It’s that time of year again, the mixed blessing of the holiday season. Sure, you love getting some much needed time off to spend with friends and family and showing them how much you appreciate their presence in your life by finding the perfect gift. Unfortunately that also means you’ve got less money coming in than usual and more money going out; not a good combination if you’re already strapped for cash and trying to pay down your student debt. Here are a few tips to help you save this year, leaving you free to enjoy this season of peace and joy.
1. Separate Necessities From Luxuries
Hugely important to any good budget is having a fixed sum that you know will cover your necessities: rent, food, heat, etc. That money you don’t touch, it’s set aside to keep you warm and hopefully well fed. Once you’ve separated that out, it’d easier to look at your luxury money with new, enlightened eyes: you now know you have X sum of money to spend however you like. Just think back to being a kid with allowance money: do you want to spend this week’s fun-budget on treats from your local coffee shop or maybe check out the hot new holiday drama?
2. Once You’ve Made Your Budget: Stick To It!
So you’ve separated your luxuries from your necessities, you’ve given yourself a weekly allowance and everything looks great on paper. Where a lot of us run into trouble is maintaining the resolve to follow that impeccably reasoned budget when out there in the real world. Intellectually, you may know you can’t afford to join your friends for dinner today because you went to the movies yesterday, but in the moment it’s hard to resist. Discipline is a lot harder in practice than in conception but as any skill, with practice it will get easier, so persevere!
3. Eat Out Less
One way solve the problem of wanting to go out to dinner with friends is to suggest a potluck, that way you get to hang out together without any added cost. It’s also best to pack your own lunch as much as possible and bring your own coffee and bagel to work instead of picking breakfast up on the way. And let’s face it, most of the time, home cooked food takes a little more time to prepare but it always tastes better than eating out.
4. Compare Prices
We’re all hardwired to do whatever’s most convenient, which usually means buying all our groceries at one store. You’d be surprised how much you can save simply by doing a little shopping around to get the biggest bang for your buck.
5. Keep An Eye Out For Deals
Once deal shopping is on your radar screen, you start to notice them everywhere. This means not only buying stuff when it’s on sale, but also actively browsing through things like Groupon or local deal catalogues.
There’s no substitute for ultimately getting your student debt managed and under control, but every little bit helps, especially around the holidays.