The holidays can often come at the worst time, financially, for college students. New loan checks may not come until the next semester. And just as funds, time and energy start to get low, the holidays come.
No need to worry! With a few creative ideas and tips, getting through the holidays with a little money still in your bank account can be done. And many of the ideas listed below are low on effort and time -- two other resources that can also be hard for college students to find at the end of the semester.
- Make gifts yourself. They can be something you create from a kit you found at a craft store; cheap frames you fill with a favorite photograph; even very personal, hand-made cards. No matter what you do, homemade gifts are often a cheaper alternative to store-bought gifts, and may even be the ones that are prized the most.
- Make a donation. Instead of allocating a certain amount of money per person, make a small donation to a non-profit organization. It can be a literacy program, an environmental group, or even a women's clinic. Either way, you'll know exactly how much you've spent, and can write in everyone's holiday cards that, in lieu of gifts this year, you decided to make a donation in honor of your family and friends.
- Package edible treats. You can quickly package cute holiday candies, cookies, and other goodies in clear bags. Decorate with colorful tags, ribbons, or stickers, and you have fun gifts that everyone will be excited to receive.
- Don't buy anything unless it's discounted. Make yourself a promise on this one, and stick with it. You might be surprised at the great deals you can find, and your gifts will be high-quality but not high-cost. Extra bonus: only you have to know you didn't pay full price.
- Set a price limit with your friends. Decide with your friends and family how much you will spend on gifts. Once that amount is set -- $5, $10, $20 -- you'd be surprised about how easy it is to find, or even make, great gifts within those limits.
- Last but not least: Make a budget and stick to it. Making a budget is probably one of the best things you can do to save money. Knowing how much you have to spend -- and staying within those limits -- is a skill that will come in handy during the holidays ... and beyond.