The type A’s among us have likely already made a holiday shopping list and started saving… The rest of us, procrastinators and dreamers that we are, probably haven’t given much thought to a holiday budget. Holidays are stressful for a number of causes, but don’t let your financial situation become one of those reasons. Use this guide to build a financial plan for the season and set aside a few bucks so you can spend the holidays enjoying the people and things you love!
Create a sensible budget
This stuff sounds easy, but until you put it all on paper you may not actually know how much money to spend on gifts this season, unless you’re really good at managing your money!
First off, decide on an amount that you feel comfortable spending this holiday season. Set a deadline for when you want to start shopping for gifts. Your expenses include bills to be paid and discretionary spending (i.e. the money you spend on going out, travelling, and other incidentals). If you subtract your expenses from your income and you will be left with what’s called your net income. Your holiday budget should not exceed more than half of this.
Make a list, check it twice
Next, Make a list of family and friends that you plan on giving gifts to and decide how much you plan to spend on each present. According to the results of Barnes & Noble College 2012 College Marketing Survey the average college student plans on spending about two-hundred dollars in total on Christmas present. This may mean that if you want to spend more on Mom and Dad, you can get smaller gifts for your friends.
There’s a ton of low-budget ways to gift friends and family when you’re low on cash. With smaller gifts, it is truly the thought that counts. Getting your roommate a coffee mug or other small decoration with the school logo on it will be something that will forever remind them of you! Take the gift an extra step and personalize it to make it more meaningful it. You may even want to make your own gifts (we will be posting new DIY gift ideas soon)!
Don’t forget seasonal incidentals
While a good chunk of your holiday budget may go towards gifts, don’t forget saving for events you plan on attending over the holiday break, the pink feather tree that you felt you HAD to buy to decorate your dorm room, or that dress (and matching shoes) that you’ve been wanting to buy for New Year’s Eve.
If you’re still feeling stressed and pressed for cash
This is a great time to apply for seasonal work at retail stores, and those jobs give great discounts. Just keep in mind that there are certain black-out days (mandatory work days) which often include Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
No time to work? Taking advantage of the bookstore’s buyback season is a great way to net some (easy) cash!
As always – don’t forget to post any tips of your own in the comments!
Written by Guest Blogger, Alycia Terry