College is a difficult time for a variety of reasons, one being that many students are just learning how to budget and how to manage their own expenses. The holiday season only exacerbates this problem, making it difficult to stay within budget while also buying presents for your friends and family. It can make it nearly impossible to feel comfortable about where you are at financially, making you consider gifting those close to you with hand-written cards and calling it good. There’s nothing wrong with a personal, hand-written card, but if you are a person who enjoys gifting but needs help doing it responsibly, this blog is for you. None of these tips are going to be earth-shattering, they are likely ones you’ve already heard of — but the secret is to actually follow them.
Set a Budget
Before the holiday shopping season even begins, set a budget of how much you want to spend. Go as much into detail as you would like or as much as you need to. It would also be helpful to create a budget for each person you will be shopping for. If your budget is including more than gifts, for example, it includes travel, accommodations, food, and more, incorporates that into your budget as well. Be as specific as possible, and break down every category as much as you can. This will help you stay within budget, and if the numbers aren’t lining up, then what are you willing to change or sacrifice?
Be a Savvy Shopper
You would think that having a budget is enough to keep you on track, but if that were the truth, we would all be set for life, being able to strategically plan our money. The truth is, retail stores are shockingly good at making us spend more money than we initially planned. Making a budget is one thing, sticking with it is another. There are tons of incentives that retail stores use to keep us spending and keep us coming back.
It helps to create a list in advance, before you shop, and then search where you can find the product/gift for the best deals. If you are skilled in couponing, this is your time to shine! Many stores are going to have deals, some better than others during the holiday season, you just need to find out where they are.
Furthermore, try to avoid buying on impulse. Impulse gifts are usually out of budget, or mess up our budget because we didn’t plan for them. Be mindful of your budget, and decide if this impulse buy is something you really need or want.
Keep Track of All Your Spending
Keep the budget you made earlier with you, so as you progress with your holiday spending, you should be regularly comparing costs with what you initially wrote down in your budget. It will be helpful to sit down with a pen and paper at the end of the day and write down what you spent that day so you can keep track of where your money went. This will help with not overspending in other areas.
When out shopping for others, it is painfully easy to buy things for yourself as a little treat for spending money on others. We easily spend hundreds of dollars on ourselves and then might get weary when we remember that we have others to think about. If this resonates with you, then you might want to reconsider your gift shopping habits.
Remember What the Holidays Are About
The truth is, no one is going to get their feelings hurt (or they shouldn’t anyway) if you come home without gifts for them. Perhaps cliché, but true, the holiday’s really are about spending time with family, enjoying time away from work, and being thankful for the gifts you already have. It’s not about the gifts you need to buy and the money you need to spend, because love isn’t measured by the number of gifts you can bring home! Plus, your friends and family would never ask you to put yourself in a financially risky situation to get them expensive gifts. If you’re going to invest in anything, invest your time, energy, and love in the relationships with those around you.
One way you can reduce stress and save money during this time is to team up with Upper Crust. Get access to the best college catering service with Upper Crust. We provide catering services for fraternities and sororities across the country, with menus that encompass health and taste! Reach out to us today to learn more.