It is never too early to get your Christmas shopping done! In fact, if you are like me and the idea of trying to shop in mall jam-packed with stressed out people fills you with unadulterated rage…. then the sooner the better.

Alas! Christmas shopping can be quite a frustrating and needlessly complicated activity when you’re a broke college student. You need to buy presents for all your loved ones and they all want shiny, pretty, PRICY things. You’re brother just announced he wants the newest PS4  and you’re pretty sure the last time you opened your wallet a moth flew out of it. Never fear though! It is possible to get your friends and family decent Christmas presents while you’re budgeting and avoid a financial hangover come January. Here are a few ideas:

 

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  • Set your Christmas budget!

Nobody wants to do this, but if you don’t set one for yourself you’re more likely to overspend and indulge in impulse buying—leading you straight into debt. Firstly, determine how much you can afford to spend. Make a list of all your monthly expenses (the more detail you add, the better) and determine an appropriate amount for Christmas shopping.

Also, when you’re tempted to splurge on extravagant gifts or spend on impulse, ask yourself “where am I going to get the money for this?” Or if you work, “how many hours would I have to put in to buy this?” (this one really helps me to curb my spending) Lastly, track your spending and keep all of your receipts!

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  • D-I-Y home-made presents

In my personal opinion, this is the best route to go when you’re trying to save money. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I love receiving homemade gifts. So much thought and creativity goes into making them, they’re unique, and people tend to hang on to them a lot longer than any junk that they get from the store. And who doesn’t love making arts and crafts right? So be creative! If you’re a good artist, draw your friends some Christmas cards, or paint a family member a nice picture. If you’re stumped, the internet can be your new BFF! For instance, Pinterest has TONS of awesome ideas for DIY gifts. Chances are, whoever receives a homemade gift from you will love and treasure it.

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  • Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a great thing to do with your friends, because it’s really fun and more likely than not they are in the same financial predicaments as you are. A great weight will be lifted off your back (and your bank account!) when you know you only need to buy for one friend in the group. Set the present budget to $20 and then breathe a huge sigh of relief.

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  • IOU’s

Before Christmas is the year’s costliest shopping time…. so naturally, January tends to be the cheapest. Not to mention there are tons of sales on Boxing Day where big-ticket items go way down. So consider giving a family member a nicely wrapped IOU—trust me, if it’s for something they really want, then they won’t mind the wait.

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  • Look for Sales and save coupons

Keep an eye out for stores that are having discount sales and any coupons/discount codes a store might be giving out. Also, a good place to find stuff for reasonable prices is Amazon.ca. If you do a bit of research you are sure to find some great discounted items and deals.

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  • Have a pot-luck with your friends

Get together with your buddies and have yourselves a dinner party! Instead of exchanging gifts everyone can cook something and bring it—or if you’re inept in the kitchen bring any sort of alcoholic beverage…they’re generally appreciated. Good food, Good friends (and wine)=Awesome times!