Young LIers' tips for the new year: Save money, eat better
Teens will likely have New Year's resolutions for 2014, just like adults. Maybe they are determined to put away money for college or to eat more healthfully.
Two young Long Islanders who have been in their shoes have written books to help them meet their goals. Scott Gamm, who graduated from Syosset High School in 2010 and is now a senior at the Stern School of Business at New York University, has written "More Money Please: The Financial Secrets You Never Learned in School" (Plume, $15). And Samantha Bonilla, who lost 40 pounds when she was a high school sophomore living in Holbrook, is marketing her self-published "Teenage Survival Guide to Losing Weight" (Llumina Press, $15).
Here are some tips for high school kids from Gamm and Bonilla:
"Money is a subject that everyone is going to have to deal with, no matter what field you're in," Gamm says. Yet high schools don't usually require personal finance classes, he says.
That's where he hopes his book can help, with chapters including "Never Pay Full Price for Anything: Negotiating 101" and "Paying for College." He also launched a website when he was 17 called helpsavemydollars .com, and he works with H & R Block's hrblockdollarsand sense.com website.
He recommends that in the coming year, high school students:
-Consider getting a part-time or summer job. Save to help cover college expenses such as books.
-Educate themselves about credit cards. "Kids are going to get older and they're going to get swamped with credit card offers," Gamm says. They should learn how detrimental it is to rack up debt or pay only the minimum monthly payment on purchases, he says.
-Track spending. Apps such as onereceipt let users collect information on where their money is going -- when they see how much they're spending every month on lattes, they may cut back.
-Master the art of negotiation. Gamm politely asks sales associates or managers for a lower price or to throw in an extra on bigger purchases such as a laptop.
Gamm also suggests that parents get involved in the money lessons. "By the time they get to college, it's trial and error," Gamm says. "These subjects need to be addressed as early as possible, ideally in high school."
"One day I looked in the mirror and I just wasn't happy with myself," says Bonilla, who is 5 feet tall and weighed 150 pounds when she was 14 and in 10th grade at Sachem North High School. She also wanted more energy.
It took about 10 months to a year for Bonilla to lose 40 pounds. "There is no quick fix to losing weight," says Bonilla, now a 19-year-old art history major at LIU Post in Brookville. She wasn't super-strict, she says, but she recommends these steps:
-Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
-Drink lots of water -- Bonilla tries to drink up to six bottles a day.
-Exercise. That doesn't have to involve a gym -- it can be playing sports or running with friends.
-Prepare healthy snacks such as nuts, Greek yogurt or low-fat cheese.
-Switch to whole grains.
Even implementing a couple of the above can make a difference, she says. Bonilla's book, which is a slim handbook, is covered in camouflage pattern to represent the "survival guide" aspect. She is working on a sequel about keeping the weight off. "It's one thing to lose it, but it's another thing to maintain it," she says.