money-saving tips from a broke teen


Every parent has the hope their child will learn the value of money when they start their first part-time job.

I’m finally learning that lesson … but only after leaving my position at a local Nine West outlet.

Even though I’ve never been a big spender, I’ve never been a big saver, either. After 18 months of employment, earning $8.50 an hour and working on average 10 hours a week, I have successfully saved no money whatsoever.

When I originally took the job in November 2012, I decided to use my paychecks as spending money, since I hated asking my parents for allowance all the time. However, now that I’ve quit, I keep bumming money off my dad left and right.

So where did the thousands of dollars go? What could I possibly have spent all of my earnings on?

The answer is simple: The Latte Factor.

Simply defined, it’s all of the small purchases that add up to a significant expenditure over time.

For example, I have a “tradition” where I go to Wawa every Friday morning I have an article in reality. I buy my 24-ounce coffee and a couple of papers to share with friends. Even though it’s not much, I spend $4 to $5, and throw my change in one of those donation bins by the register. Who has time to fumble with a wallet first thing in the morning?

All right, so that’s not a horrendous amount, but when I add up all the articles I’ve written over the past nine months, that’s more than $100. I’m no economics major, but this is such serious business, I’ve had to start saving my receipts.

I’ll admit my spending goes beyond coffee and K-cups; it stretches to overpriced fruit containers, pseudo health food, enhanced water, infuriatingly overpriced Staples ink cartridges, expensive drugstore makeup and more than 20 pairs of shoes.

While I’ve tried to make my spending more “meaningful” over the past few months, I still take money for granted sometimes. I used to rely on my parents all the time for financial support, but after having a steady job for a year and a half, that act is foreign.

I don’t like this feeling of not being able to pay for all of my doctor co-pays, gas and lunch food. What choice do I have? Well, I could get smart with my money.

With me going away to college in August, I thought I’d take the time to get my spending habits under control so I don’t have to call home, saying, “Uh, Dad, I’m out of money. Can you wire some?”

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