Trevor Hall, 19, a recent Montbello High School graduate, works at Denver International Airport where he provides travelers with wheelchair assistance. Hall says he saves most of his earnings. (Photos by Erin Hull, The Denver Post)

Because traditional college kids (hypothetically) study more than they work — if they work at all — they are notoriously poor.

But the college years need not be lean years, according to financial experts.

In addition to capitalizing on college as a time when young people learn their party limits and figure out how to navigate the dating pool, being an undergraduate essentially means living on a fixed income, making it an ideal time to develop lifelong money smarts.

But roughly 20 percent of teens report feeling "clueless" about how to save, spend and budget money, according to Danielle Denega, author of the teen finance book "Smart Money" (Scholastic, 2008). Believing they are too young to need to save money, most American teens tend to blow their cash without giving much thought to future expenses.

"Young people spend their money on junk food or clothes," says Trevor Hall, 19. He learned about money through Operation Hope's Business in a Box program, a series for high school students that launched at Montbello High School but will soon be available to teens through Denver Public Schools.

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