Picture it, 10-year-old me found out that my mum and dad had left eBay logged in on the family computer.
Sound harmless? I’m sure many of you know, in order to buy and sell on Ebay you have to provide a means where your money is paid into and taken from.
Either directly from your bank account or by an app that bridges the gap like PayPal (which scarily only requires the person’s email address and a password to access their bank account!!)
Point is, online safety is crucial. My parents innocently didn’t log out of their eBay which was linked to their PayPal - AKA their bank account.
With no security checks and in JUST two clicks, I’d spent £300 on ten dolls and the brand new Bratz tent. I was elated, my parents not so much!!
That was more than a decade ago and I know that online safety and security features have improved since then, BUT I still wouldn’t leave auction sites or my Paypal logged in automatically.
‘Remember me’ or ‘save my password’ options may be helpful in some situations, but if your devices are shared or you’re in the library ordering that new top for the weekend, just remember to LOG OUT.
For safety online these are my top tips:
Strong passwords are REALLY important for keeping all of your personal information safe at the BEST of times, but when it comes to things like online banking and MONEY, you really can’t be too careful!!
I’m always buying bits and bobs online, and if I have an account with the website, because my bank is also linked to it, I change my password every few months.
I also make sure that my password isn’t something obvious that people could guess, like my name, birthday, or even the name of the website with a few numbers afterwards. Yes, we’ve all done it!! Even me.
Scammers are super clever, so for any account you make that has access to your money (especially banking apps) make sure the password is tricky.
Treat the apps and websites like a safe, they’re not easy to crack are they?! Cuz, they’ve got valuables inside!!
Tell your parents or guardians if you forget the passwords too!! That way, you’ll have to really think about if you need to buy the item you want (you may even save money after all).
Always get permission
Always get a parent/guardian's permission to buy things online.
Sorry to say it, but your parents and guardians DO always know best. Whether you're gaming online or looking at the latest clothes to feel trendy, if you’re buying them from the ‘Bank Of Mum And Dad’ you always have to ask - and not just the once, every time!
Me buying stuff on eBay? If I’d have done that to a stranger, it would actually have been fraud which is ILLEGAL!
It’s so important that when you get involved with money online that you have the A-OK from your loved ones and you’re also the legal age to use the services too.
For example, just like you can’t buy a film that’s age restricted when you go into Tesco on your own, you and your guardians could get in trouble if you tried to buy it on Tesco’s website at home too!!
Just because they can’t see who’s buying the product online, that doesn’t mean they can’t find out! Your name, address and birthday (all of which websites ask for) will be enough to give you away..
Find the right balance
Finding the right balance between becoming independent and responsible.
Asking for help isn’t a bad thing and we all make mistakes. Have you clicked on a pop-up virus or signed up to a subscription accidentally and forgot to cancel it? Trust me, I’m 23 and I’ve done that too!!
Being money-smart online is all about being careful with what you don’t know and confident with what you do!
Ask friends and family their opinion on a website if you don’t trust it. Look for the ‘padlock’ icon at the top of all websites (this means they are secure and your data won’t be transferred or put anywhere else online).
If you are selling something or buying something, asking for advice about it will just teach you stuff and get you out of sticky situations!
Without sounding weird, what I always live by is:
Act like buying things virtually is just like being in a real shop. I wouldn’t buy something if I didn’t feel comfortable there, if I was the first customer and the items seemed really amazing but cheap I’d ask around.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. I also wouldn’t give the cashier my pin number when buying anything either.
Your online banking stuff may just seem like a couple of numbers but identity theft is super real and super scary!!
Never give out your personal info online without checking why it’s needed first. I still ask for my parents’ advice about all this now!! I don’t want to lose my savings.
Last week, an unknown number and a separate email claimed to be the company I bank with who ‘were double checking my details’. Sounds strange right?
I phoned my bank directly and they were both SCAMS. Pardon the pun, but my best advice with any money matters online is: Check, check and check again, and, if something feels off, log off.
Don’t let someone take in an instant what you’ve been saving for forever. It’s not worth the risks.
Everyone starts somewhere
I only started saving money when I was about 14. If money was a birthday or Christmas present, I started to put a little bit aside, year by year.
When it was my friends' or mum and dad’s birthday I would buy them something small and it would mean something to me.
What you choose to spend on and save for is your choice of course, but just remember, little emergencies can always happen.
If your laptop needs a new charger or your mates are going bowling next weekend? How cool would it be not having to rely on others to pay for you!!
Managing my money made me feel grown up and it also taught me the value of things!! For example, I couldn’t believe how expensive birthday cakes were!!!
Right now, there are amazing savings schemes you can join, designed for young people and easy to understand!
Like ‘GoHenry’ which gives you your own bank card linked to your money, alerting you and your guardians every time you spend and ALSO shows you how much money you have to buy things with too.
Unlike complicated things like an overdraft, once your money’s gone, you just start saving again.
Unlike sneaky game pop-ups or trials on apps, it can’t keep charging you if your *virtual* wallet and actual piggy bank is empty.
Savings accounts in real life and online are amazing because they keep me accountable.
Even if I manage to save £2 this month, my funds soon build up and I feel a sense of achievement and pride.
Being thrifty online is also a great money saver. Apps like eBay, Depop, Vinted, Gumtree - they all encourage us to save money and the planet!!
Second hand items not only cut down on consumerism and paying over the odds for stuff, but they also bring up some real bargains too!! One man’s trash, could be your treasure.
If you’re 18 or over, you could also sell your items online either for a profit or just some extra pocket money, being kinder to the planet and your wallet too!
When you’re getting confident with online spending, search out discount codes or check to see if the store offers student discount.
Even shop around to get the best deal, managing your money in the best way (just stick to companies you know and trust).
If you need help online, send the company an email, use the live chat function, there’s no such thing as a silly question!! Remember, as long as you’re being kind, the customer is always king and queen.
Shopping online can sometimes be a minefield but as long as you stick to safe sites and spending strategies, you should be saving yourself more than just a headache in the long run!