College students anticipate the holiday season for numerous reasons-final exams are over, festive celebrations lie ahead and to top it off, no class for weeks. But if you are like many students, the excitement surrounding the holidays is marred by the looming pressure to give the perfect gift to everyone on your nice list. These ideas for surviving the financial pressures of the holiday season are designed with the student budget in mind.
– Look for opportunities to save on travel. If going home for the holidays involves taking a flight, it is best to purchase airfare as far in advance as possible to get the lowest price. Also, experiment with the rates for departing and arriving on different days of the week, because prime travel days are always more expensive. If your travel plans involve several hours on the open road, having a tune up beforehand can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and save you money in the long term. Issues such as a clogged air filter, worn spark plugs, and underinflated tires can cause your vehicle to consume more fuel than necessary and cost you more at the pump.
– Tap into your creative side. Even a $20 gift can be difficult to afford when you are trying to give a gift to everyone on your list. Purchasing a pricey gift for everyone is not only unnecessary, but self-imposed pressure to be everyone’s Santa can cause you to overspend and go into debt. Expressing a sentiment does not have to cost a fortune; you can save money and add a personal touch by using your imagination to put together homemade gifts with minimal investment. For instance, create individual, decorative packages of hot chocolate mix for loved ones, and couple each with a recipe and a mug personalized to suit that person’s taste. Simply pairing creative packaging with holiday basics can make for a personalized and memorable gift that doesn’t break the bank.
– Organize a gift exchange. Regardless of whether your social circle is large or small, the pressure is on when it comes to giving holiday gifts to friends. No one wants to be the friend on the receiving end of a holiday gift unprepared to spread the love in return. An organized gift exchange can be a fun way to alleviate the pressure from everyone. There are a few ways to go about a holiday gift exchange. You impose an expenditure limit, have each friend draw a name and bring one gift for that person. Or, you can arrange a “Dirty Santa” type exchange, in which everyone brings one gift, draws a number, and gifts are selected and opened in numerical order. Typically there’s a twist-each person may open a new gift or take a previously opened one from another player. Organizing a gift exchange provides the opportunity for a fun social gathering and removes the pressure for each person to purchase several gifts for friends.
– Capitalize on your time out of school. Many retail stores, restaurants and other businesses seek seasonal staff to cover the high demand of the busy shopping season, providing the perfect opportunity for students to earn extra income without committing to long term employment over the holidays. Students have a lengthy hiatus from school during the holidays, affording them the free time to earn some much needed extra cash.
The holidays are a time that should be centered on family, friends and reveling rather than financial struggles and societal pressures. Students can free themselves of the pressure to overspend by indulging their creativity and making conscious effort to minimize spending over the holidays.