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12/07/2007

Teen Finance: Holiday Budgets

Every year the holiday season seems to come upon us faster and faster. If your home is like mine and full of young adults who want to give gifts to everyone you have to draw the line at some point to salvage any lessons in personal finance you have painstakingly levied on your kids. In a family meeting about how much money we need to put aside for this holiday season, my two teenagers came up with some great solutions to help out with the holiday spending.

The first solution that came to mind was that the teens could get an after school or weekend job during the holiday season. This is a great idea as long as your teen is not involved in after school activities or sports.

And despite conventional working teen wisdom, it does not necessarily mean that they have to go to work at a fast food restaurant. One option is baby-sitting. Teens can contact friends, neighbors, family members, and members of your religious community and let them know they are available to watch their kids while they go get some of their holiday errands taken care of or attend an office party. This is a great way to make some extra money.

If your teens are the more crafty type, consider making something and then selling them for holiday gifts. Crafts could be anything from jewelry to scarves to baked goods. Again, show the items to friends, neighbors and family and ask them if they know of anyone who might be interested in the wares. Tapping into known resources can make teens a sufficient sum of money to spend on their own holiday gifts.

Along the same lines, you can consider selling items on online auctions. Teens can go through their own stuff that is not used anymore. It can be surprising what sells on these auctions. Be sure to read the auction terms and conditions first though to make sure age requirements are known in advance.

If you find that there is not anything worth selling, hit the local flea markets and Goodwill. A lot of times something really cheap can be found (like the brand new with tags luggage set for 15 dollars) and resold at an auction or auction site it for a good chunk of change.

If you have younger tweens that want to earn their own money, there are additional ideas for them. Consider collecting empty cans. Collect what is used in the home, or ask neighbors, friends and family to contribute their recycled cans. Let your teens gather them, squash them and cash them in at the local recycling plant. You will be surprised at how much money can be earned from recycled cans.

Additional money can be made doing odd jobs for a neighbor or family member. Teens are good for helping out at just about anything. The teens in my community charge 30 dollars to cut, trim and edge a quarter acre lot. There are other options too. Raking leaves, painting, walking dogs, shoveling snow (if you live in a snowy area) - the possibilities are endless.

One other way to really help teens in giving holiday gifts is to not purchasing store bought gifts. Instead consider a homemade gift or the gift of help. We have friends who are older and instead of giving them a store bought gift every year, we give them coupons for free chores. One coupon might be a day of spring cleaning help while another might be help with a day of yard work or even a night over for dinner. The possibilities here are as big as the imagination. The recipients enjoy these gifts as they are given out of love and caring, plus they get to spend time with the kids.

No matter what your teen decides to do to make money, your job as parents are to support and help guide them. Don not do the job for them, let them learn how good it feels to earn their own money and then spend it on gifts for family and friends. Work can not only teach teens responsibility, but to appreciate the gift of giving.

Julianne Alzamora has 7 years of experience as a freelance writer. Her articles can be seen in several financial websites about investing, investment strategy, personal finance and topics on real estate.





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