However much you love the holidays, there’s one thing you definitely don’t look forward to: exceeding your budget on gifts. Avoid stress this year by following some basic money-saving tips.
1. Decide How Much You Can Afford
Look at your monthly budget and decide how much of it you can afford to allocate to gifts. It’s important to do this before you start buying anything — otherwise, you may end up spending almost your entire budget on a couple people and have nothing left for everyone else. Also determine who you want to give gifts to. If you want to purchase more expensive presents for some people than others, come up with a rough amount of how much you’ll spend on each individual.
2. Spread Out Your Holiday Shopping
Start buying gifts as early as possible. This will enable you to use a portion of a couple months’ budget rather than needing to find the whole amount you need at once. If you won’t be seeing some family members or friends until the beginning of next year, you can even wait to buy gifts until after the holidays.
3. Organize a Gift Exchange with Friends
An easy way to save money on buying gifts for friends is to arrange some kind of gift exchange. You could do a Secret Santa, where each person in the group is anonymously assigned someone else to buy a gift for, or a White Elephant, where you all bring one gift and everyone chooses one to take at random.
Either way, you’ll have the freedom to spend a decent amount on one gift instead of needing to buy a large number of small gifts. If most of your friends are college students as well, the likelihood is they are also strapped for cash and will appreciate this idea.
4. Make Your Gifts
You’ll spend even less if you make your gifts. Plus, an added benefit is that your presents will have more meaning to the recipients. If you know how to knit or crochet, you can make great gifts like scarves, hats, or socks. Alternatively, you could collect some photos from over the years to create a memory book or make cosmetics — bath bombs can be particularly impressive, but they’re cheap and easy to make.
5. Save Money on Holiday Activities
Gift giving is just one expense you face over the holidays; another major one is holiday activities with friends and family. However, there are plenty of things you can do that cost little or nothing. For instance, you could have a movie night at home, go for a drive around your neighbourhood to see the light displays, or have a potluck dinner with friends instead of going to a restaurant.
You’ll save money year round if you move into an off-campus apartment. The Niagara College student housing at Foundry Lofts is comfortable and convenient with a range of great amenities — from free yoga classes and a 45-seat movie theatre to a WiFi-equipped study lounge. Apply now to join the waitlist for next year.