YOLO right? So why worry about investing and saving. That just seems really boring. Well life costs cash and the better you manage your cash, the more life you can buy. That’s just science. You can make money work for you by learning and understanding more about investing and finances. Here are five great tips for teenagers looking to make long-term investments and to make a success of them. Avoid debts as much as possible While debt is a necessary part of life, the interest that’s generated is working for the lender, not the borrower. Sometimes the interest is worth paying if it is on the personal loan that gets you that crucial first car to carry you to your first job, but it’s important to discriminate between useful and wasteful debt. A student loan, for example, is useful but so many teens and early-20s think it’s there to be enjoyed rather than used sensibly. Small easy-to-get high interest loans from online ‘payday’ lenders can seriously get you in trouble. Financial counsellors recommend against small high-interest personal loans for people with low incomes. Credit card debt is generally to be avoided for students with low incomes if it is funding lifestyle purchases and partying. Develop a serious savings habit This is something that you can start before you reach double figures, let alone your teenage years. As you get older, you’ll start getting pocket money, then money from washing cars, pet-sitting and eventually a “proper” job. By getting into the habit of saving a dollar a week, then $10 a week and so on, you can hoard away quite a pile by the time you’re a bona fide adult. What’s even better, though, is the mindset that comes from seeing those tiny amounts grow; that weekly $10 is more than $500 a year. Most children’s savings accounts have decent interest rates and no management fees. Check out savings accounts in Australia and term deposits as well. It’s also important for you to realise that you’ll never be as footloose and fancy-free as you are while you’re at home. You have no bills, no rent, no joint bank account to keep tabs on, and no mortgage or grocery expenses so you can save a large proportion of your earnings. It doesn’t have to be huge amounts each week, because of the sheer number of years you have left to live! Use that amazing brain to learn about money Australian schoolchildren are reasonably financially literate, but they could do better, according to a 2015 OECD study into financial education and knowledge in schools. Get ahead of the curve by learning more about money for yourself. Look for a side hustle There are literally hundreds of side hustles out there for you. If you’re a language student, for example, you can offer conversational Greek to English speakers or conversational English to Greek speakers. You have probably watched thousands of hours of YouTube videos made by various influencers, vloggers and celebs by now, so what’s stopping you from entering the fray? The main thing is to get off the sofa and do something, even if it’s not a roaring success straight away. The ability to make money out of nothing is one of the biggest steps to financial independence and extra wealth in later life. Take a few risks, but be patient as well You’re so young still, so make mistakes, try new things, be a bit careless and adventurous. Most of us learn by making mistakes and by trying again––and again if necessary. The fact that you’re still at home means you have enough security and guidance to really explore the financial world and fall over occasionally without disastrous consequences. You’ll soon learn to tell the difference between something that’s a genuine opportunity and something that’s a waste of time or even a scam; all you need to do is to keep doing what you’re already doing. One final tip: embrace failure Learning to embrace failure and to take on board the lessons it gives you is vital if you’re to make a success of investing. It doesn’t matter how much you plan to invest or what you need it for, the process is the same––you add to your fund dollar by dollar and you don’t stop. Never be discouraged by mistakes and losses along the way because they’re opportunities to learn and grow. You’ll have some failures, but it doesn’t matter; these failures are learning experiences and you have a long time to put these lessons into practice.K The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.