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8 Ideas for Your Teen’s Christmas Present

8 Ideas for Your Teen’s Christmas Present

Picking a Christmas gift for a teenager is a tricky task. Just a couple of years ago they would be smitten with a huge jar of candy drops and a new set of colored pencils. A surprise or a discovery were the main thrills of the present while they were kids.

Now your teen has a mile long wish list and it contains items they can brag about in Snapchat – like the newest gadget everyone talks about or a holiday tour in Europe. They surely know who brings them presents, but still, have only a vague concept of where the money comes from.

To bring back the magic you should really know what your child wants and dreams about deep down under the sheer desire to impress their friends. Look at what they are passionate about, and encourage this passion with your gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive to impress them, but it must be carefully chosen to show your support and recognition of their interests and appreciation of their individuality. This is the kind of present that creates warm memories!

1. For Avid Gamers

Video games are a favorite pastime for the vast majority of teens. Fact!

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However, some are more serious about it and might even have the ambition to become professional players in the future. Those having such aspirations will be excited about a new game console, a set of advanced controllers, or an accessory such as a mini rocking chair with a speaker for the immersive gaming experience.

They also might appreciate a themed artwork or collectible item, only make sure you get the right title and the right character to hit the nail on the head.

2. For Outdoorsy Teens

If your kid loves camping, hiking, sports or generally prefers spending their free time out in the open air, they’ll be excited to find a bicycle, a pair of rollerblades, a swagway board, a geocaching starter kit, or some cool camping equipment, such as a stove with USB-charger or something similar.

In fact, everything that combines technology with outdoor activities is a nominee for a successful gift. If your teen loves traveling, you can give them a scratch map to mark each journey.

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3. For Music Lovers

For those who cannot stand silence, there is a wide array of options from Star Wars headphones and wireless earbuds to Bluetooth waterproof speakers to sing along in the shower. However, you can dig deeper.

To encourage your child to take more active interest in music you can give them an instrument. Something as small and simple enough as a pocket guitar practice tool or a blues harp is a perfect start of a beautiful friendship with musical creativity.

4. For Beauty Aficionados

Jewelry stands and makeup palettes, colorful spray chalk for temporary hair dyeing (DIY style), a piece of piercing jewelry (accompanied with a salon gift card and your permission to use it, which probably is the actual present), a gift card for a mehndi courses – why not?

If your teen is passionate about beauty, style and fashion experiments, it can be a start of a designer career. Alternatively, they will just have hours of great time and oodles of fantastic pics for their Insta. Not so bad either way.

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5. For Romantic Souls

Something with a hidden meaning that says ‘I love and cherish you’, ‘I believe in you’ or ‘I trust you’ will touch their hearts. Romantic and impressionable teens will like personalized journals (with tiny padlocks and their name on it), artsy posters with inspirational quotes, paired pendants or key chains to share with the BFF, and stylish magnetic boards for their bedroom doors to keep concert tickets, snaps, cards and other mementos.

You can also try lucky charms with dry flowers that are in bloom on the day of your teen’s birthday or something equally personalized and metaphorical.

6. For Science Geeks

STEAM puzzles, a telescope, a microscope, a chemistry lab kit – whatever is to their liking. A tip: if you wonder whether a particular article is age-appropriate, take something for older kids. Anything that falls an inch short their expectations is instantly stigmatized as ‘lame’ and ‘for toddlers’.

If safety rules do not allow using some of the equipment below a certain age, it’s better to provide parental guidance and have some quality time together messing around with a ‘dangerous’ stuff than opting for something less sophisticated.

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7. For Art and Etsy Enthusiasts

Mini-looms, starter kits for string art, needle felting, scrapbooking, big art sets with watercolors, pastels, brushes and a book on drawing technics – everything that promotes creativity and self-expression also makes a perfect gift.

Besides, arts and crafts are very soothing activities, so it most certainly will help your teen to cope with anxieties.

8. For Those Into Old-School Stuff

Teens today also can be crazy about retro and vintage. For them, you can pick some antique books shelf holders (and a selection of books for that matter), retro instant cameras, and generally old-timey looking accessories such as record bowls, tape cassette boxes, mini-coolers for soda and snacks shaped like a streamline fridges.

To strike the right chord and see how their face lightens up instead of cringing with disappointment, do your homework. See if your teen likes one big present or a pile of trinkets, do they like to see their presents on the dressing table upon waking up or chase around the house finding the clues that lead them to the cache. Make a gift an experience!

Featured photo credit: Scott Hadfield/Flickr via flic.kr

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

Reference

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