Like most people my age, every time I check my bank account, I have to take a number of measures to prevent myself from bursting into tears. I often find that, to avoid a true meltdown, I must put on some Enya to soothe myself, take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and hope for the best. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
This method becomes particularly ineffective during December, otherwise known as the holiday season. The happiest time of the year, yes, but also, for many of us, the brokest time of the year. You have to get presents for your family. Your friends. Your teachers, if you are a suck-up (like me). Those random acquaintances from class who you really don’t want to get a present for, but are probably getting one for you. Plus, there are random friend get-togethers–New Year’s, Secret Santa, etc.–and outfits that you probably have to get for all of these events. By the time you’ve gotten everything together–even if you buy the cheapest presents you can think of—your bank account probably looks a little more, ahem, sparse than usual. Hence the tears, despite all of your best calming efforts.
Sound familiar? It’s okay. It happens to us all. And I’m really not trying to stress you out here–I really think that, together, we can make 2016 the year of No More (Banking) Tears. Here are some cool ways for you actually save some money, even over the bank account-draining time that is the holiday season:
Decide How Much You Want To SpendThe word "budget" can sound scary, but trust me, it's your friend. Check out your bank account ahead of time, suss out what's in there, and figure out how much you can afford to spend. And stick to it! Writing it down will help. Image source:iStock
Follow Santa's ExampleMake a list, check it twice, etc. Decide who you're getting presents for and what you want to give them. This will help align you with your holiday season budget with a good amount of balance--you won't accidentally blow 75% of your budget on one present, leaving the rest of your list with a disappointing 5% each. Image source:iStock
Give As Many DIY Presents As PossibleThere are a bunch of super cute DIY presents that will satisfy pretty much anyone and will be friendly on your wallet. Image source:iStock
Utilize Your Student IDIf you must buy some of your presents, make sure you hit up stores that let you get a discount for being a student. Stores like ASOS, J. Crew, Madewell, and more offer seriously sweet student discounts. Image source:iStock
Get A JobNot to sound like your crabby uncle, but if you don't already have one, see if you can pick up a job around the holidays! A lot of stores need gift wrappers around this time, so if you're a whiz with wrapping paper, this is a great temporary job. You can also pick up a few extra babysitting gigs or see if any friends and family have anywhere for you to work. Image source:iStock
Play Secret SantaSecret Santa is seriously any broke girl's BFF, because the pressure of gift-giving gets transferred from the actual gift to the presentation of it. Set up a game with a five-to-ten-dollar limit and have a low-key party where everyone gives out their gifts. Plus, it's just super fun. Image source:iStock
Don't Buy Stuff For YourselfThis can be tough--especially if you feel as though you simply cannot live without a new dress for New Year's--but resist the urge to buy a lot of stuff for yourself. Think about how you'll be getting new stuff soon enough, anyway. Plus, if you really need something new, see if you can organize a temporary clothing swap with your friends. Their stuff will seem new to you (and vice versa)! Image source:iStock
Ask For Money Or Gift Cards As PresentsOkay, this might not be "saving" money, per se, but it works. Instead of asking for things that you'll never use, ask for money or gift cards to a store you know you'll like. This way, you'll definitely use it--and you'll feel a lot better about the state of your bank account post-holidays. Just remember to send a thank you note! Image source:iStock
Is saving money over the holidays hard for you? Did I forget any good money-saving tips? Let us know in the comments!