The excitement of graduating from college has usually worn off for most people by about this time of the year, when grace periods end and student loan payments begin. Millennials are carrying a staggering load of student debt well into their adult lives. Whether you are facing your very first payment or the ten-year anniversary of when payments began, it can be difficult to set a holiday shopping budget that doesn’t blow your student loan payment!
It might seem tempting to skip a payment or defer your loans, but that’s the tricky thing about loans. Interest means that the longer you hold the loan the more money you will pay in the long term. Even a small interest rate on a large-sized loan will grow the amount you owe quicker than you might expect. Especially if you are just beginning payment on your loan, a large amount of your payment goes towards paying for the interest on the loan. When you don’t make a payment or defer your payment, that interest doesn’t go away. Eventually, your student loans will add that interest to your total debt, and you will begin to pay additional interest on the previous interest addition (known as capitalization). Skipping a payment is always a bad idea, and deferring payments should be reserved for those times when you really and truly have no other options.
Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to keep your holiday costs in line with your student loan debt. You can still be full of giving this season; you just have to get creative.
Do you consider yourself a savvy shopper? Mastering the art of holiday sales is a great way to save money. Through November and December, every store has sales no matter what they are selling. You can even save money on gift cards and prepaid services. Buying items when they are on sale seems like the perfect solution to save money, but there are a few finer points to consider.
- There is a difference between saving money on a gift for someone and buying someone a gift that you saved money on. Put the person first by asking whether the gift would still be a good fit for that person at full price. It’s important to look for the best gift on sale, not the best sale on gifts.
- It can be difficult to return or exchange clothes that don’t fit if they were on sale when they were purchased. Unless you are certain which size to buy, you might want to avoid making clothing purchases on sale.
- Going overboard is easy when there are lots of items on sale. When you get one thing at a great price, you are more tempted to buy a second or third item to go with the gift. If you aren’t careful, you can spend more money this way than if you had just bought a full price gift to begin with.
One creative way to give this season is to give a service instead of a gift. This is an especially nice gift to give to your parents or close family members. Is there a big job around their house that they hate doing and have avoided? In my family, it would be either cleaning out the garage, chopping wood, or detailing my car. My husband is an electrician, so he often gives out electrical upgrades to our family members for holiday presents.
When is the last time your mom washed the outside part of the windows of her house? This is a big chore that is really easy to avoid making time for, but it makes a huge difference in how bright and beautiful her home looks. Has your sister been wanting to paint her living room? Get to work!
This technique doesn’t work as well with children, but it can be very effective for any busy adult in your life. It doesn’t have to cost you a thing!
DIY holiday gifts are unique, personalized, and lots of fun! There are so many different do-it-yourself holiday gift ideas. Even if you don’t like crafting or aren’t good at crafting, you can still find tutorials that fit.
There are two main caveats to do it yourself gift-giving that you should follow if you don’t want to end up disappointed in yourself this Christmas. Just because something is DIY doesn’t mean that it will save you money, and it almost definitely means that it will take some time to get it right. Even the simplest tutorials can take several attempts to execute correctly and the cost of materials can quickly creep up.
The best DIY projects involve some materials that you already have, although it usually won’t break your budget to go and grab one or two materials that you need. Always be conservative with time estimates because the holiday season gets frantic for everyone, and some projects require a great amount of time commitment.
Many places that offer student discounts don’t require you to prove that you are attending classes. They simply require you to show a student ID. As long as your student ID is current, you can still snag a discount at plenty of different places for various different things.
It’s fitting that student discounts can help you save money since the reason your budget is so tight is due to those student loans! By using student discounts to help save money on holiday gift-giving, it’s sort of like recouping just a little bit of that money.
Everyone appreciates a homemade baked good. Cookies, brownies, or holiday treats of any kind are perfectly acceptable to give as gifts. Buying a lot of ingredients takes money, and baking takes time and management skills, but with smart planning and grocery sales shopping, you can make gifts for a lot of people with a limited amount of money.
Think of it this way. If you make one batch of a recipe that calls for ½ a cup of flour, you have to buy a whole bag of flour. Flour costs $3, so you add $3 to the cost of how much the gift treats cost. If you make three batches of the recipe, then you still have to buy the same amount of flour, but the cost gets split three ways so each recipe only costs $1 more. Planning out baking like this can be a lot more economical than you think.
Just remember that giving with an open heart and in the spirit of being kind to someone else is the real secret to holiday shopping. None of your loved ones want you to put yourself into a bad place financially while you are gift giving. Apply your knowledge to your skills and create a new solution.