Have Yourself a Budget-Friendly Christmas

Photo courtesy of ValChoice.com

With the holidays right around the corner, students should consider saving money now to enjoy the Christmas season and avoid the added stress of funding holiday-related expenses. Purchasing gifts, attending Christmas light shows and going to parties or get togethers are among the many holiday activities that can quickly add up.

Junior psychology major Katrina Kier said she is working remotely to save money for the holidays to enjoy spending the Christmas break watching Christmas movies and baking with her grandma.

“I’m tutoring online to build up my savings and part of that, about 25 percent, goes towards extra spending,” Kier said. 

Although she’s been saving her money, she said she may not get to do everything she hoped for during the break. 

“I want to take my sister ice skating and my girlfriend to see the Christmas lights at the zoo, but I can’t afford to do both, because it would exceed my budget,” Kier said.

Saving enough money for the holidays can be stressful this time of the year. The Student Money Management Center aids students by teaching smart money management skills that can help reduce some of this stress.

Assistant Director of the Student Money Management Center Haley Rothrock said saving money throughout the year is important to afford holiday activities. 

“So, this is actually a great time of year for students to track their holiday expenses during the month of, even, I would say October, November and December,” Rothrock said. “Because that’s really going to help them get an idea of where their money is going and what those expenses are.”

Budgeting is all about finding a method that works best for the student, and the SMMC teaches a variety of ways to help students save money. 

“So, there are a lot of different strategies that we talk to students about,” Rothrock said. “It could be an Excel budget sheet. It could be a pen and paper. It could be a budgeting app. Sometimes it takes you trying one thing to figure out is this going to be the thing that works for me, or do I need to try something different?”

Rothrock mentioned students need to be prepared to have money for unexpected expenses in their budget. 

“You know, there’s a lot of things that we don’t think about,” Rothrock said. “For any students that work, maybe they’re having a holiday potluck and they have to bring a side dish. Well, it costs money to go to the grocery store and get things for that.”

Rothrock said just because a student is low on money doesn’t mean they can’t participate in holiday activities.

“Be creative,” Rothrock said. “This sounds very cheesy, but it is the thought that counts. It’s not necessarily the gift.”

Planning is a huge part of success, especially when it comes to the holidays. Thinking ahead and putting aside a certain amount of money to fund different activities can prevent worry later. Rothrock also encourages students to get creative in terms of how to afford going to holiday events with friends and family. 

“Maybe you and your friends want to go on a light show, like go see Christmas lights at Santa’s Wonderland or something of that nature, but the tickets are expensive,” Rothrock said. “Well maybe ask a friend or family or grandparents, instead of a Christmas gift, buy me a ticket so that I can go do this thing with my friends.”

Learning how to save and budget for upcoming holiday festivities will save you from worry and make the Christmas season a little merrier. 

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