First Person: Best Financial Moves I Made as a Teenager

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I first became interested in money when I was a teenager. I learned about investing in the stock market in history class. We made mock stock portfolios that we monitored for the semester. At the conclusion of the stock market game, my portfolio was worth the most money compared to my classmates. Looking back, I realize I made several key financial decisions as a teenager.

Saving money for college

Even though I did end up taking out some college loans, I was able to lessen the load by working in high school and during the summers when I was a college student. My parents were not able to pay my way through college since they had four children to support. However, they made sure I could get to my part-time jobs when I was in high school. Since I had no expenses, I saved as much as I could for college. My friends who did not save for college and didn't have rich parents were socked with double the amount of college loans. One friend had to drop out because she didn't have enough money to stay at the private university.

Reading financial books

Another smart financial move I made as a teenager was taking responsibility for my own finances by becoming educated. Some of the first financial books I read were "Think and Grow Rich," by Napoleon Hill and "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George Samuel Clason. The books taught me to spend less money than I earn and make my money work for me by investing.

Starting a work portfolio

When I graduated from college, the country was in the middle of the recession of the early 1990s. I was entering a competitive job market. When I interviewed with a daily newspaper in my college town, I took my portfolio of work that I started collecting in high school and throughout college. My future boss was impressed that I already had a huge portfolio. Today, I encourage my children to start an online resume and portfolio.

Avoiding unnecessary expenses

Another good decision I made was to live on campus without a car. I was able to get exercise since I had to walk a few miles each day back and forth to classes. I didn't have to make a car payment or pay for gasoline. Also, by being stuck on campus, I focused on my academic studies. I wasn't tempted to spend money at restaurants and at the malls.

When I graduated from college, I felt as though I was equipped to handle my finances. I made my share of bad financial decisions in my 20s, but I was able to tackle the challenges thanks to my solid foundation. Now I have two teenagers of my own that I try to educate about money and financial responsibilities. With their frugal habits and good work ethic, I know they will go far.

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More from this contributor:

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