Regardless of what holidays we choose to celebrate, November and December can be rough on budgets, especially for college students. Between travel expenses, winter break plans, going out with friends to celebrate the end of the semester, and buying gifts, we often quickly spend much more money than we may have planned.
Remember to prioritize your financial wellness, which involves setting and achieving both long and short-term personal financial goals. Everyone’s financial status and goals are different, depending on income, wealth, spending, debt, values, etc., and are situated within our society’s financial and economic context. Before rushing into the holiday season, take some time to think about your own finances. How much do you have to spend? How much do you need to save? What are the most important things for you to spend money on or save money for?
Here are some ideas to keep your budget happy this season!
- Practice mindfulness. Being mindful means paying attention to what you are doing, noticing your thoughts, sensations, and the world around you without judgment. Research shows that mindfulness can actually help you make better decisions.
- Set a budget. What’s important to you? What are you going to need/want money for? Decide what you are able to afford based on your priorities and values, and then stick to it. Check out this list of apps for budgeting tools.
- Make a list and check it twice. This will help you stay focused on what you need and avoid purchasing on impulse. Check out these strategies to avoid impulse purchases!
- Try DIY or repurposed gifts! Homemade gifts are wonderful both for your budget and for adding that personal touch to let your family and friends know how much you care. Need some inspiration? Here are some DIY gift ideas.
- Give of your time. Some of the best gifts are things you can do for or with another person. For those of us that are craft-challenged, here are some great alternatives.
- Host a potluck. If you want to get together with friends, consider having a potluck instead of going out for an expensive meal. This way, you don’t have to get everyone to agree on a restaurant, and you’ll spend a lot less.
- Be careful with credit card purchases. Having a credit card can be great for building credit, but it’s especially important during this time of the year to make sure we’re able to pay off the card on time at the end of the month. It’s also a time of year when our schedules are different than normal, so be sure to set a reminder for when you need to pay your bills. If you struggle with spending too much when you use a credit card, try only taking cash when you go shopping.
The end of the semester can be stressful with exams and final papers, and worrying about money can just make everything more complicated. Do yourself a favor and lessen some of the stress by prioritizing your financial wellness!