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5 holiday budgeting tips for college students

5 holiday budgeting tips for college students

How to celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank

November 24, 2021 at 11:38am

‘Tis the season of giving, indeed! The National Retail Federation expects the average American to spend $997.73 on gifts and other holiday expenses this year.

The holiday season runs from November thru December and includes four major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Gift-giving is a major part of celebrating the holidays. But it can also break the bank if you’re not careful.

“Most college students in general need to be mindful of their expenses, especially medical students who face significant student debt,” said Alberto Diaz, assistant director of financial assistance at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. “They have to account for those added expenses like holiday travel to visit family and friends, and buying gifts.”

To address this, the College of Medicine’s Office of Financial Assistance created a short video that includes five holiday-budgeting tips for its medical students. But, it’s helpful information for everyone.

  1. Create a holiday budget
    Set up a budget for gifts, décor, and holiday gatherings. Plan to spend no more than 1% to 1.5% of your gross income. So, if your income is $40K/year, you should look to spend between $400 to $500. If it’s $20K, aim to spend no more than $200 to $300.
  2. Create a gift list
    Prepare a list of those you will be gifting and assign a dollar amount to each one. And track your spending. There are several free apps to help you track expenses, including Microsoft Excel and or Google Sheets. 
  3. Host potlucks
    Save money on parties by hosting potlucks and similar holiday festivities. If exchanging gifts, consider doing White Elephant or secret Santa.
  4. Homemade gifts
    If you’re tight on your budget, consider making your own gifts. It will save you money and will be a personally meaningful gift for the recipient.
  5. Look for sales!
    Start shopping early! Make sure to look for deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Price match when possible. And always look for discounts.

If holiday budgeting stresses you out, remember that there is much more to the holidays than gift-giving. Instead, consider simply sharing your time, love, and kindness. They’re free and priceless.