What Buddy the Elf Can Teach Us About Saving Money and Tackling Debt

Facebook icon Twitter icon Print icon Email icon
Kristen Kuchar

By Kristen Kuchar

December 18, 2019

Whether you’re trying to pay off student loans, save for your child’s college education or simply want to improve your finances, the holiday season can be a challenging time of year. Luckily, we can learn valuable financial lessons from a favorite holiday movie, Elf. Despite living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, Buddy the Elf manages to display great financial moves to inspire us all. Here are five ways Buddy the Elf can teach us about saving money and tackling debt.

1. He lives minimally. 

Buddy didn’t have a large wardrobe, and he walked wherever he went (including the undisclosed number of miles from the North Pole to Manhattan). He is an advocate of eating leftovers, like when he packed his new parents a lunch of last night’s spaghetti topped with maple syrup and chocolate pop tarts.

Making small changes, such as brown bagging lunch or not overspending on clothes, can really add up. You don’t have to cut spending on every aspect of your life to pay off student loans or save more money. Just stick to a budget, track your spending and don’t spend money on the things that don’t truly matter to you. 

2. He has a fierce work ethic. 

While he might not have been as high of a performer as the other elves when it came to toy making, that didn’t stop Buddy from giving 100% effort every day. Even though he technically wasn’t working at Gimbel’s, he went above and beyond to deliver high-quality results. 

Whether your goal is getting out of student loan debt, saving for college or saving more money in general, working hard is a huge component to that. There are many ways you can increase your income to reach your financial goals. 

3. He’s adaptable. 

Found out that you’re a human (not an elf) and your real father lives in New York? Let’s go. Your little brother is getting bombarded with snowballs? Start making a sky-high pile immediately. Whether it was getting sent to work in his dad’s mailroom or having to help Santa save Christmas, Buddy was flexible and able to handle whatever situation came his way.

To reach your financial goals, it’s probably going to mean a change out of your comfort zone. If you’re trying to reduce your student loan debt, maybe you need to get a side hustle. If you’re trying to save money for college, maybe you need to cut spending. If you’re willing to adapt, you’ll have a greater chance for success. 


4. He seeks out free entertainment. 

Buddy’s favorite activities include smiling, singing and spreading Christmas joy – all totally free. His ideal day with his new dad included snuggling, making snow angels and drinking hot chocolate – again, all free. When planning a cheap date, he opted for exploring the city, looking at Christmas trees and lights.

Buddy shows us it’s not what you’re doing but who you’re doing it with that’s important. Swap out some of your pricey activities, such as dinners out and concerts, with game nights with your family, potlucks with friends and free thing to do around you.

5. He’s resourceful. 

When it came time to welcome his old friend Santa to Gimbel’s, Buddy didn’t run out and charge decorations. He got creative and used what he had to build a beautiful winter wonderland. When his family needed a Christmas tree, he found one and cut it down (not recommended, of course).

Being resourceful is key to your financial health. Need money to pay down student loans? Sell your old stuff for extra money. Not sure how you’re going to pay for your child’s college education? Start learning how to save for college. Resourcefulness is a pivotal trait to improve your financial health (and wealth).

At Savingforcollege.com, our goal is to help you make smart decisions about saving and paying for education. Some of the products featured in this article are from our partners, but this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you