Don’t let the Grinch steal your piggy bank

4 mins read
Illustration by Lydia Shin

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another holiday, it’s the time of the year where you learn it’s better to give than receive. But for many teens who feel compelled to buy presents for their family and friends, it’s not so holly jolly. High-tech gifts, clothes, and toys on wish lists can cost quite a bit more than many can afford, even during sales events like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. For wallets, it’s not quite the most wonderful time of the year.

This is why it’s important to build a budget. It may seem scary and (gasp) way too serious for the holidays, but it’s one of the best things to do when it comes to holiday shopping. A budget is sort of a list of how much you plan on spending. Before you go online to find that super cool robot for your little brother or chart an expedition to the shopping mall, it’s important to ask yourself the following:

How much money do you have?

Check your wallet, your piggy bank, and your pockets … wherever you save your coins and cash. Count your coins and your dollars and write down the amount.

Do you have gift cards?

If you have any gift cards from a birthday or a holiday, see how much you have on them. Usually, there is a phone number on the back you can call, but make sure to ask your parent or guardian if you can call first.

How much do you think you should spend?

Set a total amount as well as a specific amount per person, and stick to it.

Who do you plan on giving gifts to?

Right now, think of five people. Write those names down.

Finally, ask them one thing they want.

You don’t have to become Santa Claus to be a good person. If they don’t have a specific thing, ask them what kinds of things they are interested in.

Now that you have all of this information written down, do some comparison shopping. Comparison shopping is a way to find something you’d like to buy at a cheaper price. You don’t even have to buy anything. Some tips to help find what
you want:

Don’t stick to just one place.

Unless it’s something handmade or completely exclusive to the point where nowhere else sells it, chances are you can find something equally incredible online or in other stores.

Use coupons and look for sales.

Pay attention to what the sale/coupon entails. Look for how much you’ll save.

Consider consignment shops.

If you’re looking for clothes and shoes, you can find gently worn clothes at a local consignment shop or a thrift store. It’ll cost less than in a typical store and best of all, is better for the environment.

Write down the prices or take a picture on your phone to remember.

It will definitely save you some time and money in the long run.


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