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Saving Stash or Spending Splash:
A Teen's Dilemma

APEF: Solving the Financial Illiteracy Crisis

When it comes to managing your money, one of the fundamental decisions you'll face is whether to save or spend it. Both saving and spending have their benefits and drawbacks, and understanding how to evaluate these can help you make informed financial decisions. Let's explore the costs and benefits of saving money, as well as how to decide which savings path is best for your goals.

Whatever path or banking organization you choose, it’s important to have some basic banking knowledge.

  • Opening a Savings Account: Savings accounts can help foster the habit of saving by providing a secure place to store your money while earning modest interest rates over time. Although these rates may not be particularly impressive at first, the power of compound interest means even small amounts can grow significantly.

  • Checking Accounts: Checking accounts are designed for everyday transactions, with most accounts including a debit card you can use to make purchases and ATM withdrawals. Knowing how to avoid overdraft fees is vitally important; be mindful of your account balance to prevent accidental overdrafts.

  • ATM Cards and Debit Cards: Both ATM cards and debit cards provide convenient access to funds. It's important to understand their differences - an ATM card should primarily be used for cash withdrawals while debit cards may be used both purchases and withdrawals.  Keeping your PIN and card information secure is essential to prevent unauthorized transactions.

  • Fees and Charges: Be wary of fees associated with banking services that can sometimes go undetected, such as monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees and overdraft charges. Some banks offer fee-free accounts for students- be sure to explore these options to minimize costs!

Still can’t decide between a checking & savings account? Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each:

Checking Accounts & Spending


  • Checking accounts provide quick and easy access to your money in various ways- you can use a debit card, write checks, or withdraw cash from an ATM.

  • Most checking accounts come with online and mobile banking features, allowing you to manage your account, pay bills, and transfer money from your phone or computer.

  • If you have a job, you can set up direct deposit, so your paycheck goes straight into your account- no need to spend time depositing a physical check!

  • Checking accounts make it easy to pay bills on time through online banking or with your debit card- you can set up payments ahead of time to make sure you don’t have to pay penalties for late payments.

  • Spending money allows you to enjoy goods and experiences in the present moment. Whether it's buying a new outfit, going out with friends, or treating yourself to a meal, spending money can provide immediate satisfaction!


  • Most checking accounts offer little to no interest on your balance, so your money isn't growing much.

  • Some checking accounts come with monthly maintenance fees or transaction fees if you don't meet certain requirements (like maintaining a minimum balance). This is where having a student account may save you some money!

  • Since it's easy to access your funds, you might be tempted to spend more than you should. Overspending can lead to financial stress and debt; if you consistently spend more than you earn, you may struggle to achieve your long-term financial goals and could face challenges in the future.

  • Every dollar you spend is a dollar you can't save or invest. When you spend money, you're giving up the potential growth and security that saving could provide. (Remember opportunity costs!)


Savings Accounts



  • Savings accounts pay interest on your balance, allowing your money to grow over time.

  • Since savings accounts aren't as easily accessible as checking accounts, you're less likely to spend the money. This can help you save for bigger goals like a car or college. Saving money provides a safety net for unexpected expenses, and can help you avoid going into debt when emergencies arise.

  • Your savings account is insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) up to a certain limit, protecting your money in case the bank fails.


  • Savings accounts may limit the number of withdrawals you can make each month. This helps you save, but can be inconvenient if you need cash quickly.

  • Some savings accounts require you to maintain a minimum balance to avoid fees, which may be challenging. 

  • Because of withdrawal limits and potential fees for frequent transactions, savings accounts aren't as liquid as checking accounts.


Cash and credit both offer their own set of advantages and disadvantages, making both useful tools for managing finances. Many people choose to have multiple checking and savings accounts to better organize their spending and savings. For instance, you might use one checking account for everyday expenses like groceries and bills while another may be dedicated solely for something specific like medical or health-related costs.  You could have a savings account just for emergencies, and another for a big goal like a house downpayment. When combined, these methods enable you to customize a financial strategy tailored to fit your specific needs while optimizing the benefits of each!


Saving and spending money are both important aspects of managing your finances.  By understanding their associated costs and benefits, you can make informed decisions that align with your own personal financial goals. Whether saving up for an important purchase or spending a bit now on something that brings you joy in the present moment, finding the proper balance is the key to financial success. Don't delay; start saving today!

Soft skills refer to a set of personal attributes, behaviors, and social attitudes that enable individuals to interact effectively with others in a workplace or social environment. These skills are essential for building healthy relationships, communicating effectively, solving problems, and collaborating with others.

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