When I turned fifteen and had my first summer job, an idea popped into my head. I wanted to reach a goal of making $10,000 in high school. For a fifteen-year-old, I did not think it was possible, but I wanted to try.
I always knew from a young age that due to the lack of finances I had to fund my own education without any help from my family. The first time I held a paycheck that I worked for, I realized I needed to start saving right then and there for my future. Due to the fact that it is illegal for anyone under sixteen years old to work a part time job in Minnesota, I could only save during the summers.
I began to count down the days until I turned sixteen. While I waited, I started to fabricate a two-year plan that would end in $10,000 in my savings account. When I finally turned sixteen and landed a job, all I needed was time and consistent effort. My plan was finally able to go into action.
Getting My First Job In High School
It was hard at first, learning how to balance school and work right after school. In the beginning, my academics began to tank, but it was only for a brief few weeks. I started to learn how to time manage myself and what to prioritize over what. After a few months, I finally was able to balance work and school without compromising one for the other.
I capped my hours at twenty a week during the school year and rarely called in unless I needed to. Having a time limit of two years to achieve $10,000 really pressured me to make sure my attendance was up to par. I always volunteered for the extra hours because I knew at my age in this phase of life would be the best time to save up. I had no bills, no fines, and no responsibilities yet. It was the perfect opportunity to save all I could. From the middle of my sophomore year to today, I have been taking advantage of it and have exceeded ten grand by two thousand dollars.
Roadblocks To Achieving My Goal
My original timeline was calculated that I would reach $10,000 as of August 2017. However, from the time I made this plan and executed it, I encountered variables that I had not incorporated into my original timeline. I did not anticipate raises, surplus and shortage of hours, nor did I consider holiday pay. I applied for the position as a cashier starting at $9.00 an hour, but as time went on I began to advance and climb the ladder.
Every few months I would receive a raise, the amounts were not consistent but they always upped it more than the last. This tiny change over time affected the net amount of my savings greatly. I also did not consider the winter months, winter months meant fewer hours for everyone. In my original timeline I had each week calculated with exactly twenty hours in mind, but some weeks I received only eight hours, others I would get thirty-five or more. The irregularity of hours highly impacted my pre-planned timeline. I also did not watch for holiday paychecks, depending on your seniority you will receive extra pay for working or not working on holidays. As I broke the one year anniversary at my workplace, I was finally beginning to receive holiday pay. It was extra money I did not plan for.
Reaching My Goal Early
As time went on and I began hit milestones with my savings, it came to a surprise when I found out I reached my goal almost half a year early. I had exceeded making $10,000 in high school by November 2016 with a remainder of eight months left before August 2017 would come. I then hatched a smaller short term plan to meet $15,000 by the time August 2017 would arrive. However, this new plan is more relaxed and less strict due to the fact that the original amount had already been met. As this plan is currently in motion, my results are showing that I can actually reach roughly $17,000 if I factor in holiday pay, raises, extra hours, and summer demands. I do not plan to relax my last summer before going off to college, I see it as more time to gain more money for college funds.
Why It’s Important To Save So Much
The reason why I am saving so much is because I plan to study abroad one semester per a year. It is expensive, but it is something I have always dreamed of. The more I save, the more likely I will be able to afford the only thing I have always wanted. To travel. To be free. To break out from my world and break into another.
I want to learn about other parts of the world, I want to be immersed in another culture, and I want to see how others live. College is a time for self-discovery, for growing up, and for exploring new things. Every time I want to skip a shift, I remember the bigger goal. I save my money because I am planning for the future. I want to experience the summer festivals of Japan, I want to sit in London and have tea, I want to walk the grounds of Cape Town, I want to eat the foods of El Salvador, and I want to ride the waves of the Pacific Ocean one day.
I can do all of these things in college if I am smart with my money and know where to invest. My biggest dream is to travel, because I believe that traveling allows us to live multiple lives in one lifetime. I crave to explore the world outside my own, that is my biggest desire. In order to have that, I need to have enough money to make it happen.
From May 2015 to today, I have reached $12,000 in my savings. I would have more money in my possession if I had not spent any money at all, but that would be impossible. I plan to be at $17,000 by August 2017. After August, I plan to find another job that offers better pay and benefits seeing that I will be in college and in need of money more than ever.
Everything I have done and saved has been for the moment I start college, I have been preparing for this moment since I was a sophomore in high school. I have been at the same job for almost two years with consistent attendance, I have skipped many family and friend events due to work, and I have chosen to be at work on holidays to get a bigger paycheck.
Earning money with a time restriction requires multiple trade-offs consistently, but I have a goal in mind and I will achieve it. I sacrificed a lot of weekends, holidays, and relaxation time to earn money, and as much as I wish I could be at home, I have to think about the future. Nobody will simply hand me money, nobody will pay my tuition, and nobody will send me abroad for free. Only I can do all of that.
Knowing the fact that only I can help myself motivates and pushes me to work harder. Only I can make a difference in my finances, nobody else will work for my money but me. I do not plan to stop working just because I have hit the first milestones of many to come. The ten grand was proof that I could make something happen if I worked hard and sacrificed for it. My next goal is to be at forty grand and have visited at least four countries by graduation in 2021. Any dream, desire, and hope can become our realities if we are willing to sacrifice, fight, and reach for it. The only way we cannot reach what we yearn for is if we never dare to fight for it, much less even think about the possibility of it. If there is effort there will be results.
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Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.