Shopping with my teen can be trying. The holidays are especially difficult because I want to stick to the family budget, but with all the temptations that the holidays can offer, he wants to splurge.
Stores offer enticing holiday sales that even a disciplined adult can find hard to resist.
So, what do I do to keep my teenager from blowing his budget and mine during the holiday season?
Help them create a realistic budget
Before the holidays begin, I help him create a budget. I use some of the great techniques I found at About.com to teach him how to become more financially responsible. I have my son list all of his incomes on a sheet of paper. This includes any money I have given him or any money from work. Then I have him list the things that he wants to buy during the holiday season. Then we do the math. This will help give us a realistic idea of how much money he has, how much the desired item costs, and if he can afford it. By helping my teen create a budget, I am helping him to become more money conscious and helping him to control impulse spending.
Set and keep financial goals
I have found that my son is more likely to stay on budget if he has something to work toward. So, my son and I plan financial goals for him, and then once we have decided on his financial goal, we figure out how much money and time it will take for him to accomplish this goal. Capitol One has some great ideas on how to help teens learn how to set financial goals and learn how to manage money.
As the old saying goes, "Out of sight, out of mind." This holds true for teens as well as adults. It is easy for teenagers to forget what their financial goals are when confronted with things that offer instant gratification like a new pair of designer jeans or a latest electronic gadget, and believe me, my son is no different. I have him keep a mini-copy of his budget with him while he shops. This visual reminder helps to keep my son focused on his financial goal.
Identify wants and needs
Teenagers can have a hard time discerning wants from needs especially during the holidays. I use the following technique to get my son to identify the difference: When he asks me about making a purchase, I ask him these questions, "Is this an absolute necessity? Will this fit into your budget? Will this help or hurt your efforts to reach your financial goal?" Then, I make him wait at least 24 hours before making the purchase. This gives him time to actually think about the purchase and decide if it is the right one for his budget.
The art of saving
The holidays are not the time to throw caution to the wind. I use coupons and store loyalty cards in order to get the best deals on anything from groceries to clothes. Another way I help my teenager to stick with the budget is to help him look for valuable coupons or coupon codes for the things he wants to purchase. Some stores like K-Mart, Walgreens, and CVS have rewards programs that reward its members with discounts. These discounts can prove invaluable especially during the holidays.
Lead by example
I try to lead by example. Even during the holiday, I make an effort to stick to my budget. I let him watch me planning my budget, and then I execute it. He knows that I study the market and follow a lot of the advice from couponing websites like TheKrazyCouponLady and others. I also like to take him shopping with me to watch "the magic happen" as I use my coupons and store loyalty cards. We both love it when I get items for free by staking coupons and using store sales.
As the holidays approach, it is so easy to get caught up in sales and other gimmicks. Budgeting is difficult for adults, and teenagers are definitely no exception. Most teens have little to no impulse control. My son certainly is no exception. However, I keep him on budget despite the holidays by helping him create a realistic budget and helping him stick to it.
This is a guest post by Lawanda from De Kalb, MS
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