How to Afford the Holiday Season: 5 Tips From a Broke College Student

3:52 PM

Life is expensive in general but the holidays are especially so. For a person like me who loves to give, it's hard to have to limit myself. Here are a few ideas I've developed over the years to make the holidays a little easier on my wallet.

1. Do most of your holiday entertaining at Starbucks (or another coffee shop) and just buy a simple cup of coffee/tea. 
Meeting someone for lunch means spending anywhere from $10-$15 easily. Having someone over at your house means usually providing an entire meal, drinks, and dessert for your guests as well as a gift. Keep it simple. A cup of coffee is around $2.

2. Go Thrift Shopping
Make an outing to Salvation Army with some friends to search for some crazy Christmas sweaters. Funny sweaters make great gag gifts and you may even find some pieces to upcycle into some gifts! I love to search for paintings (to paint over) and frames (to paint and add my own photos to) for an easy project that makes a thoughtful gift!

3. Do a Secret Santa
It's expensive to give a gift to everyone in your friend group, office, team, etc. Doing a secret santa or another simple gift exchange can eliminate a large amount of gifts you'll have to give. For example, my three closest friends and I are doing a secret santa so I only have to give one gift now instead of three. 

4. Fill Out Online Surveys to Earn Cash/ Gift Cards
Websites such as swagbucks,, etc. offer opportunities to earn points to use towards gift cards and other bonuses. I was able to get a gift card for every member of my family this year 

5. Give the Gift of Time
Remember giving your parents coupon books for Mother's Day and Father's Day for things such a washing dishes, breakfast in bed, etc.? This is a perfect time to bring those back! Give coupons to friends for activities and experiences such as a spa night, video game session, movie marathon (let them choose the movie!), etc. 


Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy New Years and whatever else you may celebrate :) Once the holidays are over, Personal Capital's financial tools can help you stay on track in the new year!

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