Holiday Gift Giving on a Student Budget

The tradition of holiday shopping and gift giving on a student budget is challenging, and the added financial stress and burden can make the holiday season more stressful and less enjoyable.  It is possible to give your friends and family meaningful gifts, even on a student budget.

Tip #1:  Save money in advance.  The holiday season should not come as a surprise each year, yet how many times has it ‘snuck up’ on you, and you find yourself wishing for more funds in your bank account.  A year-long savings or holiday fund plan is a solution.  Determine an estimated total cost and start saving early to achieve your goal.  This would make a good New Year’s Resolution for 2019.

Tip #2: Hunt for bargains.  Use sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon that offer business discounts.  Utilize coupons and sales, which are in abundance around the holidays.  When online shopping, watch for and utilize discounts and free shipping.

Tip #3:  Budget and monitor expenses.  List the people you wish to purchase presents for and set spending limits on each person.  Save your receipts and maintain a listing of spending totals, being careful not to overspend.  Remember to include greeting cards and holiday gift wrapping supplies within your budget.  Consider downloading one of the many money management apps, or keep a notebook log to track expenses.

Tip #4:  Utilize thrift stores and DIY projects.  Browsing local thrift and consignment stores may yield unique gifts for loved ones at a price cheaper than retail.  Handmade gifts are often the most cherished gifts.  It can be more cost effective to purchase materials and create gifts rather than to purchase items.  Around the holidays, watch craft store sales for percentage off items or entire purchases.

The holiday season can wreak havoc on a student’s budget, but affording the holidays can be done with careful planning.  Relieving yourself of financial worry and stress will allow you to enjoy and celebrate this special time of year.  Contact the UWW Financial Literacy Center for additional personal finance information and resources on a wide array of topics.

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