Holidays And Student Budgets: What To Do

Maybe you’ve just finished your exams. Maybe you’re still writing final papers. The last thing on your mind has been the holidays, but now that they’re almost here, what are you going to do? How are you going pay for the gifts that you need to buy?

Although it might already be too late for this, at least now is the time to make a mental note for next year to budget extra money for gifts in December. It’s the same thing as budgeting the extra money you need for books each January and each September. It’s better not to be caught off guard by these things!

Use your credit card wisely
It is not smart to put hundreds of dollars of Christmas gifts on your credit card. If you are not going to be able to pay back your credit card, then don’t use it. It is smarter to get another, separate loan, or to call your bank to lower your student loan payment for this month than to put it on your credit card which could have an interest rate as high as 20%!

Organize the gift exchange
Instead of giving presents to everyone of your friends, organize a few gift exchanges: maybe your residence floor, your sorority sisters, or your biochemistry friends will want to do an exchange. You can set a price limit for each exchange too, like $5 or $10.

Homemade gifts
The best gifts are homemade gifts. You might want to make your gift exchange a homemade gift exchange! If you are short on time right now, but you know that you will have time later, you can always give some coupons for Christmas. Be sure that you remember to honor them, though! Think of your talents: making someone a home-cooked meal, giving a personal manicure or pedicure, or giving lessons on how to play bridge could be a great gift. If you know that you will have money after Christmas, you can also consider giving coupons for gifts that will cost you money, such as a night at the movies, or a nice dinner.

Work for the holidays
As a student, you are probably lucky to have one or two weeks off during the holidays. If you work for one or two days of the holidays, even, then you will earn enough money to buy the gifts that you need to buy. Be sure to give yourself some break, though. You have worked hard enough all semester and you deserve it.

Be charitable
Instead of exchanging gifts with some of your friends, consider doing charitable donations. You can each pick a charity, and then each donate a set amount of money to the other person’s charity. Be sure to send a nice card that says you made a donation in their name.

You could also decide to give each other canned goods for the local foodbank. Buying 6 or 7 dollars of canned goods might not be a lot of money, but it will be a great help for those people who need it. You’ll feel good, you’ll save yourself money, and you and your friends and family will have done a good deed.

The key to surviving Christmas is to be honest. If you have friends who aren’t in school and who have lots of spending money, the best thing is to explain to them that money is tight this year. Sometimes they forget or don’t know how much being a student costs. Once you remind your family and friends of your budget, they will be more than willing to participate in some of these fun and money-saving holiday suggestions.

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