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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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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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