On Your Way to Becoming a Financially Responsible Adult

On Your Way to Becoming a Financially Responsible Adult

As high school students ranging mostly from ages thirteen to eighteen, it is important to begin learning the in’s and out’s of financial responsibility. Most of the time that starts with a bank account and simple debit card, and eventually transitions to the more advanced investment accounts and development of credit. 



Reasons to Consider Setting Up a Bank Account and Debit Card

Setting up a bank account is a simple step towards financial responsibility. It is safer than carrying around cash, easier to access on the go, and always a valuable lesson in learning how to become an independent adult. We also live in a world where paper money is going away, and the ability to pay by the tap of a card or the click of a button on your phone has become the new everyday norm. Debit cards also offer the freedom of being able to make everyday purchases on your own without needing your parents present with cash or even their cards. 

Getting Started: Checking Account vs. Savings Account

The most common types of bank accounts are checking and savings accounts. The difference? In a checking account you can make unlimited withdrawals whenever you please. They also usually are linked to a debit card. Differently, a savings account is for, well, saving! With a savings account, you are often limited to a certain number of withdrawals each month.



There are pros and cons to each, but for high schoolers looking for a place to deposit paychecks and have easy access to them when out with friends, a checking account with a debit card is probably the best option.

Setting it Up

Visit a banking website such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo or even better, the bank that your parents are members of. Check the requirements for setting up a checking account and get everything you need organized. This is likely to include your birth certificate, social security card, and typically a minimum balance to make an initial deposit. A parent or guardian is also likely required to be present when setting it up, as you must be eighteen to completely manage your account on your own. However, select banks do allow seventeen year old’s to have standalone accounts separate from their parents.

Some also recommend setting up accounts backed by one of the ‘major networks’. These include American Express (AMEX), Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. They are the most widely accepted by businesses, and you are less likely to run into snags such as your card not being accepted. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Debit Cards

  • Do NOT share your PIN (personal identification number)!
  • Check FREQUENTLY for fraud! 
  • FREEZE lost cards! 
  • DISPUTE transactions you didn’t make! 

Managing your New Account 

Now that you have your account, you can continue down the road of financial responsibility and the valuable lessons on it. There are a number of lessons to learn about safely managing your money. While you are likely to spend more money than if it were a savings account, having a checking account will help instill the processes of budgeting, paying bills, and keeping track of your spending.

Try creating a spreadsheet detailing where you plan to spend your money. Do you have a weekly food budget for eating? Spending time with friends at the movies?  Or do you maybe pay for your car insurance? Allot a budget for each of these things (if applicable).



Second, you will want to know where all this money goes. Did you spend your whole budget, did you go over, or have some left over? Create another section in your new spreadsheet to log receipts from your spending. Put leftovers aside to save for things like college or buying your first car!

Before setting up your bank account, be sure to consult your parents and do your own research! By no means is this everything there is to being a financially responsible adult, but is good advice to have when getting started. 


Do you already have a bank account? Read Editor-in-Chief Camila Amaya’s interview from last spring with now-sophomore Talia Levy on her podcast Money Moves for Teens ! It is full of advice on managing money as a high schooler!

*All Images Courtesy Google*