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Holiday Budgeting in College
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Lauren (She/Her)
Financial Educator
Posted October 11, 2022
While November to December may be the most wonderful time of the year, for many of us it’s also the most expensive. Budgeting in college looks differently than any other time of life and the holiday season is no different. Keep reading to discover more on how to manage your spending during this time.
Budget from the get go and know when to say no
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With all the hustle and bustle of travel and shopping, it’s hard to sit still. We want to go out with friends and family and buy presents. These things are attainable, but not unless you plan for them. Many college students are on a fixed income, meaning a holiday budget is a must. This looks differently for everyone, depending on priorities, so be sure to take the time to make one. Some things you may want to consider are:

     - Anticipated income
     - Existing bills/expenses
     - Gift costs
     - Holiday activity costs
     - Grocery expenses

The amount we spend on these items tends to inflate around the holiday season, so it is a good idea to start saving sooner rather than later. This can be done by putting aside a little money each month. If you’re tempted to spend it, another approach is to shop throughout the year rather than waiting until December. Not only does this alleviate much of the stress that can come from entering a mall in December, but it will also take pressure off of your wallet.
Inexpensive holiday fun
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Another strategy for making the most of your holiday on a budget is to take advantage of free activities around town. Many cities and universities offer free ice skating with inexpensive rentals. Other free activities include tree lighting ceremonies, viewing downtown lights and window shopping. Even spending a night in watching a movie by the fire can be a low cost way to enjoy the holiday season. If you plan the events, you have the ability to make them as low budget as you want. If you get invited to something that sounds fun, but is outside your budget, it’s always okay to say no.
Gift buying
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Gift buying doesn’t have to break the bank either. Some ideas for saving money in this area include doing a secret Santa or white elephant gift exchange. This way, everyone gets a gift, while only having to pay for one. You can also talk to your loved ones and decide to get presents for just the children in your life rather than everyone. Whether or not you end up buying something for everyone, it’s helpful to use coupons, shop during sales, and utilize your student discounts. According to SheerID, only around 17% of students use student discounts, so if you’re in the 83% who doesn’t, now is a great time to start! Finally, if you decide not to indulge in shopping for gifts, you can do a DIY craft or baked good.

Regardless of whether you decide to save up so you can splurge, or choose to give your wallet a break, the holidays are a time to have fun and enjoy time with loved ones.
Sources:
https://www.epochclemson.com/holiday-shopping-college-budget/
https://www.utica.edu/student-blogs/six-tips-to-survive-holiday-spending-on-a-college-budget/
https://unothegateway.com/5-ways-to-enjoy-the-holidays-on-a-college-student-budget/
http://www.sheerid.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/College-Students-Vs.pdf
https://www.klarna.com/us/business/the-state-of-smoooth-2021-holidays-unwrapped/
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