This 19-Year-Old’s Saved $85,000 in 10 Years. Here’s Exactly How She Did It
Many Americans aren’t good at saving money.
This information isn’t new.
Let me give you a refresher: 33% of Americans have nothing tucked into their savings accounts, according to a 2016 GoBankingRates survey. And 35% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved.
In fact, not saving early enough topped a list of our financial regrets.
But once you’re able to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, saving isn’t impossible.
Take note from this 19-year-old NewRetirement recently wrote about. Robyn Bri has saved more than $85,000 to date.
Granted, Bri has lived at home, but she’s also hustled hard since she was 8 years old.
“The first time I bought something with my own money, it immediately had more value to me because it was something I had to work to get, so I took better care of it,” she told me in a recent email exchange. “I think that’s what motivated me to start getting jobs and saving my money for certain things.”
Here’s how to save money like Bri.
1. Open a High-Yield Savings Account
Bri says she keeps her money in a savings account and tries to stash money in it as frequently as possible.
I asked about her strategy for determining how much goes away and when. She says she plans to automate the process one day, but for now she just does it by hand.
“I usually will tell myself, ‘Okay, you just made this much money. You have to put at least this much in savings, then budget the rest into checking and into my spending budget,’” she says.
She keeps her money for everyday expenses in a checking account.
Here’s how you can save: For a long time, I kept my money in a stagnant checking account, but I recently transferred it to Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account, where I earn up to 1% in interest without paying any fees. That’s 100 times more than a typical checking account.
I also moved a chunk of money, the money I’m trying not to touch, to a high-yield savings account.
The goal is to make your money work for you, which Bri has already learned by 19. Jealous.
2. Pay With a Rewards Credit Card
What Bri does purchase, she says, she charges to a rewards credit card that she signed up for last year. That way she can earn points back. She makes sure to pay her card off each month, too.
She says she doesn’t have anything she’s saving the points for — just for something in the future.
First off, you don’t have to pay any annual fees. You also earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. Then, each time you redeem those rewards, you also get a 5% bonus to use toward your next redemption.
And if you manage to (responsibly) spend $1,000 within the first 90 days, you’ll bank a $200 bonus. Just make sure you pay your bill in full each month to avoid interest.
3. Start Investing
Bri says she has two self-investing accounts with Merrill Edge.
One is a Roth IRA, and the other is a self-guided account. She also invested in Apple stock when she was 16.
However, she admits she’s always been a little hesitant about the process. “…It’s a risky business, and the more you put in the more you can lose, but at the same time the more you can gain,” she says.
She advises people to research. She also suggests taking online quizzes to see how much risk is worth taking.
“I always make sure that I never invest all my money,” she concludes on the matter.
Neither one requires more than a few dollars to start. Acorns basically takes the digital change from your debit or credit card purchases and invests it. You can also snag a $10 bonus when you make your first investment
Stash allows you to set a fixed amount to take out of your account each week. Plus you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up through this link.
4. Practice Frugality
NewRetirement also reports that Bri doesn’t blow her money on clothes or entertainment expenses.
“Mostly I just tell myself, ‘I don’t need that; it’s not a necessity — you can live without it,’” she says. “But I do allow myself to have a small budget once a month for things like transportation, going to the city for a day, etc.”
She’s sure to calculate necessities into her budget, too, like her phone bill and gas.
Here’s how you can save: Budgeting on your own might be difficult, but apps are a good way to hold yourself — and your spending habits — accountable.
Try using something like the free Clarity Money app, so you can see where your money is going (or wasted). It also helps you negotiate your bills, and you can easily tap to cancel recurring expenses you no longer need (like magazines, gym fees, etc.).
The idea is to hold yourself accountable and be able to critically think about your budget. The app is free to download — the first step to being frugal.
5. Tackle the Art of the Side Hustle
At age 8, Bri started doing odd jobs for her neighbors.
Since then, she’s worked as a pet sitter, babysitter, housesitter and waitress. Bri estimates she works 28 to 32 hours a week and earns something between $3,000 and $4,000 each month, according to SFGATE.
I asked her how she manages to stay on top of her priorities. (In addition to her side gigs, she was also a successful student and volunteered.)
She says, “For me, I really had to stay organized and on top of my phone calls, emails, texts, etc. Writing everything down and using a calendar to stay organized was definitely crucial. With so many different things going on, if I don’t write one thing down I could screw up a whole day.”
Here’s how you can save: Bri isn’t yet 21, the age you have to be to start driving for ride-sharing services. But taking on a side gig as a driver can bring in substantial bucks
We chatted with a Lyft driver who makes up to $750 a week. Perhaps the best part is that he gets to set his own schedule.
Been thinking about giving Lyft a try? Signing up is pretty painless.
Another idea? You could tag team Lyft with driving with Uber. Lots of drivers do both.
6. Consume Tons of Personal Finance Advice
How did Bri know about all of these smart money moves? She said she read a ton of advice in books and on blogs (like The Penny Hoarder, right?).
But actually she says her all-time favorite book is “Rich Bitch.” “It’s an easy read, and the best part is it’s interactive, so as you read you are advised to write stuff down, start planning/getting your finances on track.”
Here’s how you can save: You can never know everything.
Cheers to Bri, who’s headed off to George Washington University this fall on a full-ride scholarship. (Here’s where to find some.) She has an on-campus job lined up and plans to find another gig along the way.
Here’s another hearty shout out to NewRetirement, which initially shared her story.
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Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She didn’t know a single thing about money when she was 18 — except that she wanted it.