Getting creative helps stretch Christmas budget

 

Students’ wallets begin to weep this time of the year.

College students often have a small budget and a long list of gifts to purchase. With Christmas quickly approaching, many students are looking for ways to maximize their limited resources when it comes to Christmas gifts.

Shopping wisely and budgeting well is not always easy, especially during the Christmas season.

Shopping wisely and budgeting well is not always easy, especially during the Christmas season. (Photo by Autumn Berry)

“It doesn’t help that media saturates us with consumerist commercials right now,” said Patty Little, director of the Center for Student Success. “Everybody is trying to get us to buy something.”

With some creativity and time, however, it can be done.

One way to prepare for Christmas shopping is to plan early and set aside a small amount of money frequently throughout the year. With the money set aside, decide how much to spend on each person and stick to that limit.

Even if there is not a fund specifically set aside for Christmas shopping, there are plenty of other ways to shop wisely. Comparing prices between stores or online and taking advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday can help you find the best deals on an item.

“I do comparing,” said Matt Shoup, sophomore communication arts major. “I’ll look through the Black Friday catalog and then I’ll look at Amazon and Ebay and Overstock.com. Usually the deals in the stores are a lot better.”

Amy Ford, sophomore community and public health promotion major, searches the local stores for sales and coupons.

“I’m a big believer in not just going out and shopping when you know what you want, but when the store you are getting it from is having a sale,” Ford said. “Wait for the sales, wait for the coupons.”

Searching for sales and coupons can be made easier by signing up for a store’s email list through its website. The store will email you when a sale is coming up and may even send out coupons to help you save a little extra.

Homemade gifts are often less expensive and, when coupled with sales and coupons for the supplies, can help stretch a budget even further. Many websites offer inspiration for homemade Christmas gifts.

“I’ve learned that a lot of really great ideas can come from Pinterest,” said Andrea Maier, sophomore early childhood education major. “I can come up with some really great ideas for gifts for friends that are really cute and fun and festive but don’t cost a lot of money.”

Finding resourceful ways to give gifts can also help save money. Websites such as elfster.com offer services to plan a gift exchange online that allows everyone to buy for one other person in the group without feeling obligated to buy a gift for every friend or family member.

Shoup finds ways to save on Christmas shopping by splitting the cost of Christmas gifts with his sister.

“Purchasing a gift with somebody else and going in on the same gift is going to be the biggest savings,” Shoup said.

With some planning, creativity, and thoughtfulness, gifts can be personal and meaningful without making your wallet weep this Christmas season.

 

Alexis Kreiner is a contributing writer for the Aviso AVW.

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