Eva Baker’s story is especially appealing to parents and students looking at college. She is a homeschooled senior in high school and an avid blogger at the ripe old age of 18, writing the Teens Got Cents blog. Her story also serves as an example to students on how they can tap into what they love to create a business (and an income) for themselves.
The website got started when Eva’s mom asked her to do a project for her remaining high school years to develop communication and life skills. Eva enjoyed rock climbing, but opted instead to write about her own experience in saving money as a teen after listening to an audio book from Dave Ramsey called Total Money Makeover. She realized there was a wealth of information online for adults looking to manage their money, but nothing for teens.
What does Teens Got Sense cover?
- Budgeting basics
- Shopping smart and getting the best deals
- How to go to college debt free
- How to get a great part time job
- Starting your own business as a teen
Interest turned into career?
Eva credits her mom for assisting with the back-end parts of the website, but says this is her part time job as she enters college. She currently does not have advertising, focusing first on strong content for her readers.
The blog however has led to teaching opportunities throughout the state of Florida, where she has been paid to instruct other teens on financial awareness. She also has a corporate sponsor at One to One Financial Credit Union, and she’s been on television along with them to talk about her blog and her message for teens.
Eva hopes to continue her blog in college, especially as opportunities to speak keep arising. She estimates she makes about $500 each month, which is a part time salary that covers the cost of the website and then some.
Her experience does not need to be exclusive – Eva explains that any teen can create his or her own income.
Her suggestion: Think about what you like to do, what your passions are – most often this can be turned into a business. One friend of Eva’s uses her love of photography to take pictures at weddings. Another is an avid hiker and canoer who started a business as an outdoor guide.
College and career together
With plans to start at a community college in a respiratory therapy program, Eva feels she can attain her goal of a debt-free college education, but don’t think that her financial wisdom and discipline was just a recent idea.
Her suggestion for parents in general is to start teaching children young, as she was. Her parents taught budgeting through the envelope system, beginning when Eva was just 5. Three envelopes – one for saving, one for spending, and another for her church – developed into additional envelopes along with additional allowance.
When Eva was 13, she was entirely responsible for buying her own clothes. It was a huge responsibility but it taught her about how much things really cost. It also taught her about “needing” something v. “wanting” something, and making a plan before she went shopping.
It wasn’t easy, and the temptation to spend all of the $75 she received was also a wakeup call that when the money is spent, it’s gone.
Eva also says that money was never a taboo subject – conversations about money between her and her parents were common, and that has educated Eva on what questions to consider.
Making the college decision
Her grandparents purchased Florida Prepaid, which necessitated Eva to attend college in Florida. Beyond that, she knew that any additional tuition and expenses were her responsibility. Fortunately, she realized that having the college experience of dorm life was not for her – she’s perfectly happy at home.
Eva is not sure where her blog will go as she herself goes beyond her teenage years, but she wants to continue teaching to teens about responsible money management.
Eva’s 3 Quick Tips for teens
- Write out your goals – financial, future, college; it may be difficult at first but it allows you to see what your priorities are
- Have a plan of how to reach those goals – especially your finances. Her early start with the envelope system still works and is cash-based, but the important thing is to find a system that works for you
- Save for retirement NOW – even as a teenager; just $5 every week can add up quickly
My footnote is to place this money in a retirement plan which shelters the dollars from financial aid, like SEP, Simple, Roth or traditional plans.
Eva’s 3 Quick Tips for parents
- It’s never too late to start teaching your kids
- Don’t assume your kids don’t care about finances – Eva says her peers are very much aware of the student debt issues, and it’s something parents should talk with them about
- Give your kids real responsibility – allow them to purchase their own clothes or create a system that makes them go through the process of responsible financial decision making
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Brad is not affiliated with Eva Baker or Teens Got Cents.
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