The Dos and Don’ts of Holiday Budgeting: College Edition

The holidays are approaching and if you are anything like me, you are extremely unprepared for a season of spending and gift giving. Most college students live on a loose budget which is characterized by fixed tuition payments and a varying income. Not having a fixed income makes it difficult to budget; you cannot plan out how much money you to allot to gift buying when you do not know how much money you will have. This is even more difficult around the holiday season when people are worried about buying plane tickets and spending money celebrating your last bit of freedom after finals before you must return home. But it’s still possible, here’s the dos and don’ts of budgeting for the holidays as a college student.

Save Save Save:


Saving does not have to just mean putting money into a savings account, it can also mean making smart spending decision. Like avoiding the mall, not just because they are an absolute nightmare during the holidays but also because the mall is a money trap. You can find much better deals at off-price retailer stores and thrift stores.

            Look for bargains and sales! If you have a store that you frequently shop at, add yourself to their email list. Even if every email goes to your spam, when the time comes you can search through those emails and find deals that will help you save. These days Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals last for weeks, take advantage of that! Additionally, if you are a fan of online shopping, download the Honey extension. Honey is an app that automatically applies the best coupon codes and discounts to your cart when online shopping.

            Don’t be afraid to get creative with your gifts. What is the love language of the person receiving your gift? If it’s quality time, plan a day where you just spend time with them. Sometimes a Harry Potter Marathon while eating your favorite treats is much better than any store-bought gift.


            Avoid buying all your gifts on credit cards and telling yourself you will pay the credit card bill later…it never happens. Don’t let holiday spending be the reason you’re in debt.



            Keep track of your holiday plans and write them down in your calendar or planner! Being booked and busy during the holidays is not abnormal: maybe you are doing Secret Santa within your friend group, white elephant at your jobs’ Christmas party, and still have to buy gifts for your family and friends. Keeping track of your plans allow you to plan in advance. Every time you open your planner you can be reminded of the fact that you have still not gotten your sister the sun lamp from Tiktok that said she wanted. This encourages you to act fast which also helps you save on your gifts.


            Avoid putting your holiday shopping off. Waiting until the last minute to buy your gifts won’t only hurt the gift recipient who now cannot get their sun lamp because they are all sold out, but it will also hurt your wallet because as holidays approach prices increase.

            Additionally, don’t plan to buy gifts for everyone you know. Make your own “Naughty” or “Nice” Lists and limit the number of gifts you’re buying for people outside of your immediate family. An important part of holiday budgeting is being realistic. While some people might have to buy presents for the whole world, you certainly do not have to.

            Holiday budgeting is learned skill. It takes discipline, planning, and effort. As students our main focus should be making it through finals and getting some much needed rest and relaxation. Adhering to this list of dos and don’ts will ensure that you save money while also engaging in the holiday spirit of giving.

Written by Treasure Welle

Treasure is one of our peer mentors. You can book a 1:1 appointment with her or our other peer mentorts to discuss all of your holiday budgeting plans!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: