As many high school students age, they develop the means to acquire an income — whether they or get an allowance, choose to invest in stocks, or work a part time job. Ultimately, more money comes with more spending power.
One option for gaining money lies in stock market investment. Put simply, investing in the stock market is the action of buying partial ownership of companies, according to Berkeley High School teacher Crystal Rigley, who teaches Personal Finance and AP Macroeconomics to seniors.
After seeing how people could seemingly make money with relative ease by investing in the stock market, BHS senior Rohun Barot dove into research about the world of finance in the just the eighth grade. After three months trying to convince his mom to let him use her social security number, Barot finally created a stock account and started investing.
“Investing is gambling, it’s a crapshoot,” Barot said. “But the thing is, if you read a lot of investment journals … subscribe to newsletters, you will get the hang of it eventually.”
Barot had been working at a mechanic shop before he started investing. “I was making more (by investing) than I did at my job, so I just quit,” he said. However, Barot warned, he wouldn’t advise to rely solely on their investments. “If you actually have a job and you support your family, keep that job, do not throw your job away for investments.”
With the rule to spend no more than $40 a week, Barot allocates most of his earnings to food for lunch. BHS senior Danny Barrera Catalan started investing as a young teen. During the beginning of COVID-19 lockdown, he found his way using trial and error. While he currently works as a barber, cutting people’s hair at his house, Catalan spends his weekends investing in electric car startups and automotive companies.
“(My investments are) all long term,” Catalan said. “At first, I was losing money. But now I’m at a point where some days they’ll make $40. But since I’m not gonna sell them, I haven’t seen the profits yet.”
Rigley encourages students to keep a budget spreadsheet to regulate their spending and recommends using cash when it comes to weekly expenses.
BHS student Marina Pellerin works at a boba shop in Oakland three to four times a week, and hopes to create a budget to start being more independent with her financial organization. She usually spends her money on items that she has been saving toward.
“I am lucky enough to have food money provided from my mom, but I spend most of my money on more things that I want, rather than things that are like necessary,” Pellerin said. Azaria Stauffer-Barney receives a weekly allowance for doing chores around her house. Recently, since she has been getting her money put into her bank account. She can spend the money using a card, which she finds harder to budget because money becomes intangible. “I would say part of it, a small portion, goes to savings, and then checking out whatever I want to do with it,” Stauffer-Barney said.
Adlai Loutey has been working at a Berkeley pizza shop for the past year, working from two to three times a week. He tries to save his money when he can. “I put all my money in a savings account and have another part where I can spend it,” Loutey said. “So I try to put all my money in my savings account, which I can’t spend right away.”
From earning an income to figuring out how to organize and spend it, students will inevitably differ in how they choose to manage their money. High school is a period when these aspects converge to serve as a valuable learning experience for how people manage their money later in life.