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11 Long-Term Financial Goals for High School Students to Tackle

Plenty of long-term financial goals for high school students, plus how to know when your teen is ready to tackle one.

Long term financial goals for high school students are the last type of goal they should go after – because of the length of time, money, and delaying gratification that it takes to achieve them.

teen boy driver behind wheel, text overlay "long term financial goal examples for teens"

Yet, at this point in their lives, on the cusp of young adulthood, they’ve certainly got some expensive buying occasions and needs on the horizon.

Things like:

  • College/training for a career
  • First apartment
  • First car
  • Travel opportunities
  • Etc.

Let’s first dive into what a long-term financial goal for teens is, and then lots of examples for ones they can start working towards.

What’s Considered a Long-Term Financial Goal for High School Students?

We’ve discussed short-term financial goals for teens and intermediate financial goals for high school students.

Now, it’s time to dig into long-term financial goals for high school students.

A long-term financial goal for high schoolers is any financial goal that will take more than 3 months for a teenager to afford.

These not only take more time and money to achieve, but they also are often more complex, with multiple steps and the need to juggle doing this with their other financial obligations (such as paying for gas, paying for weekend fun with friends, paying for vending snacks, etc.).

So, for example, if your teenager earns $20 weekly, then a long-term financial goal would be something that will cost more than $240.

And if they can dedicate $100/week from their job towards their goal? Then their long-term financial goal can be something that costs more than $1,200.

Psst: in case you need a refresher on what a financial goal is, I define that as:

Anything you want to be, to do, or to have that costs more time and money than one earned pay cycle (allowance, paycheck, etc.) to do.

Here’s a bunch more information on the types of financial goals, in case you’re a money nerd like me.

Example Long-Term Financial Goals for High Schoolers

What are some long-term goals for high school students?

I’ve got lots of examples for you – both long-term savings goals, and long-term financial goals that will take time to accomplish (but aren’t necessarily to be saved up for).

1. Piece of Room Furniture (they can take with them)

A teen might want to buy some furniture for their room that their parents don’t want to splurge on.

They can save up for that new bed, dresser, or whatever they’d like, and then take it with them to their first apartment!

2. Summer Foreign Exchange Program

This is my first long-term financial goal I had when I was around 13. I mucked horse stalls for $98/week at a local vet’s farm. I worked on our farm’s seasonal pumpkin and holiday stand. I even won a $1,000 travel scholarship for the last amount (my aunt and uncle used frequent flyer miles to get my airfare, and my parents gave me some spending money plus threw a going-away party).

It all came together beautifully, and when I was 16, I got to spend 6 weeks in Spain over the summer.

3. First Apartment

They’ll need to save for first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a deposit on their first apartment

4. Understand How the Stock Market Works

This is definitely a long-term financial goal high schoolers can tackle – in fact, many adults are still tackling it, too!

Some resources to help get them there:

5. First Car

I bought my first car at 17, and had spent about two years mucking horse stalls for a veterinarian and working on our farm’s pumpkin/holiday stand to save up for it (it cost $1700).  

Psst: this was actually my second car – the first being one of those 90s burgundy vans my parents gave to me, that broke down just three weeks later when I failed to check the leaking oil. Complete meltdown (the car, not me).

Along with the first car, your teen will need to save up an emergency fund (because cars can break down!), as well as extra money in savings to make insurance payments and to fill up their tank.

6. Desktop Computer for College

I saved up and bought my own computer for freshman year of college – a little over $800. I remember feeling so proud and capable after buying this for myself!

7. Get a Raise

Getting a raise could take a while, which is why I’ve put it as a long-term financial goal.

Some helpful tips:

  • Ask a manager what they’ll need to do to be eligible for a raise or promotion
  • Revamp their resume and sniff out opportunities elsewhere to see if they can leverage their current experience to get a higher-paying job with more responsibilities
  • Sign up for a class or certification that would guarantee a higher pay raise (again, ask your manager first if it would be guaranteed or not)
  • Etc.

8. Drum Set, Guitar, or Other Musical Instrument

When a teen gets really into playing an instrument, they might want to invest in something more than parents are willing to pay for – like a whole drum set, or a sweet guitar.

Also an investment if they want to start a band and try to get some gigs!

9. New iPhone

I’ve detailed here specifically how to save up for an iPhone as a kid.

10. Piece of Equipment for a Hobby

Does your teen have a hobby they’re very serious about? Maybe it’s time to save up for a big, expensive piece of equipment that will further their pursuit.

For example:

  • KitchenAid Mixer for a teen super-interested in baking
  • Canoe for a teen super-interested in the outdoors
  • Competition-ready fishing equipment for a teen who wants to compete
  • Etc.

11. Start Up a Side Business

Starting up a business is definitely a complex, multi-step money project, which is why it lands in this long-term financial goal list.

Your teen will need to do things like:

Bonus: How to Tell if a Teen is Ready to Tackle a Long-Term Financial Goal

So, how do you know if your teen is ready to tackle a long-term financial goal?

It’s an important question to ask and to go over, because these are the toughest goals to meet. They require an extra long amount of time, and an extra amount of money, and the payoff usually doesn’t come for awhile.

Here’s some pointers to show they’re ready:

  • They’ve set, and met, a few short-term and medium-term financial goals.
  • They have a steady income source, whether that’s from allowance, a weekend job, or seasonal work (and probably a combination of these).
  • They’re able to reasonably delay gratification

And if your teen is SUPER excited about a goal, but it’s considered long-term and they’re just not ready for it?

Well, I suggest you chop the goal down into parts, with each part being medium-term financial goal, or a short-term financial goal for high school students.

For example, let’s say your teen is completely, 100% into saving up for their first car.

At several thousand dollars – the bare minimum you’ll pay for a beater car – that can be quite the long-term goal (the first car I bought myself at 17 took me over 2 years to save up for).

Let’s say they want to save up $5,000 to buy a car. But, they only have a little bit of experience successfully saving up for short and mid-term savings goals (goals that have taken less than a month up to 3 months to reach).

They could still go after this long-term financial goal, but break it down into the following mini-goals with celebrations at the end of each milestone met:

Hint: Another thing to keep in mind here is for the teen to set this goal and work hard at it during the summer months, when they can get a seasonal, full-time job. Here’s how to find a teen job without a license.

  • Short-Term Goal #1: Save the first $500, or 10% of their goal.
  • Medium-Term Goal #2: Save the next $1,500 of their goal.
  • Medium-Term Goal #3: Save the next $1,500 of their goal.
  • Medium-Term Goal #4: Save the next $1,500 of their goal.
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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.

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