Surviving Christmas on a student budget

Christmas is a whole different kettle of fish these days. Remember when all you had to think about were gifts for mum, dad and siblings? Now you’re an adult you might feel you want to buy presents for all your friends and extended family, head on every night out between now and the end of semester, and organise your own student Christmas Day. The trouble is, you just don’t have the cash to do all this. Life as a student is tight enough without worrying about Christmas, so here are a few tips to help you through.

Create a budget

This might seem quite a boring thing to do, but you’ll thank yourself in the long-run. By working out exactly what you have to spend, you can then decide how many gifts you’ll buy, how much to spend on each, and just how many nights out and Christmas parties you can afford to attend. No matter how much you might want to, you can’t attend everything and buy for everyone, so a budget will help you prioritise the things you’ll most want to spend your money on.

Beware of Christmas ‘deals’

The spontaneous festive purchase can be a dangerous one – too many can land you in unnecessary debt with stuff you didn’t actually need in the first place. Special offers aren’t always as special as they first seem. Always do an online price check to see if you can buy the same thing cheaper elsewhere. And if you do buy something on the spot, keep the receipt and make sure you can return it for if you later realise you’ve spent unwisely.

Look for seasonal work

There are plenty of places needing workers over the Christmas period. Store assistants, shelf stackers, delivery drivers – they’re all needed in abundance over the next few weeks. And the extra graft might just give you the cash you need to buy everything you want this year. Alternatively, you could take out a student loan which you can pay back when your next student loan instalment comes in. There are loans for students with poor credit ratings, as well as good ones.

Do Secret Santa

You might be part of a large group who all hang out together, and feel you need to buy something for everyone. But just think how expensive that’d be! Instead, suggest doing Secret Santa, then everyone will get a gift and everyone saves money. You won’t be the only one delighted with that outcome!

You may be worried about the extra expense at Christmas time. And the fact is, so will most of your peers. Chat it over with them and you’ll discover everyone’s keen to cut costs while still having a great time. A student Christmas party needn’t be the elaborate affair you enjoyed as a child, but rather a great excuse for everyone to get together, have a meal, wear silly jumpers and enjoy the merriest of Christmases.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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