Take control of your income
Learn how to handle the money you earn so you can make the most of it and achieve your goals, whether you want a shiny new car, big trip away, or you're planning for the future
“Financial freedom is available to those who learn about it and work for it”
– Robert Kiyosaki, author Rich Dad Poor Dad
There are a couple of things you need to do before you can start earning money
First things first, you really need a bank account. The days of stashing all your cash under your mattress are long gone, so you’ll need to get a bank account before you can be paid, and you’ll need to give those details to your employer.
Even if you’re under 18, many banks will allow you to open your own transaction account and you could benefit from reduced fees. It’s easy to link a savings account, so you can start building your future right from your first payslip, and you can ask for a linked debit card as well.
Online banking makes it easy to see your accounts online, transfer money as you need and keep track of everything.
Make your own decision about where to bank
Australian’s have a nasty habit of being very loyal to their bank, and there’s a good chance you’ll be with the same bank for many years. Do your research about which bank aligns with your needs both now and in the long term – for example, if a bank has fantastic entry rates for young people but very expensive car loan rates then you may be better off elsewhere.
We’ve collected some suggestions – these banks offer programs specifically for young people – but every credit union and bank will be able to help you.
Westpac have a good run down of what you need to do to set up your accounts (but don’t worry, you can set up accounts with just about any Australian bank.)
ANZ First Job – and account designed for young people with no account fee if you’re under 25
Commonwealth Bank Youthsaver Accounts
Finder have compared Teen Debit Cards here
Get your hands on your money
Once you’ve got your hard-earned dollars sitting in your bank how do you get it out again?
One of the easiest ways is with a debit card.
A debit card is a card that you can use to withdraw money (through an ATM), or to pay for things (EFTPOS or online).
Your debit card gives you access to your own money, so you don’t pay any interest and you can never go into debt using it. A credit card on the other hand is a kind of easily-accessible personal loan, which means you can spend even when you don’t have the money, then pay it back later.
Credit cards are often VERY expensive (in terms of fees and interest charged) and if you’re not careful you can get into big trouble using credit cards. Debit cards are much safer, just as easy to use, and you’ll be better off in the long run.
Bank account sorted? Next you need a budget
Budgets are not boring. They are powerful tools you can use to achieve your dreams.
Very few rich people managed to wing their way into millions – just about all of them have budgets (and they stick to them).
A budget is simply a method of keeping track of your income and expenses, and choosing to spend your money in line with the rules set out in your budget.
For example, if you want a new car and it’s going to cost $4,000, you know that you need to save that much money. If you don’t budget, there’s a good chance you’ll spend when you really needed to save, in order to reach your goal, which means you won’t be able to afford your car.
If you plan a budget you can set yourself rules, like only going to the movies once a fortnight, and then put the money you would normally have spent on extra movie sessions in your savings account.
Want to know what happens if you have no budget?
Think of all the singers and movie stars who’ve blown millions on fast cars and expensive yachts, just to end up broke and alone. But smart actors, like George Clooney, use their movie earnings to invest wisely and stick to a smart budget. He recently sold his tequila brand for close to a billion dollars (now wouldn’t that be nice?)
Sticking to a budget is easy with these planners:
The easy-to-use ASIC expense tracking app is a great launching pad for anyone who wants to get their budget on track, or even start their very first budget
Money Smart Budget Planner
This simple planner lets you work out where your money is going
Pocketbook keeps track of your money, helps you set up budgets and manage your bills
Commonwealth Budget Planner
Enter your income and expenses into the calculator to work out how much you could be saving. It’s easy to adjust the sliders to see how much difference you can make with a few different choices
Another handy tool that includes spaces for insurance, loans, transport and fun, then lets you break your budget down in weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or yearly amounts
Raiz Automated Investing
Acorns can help you save, by automatically investing spare change
Are you being paid the right amount?
There are rules which dictate how much you should earn, and what your employment conditions look like. Your employer has to follow these rules, and they help make sure you’re safe at work and paid appropriately for your time and effort.
They’re set out by Fair Work Australia, and it’s easy for you to find out if the wage you’re being paid is correct at their website.
What’s an ombudsman?
An ombudsman is an independent organisation that’s set up to help people understand their rights and responsibilities in the workplace.
Their services are free, and available to all workers and employers in Australia.