There are tons of different budgeting methods to choose from, but the first step to all of them is to track what you are spending. Once you see where all of your money is going to and coming from, it is so much easier to manage. The great thing about being a teenager right now is that technology makes this super easy! 

I recommend getting the app Mint but any other money tracking app that you can link to your accounts will work. On apps like Mint, you can see every dollar you spend on any of your debit or credit cards. Mint will not only track your spending but categorize it as well. That way you can see exactly where your money is going. It even will link to your investment accounts as well! I really recommend exploring the app, there is so much to learn there.

Okay, now onto the budgeting strategies

Here are some of my recommendations compiled from different things I have read/seen as well as things that I have developed for myself. 

The Tech-y Budget

Mint Weekly Spending Targets

One of my favorite features of Mint is its weekly spending targets. You can set up different categories (like coffee, food, and entertainment), and Mint will automatically sort all of your purchases into those categories. You can assign weekly spending targets and check in whenever you want to see if you are staying in those ranges or spending too much. 

This is a great option for people who want to have everything on their phones and be able to access it super easily.

The Simple Budget

With Google Sheets or Notes

This Method is the most simple, which can honestly often be the most useful. All you have to do is set up a little table and stick to it. Take a look at my doodles to see possible setups for your table. If drawing this out by hand works better for you, you don't even have to use a digital table at all. You can create your own ideas, or make multiple tables. Just do whatever works best for you!

The Saving Budget

The Lock Strategy

Hear me out, I know this strategy sounds a little weird, but this is what works best for me when I want to focus on saving money. In fact, this is what I'm using right now. Basically, you "lock up" a certain amount of money in your account.  When you "lock up" money, you are not allowed to use it. For example, if you have $650 and you lock up $600, you only have those $50 to spend. As you earn more money, you can lock more of it up. I choose to lock up money in increments of $50 so I always have around $30 unlocked. If you aren't earning money regularly though it might be better to keep $100 or so unlocked so you don't have to tap into the locked money.

 If you don't have a savings account: just do this by keeping a note in the notes app or even drawing out a little lock like the one I have to the right. While obviously you could spend all of it if you wanted to, this is a mental strategy to change how you look at your account total when you are trying to save. The harder you try and believe that you really can't use that money, the more effective it will be. 

If you do have a savings account: First, make sure it is earning interest. I have a money market savings account that makes a small amount of interest. This means that when I "lock away" money, I'm also growing that money. Whenever you want to lock away money, just transfer it over to your savings account. 

Monthly Check-ins

Monthly check-ins are a great way to see where you are. No matter what budget you use, check in with yourself monthly to see how you are doing and if you are happy with your spending/budgeting habits. If not, it’s time for a new strategy.

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Julia Barrow
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