How Saving Half My Paychecks is Paying for College

One reader shares how her parents taught her to save half her paycheck and how it became a life-long financial lesson

Behind all the personal finance tips and tricks, all the articles about achieving your financial goals, is one concept…


The idea of spending less than you make and putting some away is the core of your financial success. It’s not always an easy concept to understand for children, which makes it all the more important that lessons about saving start early.

Today’s scholarship essay is by Kylie Mallmann, a student at Marian University in forensic science. She shares how her parents taught her some important new lessons in personal finance and how to start saving.

Check out Kylie’s story and please share on social media. The most-shared essay on how parents can teach their kids about money will win one of our two $500 personal finance scholarships, announced August 31st!

Half For You, Half For the Bank

Up until the age of five, when all was going well in life, my necessities (candy and all of my toys) were just given to me, with no strings attached.

My fifth birthday came around and my parents introduced a new word into my vocabulary. al·low·ance.

This new word allowance had so many rules attached to it. I had to do chores and then I would receive money in return. When I earned money, I had two separate piggy banks, one for me, and one for this red brick building called the bank.  I could only spend half of the money that I had earned and I had to put half in the bank for something called a savings account.

This new word, allowance had so many things to teach me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still bought new toys to play with, but I also had to earn money to pay for those toys that I really wanted.  Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and those dollars, all had a purpose.  Those copper colored pennies, took up a lot of space, and it looked like I had a lot of money, but it took me forever to get a new toy with just those things.

I had to step up the plan with more chores, if I wanted to earn those silver coins or dollar bills.  More chores, more toys. However, this bank thing had me totally confused.  Why did I have to give my money to this building when I didn’t get any new toys in return?

Counting My Money and Learning about Savings

Before our visits to the bank, my parents and I would sit on the floor and count the coins, so that we had a dollar amount of how much money I would be putting into my savings account.

When I took my allowance to the bank, I did get a lollipop. And I always got to choose the flavor. If it was a special day for the bank, I even got a balloon.

Sometimes, when I went to get a toy, I didn’t have enough money. I either had to get an item that cost less, or go home and do some more chores. The choice was always left up to me, since that was my half of the money that I was able to spend.  I was never able to go to that red brick building to get my other money back.

My parents said that the bank was like a giant piggy bank.

[It may not always seem possible to save half your paycheck. That’s why I love spending challenges to drive you to a higher goal. Join and create your own spending challenges for extra motivation.]

More Money Equals More to Save

After a while, I was able to get a job outside of the home.  It worked almost the same as my allowance. I did work for other people and they gave me a piece of paper called a check.  When I took this check to the bank, they finally gave me some money back!

I was still only allowed to keep half for me and put half in the bank.

My parents were now convinced that I was able to start controlling my own money a little more, and decided that I could get a debit card. My card is setup so that I can never take out more money than what I have available in my account. It is my responsibility to know what transactions are occurring or will be occurring in my account.

I must be doing something right, since my debit card has never been declined.

As I grew older, there were a few times that my parents would loan me money when I didn’t have enough saved up for what I wanted. This also, had rules attached to it.

Paying back that money takes twice as long because I still have to put half of my check in the bank. I was finally allowed to spend more than I made but, like everything else, it came with rules.

Now that I am about to graduate high school, this half for me, and half for the bank operation finally makes sense. After all these years of saving, I have saved some money to go towards my college expenses. While this amount will not even come close to paying for college, it will be able to allow me to spend an allowance on my monthly activities at school.

Allowance now means that I can only permit myself a certain amount to spend a month without going over my monthly budget. My chores and jobs will now mean that my earnings will now be half for me and half for college, but once college commences, half for me and half for the bank will resume.

I want to thank Kylie for her story about how she started saving and the money lessons her parents taught her. Be sure to support Kylie by sharing the article through social media and check in August for the winner of the personal finance scholarship.

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