About a year ago, I mentioned making my first zero-based budget. Since I’ve been bartending, I’ve been making a lot of trips to the bank to deposit cash – I really don’t like leaving more than $50 to $100 in cash sitting around my house, and usually keep even less than that. Since I very rarely use cash, I don’t feel a need to hang on to it – I can always stop by an ATM if I think I’ll need cash later. When I went to the bank one day last week, I decided to deposit all of the bills I had that were $10 or higher, and hang on to the $1s and $5s in case I wanted cash for vending machines or other miscellaneous small expenses.
At that point I realized that I have made a budget at one point before. I started working in a restaurant when I was 15, and waiting tables at 16. Toward the end of my sophomore year of high school, I decided I should start saving up some money, because I knew I’d be quitting my job and going away to school that fall. Before I left work each night, I would cash in all of my tips for the biggest bills possible (if the restaurant had any $50 or $100 bills that was great, but usually it just ended up being a bunch of $20s). I would put all of the bills $20 or higher in an envelope at home, and keep the smaller bills for my spending money. Within a month or two I had $300 or $400 saved. I don’t remember how much I ultimately ended up saving – I’m sure it didn’t get up to much more than that, or I would remember feeling like I had a LOT of money at age 16! But I realized that was probably my true first attempt at budgeting/saving.
How did you start saving money? Did you save money from part-time jobs in high school or college? Do you ever wonder what on earth you spent all of your money on at that age, before you started having real bills to pay and contributing to savings? (I know I wonder that!)