Spend smart with college budget for holiday gifting

By Kim Randall

’Tis is the season for giving, but holiday season and a college student’s funds don’t always mix.

Don’t let the broke college student blues get you down. Instead of spending tons of money on things you can’t afford, try finding ways to stretch your dollars so you can get all your loved ones the gifts you want.

The first thing to remember is not to wait until the last minute to do your shopping. Putting it off will make shopping much more stressful than it has to be. Christmas may seem far off considering it’s still the beginning of December, but a couple weeks doesn’t leave you the time you need.

By leaving shopping until the last minute, you are limiting the items you have to choose from, and you may end up scurrying frantically from store to store trying to find a needle in a haystack. Avoid that drama.

“Starting Christmas shopping early is important if you want to get the good stuff being offered,” said junior geography major Mariah Clifford. “I started Christmas shopping at the beginning of November. Then, on Black Friday, I did some more, so I’m pretty much done now.”

Giving yourself enough time to get everything you need is the best approach to holiday shopping. And considering the deals the giving season brings, it’s a no-brainer.

“I always start my shopping on Black Friday to get the good deals,” said senior communication major Gregory Bogan. “I got a 32-inch TV on sale at Walmart for only $98.”

Visit stores, browse online and compile a list of the gifts you want to give each person. In the end, you’ll appreciate having everything together ahead of time.

While going out to the store and buying gifts is easy and convenient, it doesn’t always have to be the method you use.

The point of gift-giving is to bring a smile to loved ones and show them you care. There’s no better way of showing you care than actually taking the time to make a gift.

Creating a gift makes it much more personalized and demonstrates you care enough to actually take time out of your day to make something just for them. It also helps to keep money in your pocket, which is always a plus.

“Last year I made cute little handmade scarfs and necklaces for my best friends, which they loved and thought were unique,” said Erin Phalen, senior physical therapy major.

Just let your creative juices flow and have at it. Sharing sites that specialize in do-it-yourself projects, like Pinterest, can help serve as inspiration and a tutorial for getting started if you feel stuck.

If you’re not the creative type, another way to save money is to closely review sales and special offers. I know it sounds obvious, but not everyone does this.

While stores release information about sales and holiday specials, they don’t always go to great lengths to promote additional savings. It’s up to you to look around and check out bargain deals before shopping.

Sometimes the one coupon you overlooked could make a major difference in a purchase.

While Black Friday, the mother of all sales, has passed, it doesn’t mark the end for all sales. Many places are still offering good deals in preparation for Christmas, New Year and to get rid of lingering store merchandise.

Unleash your craftiness and frugality to make for a holiday that leaves your loved ones smiling and your pockets happy.

Being a broke college student doesn’t have to leave you down in the dumps. Instead, use that lack of money to your advantage.