• Rebekah Gamble

12 Money Moves EVERY 18 Year Old Should Make

When it comes to money moves to make when you’re 18 they all boil down to one idea; start doing things to make you happier.

Making the most of your 20s will depend on what choices you make at 18, after graduating high school or getting your GED.

If the idea of answering what will you do for the rest of your life gives you anxiety and makes you feel flustered, you are not alone.

There is not one 18 year old out there that really knows how decades of their life will play out, but they can surely dream and set goals.

Along with setting goals, cultivating happy healthy relationships will be essential to building bonds that are good for your soul and networking circle.

Today we’re going to talk about life after high school, keep reading to find out 12 money moves you can make at 18 years old.

Key takeaways:

1. Set goals

2. Do things that make you happier

3. Form happy healthy relationships

1. Understand your expenses

Make a budget

When making the most of your 20s, one of the biggest money moves you can make EVER is knowing where your money is going.

If the idea of having a strict budget or even monitoring every single dollar scares you, you’re not alone.

I love the idea of having a loose budget where I can still buy food out, or go to Barnes and Nobles without having to check if I included it in that weeks budget.

You can budget and still have a lifestyle that includes doing things to make you happier.

You guys can read about creating a no budget- budget by clicking the link below.

Related: How to create a budget when you hate budgeting

The jist of the no budget-budget is to automate your savings followed by bills, write down any expected expenses, and see how much money is left over.

The remaining funds can spent, saved, or invested.

Intentionally don't spend money

Some people have intentional no spend days. I personally like the idea of just saying it’s Saturday, I’m staying home, I will not go on Amazon and I will make sure to eat a frozen pizza before I order uber eats.

That statement alone can save you at least $20.

Saving money and spending wisely are money moves you should make every single day.

Related post: How to save money on a weekly budget

2. Figure out how you’re going to pay for college

By now you’re either set to graduate high school or you’re planning ahead for life after high school.

One of the biggest decisions students and young adults make is whether or not they will go to college and where.

I went to a CUNY college where the tuition was no more than $3,465 per semester, not including fees, and I was lucky enough to qualify for full financial aid and scholarships.

But prior to loving my current college, I had big dreams of going away to a state school followed by attending the prestigious NYU private college where the tuition is $27,440 per semester, for the major I wanted.

Tuition per semester at NYU: Note these are updated 2020-2021 prices

I encourage you to consider what going to college could mean in regards to debt.

Not everyone has a college fund waiting for them or qualifies for full financial aid so taking out a loan for some, is inevitable.

But what doesn’t have to be guaranteed is that you will graduate with over $100k in debt before you even have a stable job lined up.

Ultimately, life after high school includes choosing your debt wisely.

What to consider when choosing a college

  • Choose a school that is affordable (likely a public city college)

  • Pick one that has good resources (internship/scholarship/career exploration offices)

Getting into a school with the major you like and a good tuition rate is one aspect that influences life after graduation.

Choose a school that will help you achieve success after the 4 years are done.

3. Get a job or an internship

Getting a job

Working while in college can be challenging. If you are able to get a job while in college make sure you save money from each check.

Getting into the habit of automating your savings (even if you save money in cash) can jump start your emergency fund and help you feel more secured in life financially.

Get experience

Besides believing that college is the gateway to our desired career, college is supposed to give you exposure to new opportunities.

Whether you are in college or working at a job, if you can spare time to apply to internships or volunteer for work experience, I encourage you to do it.

Jobs and organizations LOVE when you can say you have 1-3 years of experience in a specific area. Plus it’ll help you to see if this is something you want to do more in the future.

4. Open a bank account

Direct deposit is the nicest thing that was ever invented.

If you haven’t already opened up a bank account we’ve now established what the next thing on your list of money moves is.

A bank account will not only allow you to organize your finances because you can automate your bills but you can also get into the habit of automating your savings.

Even $5 a week is a start because eventually you will be able to put away more money.

There isn’t a set amount you must save per month, just save what is comfortable to you and save more as your financial goals become clearer.

5. Get a secured credit card

Developing a happy healthy relationship with your credit card can boost your credit and save you from unbearable debt.

I consider myself a great saver and someone who is responsible with saving.

But there's something about walking into a store holding a piece of plastic with a a good credit limit, that makes me feel like financing purchases isn't such a bad idea.

But like with any new thing it takes practice to get use to it.

Are you following @Blissfulwallet on IG yet?

A secured card with a limit of $100-$500 is a good place to start. These cards are less likely to get random boost in credit limits which means that you can resist temptation.

Tip for managing your credit cards

Whether you get a secured card, a college credit card, or an unsecured card I encourage you to pay the balance in full.

If you anticipate you may have to use the card intentionally for big purchases, select a card with a low APR.

APR - is the amount of interest charged when carrying a balance

Typically low APR comes with less rewards but when it means you aren’t paying an extra $500 on a $2000 balance it’s worth it.

6. Consider what you want life to look like

You’re young and it is perfectly acceptable to have zero idea what your ideal life looks like at this very moment.

It’s also okay to have a blueprint written out from start to finish.

Although, I can 100% guarantee you will grow in the next few years and some of your plans will change.

Life after high school, no matter what your financial background looks like, includes shaping life to be what you want.

Take a moment and start with these basic questions. You can jot down ideas that come to mind or write full sentences. The choice is yours.

  1. Can I see myself leaving the city I live in?

  2. What things do I like to do in my free time?

  3. If I could paint my ideal day, what would it look and feel like?

Expand on the above questions and see what ideas come to mind. When it comes to the last question dig deep and really consider what the answers are.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

More questions to ask yourself

Would your ideal day include a quiet house or maybe a nice view?

What would you drink and eat?

Who would be with you and what would you do during the day?

This can help you to figure what things youd like to see in your life and over the next few weeks, months, and years you will be able to put in place financial goals that will help you to get there.

Money may not be the key to happiness but it can surely buy you the things that make living more comfortable.

7. Think of ways to make more money

Passive income, side hustles, several streams of income, what ever you call it are something that not many of us realize until much later is possible.

I got my second source of income when I began babysitting my nephew. Many of us do odd jobs and get a few extra dollars without giving an extra thought.

When you’re young, assuming you don’t have children, you’ll have more time on your hands. This is when you want to explore and see what you’re good at that you can charge other people for.

How can you make more money

Stop editing essays for free.

Stop doing full glam makeup for your friends or dying their hair for free

Stop giving everyone rides for free.

There are so many things we do now for others, especially peers, that can be leveraged for cash.

And if you stick with it long enough and you develop a love for it, it may even shift how you see your your future career path.

Doing things to make you happier includes securing different forms of reliable income.

Related post: How to recognize if you need a lifestyle shift

8. Take advantage of free resources

You’d be surprised how many free opportunities are available. Since the pandemic hit you can expect a lot of events that were once in other states to now be available in the comfort of your home.

If you head to college then you can expect a plethora of free workshops, events, and even offices specially designed to help you adult in style.

My campus offers a counseling center where real social workers, psychologist, and therapist sit down and talk with you.

Everyone can benefit from a safe space.

Resources you can find in college | Pin this to your favorite board!

My campus also offers free HIV test, pregancy test, physicals, helps you sign up for health insurance, and even public assistance benefits like SNAP.

Being in college can help you to achieve a happy healthy life when you take advantage of what it has to offer outside of the classroom. Ask around your campus and see what they offer.

9. Say no to debt

Consumer debt is when you buy stuff you can't afford simply because you have the chance.

Student loan debt is acquired when you borrow money to pay tuition.

There is nothing wrong with having a credit card just use it responsibly and dedicate yourself to keeping your utilization rate below 30%.

And when it comes to loans you want to pay them off as quickly as possible.

Does paying off a student loan decrease your credit score?

It will temporarily decrease your score because you are closing a line of credit.

Credit bureaus like when you have different types of credit. So if you close your loan (installment credit) by paying it off… the credit bureaus are now unhappy that you only have credit cards open on your account (revolving credit).

But give it a few weeks of consistent spending and paying off in full and your credit score will go back up.

10. Talk about fiances with your partner

If you date (even if you’re 18) you want to know where your partners head is at.

Are they big spenders or savers? Are they interested in working odd jobs or are they heading for a specific career path?

At this moment can they see themselves sharing a bank account with you?

Keep in mind you both are growing, you’re young, and you might both have a savings account with $0.

Talk about finances with your partner

But knowing what they believe right now when it comes to finances can save you a lot of stress and worry especially if you have an idea of what you want financially.

You guys can begin to work on communicating about money and develop better habits that can suit you in the long run.

Talk to them about your goals, a happy healthy relationship includes open communication.

11. Think about retirement

When I say think about retirement I mean consider that you do not have to work until 65 to retire. When you have a salary you can live below your means and save... save... SAVE.

Retiring as early as in your 30s means knowing what your ideal life includes and figuring out how much you should save for it.

If you live in a state where the rent is cheap your expenses are already lower and it becomes easier to live within your means.

If you and your partner enjoy spending nights at home (where the food is free) instead of outside (where food is so not free), and you keep more of your money stored away instead of spent, your already on a great path of using your money wisely.

How do I start saving for retirement?

  1. Open a Roth IRA - In simple terms it’s an account where you can deposit post taxed money. As long as you comply with withdrawal policies all of the money you put in is yours to take out penalty and tax free.

  2. Open a 401(k) - This is through your employer. In this account the money you save is before taxes are taken out of your check. This means that your take home pay isn’t hit as harshly by taxes. If you can contribute the max amount each year your employer can match it. A 401(k) can give you free money.

12. Invest in yourself

Life after high school includes building a happy healthy relationship with YOU. How you see yourself matters a lot.

Take time to read self help books, educate yourself on things that matter to you, surround yourself with good energy, and recognize that it is 100% okay to outgrow people.

Taking care of yourself also includes find cheap ways to practice self care.

Prioritize yourself

The best advice anyone can give you is to find a way to do things that make you happier even when your days are super busy.

It’s the power of taking time before your shift starts or before you would close your eyes and saying it’s time that’s just for you.

Doing things to make you happier will boost your joy, refresh your soul, and likely lead to better financial decisions.

Sometimes we rely of retail therapy as a coping mechanism because it gives us a sort of instant gratification.

Finding free ways to practice self care should always be on your list of money moves to make.

Related post: 27 ways you can practice self care for free


Take this guide and tweak it to fit your version of what life after high school looks like. What money moves do you want to make?

Hint: Every list you make going forward should include things to make you happier.

You might not know exactly what you want to do yet but after reading this post you should have a better direction of what is one thing you could start doing in the near future.

Comment below what ideas you have for money moves you could make during life after high school!

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Blissful Wallet by Rebekah Gamble 2020-2021

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