The holidays are a fun and exciting time for almost everyone, but their financial status may not be up to par.
Buying gifts for family and friends is no easy task for anyone, especially for students considering the sandwich-based meals we get to enjoy during the semester, and the pressure of student loans that need to be repaid. Most students understand the burden of empty pockets after the holidays, yet many find it difficult to stay financially responsible.
Here are some tips from Powercat Financial Counseling that will help you come up with a plan to make sure your upcoming holidays are stress free:
The key to any successful goal is to have a plan and follow through with it. Your holiday spending should be no different: by determining what you want to spend before hand and smart budgeting through the holiday season, you can ensure you have money left at the start of next year.
Calculate how much money you have and the amount you wish to spend on each person on your shopping list. If you already know the gifts you want to give, document the price. If you are unsure of the price, search for it on the Internet for an estimate. This will help you stay organized and allow you to shop around and compare prices to get the most value for money spent.
When calculating costs, people often forget to include traveling and transportation costs and food purchases – costs like a tank of gas and a semi-expensive meal can add up and hurt your budget so be sure to include them as well.
Set money aside
Setting aside a set amount each month or a percentage of each paycheck can definitely add up. Even $20 each month adds up to $240 by the end of the holiday season.
Stash the saved cash away in a separate checking or savings account to prevent using it during the holiday season. A lot of banks have a function that will automatically transfer a set amount from your paycheck to another bank account periodically.
Reducing costs might be difficult for some, especially when it comes to the holiday season. Even though we all want the best for those on our shopping list, that doesn’t mean you break the bank when shopping. Here are some easy steps to reduce costs when you shop for gifts during the holiday season:
- Prioritize: Does your cousin really need the whole box set of “Friends” or will just one season do? Do you really need to get your significant other five gifts this season? Trim your list and downsize the amount of money you wish to spend on everyone.
- Shop alone to avoid peer pressure or interrupted thinking.
- Get creative: Buy items in bulk and make gifts yourself, participate in gift exchanges, or send free E-Cards.
- The holiday season is a shopper’s paradise: prices are low everywhere and throughout the entire month of December
- Score on great sales by buying decorations or gifts after the holiday to save for the next one.
- Shopping online may reduce costs, considering deals not offered in stores; but beware of shipping and handling costs which could drive the price up.
- If you intend to travel during the holidays, be flexible and book flights and hotels as early as possible. Prices soar as the holidays approach.
Finally, remember that the holidays are all about family and simply just give the gift of time. Spending time with your loved ones is the greatest gift you could give – they don’t get to see you much during the year, so take the time and spend it with them.
If you still need help or have questions regarding your financial status, Powercat Financial Counseling is a service located here on campus that is offered free of charge to K-State students. Contact PFC at firstname.lastname@example.org, request an appointment through iSIS or visit their website at k-state.edu/pfc.
Doni Lee is a junior in finance and a PFC peer financial counselor.