The Best Ways to Buy on a College Budget Holiday Edition
The Holidays are a time of giving no matter what sort of celebrations you engage in or choose to observe and if you’re a college student that can make this time of the year stressful. We’ve all had those “I don’t have any groceries…or money” moments and when you can barely buy food it can be tough to buy gifts for the one’s you love and appreciate. If you find yourself in this situation or just want to save a few bucks this season you’ve come to the right place!
With some creativity, holiday spirit and only a little money you can check off getting a gift for everyone on your list.
Skip the Black Friday Stampedes and Shop the Dollar Store or Other Discount Store
The dollar store is deals galore. Have someone who likes sentimental gifts? Stores like The Dollar Tree have super cheap picture frames that you can personalize with sharpies, stickers, glitter, holiday bows or anything you might have laying around and then either print a picture of you and that person together or have one developed at photo kiosk (which is also only about 50 cents for a 4×6 print) and voila! You have a unique and thoughtful gift that only cost you a few dollars.
The Dollar store also has things like cups and wine glasses you can also personalize or maybe grab a few little trinkets that reflect on an inside joke or fun memory you share with that person.
Merchandise at places like The Dollar Tree also changes week to week and with the seasons, so shop around a little and be creative with what you can do with only three or four dollars per person! Other stores to check are Dollar General, Big Lots or the clearance aisles at craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby
The way to ANYONE’S heart is through their stomach, and the cost of one batch of special and delicious cookies or holiday treat divided by the number of loved ones on your list will come out to a number your budget can handle!
One of my favorite treats to make around the holidays is easy, cheap, and cute to hand out as a gift!
1 bag of pretzel rings = $3.00
1 bag of hugs candy kisses= $2.98
1 bag of peppermint striped candy kisses= $2.98
1 bag of m&m’s= $3.19
cellophane gift bags= $0.99
curling ribbon= $0.99
- Place pretzels on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, and place one kiss (unwrapped) in the middle of each pretzel.
- Place in oven set at 200 degrees for about 2-3 minutes or just until kisses have softened
- Remove from oven and gently push an m&m into the top of each kiss
- Place in refrigerator until firm
Once they’re all done put about 10-12 in each little holiday bag, tie with a piece of ribbon and you’ve just covered everyone on your list for under $4! This will work with any homemade treat and is sure to please! You can also keep baking even more low cost if you bake using ingredients you already have in your cupboards like flour, sugar etc. that you might use to make treats like frosted cookies!
Okay, I know some of you right now are thinking “I have not one creative bone in my body and I am a disaster in the kitchen” and that’s okay! If you are the type of person that relies on buying gifts that don’t involve getting crafty or cooking, there are still ways to keep things low cost.
Take advantage of Holiday Freebies, 2/For, BOGO, and Other Deals
On black Friday retailers LOVE to hand out free things to their guests, items like blankets stuffed animals, lotions and perfumes. Stores also love to have deals that are 2/for, 3/for or Buy one, get one. Bath & Body Works is notorious for things like buy three, get three free on lotion, hand soaps, candles, etc. All of which can be great gifts for Mom, Grandma, siblings, friends or roommates.
If you aren’t willing to brave the sales, here are some tips that will still help you stay within your budget buying online or when the stores are less crazed.
Determine How much you want or can afford to spend
Put a limit on your Christmas spending, maybe you can only afford to spend $50 or you want to keep your budget under $200; then take that amount and divide it up among the people you need to buy gifts for and who you are willing to either spend more or less on. People like your roommates or friends are likely in the same budget boat you are, so buying a smaller or cheaper gift might be more reasonable and you may want to spend more on someone like a parent or grandparent.
Once you put a number on your holiday spending or your budget for a certain person, STICK TO IT. The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year but the rest of your year won’t be nearly as wonderful if you overspent on gifts.
Know When You’ve Found the Perfect Gift
Sometimes the perfect gift is small, sometimes it’s cheap and often it is only one item. Buying someone only one item doesn’t mean that the reason you bought that gift is any less meaningful that a huge expensive gift or 500 different gifts. If you are determined to only buy one item for each person on your list, you’ll be more likely to stay within your budget. Also if you find the perfect item and by your luck its cheaper than the amount you had budgeted, don’t feel like you need to spend the extra money leftover, save it, or spend on someone else.
One last thought, remember who you’re buying for, most likely it’s loved ones, people you care about and people who care about you. They’ll understand that sometimes money is tight and will appreciate whatever you have to offer even if it is just your love or presence around the holidays.