Financial counselors offer advice on buying holiday gifts

Ramen is a cheap yet convenient gift for college students. (File Photo Illustration by George Walker)

It’s that time of year again, where last-minute holiday shopping surprises many shopper’s wallets. With Christmas approaching soon, Powercat Financial Counseling decided to help Kansas State students with budgeting as the pressure of presents and prices begins.

“This is our sixth annual thrifty-gifting holiday budgeting workshop,” Jodi Kaus, director of Powercat Financial Counseling, said.

The workshop took place in the Flint Hills room in the K-State Student Union on Thursday evening.

At the event, students were educated about how to save money while buying gifts and traveling for the holidays, along with other expenses that add up for special occasions. Kaus said their goal was to make sure students make wise financial decisions.

Students who attended the event not only received valuable information, but also had the chance to win prizes and giveaways, which included two Country Stampede tickets, Oakley sunglasses, various coupons and coffee mugs. Students also received free food.

“I really like Christmas — it’s my favorite holiday — so I wanted to get some insight on how I could save some money and not spend a lot,” Caitlyn Sabbert, junior in mass communications, said.

Allison Becker, junior in personal finance and a peer financial counselor, said Powercat Financial counselors help students with budgeting, student loans, credit and transitioning into work. For example, she said if a student is about to get a job, the counselors can help evaluate if it is a good offer or not.

“This is just a good way to help students know how to budget for the holidays and how to plan ahead so that they don’t get caught spending more than what is within their means,” Becker said.

Sabbert said she learned how to save money by making a list of things she needs, rather than things she wants, so she can go to the store and be more prepared instead of splurging money.

“Everyone goes through budgeting for the holidays and there is always helpful advice that you should be willing to take,” Shynia Peterman, senior in animal sciences and industry, said.

Peterman said she thought the event would be interesting because she had been to a few prior Powercat Financial Counseling events.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what their thoughts were for budgeting over the holidays,” Peterman said.

Several students said they learned something from the event.

“I feel like students who came to this event took away a lot of valuable information about how to save money for the holidays,” Ashley Moyer, freshman in communication sciences and disorders, said.

Powercat Financial Counseling had a lot of tips for students such as: pay for items with cash, make a budget, make a list, shop alone and know what you want to buy.

“They talked about if you’re traveling back home, try to make preparations beforehand,” Tanner Townley, freshman in mechanical engineering, said. “That way you can save money by being more flexible with your schedule.”

Some other tips the counselors suggested were to keep track of how much you spend, think before using your credit card, steer clear of high-priced fad items and lastly, if you have kids, don’t spoil them with gifts.

“I like to look for BOGO deals that I can use to buy multiple gifts and I also like to shop online for cheaper deals than in the store,” Charlie Harris, freshman in family studies and human services, said.

Harris recommended students get an Amazon Prime account because some items can be found at a good price.

“I also try to save $10-$20 from every check so that I don’t have to pinch pennies closer to the holidays,” Harris said.

“I recommend budgeting yourself per gift and setting a maximum limit to spend on Christmas altogether,” Saundra Reimer, senior in animal sciences and industry, said.

Other great ways to save money during the holidays is putting gifts on layaway at stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy, Reimer said. She said you can even look for good deals on Black Friday.

Kaus said Powercat Financial Counseling has been around for seven years now.

“We have students that are trained to be peer financial educators and then they are able to provide financial advice and education to other students,” Kaus said.

Powercat Financial Counseling’s offices are located in the K-State Student Union, with additional offices located on the first floor of Hale Library.