Budgeting can stave off post-Christmas credit card blues


‘Tis the season to spend lavishly. As students party a little harder, eat a little more than they should and indulge on gifts for friends and family, all that holiday cheer comes at a cost for students already mired in debt.

According to Langara’s chairman of economics, Scott McLean, a little budgeting can be one of the greatest gifts a student can give themselves this season.

Photo by Gillian Hames
Holiday spending can nickel and dime students who don’t have a budget in place. Photo: Gillian Hames

Save like Scrooge

“It’s easier these days to go past our limits . . . because there’s things called credit cards,” said McLean. “People generally tend to push problems down the road.”

He says that keeping track of spending will curb the holiday hangover and it is easy to do. McLean recommends students look at what they’ve spent money on in the past.

“You can look at your data and say . . . where is my money going?”

Many banks, like TD and RBC provide budgeting services specifically for students. Graphical breakdowns show how a person spends their money on a monthly basis, be it food or rent.

Be a holiday helper

Shirley Kamerling-Roberts, manager of student assistance programs at Langara, recommends that students don’t spend their entire holiday partying.

Instead, a part-time job can help cover extra expenses and allow students to splurge a little more over the winter. Companies like Canada Post often hire extra help around the holidays as do retail stores.

Photo by Gillian Hames
A pedestrian window shops along a Joe Fresh clothing store, that is looking for new hires to help during the Christmas rush. Photo: Gillian Hames

Get crafty this Christmas

Kamerling-Roberts also suggested students be creative and make homemade gifts that are more personal. Christmas crafts and ornaments last a long time and baking is both easy and a gift from the heart.

She also recommended organizing potluck parties to save money, while still bringing in lots of food and friends.

Chilling out when money’s on thin ice

Additionally, the financial aid department provides a list of tips to help students save money year-round. But some can be re-gifted for those who want to celebrate the holidays on a shoe-string budget.

When dining out, scour the Georgia Straight or Vancouver Courier for coupons and special prices. Both papers also have advertisements for holiday events on the cheap.

The list also recommends students brew their own wine or beer for the holidays to either serve at dinner or give away as a novel gift.

If communicating long-distance with friends or family, arrange a call using Skype instead of being charged long-distance fees. Or negotiate a better plan with a phone provider before dialing up Mom and Dad.

McLean believes it’s important that students remind themselves why they’re budgeting.

Photo by Gillian Hames
Mannequin’s show off their threads at prices that can make you lose your shirt. Photo: Gillian Hames

“That money you save is going mean something down the road,” said McLean, hinting that careful management now, may mean a student’s next winter could be spent on a vacation, out of the cold weather.

Reported by Gillian Hames

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