When I was fifteen, my mom and I listened to The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I was less than delighted to be stuck in the car listening to some old guy talk for hours about money (sorry Dave). However, I did have to listen, and I was surprised to find that I actually understood what he was talking about and that his advice rang true to me.
You have probably already heard of Dave Ramsey and his ‘babysteps’, but it was all new for me. His first recommendation is to save up $1,000.00 in an emergency fund. I decided that I was going to follow his advice and start immediately. Thankfully, I already had a little over $300.00 in a savings account that my parents started for me when I was a little kid. Although still a teenager, it makes sense to me to have a decent amount of cash tucked away for a rainy day. College is just a few years away and I will probably need a car at that time. There can be so many unexpected expenses with a car and my emergency fund will probably come in pretty handy then.
It took me at least eight months to save up the additional $700.00 for my fund. It seemed like it took forever, and it wasn’t always a lot of fun. I do not have a part time job, so I knew that I was going to have some real challenges. Here is how I did it:
Cleaned my grandmother’s house.
Yes, you read that right. Dusted, mopped, scrubbed toilets – the whole nine yards. (This job earned about $50 a month.)
Assisted my mom in teaching a class.
I helped her gather all of the materials that she needed for a weekly science class that she teaches and helped her conduct the experiments with the students. (This brought in $25 per month.)
Helped my grandfather with his firewood business.
This included loading the trailer with wood and helping him with customers. (Between $15 and $30 a month, but not every month.)
Saved most of the money that was given to me for birthday and holidays. (More than $200 total during the time that I was saving.)
Went on a spending freeze.
I did use my clothing allowance to purchase a few needed items, but even set aside some of that money for savings.
One of the most exciting things? By discovering a way to make wise decisions about my money now there are so many possibilities for my financial future! My hope is that by having my emergency fund established, not taking on credit card or student loan debt, and spending wisely during my teen years I will be in a position to begin investing for my retirement while I am still in college.
You may have to do some fairly unpleasant jobs along the way to a $1,000.00 emergency fund, just like I did. Don’t give up – even those small deposits of five and ten dollars really add up. And the toilets? Totally worth it on the day that your savings account balance says $1,000.00!
Do you have a savings account? What are you saving for?