Smart Spending

Saving money is only part of being good at managing your money. There's also the fun part: spending it! It's great to be able to get something you really want or can use at a good price. Maybe you like to spend your money on video games or cool new clothes for school. Or maybe you like to spend it on trips to the mall or an amusement park. No matter what you spend your money on now, there are some important things to think about before you make any kind of purchase.

  • Not all purchases are smart purchases. Before you buy something, ask yourself the following questions: Do I really want or need this? Why do I want it? Does it look like it's made well or does it look like it could break tomorrow? Is there something else I would rather save up for? By asking yourself some questions before you buy something, you can stop yourself from making purchases that aren't worth your money.
  • Price matters. Do you know what it costs to go to the movies? Or to buy a new pair of shoes? Go with your parents when they go shopping and instead of just picking up things you want, take a look at prices. Learn about what things cost before you buy them, and see if you can find them for less somewhere else.
  • It's okay if you don't own everything in the world. To be good at managing money, you have to be able to stop yourself from buying everything that seems cool at that moment in time. Fads don't last forever!
  • There's a difference between a need and a want. Maybe your mom or dad wants you to buy your extra school supplies this year, or maybe you are supposed to put some money toward a gift for a family member. If so, those are needs. Going on the computer to download songs online or having the latest version of a video game are wants. Sometimes what you want has to wait because what you need comes first.
  • Think about past purchases. Look around your room. What types of things have you bought in the past? What has lasted? What broke right away? What did you lose interest in overnight? What are you still using? Think about these past purchases the next time you go to spend some of your money.

Do the math. If you spend $5 on junk food every week, that's $260 a year! What else could you do with $260?

For more information and resources to help military youth and teens navigate everything from the unique challenges of a mobile military lifestyle to managing their social lives, saving money, and going green, visit Military Youth on the Move!


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