only makes you more independent, but also allows you to save a great deal of money by making your own delicious meals at home.  You might also find creating tasty food can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.  Learning how to use a slow cooker is one way to make simple and tasty meals.

Learn How to Use Tools at Home 

Find out how and when to use a hammer, a screwdriver, a saw, and pliers and you will have a lifelong skill that will save you a lot of money over your lifetime.   There are countless repairs and upgrades you can safely and easily make at home with minimal knowledge and skill (Home Depot’s Home Improvement 1-2-3
is a terrific resource that is well worth the money).  You also might find that you really enjoy doing these things.

Live at Home for as Long as You and Your Caregivers can Stand It

Moving out is very expensive.  Your first and last months rent deposit, setting up your utilities, buying your furniture, your kitchen utensils, your toiletries, your towels, your bedding, your carpets, your laundry hamper, your all the other stuff can add up to a huge amount of money.  Yes, you will move out one day, but postponing this for as long as you are your parents can manage it will save you a real bundle of money (which could be used for other things like contributing towards your education or a car if you need one).

If Buying a Car, Focus on Dependability

I didn’t buy my first car until I was thirty-five years old.  I walked and used public transit for most of my life.  Owning a car now is a great convenience, but it comes at a very high cost.  Owning and operating a car is expensive.  I drive a 2001 Mazda Protégé.  It is a very reliable and well-built car and I plan to drive it for as long as it makes sense to do so,.  If you do feel that a car is a priority for you, focus on dependability and low-maintenance and insurance costs.  Consumer Reports publishes an annual car survey that tests and rates all the latest models as well as used models.

Don’t Rush Into Marriage

Marriage is a huge life decision.  Getting a divorce is extremely costly and stressful.  Unfortunately for younger people, divorce rates are highest for those who marry at 24 years old or younger.  If you do find someone who you love, what’s the rush?  They will still be there after you have taken care of other important things like getting an education and getting a job if your marriage was truly meant to be.  Marriage is absolutely not something you should rush into.

Don’t Rush into Having Children

Having children is a huge and permanent life-changing event.  It is also extremely expensive.  You will forever be a provider from that point onward.  I love being a father.  I am also in a position to provide for my daughter emotionally, physically, and financially.  The truth is that all children need each of these three fundamental supports.  I make no claim of being the perfect father, I do however feel that I do at least have the basic necessities covered.  This enables me to focus on being a great father instead of being constantly diverted by a lack of necessities.


Find what you love and focus your energies towards getting more of it in your life.  Develop the skills and habits that will help you commit less energy, time, and money to the stuff that matters less and redirect it towards the things that you love or that are more important priorities in your life.  Be focused, adaptable, and open to new things along the way.

Are there any other tips that should be included here?  Any tips that you disagree with?  What do you think?

Please leave a comment below.  

Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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    • Jodi on March 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Great list! I would also add not to rush into CREDIT CARDS! My eighteen year old will be starting college in the fall, and he just received his first credit card application in the mail yesterday. I made my own mistakes with credit cards as a teen (my first job was at Macy’s, where you had to use the credit card to get your employee discount). Many teens are not able to handle the temptation and responsibility of a credit card.

    • Jason on March 11, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your comment with us, Jodi.

    I agree that credit cards can lead to trouble if they are not used properly. Teens may or may not be able to handle them depending on their personalities and they way that they manage their money. I do definitely know some teens that are very responsible with their money and that they could probably handle one. I do also know others that would probably get into a lot of financial trouble by using one. My feeling is that it really depends on the individual teen. You are right though, that many teens may not be able to handle the temptation and responsibility of a credit card. These teens might be better waiting and paying for things with cash.

    Thanks again, Jason

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