Category: Growing Up

3 Tips for Teens Filing Their Taxes for the First Time

Having a part-time job is fun but also demanding as you balance school, work, and activities each week. Something you may not realize is that you need to report your taxable income to the IRS. If your income is above a certain amount, then you are required to tell the IRS how much you made even if your parents claim you as a dependent. You might even need to pay some taxes. This can be hard, so read on for a few helpful tips!

Get All Your Information

The first task is to gather all the information you need. You will need a copy of your W-2, which is a mailed statement of your work income from your employer. You will need your legal name and your tax ID number. Your tax ID number is usually your Social Security Number (SSN). If you do not have an SSN, then you will need an ITIN number, which you can request when you file your tax form.

Reasons to File Your Taxes

Whether you made enough money during the year to owe taxes, it may be the case that your employer still subtracted money from your paycheck each pay period. This money went to the government as an advance payment for your taxes. It is possible that this advance payment is more than you actually owe. In that case, you will need to file your taxes to get a refund. It could also be the case that you owe more taxes than what was already paid. If that is the case, you’ll need to send the IRS a check.

If your yearly earned income from your job is above $12,200, then you are required to file. If your self-employment income (from work you do yourself, like yard work, babysitting, et cetera) is above $400 for the year, then you are required to file. But it is always good practice to report your income even if you don’t make enough to owe taxes.

Save Your Documents

Saving your earning information is an important part of receiving money. Whether you work for an employer or earn self-employment income for various work-related activities, you should always keep records that list the work you did, the times you worked and the amount you earned. This is important in case the information your employer has about your income is wrong. If you are self-employed, you need to know if you made more than $400 for the year. Also, if you are self-employed, keep your receipts for any purchases made for your work. You may be able to subtract these costs from your income. At this time, it’s generally recommended that you also get things ready for next year’s return as well.

Filing taxes is part of the responsibilities we all face as citizens. Just like voting, reporting your taxable income will be your civic duty as an adult. Filing your taxes now will help prepare you for the future.

Saving up money for a car? Click here to learn more about this exciting life step!

Got Your Permit? What You Should Know About ‘Passenger Negligence’

Many of the licensed drivers in the United States are unaware of the term passenger negligence, which is particularly and unfortunately more true for teenagers than it is for any other age group. One does not really need to have a driving license or be in the driving seat to cause an accident through actions that can be legally considered as passenger negligence, so it can be anyone, including a 13-year-old teenager at fault.

What is Passenger Negligence?

Passenger negligence is quite a variable term, but in its essence, it can be defined as actions taken by one or more passengers within a running vehicle that contribute partly or completely towards an ensuing accident. In most cases, it involves hampering the driver’s ability to drive properly in some way, be it intentional or not.

What Exactly are the Passenger Actions that Qualify?

It’s difficult to list every possible action that can potentially be considered as neglectful and dangerous behavior from a passenger because the possibilities are vast. Nonetheless, a few of the common examples should be enough to show how not to behave as a passenger, and when to stop the car when one has a co-passenger who is exhibiting dangerous behavior.

  • Blocking the view of the driver in a running car; anything from a cellphone screen to covering their eyes mid-drive as a prank
  • Affecting the driver’s control over the vehicle by grabbing the wheel, pressing the gas/brakes, etc.
  • Constant or sudden yelling or making a loud noise while in a moving vehicle (YouTubers take note)
  • The distraction of the driver via any willful action
  • Talking unnecessarily with the driver in a running car; keep the chitchat to a minimum
  • Supplying alcohol or any other psychoactive substances to the driver in a moving vehicle or encouraging them to partake
  • Encouraging a drunk or otherwise affected driver to take the wheel

What Can You Do If you are a Victim of Passenger Negligence?

If you become aware that one or more of the passengers in a car are at fault for an accident you are involved in, immediately call a lawyer near you. Make sure that they have a good reputation and you will find out if you have a legally valid case on your hands after the first meeting.

People from all age groups can and have been found to be negligent passengers, so it’s not a crime that’s exclusive to teenagers. However, teenagers and young adults are found to be involved in a majority of such incidents, which is to be expected given that they are still kids. It is the duty of parents to teach their kids how to behave as a passenger because good passenger etiquette can at times be the difference between life and death.

Breaking Into the Entertainment Industry Isn’t as Impossible as Your Parents Think—Here’s How to Do It

A career in the entertainment industry is something that a lot of young people imagine for themselves. If you are one of these young people, it is likely that at some point you have been told by your parents or another adult to think of something more realistic. The truth is, finding an entry point into the entertainment industry is not as difficult as most parents believe.

It’s All About Who You Know

Once you have decided a career in the entertainment industry is for you, it is time to develop and nurture every contact that you can find. You can begin by making a list that includes all the people with whom you are familiar that may be able to help you. Ask your family and friends if they know names you can add to your list. You should remember that the most powerful people in the industry are not particularly well-connected to people looking for entry-level talent and will likely not be much help to you. A better course of action is to seek out people who are in most cases a little older than you are who currently work entry-level positions. Another thing to master as you search for your entry into the entertainment industry is to be persistent but not pushy.

Get the Skills to Pay the Bills

Like any other industry, you will have a better chance of success if you take the time to further your education and seek out proper training. You should choose an educational path that will provide you the skills you need to succeed in the entertainment industry. If you desire to spend your time in front of the camera, you may be interested in educational paths like drama or theater arts. There are also limitless educational choices that will prepare you for a career in entertainment in other capacities including entertainment design and digital production.

Learn the Industry

Your conversations with the people on your list of contacts as well as your search for a place in the entertainment industry will go much smoother if you first perform a little homework on your own. You should know whether you want to work in television, radio, or film and what entry-level opportunities each of these mediums present. You should also become familiar with the major companies in the industry and know who is responsible for running each of these companies.

Whether your dream is to run a studio, produce a series for primetime television, or deliver a dramatic performance that brings audiences to tears, the entertainment industry is an exciting career path that provides hundreds of options to you. It is also much easier to work your way into one of these positions than most people realize.

Here’s another article you might enjoy: Six Summer Jobs You Won’t Find at the Mall

Big Social Issues Facing Gen Z and Beyond

Every age group faces unique stressors and challenges, but few have ever had to face the many burdens as Generation Z. On one hand, they have more opportunities and access than almost any other generation in world history. On the other, they face unique challenges.

Mental Health

One in five Americans have some sort of mental illness, but those numbers are even higher among younger people, like those in Generation Z. Indeed, mental illness rates are getting worse across the board, but that trend is sharpest among Generation Z. There are many reasons for this, including a world that is filled with conflict, increased stress from academics and increased social media use. However, there is good news as well, as younger generations tend to feel less stigma when it comes to discussing and seeking mental health. Thankfully, while they face many mental health problems, they are also much more willing to face these problems head-on.

Climate Change

As the youngest generation that is currently alive, Generation Z will likely have to deal with climate change challenges more than any other generation. They are very aware of this fact and tend to support policies that will help lessen how mankind is affecting the issue. For example, renewable sources of energy bring a lot of benefits, and they are gaining more support politically. Generation Z tends to be more supportive of renewable energy use and is more willing to pay for its use themselves.

A Changing Job Market

There’s no question about it: The future of work is changing. More jobs are becoming automated, and this is causing dramatic effects when it comes to career and educational choices. Jobs that require critical thinking, entrepreneurship, or executive function are relatively safe, but many other jobs are on the chopping block as computers become savvier. This means that members of Generation Z not only have to find careers that fit their vocational desires, but they must also pick careers that are unlikely to be automated. This, of course, adds a high degree of stress to an already-complicated decision.

The issues that face Generation Z are simultaneously deeply interpersonal and existential, and it’s no wonder that this generation is more stressed than any before it. Hopefully, all of us will learn how to better support this age cohort and help them become functional members of society.

Here’s another article you might find helpful: What Does All That Paperwork You Sign Before Starting Your First Job Mean?

Signs You’re Ready for a Pet — And How to Convince Your Parents

Convincing your parents to get you a pet can be hard. They might say that you are too young or otherwise aren’t ready. First of all, it’s important to understand how your parents might feel. Cats, dogs, birds, rodents, and even fish and reptiles cost money to take care of; for parents, it can get expensive to take care of a pet. There is also a lot of time and energy that goes into caring for an animal. You have to feed them, play with them, groom them and much more. If you are dreaming of getting a puppy, kitten or another type of pet, here are some ways you can show your parents that you’re ready for the responsibility.

Choose Which Type of Pet You Want

Look up different types of pets to find out which breeds or species are best for new owners, families, and kids. Every breed is different. For example, many smaller dogs, such as Boston terriers, may have health issues that you will have to take into account. You might have a sibling or parent who is allergic to cats and dogs. If this is the case, you will need to look up pets that don’t cause allergies, such as fish and reptiles. Show your parents that you are serious about finding an animal that’s a good match not just for you, but for the entire family.

Research Pet Care

The internet is a great resource for researching pet care — use it! Read all about taking care of the type of pet you would like to get. Would you like to adopt a dog or cat? Read about adoption and find local animal shelters in your area. Or are you interested in something more unusual, like a bird or lizard? Keep in mind that exotic pets have special needs, so you’ll need to do extra research in order to care for them properly. Keep in mind as your research that not all care guides are trustworthy, so read from multiple sources and only read from reputable websites.

Be Consistent With Chores

Because pets are such a big responsibility, you have to show your parents that you can take care of things on your own, just like how you’ll need to take care of your pet every day. Make sure you take out the trash, do the dishes, make your bed, do your homework and clean up without being asked. Get off the phone, TV or computer before bedtime. Be polite, and try not to argue with your siblings. When your parents see how good you are at home, they’ll see how responsible you are and will have an easier time trusting that you’ll take care of a pet.

Make a Routine

Write down a list of all the things you would have to do every day if your parents got you a pet. If you want to get a dog, then you’ll have to feed them twice a day, give them fresh water, take them for a walk, play with them and clean up their mess outside when they go to the bathroom. Cat owners have to clean out the litter box and give their cats fresh food and water every day, too. Once you have a list of pet responsibilities, make a schedule that includes waking up, going to school, doing homework and caring for your animal. Then, show your parents. You can talk about taking care of the pet together, but first, you should show them that you understand how much time and effort it takes to keep a pet happy and healthy.

Be Patient

It may take a long time to show your parents that you’re old enough or ready for a pet. Don’t get too discouraged if you ask them and they say no. Keep researching animals, and ask your parents if they would be willing to compromise on a different pet.

Even if your parents don’t want to get you a pet right away, do your chores, and stay focused on your goal. Find ways you can help shelter animals, too! Even though you have to be 18 or older to volunteer at an animal shelter, there are still lots of ways kids can help pets that are in need of a home. When you are patient and show that you respect your parents’ wishes, they may realize that you really are ready to care for your own furry friend.

Taking care of a dog can be tough! Click here for some sound words of advice on the subject!

Want to Be an Actor? Keep These Tips in Mind on Your Way to Stardom

Becoming an actor as a teen can be fun and rewarding as well as challenging. Putting yourself out there in front of a crowd or a camera can be a thrill. Working your way towards an acting career at such an early start can pave a bright future ahead of you. With that being said, there are plenty of things to learn and keep in mind on your journey to achieving a successful career in acting. Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you are interested in becoming an actor.

Get Experience

Getting experience in acting is very important. Whether it is a school play, community theater role, web series, et cetera, view the opportunity as a good way to build your experience. Not only are you learning how to act by putting it into practice, but you’re also learning the ins and outs of the logistics of an acting career. For instance, you’ll gain invaluable experience during auditions, like how to present yourself and memorize your lines and deliver them to a casting director, director and/or producer. You’ll learn how to answer a callback (a second audition or a meeting) to show the casting team what else you have in store. As an actor, one of the key things to always have handy is an updated headshot. It’s a good idea to have an updated headshot when preparing for an audition.

Get an Agent

Obtaining representation for theatrical, film and television bookings is an important next step. Talent agents are usually out and about, scouting quite regularly for up-and-coming stars, and there are many agents who specialize in working with teen actors. Sometimes, agents will appear at acting classes or a local play, or they may see you in something on social media and reach out. The one thing to be wary of with agents is scam artists. Networking and building a Rolodex of contacts is important, but there are some people who present themselves as agents to child actors but seek a fee upfront. Never sign with these folks, and build your network of contacts through people you know and trust. Ask the members in your community if the person who approached you is someone with whom they are familiar. You should always get your parents involved in these situations.

Rejection Is Part of the Job

Actors get rejected all the time for reasons that go beyond who they are. When you don’t get an audition, or if the casting director doesn’t seem interested in you based on your looks, don’t let it define you. That’s just how the business works. Rejection is not about who or what you are. The casting director is simply looking for a different take for the role. If you find that rejection is hurting you, tell your parents immediately. Do not let rejection cause you emotional or mental harm and don’t ignore it either. Find ways to heal and learn from it. Hearing “no” on the job will happen, but you will also hear a “yes” very soon. Remember that.

Being an actor is tough but also fun! Keep in mind that you do this because you love it and enjoy the process. There’s no point if it isn’t enjoyable. Although it can be tough, you can increase your chances of success by keeping a nice, updated headshot handy; finding an agent; and developing a tough skin against rejection.

Get yourself noticed by upgrading your style! Click here to find out how!

The Best Way To Get Car Insurance For Teens

Getting your first car is an extremely exciting time in your life. It’s time to celebrate and have fun. It’s also a time for some serious responsibilities. Having a car is a big step in life. One of the duties is getting your car insured. There are several options available, each with their own pros and cons, and you need to make a choice based on your own wants and needs and one that fits best in your life.

One question to ask is whether you should get your own insurance or go on your parent’s insurance plan.

Every teen needs to have some sort of insurance to drive a vehicle in the United States. You may wonder if it is cheaper to get your own insurance or go on your parent’s insurance. The fact is that the numbers show that it is much less expensive to go on your parent’s insurance. In some states, the amount of savings is a staggering $5000 when you get a single policy. In most states, it is $3053, It breaks down to an average that teens will pay $4623, but for coverage on your parent’s insurance to get the same coverage, it is $1570. The average difference is $3053. This is based on the website www.nerdwallet.com, and you can save money in all 50 states in the United States. In some states, the savings are enormous.

The bottom line is you can enjoy massive savings going onto your parent’s insurance.

There are some great car discounts at top auto insurance companies that teens can get, and you will be excited to see the savings that you can get by doing some simple things.

Take a defensive driving course.

The young inexperienced driver who takes some type of driver training course is 43% less likely to get a ticket than those who did not receive a training course. They are 14% less likely to get into an accident and 19% less likely to get into an accident that results in injury and death. You could get a discount of up to 10% for drivers under 21 who have completed a course that is approved by an insurance company.

Get Good Grades

You will be surprised to know that good grades can give you a significant discount. Students with an A or B average are 33% less likely to be involved in a crash during their first year they are driving compared to those who have C or D grades.

You must meet these requirements
-Have at least a 3.0 average
-Make the Deans List
-Make the Honor Roll
-Are home schooled and are in the top 20% of those who take the PSAT, SAT or ACT

Discounts can range 10% all the way up to 25%

Don’t take a car to college.

Those who go to a school that is more than 100 miles away and leave their car at home, and only drive when at home can get a 7% discount

Sign a driving contract

-Always wear a seatbelt
-Never text or eat while driving
-Call for a ride if impaired
-Pay off any traffic or driving tickets
-Maintain good grades
-Contribute to the cost of car maintenance, gas, and insurance

Discounts can vary by state.

There are certain types of cars that are better for teens to drive. These are the things to look for in a vehicle when you are a teenager.

Low horsepower

Teens will get the temptation to drive fast. Having a powerful car will make that even more tempting. So getting a low horsepower car is beneficial for a teen. You can always get a bigger, more powerful vehicle when you have been driving a few years. It is better to be safe then have a fancy high powered car.

Electronic stability control

This feature will help the car remain stable on curves, slippery roads. You will be able to maintain control easier and driving in inclement weather, like snow and ice, will be easier. This feature will help the car maintain stability, and it reduces fatal car crashes by 49%. That is a high safety average you can count on.

High Safety ratings

The best cars for teens have the highest safety ratings for all aspects of the vehicle.

The best cars for teens are used vehicles that have a lower insurance rate. 83% of parents purchase a used car for their children.

Getting your license is exciting, but there are a lot of things to consider. Driving safely and following all the rules are paramount to your driving success. And they are also vital to getting affordable car insurance. Driving safely under your parent’s insurance is the best way to go financially, and following the tips here will give you the best start in your driving career.

Moving Away From Home and Into a Studio: 5 Key Tips for First Time Renters

If you’re a recent high school graduate and plan on moving out of your parents house and into your own studio, here are some key tips as a first time renter.

When you think about getting your first apartment, does it fill you with glee? Are you sick and tired of living with your parents and ready to strike out on your own?

More than one-third of Millennials would choose a long-term rental over buying a house. It’s a great way to save money on home repairs and property taxes. 

Renting is also a good idea if you’re planning to relocate in a few years, or if you are saving to buy a home.

If you’re a first-time renter, this article’s for you. We’ll give you an insider’s look at renting an apartment along with some pro tips for getting a good deal. 

Start Saving ASAP 

Any list of key tips for first-time renters has to start with money. You’re going to need a lot more than you think to make your big move. 

In general, you’re going to need: 

  • the first month’s rent 
  • a one-time deposit equal to the first month’s rent
  • a deposit for utilities like gas, electric, and water
  • an emergency fund equal to three months’ worth of living expenses

If you would like to have a pet in your apartment, you may have to pay a pet deposit or a monthly fee. 

It seems like a lot of money, and it really is. Depending upon the cost of rent in your area, you may have to save more than $5,000 to be move-in ready.

That’s why it’s vital to start saving for your move as soon as possible. If you can put away $100 per week, you’ll have $5,000 in less than 12 months.

Make a List of Must-Haves 

Everyone has a list of requirements when it comes to renting an apartment. You might want to have on-site laundry or a pool, or you might want to be near public transportation. 

As you start to search for apartments online, take the time to look at their lists of amenities. You might really like an apartment online, only to realize that they don’t have air conditioning, wi-fi, parking, or storage.

Some apartment buildings make you pay your own utilities, while others have you covered on gas and electricity. Having utilities included means that you don’t have to worry about the cost of heat, a nice bonus if you really like the apartment. 

Before you move in, though, make sure that you know which utilities you’d have to pay. Some places want you to pay quarterly for water, sewer, or trash services. 

First-time renters can save money by renting a studio apartment. Studios tend to have one large room with a separate kitchen and bathroom, the perfect size for one person.

They often include the cost of gas and electricity, allowing you to cut down on living expenses. 

Figure out the Roommate Situation 

You never really know someone until you live with them, so taking on a roommate or two can be a risky maneuver. Sharing expenses, however, could drastically improve your financial outlook.

Before you move in with a friend or random stranger, take the time to talk about your expectations for cleaning, buying food, and splitting bills.

If you can come to an agreement about those three things, you have a good chance of staying friends for a long time. 

Living with people can be difficult. Noisy roommates can interfere with you studying or sleeping, jeopardizing your job – or your future career. 

If you’re a morning person trying to live with a late-night podcaster or musician, you might look into renting a studio. Not a studio apartment, but an offsite studio space for rent that would allow them to practice and record away from home. 

Overall, the most important thing to remember about living with roomies is that everyone must have their own space with a door that locks. You may be tempted to get a smaller apartment and convert the living room into a bedroom.

The problem with that scenario is that one person’s stuff is more susceptible to theft from outside visitors. Privacy is key to a good apartment-sharing situation.

Decorate, Decorate, Decorate!

Once you decide whether you want to live with roommates and sort out the amenities, it’s time to put down your deposit and move in. 

While you may be tempted to buy furniture online, you may be able to get a better deal with a local furniture store. They can often spread out your payments over the course of six months to a year, which is a spectacular way to build your credit. 

Once you’ve invested in a couch, a bed, and some basic kitchen gear, it’s time to hit the thrift shops. You will be amazed at what you can find there, including gently-used: 

  • bedsheets
  • towels
  • bookcases
  • plates
  • books
  • clothing

Thrift stores may also have cool posters, throw pillows, and tapestries. It’s one of the best ways to save money if you’re a first-time renter, and it also helps the environment.

Thrift stores are great places to find high-quality vintage furniture that’s both beautiful and functional. Take your time and buy furniture that you’re going to have for years to come. 

Pro Tips for First-Time Renters

Before you sign your lease, there are a few more things you should know about renting an apartment.

First, you may be able to get a rent discount if you move during the off-season. In addition to locking in a lower rate, you may be able to get the first month for free. 

Second, you may not have to pay the pet deposit. Talk to your landlord about waiving the fee for a well-behaved cat or dog. If you can’t get the deposit waived, you may still be able to get the monthly fee reduced.

Finally, always trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe in the apartment’s parking lot or in its hallways, look for another place to move. Your personal safety and comfort are most important. 

Now that you know everything about becoming first-time renters check out the rest of our blogs! We have info on gadgets, dating, and new music!

What Does All That Paperwork You Sign Before Starting Your First Job Mean?

Like a lot of teens, you might be starting your first job. You might be taking tickets at the movie theater or bagging groceries at your local grocery store after school to earn some extra money. Starting your first job is exciting, but it is also full of paperwork. You may be confused about all the documents you are being asked to place your signature on before you can start work. Here is what all that paperwork means.

Personal Information

Your first job will gather tons of personal information before you start working. This can include your full name, date of birth and Social Security number. A background and credit check may be run by your employer, and providing them with your personal information will be necessary so that can happen. If your paycheck will be direct deposited, your employer will need your banking information so that your money arrives in the correct account. An address will also need to be supplied so that information can be sent by mail when necessary. Your employer may also have questions about your health. This will help him know what on-the-job tasks you can perform, and it can also affect your insurance options.

You will also be required to present identification, such as a birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license or passport to prove your identity and allow your employer to properly fill out the W-9 form in the US.

Another form you will fill out in the US is the W-4 form, where you declare how filing status as single, married, etc. Here you also select the number of exemptions from withholding tax. The more exemptions (such as children) you claim, the less taxes will be deducted from your paycheck. However, if you don’t withhold enough money from each check, you may owe taxes (and penalties) come tax filing season.

Employee Contract

Employers want to make sure everything is clear for employees. That’s why you may also be asked to read and sign an employment contract before you begin work. An employee contract sets forth the expectations for your job performance and the consequences if you do not meet them. It’s important to read the employee contract carefully and ask questions if something doesn’t make sense. You need to know if you are locked into your job for a particular amount of time and what the consequences are of breaking your contract. Know what rights the contract grants you and what rights it gives to your employer.

Special Documents

Certain jobs require special forms that set out more rules for employee behavior. There may be confidentiality agreements or special disclosures that let you know what you can and cannot say outside of work. When you deal with client information that can lead to privacy violations, you often must sign more forms to show you understand. These kinds of forms help to protect the company and their trade secrets. Make sure that you read these documents carefully so you understand what kinds of things you can and cannot do and say. This will help to make sure that you don’t get in trouble with your employer by doing something to break the rules accidentally.

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the forms that go with your first job. There may be a lot of paperwork, but if you make sure to look over all the paperwork carefully, you will be able to understand better what you are signing.

What do all these road signs mean? A Guide.

When learning how to drive, there are so many laws, safety guidelines and road signs that need to be understood before getting behind the wheel. Memorizing the rules of the road, while scary to some teens, is so important to getting their drivers test and keep them (and their friends) safe once they start driving every day.

To help young drivers pass their license test with flying colors, the team at The Simple Dollar put together a great guide to the most common and unique road signs seen on the road today. They also broke down the main colors, shapes and their subsequent meanings, to help teens and adults alike ensure safety on major roads and highways. In addition, their infographic also provides crucial information on how much ignoring these signs (and therefore, breaking the law) will cost you.

There are three main types of road signs: warning, guide and regulatory. Warning signs alert the driver to an issue up ahead that will change the way they drive. Guide signs are more informational, such as mileage number and entry signs for a freeway. And finally, regulatory signs serve as a reminder of laws such as the speed limit or when to yield.

One important thing to keep in mind, that most teens aren’t aware of, is that the colors and shapes of some of the most common road signs serve an important purpose. Orange signs, for example, are used exclusively for construction zone signs. Brown are reserved for public recreation signs while blue is traditionally used for guide signs. 

Following the instructions set by these signs are important to becoming an efficient and safe driver. For instance, did you know that failing to stop at a stop sign can hold an average fine of $350? Some of the most expensive fines come from railroad crossing signs, as a driver can get a fine of up to $500 for not stopping for any oncoming train.

See below for a breakdown of what these signs are really trying to tell you, in addition to the average increase your insurance will charge you depending on the citation. Still worried about driving on your own for the first time? Don’t forget about full-coverage auto insurance to bring you more peace of mind in case of an accident.