Teen banking

Copper’s guide to saving (for teens)

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Saving. It may seem like a boring thing to do with your hard-earned dough, but saving money is one of the best things that you can do for your future. As a teenager, earning and saving money can be challenging, but fret not! In this guide, we’ll cover how teens can save money, including pointers on how to get the most out of your savings.

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The basics of saving money

Saving money can be tough, so we’ve compiled some easy-to-follow tips. Saving will not only allow you to become more financially independent, it will also create good money management skills that will last a lifetime. Here are some of the basics for how to start saving money as a teenager.

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Spend less than you earn

This is the most important part! Saving money just boils down to putting more money aside than you spend. A great place to start is to make a budget with your typical expenses, and how much you can save. And then stick to it!

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Make specific savings goals

It’s a great idea to set goals for yourself—as large as renting your first apartment, or as small as a new pair of shoes. You can also set simultaneous saving goals, and that way you can meet your more modest goals and reward yourself while making strides towards the big-money items.

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Use a bank account

It’s just too tempting to raid the piggy-bank whenever you want to treat yourself. A savings account adds steps between you and your money to promote thoughtful purchasing. Copper is a great banking option for teens and lets you create multiple savings buckets that tie to your savings goals.

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Start earning money

Saving money starts with earning money! Getting an allowance, having a summer or part-time job, or selling crafts are just a few ways you can start making some moolah. Learn more in our guide: How to earn money as a teenager.



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Banking options

So using a bank account is key for saving money… What kind should you choose?

First of all, there are different types of banks and credit unions – some that are brick and mortar, some that are online only. Because online banks have less overhead costs than their earthly brethren, they typically can offer higher interest rates, lower minimum balances, and have less pesky fees—all points in your favor when you’re trying to save.

Copper is a new online banking service aimed at connecting teens with their money, and helping them gain valuable financial literacy. Getting a Copper account is as simple as downloading the app, answering a few questions, getting a parent or guardian to do the same, then bam! You’ve got a Copper account ready to go so you can start spending (and saving) with ease.

Types of bank accounts

There are also different types of bank accounts, the most common of which are checking and savings accounts. 

Checking accounts can be used for everyday transactions and writing—you guessed it—checks, but don’t usually earn interest. Checking accounts are linked to debit cards that can be used for everyday spending. Because they’re used for spending, looking at the transaction history on your checking account can be helpful for creating and maintaining a budget.

Savings accounts are better for storing money, and typically earn interest on the money that they hold. However, there are sometimes limits on how often you can make withdrawals from these accounts. 

With Copper, you can have both a checking and savings account that you manage right from your phone. Download Copper now to get access to tools that help you save money, like creating designated saving “buckets” so you can work towards your goals and track your progress. 

Learn more about how banking works in our Ultimate guide to teen banking.

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What teens should be saving for

When you’re considering what to save money for as a teenager, it can be helpful to set goals in the short, mid, and long-term. You can also set milestones for yourself, like ‘when I save X amount towards my long-term goal, I’ll be able to reward myself with Y’. 

Short term saving goals

There are plenty of things you’ll want to spend your hard-earned cash on that won’t take too long to save up for. Things like concert tickets, fancy outfits (think prom and graduation!), and gifts for your squad are all great short term goals. Once you have a car, you’ll also need to save for gas, insurance, and repairs.

Mid term saving goals

There are also plenty of things that cost a little bit more that can be great mid-term savings goals. Things like saving for a car, a trip or vacation, or a new phone are all great mid-term goals to save money for as a teenager.

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Saving for a car

To save up for a car, it’s a good idea to look into what is available (the average price of used cars fluctuates), what you can realistically afford with your savings, and costs that will come up once you own the car, like maintenance, gas, and insurance.

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Saving for gadgets

The same principles apply when buying a phone or other tech. Think about additional costs that may come up (software, repairs, warranties), and consider up-front costs vs. the cost of maintenance. Do your research! In this day and age there is no shortage of product reviews online.

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Saving for a vacation

Another idea for savings is vacations! Again, keep in mind costs that may come up- what will you need on your trip? How much money will you spend once you’re there? Planning ahead will ensure that you’ll be ready to chill without worrying about money, AKA the LEAST amount of fun you can have.

Long term saving goals

So here we go: saving for the big expenses, like college, renting an apartment and—gasp—retirement!

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Saving for college

Let’s start with higher education. College can be an amazing place for self-discovery, creating community, and having a ton of late-night fun. Oh yeah, and you’ll hopefully learn some stuff. But as you know, tuition, room and board and other expenses add up really quickly to… a ton of money. 

A few ways to keep college costs low:

  • Take classes that will earn you college credit while in high school! Some schools offer AP classes, while other schools partner with local colleges to offer college courses to high schoolers.
  • Earn your associate’s degree at a community college, or knock out prerequisite classes before completing a four year program. If you have a specific school in mind that you want to transfer to, make sure that they will accept those credits.
  • Work towards scholarships and apply for financial aid. There’s lots of aid available, but it can be very competitive. Some options are need-based, based on your family’s financial situation, while others are merit-based, and look at your grades and extracurriculars. Schools and libraries often hold workshops to teach kids and parents about navigating tricky financial aid applications. So if you perform well in class, take on extracurriculars and prioritize applying for aid, you may be able to get some or even all of your college tuition and fees covered by grants and scholarships. 

Though it’s certainly daunting, the best thing that you can do is to start saving now so you can enter college in the best financial position possible.

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Saving for an apartment

Before, after, or during college, you may also find yourself apartment hunting. You’ve probably heard that the rent is too damn high… this is true. And when moving into your apartment, you will probably need to pay a security deposit, along with getting supplies and furniture. Starting to save for these expenses early is the best way to prepare for your first place.

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Saving for retirement

Moving farther into the future, let’s talk about retirement savings. I know what you’re thinking: how is retirement in an article about what to save money for as a teenager? But the truth is, the sooner you can start saving for retirement, the better. While it may not be your first concern, anything you can put away to start saving for your “golden years” will make your future self that much more comfortable. Start now and you may even become a millionaire someday.

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How long does it take to save?

Let's take a look at the math behind saving money. We can do this in two ways - based on your savings rate or based on time.

Savings rate: Let’s say you want a nicer guitar, and have your eye on one that will cost $300. After looking at your budget and figuring weekly earnings−weekly spending, you figure you can save $20 each week. 300/20=15, meaning it will take 15 weeks or about three and a half months to meet that goal.

Time: Some things might be time-sensitive. Maybe you know an artist you really like is going to be on tour in your area, and tickets may sell out as soon as they become available. If the tickets go on sale in four weeks and cost $120, then you would divide 120/4=30. This means you would need to save $30 each week to save enough to buy the tickets on the date they go on sale.

Use the calculators below for your own goals, and download Copper now to start saving!

rate-based savings calculator

Based on your savings rate


Enter in your savings goal:


Enter in how much you can save each week:

I earn $
and spend
of that.
I can save $20/week.
Uh oh — it looks like you don't have anything to save!


Uh oh — it looks like you don't have anything to save!

With my savings goal of $300 , if I can save $20/week it will take me 15 weeks to reach my goal.

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Hot Tip — The above formula is broken out as:
( Savings Goal ) ÷ ( Weekly Earning − Weekly Spending ) = Weeks to Reach Goal
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
time-based savings calculator

Based on time


Enter in your savings goal:


Enter in Your Timing:

Start Date
End Date
I have 9 weeks to reach my goal.
Uh oh, these dates don't line up. Enter your timeframe, making sure your Start Date is at least a week before your End Date.


Uh oh, these dates don't line up. Enter your timeframe, making sure your Start Date is at least a week before your End Date.

With my savings goal of $495 , I'll need to save $55/week over the course of 9 weeks to reach my goal.

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Hot Tip — The above formula is broken out as:
( Savings Goal ) ÷ ( Total Weeks ) = Amount to Save Each Week
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
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How to speed up savings

Once you start saving, we predict you’ll really enjoy the feeling of watching your savings grow, and being more in control of your finances. You may also be wondering “how can I save even more money?” Well since you asked, we have a few suggestions on how to save even faster:

Cut costs. By looking at your budget or reviewing your transaction history, you can tell where to trim costs down so you have more money left over to save. Copper makes it easy to view all your transactions and know where your money's going. For example, if you know you’re hitting the convenience store for after school snacks and drinks multiple times a week, take one of those times and bring an extra snack from home instead. Then you’ll have another five bucks to put to your savings each week, and an extra $20-$25 each month in your budget. 

Put your savings in a high-yield savings account. While the national average interest rate (also known as APY, the annual percentage yield) for savings accounts is only 0.06 percent, some online banks are able to offer interest rates on savings that are ten times that. This means you’ll earn money simply by depositing it. Remember to compare the interest rates online that different banks offer, and check for account fees, if there’s a minimum balance, or if the account requires you to stash a certain amount to earn the higher interest rates. 

Invest your money. No need to become Leonardo DiCaprio from The Wolf of Wall Street to dip your toe into the world of investing. There are several options that are lower-risk that you might start with. Certificates of deposits are similar to using a savings account, but you can’t access the deposit for a set amount of time. This ranges from a matter of months or years depending on what kind you purchase. In exchange, you can get higher interest rates than in a savings account. Purchasing bonds means that you basically become a small-scale lender to a company or municipality. In exchange for lending your money, you get your initial loan back after a set period plus interest. Mutual funds, another option, pool the investments of many people. The funds are the composite of investing in many different sources, like stocks in companies as well as bonds. This way the risk to the investor is smaller than an investment in a single entity. 

Savings Tip: Use cash? Have a lot of spare change laying around? Even saving spare change can add up over time. In 2016, a waste disposal company estimated that Americans throw away $62 million each year in spare change. And while we doubt this needs saying, don’t throw away your money! Consider keeping a coin bank and putting all of your loose change into it at the end of the day. It can add up: one man saved over $5,000 in 20 years that way, about $250 a year, while a man in Florida collected $21,000 over ten years just by collecting coins around town.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How old do I have to be to get a savings account?

You must be 18 or over to open your own savings (or any bank account) without a parent or guardian. Until your 18th birthday, a parent or legal guardian must set up a custodial or joint account, which is your property, but managed by your parent until you turn 18.

How can Copper help me save money?

Copper is a banking service geared specifically towards teens. It allows you to set multiple savings goals at once and can even deposit money into these “buckets” automatically each time you are paid. There are no monthly fees, and there are spending limits to keep your most extravagant impulses in check. Plus, Copper makes it easy for parents to deposit money into your account, and can make those funds available to you even faster by using a linked debit card.

How can teens save money without a job?

Even without a traditional job, there are plenty of ways for you to start earning and saving money as a teenager. You could try babysitting, sell handmade crafts, or even make money online by taking surveys. See our full guide on earning money for teens to learn more!

How much should a teenager be saving each month?

Saving 25 percent of your earnings is a great start. While this percentage may sound high, remember that this is the time when your expenses will be lowest! And you’ll still have 75 percent of your earnings to play with.

How can you make your savings grow?

Making your money work for you is one of the best financial skills you can learn. Here are a few ways to make money with your money. One option is having a savings account that will earn you interest over time. Investing your money in stocks and mutual funds is higher risk, but also can have a higher yield than a savings account. Certificates of deposit and high-yield savings accounts can be great options as well. You can also talk to your parents about matching your savings. For instance, for every dollar you put into your savings, your parents can “match” with fifty cents or even a dollar as an incentive for saving. Using goals as a motivational tool can be really helpful for saving money, and you can use Copper’s savings tools to help you. Happy saving!

More ultimate guides

If you manage to learn how to save money while you're still in high school, by the time you're an adult you'll be lightyears ahead of people who are learning the hard way about another important financial topic — debt. Want even more advantages? Check our the rest of our guides to financial mastery for teens.

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