Holidays on a College Budget

holidays budgetLife as a college student has taught me about pinching pennies. Before I transferred to a university, I worked two jobs and lived at home, so I basically had cash to burn. Back then, during the holidays I bought expensive gifts for each of my friends and family. But after I transferred to a University a harsh reality soon sank in.

When the holiday season came during my first year at a University, I had choices to make. Should I purchase my loved ones expensive gifts as I had in the past, or put that money towards my survival as a college student? Sadly, last year I only gave gifts to about half of the people I normally do. 

Like me, I’m sure at some point in your life, you were low on cash, and you couldn’t afford to give the gifts you wished you could. So whether you are a college student or not, there steps we can all take to treat the important people in our lives the way they should be treated. So let’s get to work to celebrate our loved ones! 

Save Save Save
First and foremost, save as much as you can for the holiday season. It’s the little things that add up and leave you broke; do you really need that $4 coffee?

Determine a Plan
Decide who you want to give presents to, and then determine a budget in order to stay within your means. Consider discussing spending limits with your loved ones, this will clearly define the expectations for both of you and take some of the pressure off. Make a list and stick to it if you in-store-shop for gifts, we all know how easy it is to make impulse purchases!

Secret Santa
Discuss with your family or a group of friends the possibility of participating in Secret Santa! Secret Santa will allow everyone participating to save some serious cash!

Do It Yourself gifts
Utilize Thrift Stores, Garage Sales, and Dollar Stores for clever ideas. You may even have belongings you do not have use for anymore that can be transformed into a One-of-a-kind creation!

Use photos to create personalized gifts. A photobook might be a nice gift for a parent or grandparent, or for someone who has children.

Pinterest is FULL of ideas for DIY creations! From holiday cookie recipes to transforming old picture frames, as well as gift baskets to just about anything you can imagine. Personally, I have an entire board devoted toGift Ideas. Utilize the search feature when you’re looking for ideas. Trying digging through a friend’s Pinterest boards to give you ideas on a gift they may enjoy!

Some other ideas might include: local Ceramics Shops crafts, homemade CDs or DVDs, and Coupon Books. 

Gift of your Service
Going along with the Coupon Book Idea, ask loved ones if they would like you to provide them a services instead of a gift! Ideas may include cleaning, painting, cooking or babysitting!

Online Shopping
Use sites like Amazon, or Overstock. Check out for their deal of the day, if you’re lucky you might stumble on a Woot-Off! Use FatWallet for coupons, deals, and to receive cash back on your purchases at many online retailers! For Books, Movies and more check out Half Price Books.

Coupons and Sales
Newspapers contain a lot of great coupons during the holiday season. Hit up the Black Friday sales on November 23, 2012! By using FatWallet’s Black Friday page, you can find Black Friday Ads, as well as search for deals! There is even a Black Friday App for IPhone and iPad users. 

Get Started Now!
The holidays can be stressful, take some stress off your shoulders by getting your shopping out of the way. Putting in the effort to honor our loved ones, as well as saving some cash while doing so; sounds like a great recipe for a Happy Holidays.

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