How to Survive Christmas and New Year on a Student Budget
Christmas has never been cheap time of year, but as a student you feel that intensity a little more than most. There are generally good reasons for this, for example by this time in the academic year you’ve generally got into the swing of things study-wise and had the opportunity to celebrate with friends, what with this not traditionally being a deadline heavy time of year.
This can lead you to take your eye off the ball and massively overspend, so here are some tips to find ways around this.
Are you throwing a house party?
The best way to make a party look cheap and lacklustre is to get Tesco economy beer, which not only costs very little, but it tastes and looks cheap too. Not quite the image you’re trying to project. The answer’s simple, just shop at Aldi or Lidl, who take quality seriously, for a fraction of the price. What's brilliant is its beverage packaging, which thanks to these not actually being supermarket own brands look considerably more high brow than a drink selection from the usual suspects. No wonder Tesco and Sainsbury’s are feeling the heat...
Too many parties?
Everyone has to deal with multiple celebrations at Christmas, what with socials, family events and whatever other scheduled reunions rear their ugly heads. As a student this is sent into overdrive as it’s the time of year you realise how friendship groups based on study and social situations mount up, and if you’re lucky you’ll find yourself being invited to multiple festive gatherings.
It makes sense to keep this in mind at each celebration you attend, not only are you going to see these people again very soon (both after Christmas and probably at some of the later parties) but people are already in a good mood, so buying an expensive round at the bar really isn’t necessary. Drink halves and keep yourself entertained by contributing to the atmosphere through talking, this way you’ll be drinking socially rather than using it as an expensive social aid.
Shop in January
Another way to reduce spending at Christmas is to start your Christmas shopping in the January sales and keep it at the back of your mind all year. This is to prevent the financial burden caused by compressing all your present spending into the month leading up to the event, which creates an annual financial burden that you could really do without. Feeling obliged to think about Christmas too long before the event used to really bother me but these days I find I actually enjoy the event more if I have been sensible and got all the preparations out of the way before winter sets in.
Do you really need to spend £££ on presents?
This brings us to a festive money saving tip that could sound like a cliché to some. Presents do not need to be expensive, you just need to demonstrate that you know and care about your loved ones by getting them something heartfelt and special that reflects their needs.
Instead of going into a spending panic, put aside some serious time to go to charity and pound shops. This won’t necessarily make you look stingy, because if you think hard about what makes the recipient happy, there is nothing more special than a pre-loved present that ticks every box. Of course at this late stage of the game you’re relying on luck to get this one highlight present, so buy multiple charity shop gifts and they will not only be distracted by the humour of opening a series of lovingly wrapped parcels featuring an assembly of books, games and ornaments, but will see the whole event as a thoughtful experience.
Get a job
Christmas is a really good time to have a part time job. You get some extra cash (and a chance to get away from the family for a bit!).
Seasonal staff are generally not always regarded quite so favourably, although you can guarantee shop shifts will be busy, so it offers a good opportunity to demonstrate that you can be dependable in peak shifts, meaning you could earn more if you continue the job after Christmas. Employment isn’t the only way to gain an income; our make money page has some really useful links to get a bit of extra pocket money coming in.
All of these tips have one thing in common, that this is a time to show people you are thinking of them (and you don't have to spend a fortune - or anything to do it!). People worth knowing don’t make judgements on what you spend, but on the sincerity of your gestures. So keep this in mind and have a prudent Christmas!