Young Money: The art of managing money - tales from a teen

One of a series of blogs from real people sharing real experiences, observations and advice about being good with money. 

Michelle Feng is a 17 year old high school student from Auckland’s North Shore. She wrote this post as part of a task for the Massey University Business Boot Camp – BNZ was a Gold sponsor of the Boot Camp and hosted students at BNZ sites across Auckland to meet staff and gain insights into how the bank operates.

The first time I went grocery shopping by myself I was so excited. It was a mission, and I was alone. I was sure of the product I wanted to buy, and I even planned out my route to get there. However, when I arrived at the supermarket, my planning and good intentions went right out the window. 

I became distracted and overwhelmed. You know the feeling when you just cannot stop your eyes scanning the shelves? The shiny, plastic-packaged products shouting ‘Me! Me! Me! Buy me! I am totes way better than the other brands!’ It can be so hard to look away from these beautiful products, sitting nicely on the shelves waiting for you to take them home. How are you supposed to know which brand is the best?

The reality is, of course, that there is not much difference between products. On that ill-fated shopping trip I, a naive and inexperienced shopper, became side-tracked and eventually bought everything that struck my fancy. Upon leaving the supermarket I realised I had left without buying the very product I went to the store for in the first place. 

And yes, this is a true story.

Putting aside the trouble I got into at home, I learnt some important lessons about being good with money. Determining which desires are needs and which are wants is often the last thing on the mind of a money-wielding teen, and the importance staying focused can have on positive money management. 

The big challenge then is: how can we be good with money in the face of distraction and confusion around needs and wants? How can we deal with all the temptation around us and get the most value out of the limited resources we have?

Let’s look at people who are good at dealing with money. It seems clear that older people are better than their younger counterparts in terms of managing money. They may have a better understanding about what is really important, have their priorities straight, have developed self-control and made wiser financial decisions. Younger people, on the other hand, may be much more frivolous and lack the same level of discernment about what they actually need.

Big assumptions and grand generalisations, I know. But run with me on this one.

So it seems that, in order to be good with our money, we first need to identify what our needs are, and what our wants are. As I slowly move out of the sheltered world of home and school into the ‘real’ adult world, I begin to realise that managing money is more than just doing the maths and calculating how much we have earned. Instead what really matters is how we can use money effectively within the constraints we have. 

The popular saying “money is neither good or bad; it is what you do with it” applies to managing money. In essence, we are responsible for what we do with what we have.

A common mistake parents make in today’s society is not trusting their kids with money from an early age. What they don’t realise is that the sooner they allow their kids to get in touch with money, the sooner they’ll know how to manage it effectively. They need to learn to control their wants in order to meet their needs.

The fact is that resources are limited and our wants are unlimited. Therefore, the art of managing money is shown through our ability to control our wants and desires in order to satisfy our needs, not the other way round.

If you are studying or training and want to know how BNZ can help you manage your money, read more about our tertiary benefits for students and apprentices.

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Young Money: Dad was right
Young Money: The stuggle is real - when to save and when to splurge

Young Money: Fortune favours the thrifty
Young Money: Own it, don’t loan it
Young Money: Big cities on small budgets
Young Money: Haunted by the ghost of mismanaged finances past

1 Like

Great article Michelle, nicely done.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - budget, budget, budget. Work out something that’s realistic and STICK TO IT. Learning to budget is a skill that you’ll need throughout your life and the sooner you learn it, the better you’ll be :slight_smile: