3 Important Things to Do With Your Summer Job Earnings

by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 20, 2021

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Working this summer? Here's how to make the most of your paychecks.

Whether you're a high school student or are in between semesters at college, you may be spending your summer working rather than lounging around at the pool or beach. And while that may not be the most leisurely way to spend your time off, earning that money could buy you a world of financial flexibility later on. Here are a few important things you can do with the money you earn over the summer.

1. Build or pad an emergency fund

Even if you're relatively young, it's important to have money around for the unexpected. So if you don't need your paycheck from your summer job to cover specific expenses like tuition, then it makes sense to stick that cash in a savings account.

Generally, workers are advised to sock away enough money in savings to cover three to six months of essential living expenses. If you're a student, you may not have preset living expenses, especially if your parents cover some or all of your bills. But in that case, do your best to save what you can. You may not need to tap your emergency fund for quite some time, but if you're able to carry that money with you into adulthood, it'll serve you well.

2. Start paying off debt

If you're in college, you may have already racked up a balance on a credit card or two. Credit card debt can be very difficult to pay off when you don't work full-time, and the longer you carry it, the more interest you'll accumulate -- and have to pay off.

Credit card debt can also damage your credit score, which is something that might hurt you once you finish your studies and need to rent a home. So if you have money from a summer job, it pays to use it to chip away at whatever balance you've accrued.

3. Invest in tools that will help you with your studies

Whether you're a high schooler or a college student, the right technology can make your life easier. If you have a slower laptop, use your earnings to upgrade to a faster one or one that's easier to lug back and forth between classes. Similarly, you might decide to take some of your earnings and invest in a better studying setup. That could mean buying a new desk for your dorm room or even for your bedroom at home.

Put that paycheck to good use

Working the summer in between your studies is a smart move. Not only might the extra money come in handy, but that experience could help fill out your resume once you're ready to get a full-time job. If you're sitting on a pile of summer earnings, make the most of it by investing in the tools you need for school or by stashing some in savings. Building those financial habits now is something you're apt to appreciate for a very long time.

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