How teens can set a holiday budget


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As the holiday shopping season officially begins next week, it’s time to break out the holiday music and sip on one of Starbucks’ famed peppermint mochas while you make your list, check it twice and consider this year’s holiday budget.

A recent Step survey revealed that 72% of teens plan to set a budget for their holiday shopping, and while they really want to nail it this year, 36% admit they’ve had trouble sticking to their budget in the past.

Not to worry— Step is here to help! We know that setting a budget (let alone sticking to it) isn’t easy, and with increasingly busy schedules and looming finals, teens could use a little extra help.

That’s why we’ve created an easy step-by-step guide to help you set a realistic budget this holiday season.


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Key steps to determine your holiday budget

First things first: Whether you’ve already set money aside or are still saving up, it’s important to understand how much money you’ll have available to spend on holiday gifts.

Next, make a list of all the people you plan to purchase gifts for and then divide that number by the total amount of money you have available to spend. So, for instance, if you’ve earmarked $100 for your holiday shopping and plan to purchase five gifts, then you should budget $20 per gift. Approaching your holiday shopping with set gift amounts can save you time and also makes it easier to stay on-budget.

However, as the holidays grow closer, many people end up buying a few last-minute gifts (at higher prices), which is the easiest way to exceed your budget. To avoid this, consider shopping early– taking advantage of special deals and promotions– and look at when and what you spent on holiday gifts last year. This will help you anticipate any last-minute shopping so you can pad your budget accordingly.

Quick ways to earn extra gift money

As this year has been especially difficult for many people, you may be working with a smaller budget (like 25% of Step users) or find yourself short on cash. While the holidays are about much more than gifts, if you’re looking for ways to earn a little extra cash, here’s a few ideas to consider:

  • Look for odd jobs: Think about a few quick jobs you could do to earn money such as babysitting or helping a neighbor hang holiday lights.
  • Gift an experience: Consider giving your loved ones vouchers for dinner at their favorite restaurant or a trip to the nail salon. As these outings are likely to take place after the holidays, it gives you more time to come up with the cash.
  • Trim everyday spending: Look at your recent spending and identify places where you can cut down for a few weeks– like skipping your coffee run or avoiding new video game purchases. These cuts might sound small, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the dollars add up!
  • Use gift cards: Take a few minutes to check your wallet and dig through desk drawers in case you’ve misplaced a birthday gift card from grandma or other funds you could put towards your holiday shopping budget.
  • Suggest a Secret Santa: In talking with friends and family, you might find that many of them are ready to ditch the long gift lists, opting for a secret gift exchange where they only have to focus on one person.

About the survey

The online survey was conducted via Intercom from Oct. 20 to Oct. 30, among a demographically representative sample of 1,003 Step users, aged 13 to 17.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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