It's officially the most wonderful (and expensive) time of the year! Time to deck the halls, and deck your wallets because 'tis the season to be broke. If you're a poor college student like me, you know the struggle. I love gift-giving. It's one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. For me, there's nothing more gratifying than picking out the perfect gift for someone I love. Nothing makes me happier than seeing their face light up when they open the gift that I picked out just for them. Now it's not easy buying quality presents when you're balling on a waitress's budget, but I've cultivated a collection of shopping tips and tricks that have saved me hundreds over the past few years. Here's my college student's guide to saving a little extra cash this holiday season!
1. Set a budget.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you have no idea how easy it is to go overboard when you're scoring holiday deals and sales left and right. Tell yourself you're only going to spend X amount of money this year and stick to it. That way you won't be so surprised or have buyer's remorse when you check your bank balance on December 26.
2. Start shopping early.
A lot of stores start their holiday sales in October! If you start picking up a gift here or there early on, you won't be rushed to buy all of your gifts at one time a week before Christmas, and your wallet won't be suffering from a bunch of expenses at one time.
3. Online shop.
Online shopping is the way to go, people. I have saved so much money through online sales and promotions. I receive emails from all of my favorite stores for all of their sales and holiday deals, and let me tell you, they are some deals out there to be had. Avoid the lines and the risk of stores going out of stock and shop online.
4. Download "Honey"
Honey.com is my new best friend! Honey is a free add-on you can download to your desktop browser that reviews your online shopping cart and automatically adds every single online coupon possible to your order. There are thousands of coupon codes out there that no one even knows about, except for Honey! Honey has saved me so much money this year, I honestly don't know how I ever shopped without it. Download Honey at joinhoney.com!
5. Give a homemade gift.
Homemade gifts are the perfect way to show someone you care for them because it says, "Hey I took the time to make something really special for you, all on my own." People love to know you had them in mind when gift-giving! It's so much more personal than just giving a gift card, and it's a lot cheaper too!
6. Buy last season's electronics.
If you're looking to buy something really expensive like an Apple Watch or a new iPhone, consider buying last year's model. Odds are they perform the exact same way, and they'll be a lot cheaper than the brand new editions.
7. Go in on a gift with someone else.
My sisters and I will often pool our money together to get one big gift for our parents. It's nice because then we can buy something really special that we know our parents will love, and we get to do it together! That's what makes it all the more special.
8. Set a price cap with the people you're exchanging gifts with.
This will help you avoid potential awkwardness when someone buys you a really expensive gift and you made them a homemade coupon book. Set a cap saying that no one will spend more than X amount of dollars and that way you can control the amount of money you're pouring into other people.