‘Tis the season to lose money, fa la la la la, la la, la la.
We’re buying presents, spending money on travel, buying food, drinks, clothes and heaps more, so how are students expected to survive on such a narrow budget!?
Luckily for you, it’s not all doom and gloom in the finance department when it comes to Chrissy, you just have to be a little more frugal and practical about your gift-giving! Here are my top tips for Christmas shopping on a student budget.
Save your money
Seems like a no-brainer, huh? But let’s be honest, so many of us only start thinking about Christmas shopping maybe two or three weeks before the big day, which means we haven’t had any prep time – and neither has our wallets. Hearing Christmas Carols start playing in shopping malls and grocery stores might be irritating to no end, but it’s a good reminder that it’s time to start saving! You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Keep an eye on the sales
And by that I mean: take advantage of the post-Christmas sales! If you give your dad a pair of socks every year, you can buy them at any time of the year for a fraction of the cost. If flash sales start happening at any point during the year, take advantage of them and stow away your pre-purchased presents months or weeks in advance.
Opt for the sentimental gifts
Think of a gift you have received that you will never forget. Is it in your mind? Okay, good. Now think about why that gift was so memorable. It probably had some sort of sentimental value, didn’t it? The most memorable gifts you can give are the ones that show people you’ve been thinking of them. Write a heartfelt letter to your parents that they can keep forever, frame a picture of you and/or your siblings and give it to them (they will love it, even if they don’t show it…)
Practicality is perfect
You’d be surprised how many people don’t bother to ask their family and friends what they want for Christmas. You might find that what they want or need is a lot cheaper than the gift you thought they wanted. In all likelihood you’ll be used to hearing them say, “I don’t want you to buy me anything”, but wait for the look on their face when you get them something they need. Gifting people the essentials is great, because it’s appreciated but it’s also usually cheap. Buy them a cookbook, a teacup or even just a pot plant for their new garden – anything goes as long as it’s practical!
If you’re buying for a few people, set yourself a limit of money to spend on each person – that way no one is being favoured above the rest, and you’re not sending yourself broke in the process! A $20 limit isn’t a bad place to set the bar if you’re not too sure what you can afford. Set out your expenses in a diary or in list-form, that way you can see how much money you’ll be left over with when you’re done.
When in doubt, bring food
If material gifts aren’t really your thing, no worries! One of the nicest gestures you can make at Christmas is to bring along a dish of food to your Christmas lunch or dinner. Spend Christmas Eve whipping up something special in the kitchen for the big day. Trust me, whoever is hosting the lunch/dinner will thank you for it!
You’d be surprised how cheap a salad is to throw together…
Hopefully these pointers will help you avoid shallow post-Christmas pockets this year. If you plan ahead and budget smart there’s no reason why you can’t get your Christmas shopping done and dusted without spending all of your money away in the process.