Buying on a Budget

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 nomonetstressful. 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!

Christmas Pretzels

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

   TOTAL: $14.13



  1. Place pretzels on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, and place one kiss (unwrapped) in the middle of each pretzel.
  2. Place in oven set at 200 degrees for about 2-3 minutes or just until kisses have softened
  3. Remove from oven and gently push an m&m into the top of each kiss
  4. 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.







Healthy Skin

Healthy Skin

By Morgan Karasek

November is National Healthy Skin Month, and with winter rapidly major effects on your skin start to happen due to the temperature. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and its job is to not only interact with other organs, but also the world around you. It prevents dehydration by holding in moisture, keeps your body temperature constant, contains nerve endings so you feel hot, and it keeps you healthy by protecting your body against harmful bacteria and viruses. With all of these awesome things that your skin does, it is important you take care of it, especially during the winter months when the weather can be especially harmful.

1. Beware of the sun: skin damage can happen during any season, not justeletubbiest the summer like some may think. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause damage to your skin in the form of wrinkles, discolored areas, benign tumors, and the most dangerous skin cancer malignant melanoma. Use sunscreen, stay in the shade, and wear protective clothing when going out into the sunshine.

2. Don’t smoke: No, it doesn’t look cool, unless you consider having older and winkled kjbpskin to be cool. Smoking causes your skin to look older. It narrows the tiny blood vessels in your face causing a decrease in blood flow to you skin, lacking it of nutrient that give your skin that healthy glow. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin which are what makes your skin so strong and stretchy. When you damage your collagen and elastin and make repetitive facial expressions such as when you smoke, it causes wrinkles.

3. Eat healthy and drink water: Eating fruits and vegetables proteins and whole wheat grains can help your skin because healthy foods contain vitamins and antioxidants that keep your skin clear and healthy such as vitamin C.miz

4. Manage your stress: distress, the negative form of stress, can cause your skin to become more sensitive and prone to acne breakouts. To prevent this, set reasonable limits to whatever is stressing you out and take time out of your day to do what you enjoy.




Holidays & Alcohol

Holidays & Alcohol

By Callie Hilbert

As we approach the last week of the semester and then the dreaded finals week, the holiday season also approaches!! If you will be celebrating with friends and family after putting a grueling semester behind you, it’s important to remember to be safe for those of you who choose to drink over the holidays. Here are some tips on how to avoid risky situations and be safe when drinking over the holidays. Remember, if you are under 21 your only safe and legal alternative is to abstain from drinking.

1. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead before you go out is essential. Before you go out decide your limits, how much you will drink, do you want to have sex, do you have protection, transportation. It’s also important to make sure you keep your phone on you in case of an emergency, and make sure it is fully charged or bring a charger with you. You also want to make sure you stay with your group and look out for each other.

2. Know how much you are drinking

Knowing how different types of alcohol can affect you is important in planning ahead as well. Some types of alcohol may have stronger and faster affects, and a mixed drink may have more alcohol than you realize. Knowing what a standard drink is can help you determine what your limits are. One standard drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, and 1 once of 100 proof liquor, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor. Mixing alcohol with energy drinks can be dangerous since caffeine can mask the effects of alcohol which could lead to more risky behaviors. You should also never leave your drink unattended.standard-drink-picture

3. Space, Pace, Sip

In other words, limit yourself to a certain amount of drinks during a certain time-period, aka don’t slam drinks! Moderation is key to safe drinking, and keeping track of how much you are drinking helps you know your limits to prevent risky situations.

4. Skip Drinking Games!

This goes along with pacing yourself. Drinking games may be fun, but playing them can get you very drunk very quickly, just not a good idea!

5. Eat Before Drinking

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the ratio of alcohol to blood in the body. Your BAC increases as you drink more alcohol, and a higher BAC causes you to experience the negative effects of drinking (blacking out, passing out, vomiting). Drinking on an empty stomach causes BAC to rise very quickly, so it is important to eat before you drink. Eating before, during, and after drinking slows down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the blood so you get intoxicated less quickly.

6. Dress Appropriately

We live in Wisconsin, it gets cold! Make sure you are dressing warm whenever you go outside. Often times you hear people say alcohol makes them feel warmer. While consuming alcohol may make you feel warmer, it doesn’t really keep you warm or prevent hypothermia. Instead, drinking alcohol actually lowers your body’s core temperature. So dress weather appropriate!

7. Stay Hydrated!

Make sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated before, during, and after you go out. Alcohol is a diuretic so it can cause you to become dehydrated. Alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, bringing a water bottle, or just remembering to drink water throughout the night can help prevent dehydration, and it will help you not feel as terrible the next morning.

Some of us like to celebrate the end of the year holidays and the beginning of the new year with drinking. Being safe and avoiding risky situations will help you enjoy the holidays. For more information, see alcohol resources on the student health services website here; and have a happy holiday!





game changer

Long time, no see! Ashlea here, your friendly neighborhood SWAT member, writing a blog post about the biggest game changer ever: THE INTERNAL CONDOM. Some of you might know this better as the “female” condom, but this implies that the condom is gendered and can only be used by people who identify as “female”- excluding trans, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer and gender-fluid folks- so we like to use the term “internal” instead!


An internal condom works very similarly to an external condom (more commonly known as just a “condom”); it can protect against both pregnancy and STI transmission which makes it an ideal contraceptive for many. Another plus is that many internal condoms are made from polyurethane or nitrile, so anyone out there with a latex allergy or sensitivity can safely use this product. This contraception option is often chosen because if a partner won’t wear a condom, you as a receptive have the power to still protect yourself against pregnancy/STIs with this wonderful invention. They also look very similar to an external condom, except that:

  1. the base of the internal condom contains an actual ring made from flexible plastic, where the external condom just has a thin “ring” of latex (or whatever material it’s made of), and
  2. where there is a reservoir at the tip of the external condom, the internal condom has a smaller ring that will sit against the cervix when inserted into a vagina. Other than that, they look and function just about the same!


insteTo insert an internal condom, pinch the smaller ring that will sit against the cervix and insert it into the vagina. Make sure to push it back as far against the cervix as you can so that it stays in place for the duration of your fun! A nice benefit of this contraception is that you can insert the internal condom hours prior to sexual intercourse! Internal condoms can also be used for anal sex, which is another reason why we remove “female” from the label! It is suggested to remove the inner ring that would otherwise sit against the cervix before intercourse.internal

Now, for the “game changer” part (at least in my opinion as well as some of the opinions I found of many people online): These condoms help reduce friction (and therefore discomfort) for the receptive partner compared to when their partner wears an external condom!!! Sure, use all the lube you want, but some degree of friction happens no matter how much you lube up. When using the internal condom, it lays flat against the walls of the vagina (or anus) and reduces the amount of friction experience during intercourse. And let me tell you, less friction = a happier body.



But now for the tricky part: internal condoms are not widely available at drugstores, or anywhere for that matter… WHAT THE HECK, CONDOM COMPANIES?! You’d think that with the seemingly millions of external condom brands out there that at least one would have thought by now how great of an idea it would be to profit from the internal condom market, but alas, no such luck. FC2, the only FDA approved brand for internal condoms, manufactures internal condoms for health centers around the country, especially Planned Parenthoods and Eau Claire’s own Family Planning Clinic inside of the City-County Health Department.


There are a few ways around this mega-inconvenience. The easiest way is to visit our office in Schofield 26! We receive our stock of internal condoms from the Family Planning Clinic, meaning that the Family Planning Clinic also has these available for purchase- but in our office they are free to you! Another way to score some for free is to visit Planned Parenthood in Eau Claire like I mentioned above.



If you have any additional questions about the internal condom, please don’t hesitate to contact our office by stopping in Schofield 26 or emailing us at You can also visit for more information on the internal condom along with many other different kinds of contraceptive options!


Stay safe, Blugolds!!





Spice Up Your Water

Spice Up Your H2O!

By: Ashlea Orth


I know this is going to sound weird but… I hate water. There, I said it. I’m used to getting all kinds of surprised reactions from people when I tell them this confession. “How can you NOT like water?!” “But water is so good for you!!” Yeah, yeah, people, I know. But that doesn’t make it taste any better! Since there’s nothing to it taste-wise, I don’t have a physical desire to drink water. Sure, I get thirsty, but I’d rather drink ginger ale, juice, soy milk, ANYTHING but water. This summer, I made a commitment to myself to drink more water. Like, a lot more. According to my height, weight, and activity level, I should be drinking about 91 ounces of water PER DAY. That’s a lot of water for someone who hates drinking it.


Luckily, naturally-flavored sparkling water exists, but in my opinion it’s kind of expensive when compared to the free water that I can get from the faucet in my apartment or any of the various drinkinga2 fountains found around campus. And I’d rather not add any kind of flavoring to it like Crystal Light or Mio because I know that that stuff is just a bunch of sugar, and if I’m trying to drink more water and make healthier choices, added flavoring like that is not going to help me out.


So I went to Target and bought a huge Nalgene 48 oz water bottle (it literally towers over average-ounce water bottles, shown below with 48 oz on the left and 32 oz on the right) and tried really hard to drink two of those every day. But buying a huge water bottle didn’t make me want to drink the water inside it any a3more than before. I even downloaded an Water Drink Reminder app to my phone that sends me a reminder every hour (or as often as you want) to drink water. This helps a little bit, but I still thought of drinking water as a chore.


Eventually, I thought to add lemons to my water. I grew up watching my mom ordering water with a lemon at restaurants, so I decided to give it a go. I noticed that since my water now had flavor, I actually wanted to drink it! So, for the rest of the summer, my water contained lemons, cucumber, and even blueberries (though not all at the same time, but to each their own!) and I was usually able to reach my goal of drinking about 96 ounces of water a day.


Once the school year started and my schedule became much busier than my summer schedule, I slacked on reaching my daily water goal. But now I’m back to adding lemons to my water and peeing every hour (TMI??)! And adding fruit to your water actually has some health benefits to go along with the benefit of turning your boring old water into something tasty.

lemo.jpgAdding lemons and limes to your water can help your digestive system as well as help detox your liver the healthy way.

Apples are loaded with iron and are conveniently available year-round, so this makes for an easy fruit to add to your water.  

Blueberries and strawberries are full of antioxidants.

Grapefruit helps flush toxins and waste from your body’s cells.greap.jpg

Oranges are known for being a great source of vitamin C, which keeps your immune system healthy and strong.

Cucumber and mint leaves make for a very refreshing summer drink and also contain vitamins like B-5 and other antioxidants.

If you’re feeling extra bold, mix a bunch of different fruits together!



For any of you other water-haters out there, I hope this inspires you to add some kick to your water! And to you water-lovers, this is going to bring your hydration game to a whole new level.