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Holiday Shopping Survival Guide: Student Edition

holidaygiftsIt’s not news that students’ budgets are tight, and the holidays can be particularly straining on their wallets. You want to enjoy the holidays and give great gifts to your family and friends, but it would be nice to not have to live on ramen noodles and tap water until March. Before you sell a kidney for extra cash, check out these ideas to save on shopping this season.

Plan Early

It may seem a little soon to talk about holiday shopping, but planning early is easier financially and less stressful than shopping for everything all at once late December. It can also help you avoid the scramble to find gifts for those hard-to-shop-for people who usually end up with a gift card in their stocking. A few months before the holiday season, start thinking about the people on your list and what they like or something they mention. Make a list and keep an eye out for deals.

As ChannelAdvisor reports that 42 percent of online retailers begin holiday marketing in September, some even start in August. If you do your shopping little by little, you won’t be taking out a large chunk of your budget all at once. You will also be able to watch for deals and compare better prices because you won’t be rushed.

Wait For The Sales

Part of planning early is knowing when to wait for holiday sales and price drops. Holiday sales events like Black Friday are a great time to get discounts on more expensive items like computers, cameras, phones, video games and even clothes and home items.

If the thought of Black Friday crowds terrify you, luckily the Internet has a crowd-free answer to Black Friday: Cyber Monday. This online shopping day has many of the same, if not more, sales as Black Friday and you don’t have to get out of bed to get the discounts. Many major retailers like Walmart participate in Cyber Monday deals so you can buy the same products you would in stores.

To map out your online shopping strategy, use sites like DealNews or The Krazy Coupon Lady to find out what the best deals will be so you can save the most cash.

Homemade Gifts

Not everyone is artistic or craftsy and not all DIY projects make good gifts, but there are some projects you can do that anyone would be happy to receive.

Make something simple, but also make sure it’s something people on your gift list actually want. Easy and simple gifts are personal, budget friendly and sure to be appreciated even if you don’t have time for a lengthy DIY project. BuzzFeed offers some great ideas from homemade soy candles, blankets and bookends to coffee mugs—items that everyone could use.

Give an Experience

Material gifts are not always the best option, especially for that relative or friend that has everything. U.S. News cites research that found experiences make people happier than possessions. So instead of buying another unoriginal gift for those on your list, think of activities they’ve always wanted to do or even something you could do together.

Museum memberships, tickets to a show, cooking classes or a spa certificate are good choices. Just make sure you know the person well and what they like so you don’t obligate them to sit through the opera or go to a bug museum if that’s not their thing.

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