16 Tips For Doing Holiday Shopping On A Student’s Budget

Let’s be honest, being a student and being completely broke are pretty much synonymous. The good thing about this is that your loved ones are usually pretty understanding when it comes to gift-giving. Whether you’re looking for last-minute gifts for your parents, or on the hunt for a fun Secret Santa gift for your pals — last-minute gift shopping on a budget is one of the most stress-inducing activities of the year. Instead of sprinting around department stores the night before a gift exchange, check out these ideas for holiday shopping on a budget so you can kick back by the fireside with your loved ones stress-free.

16. Get On Pinterest Asap

If you’re completely out of ideas and have no idea how to begin thinking of cheap holiday gifts, then Pinterest is the place for you. Get to searching ASAP, and scroll through infinite inspiration for cheap presents — DIY or store-bought. Whether you’re into crafting, cooking, thrifting, or bargain-hunting — Pinterest has endless gift ideas. Even if your budget is $0.00, we guarantee you’ll be able to find something to throw together that won’t break the bank.

15. Try Out Your Culinary Skills

If you’re looking for cheap holiday gifts, or even free holiday gifts, you really can’t go wrong with a delicious, homemade treat. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t love a homemade baked good or snack — as long as you’re careful about allergies! Of course, the holiday season is all about cookies but get creative and make something unexpected! It could be cookie mix in a mason jar, a hot cocoa kit, a tray of peppermint bark — it’s all about the thought you put into it!

14. Check Out Groupon

Sometimes the best cheap holiday gifts aren’t really gifts, but plans! Can you imagine how excited your besties will be to see that you’ve book massages for you and all of your pals? Or a weekend away with their significant other? Not only do you get to see them open the gift, they get to enjoy the gift way after the holiday season is over. Best friend of the year award? It’s as good as yours.

13. Put Down The Credit Card

It can be SO easy to go overboard with expensive holiday shopping when your money doesn’t seem real. Credit cards make it way too easy to spend money that you simply don’t have. Avoid the regret of getting a little too overzealous with your holiday joy by using cash or a debit card. Seeing your actual money (or bank account) immediately decrease is a great way to stay on track and be smart about buying cheap holiday gifts. It may sting to see those numbers at first, but you’ll thank yourself later.

12. Check Out What Amazon Prime Has To Offer

If you have Amazon, use it. If not, get a free trial. Amazon is a great place for cheap holiday gifts, but Amazon Prime takes those deals to a new level. Can you say, ‘free two-day shipping’? Seriously a life-saver when it comes to getting those last-minute gifts delivered ASAP. When you’re browsing on Amazon, make sure to limit your choices to Prime-only, that way you’re guaranteed to get your favorite items for a great price, shipped to you crazy-fast.

11. Don’t Rule Out Thrift Stores

Now, it may seem like shopping at a thrift store is the ultimate form of re-gifting, but with just a little bit of creativity — your local thrift store could be your one-stop shop for cheap holiday gifts. We’re not saying you should buy your friends a bunch of secondhand, $1 tee shirts, and you might have to get a little bit crafty, but it coukd work. For example, find a great, vintage denim jacket and personalize it with some quick embroidery or studs. Or, find a vintage bag and accessorize/decorate it in a cool, new way.

10. Plan A Date Instead Of Buying A Gift!

This one is great because it will cost you no immediate money! Instead of giving your friend a gift right away, write them a nice, detailed card. We know, that might sound lame at first, but it’s all about the amount of thought you put into it beforehand. Plan a detailed date doing all of the things your friend loves most all day long. Whether it’s a day at the beach once the warmer weather comes, a fancy dinner and a night on the town, or a weekend-long road trip — your friend will be able to look forward to your gift long past the holiday season.

9. Beeline To The Clearance Section

This is something that sounds pretty self-explanatory, but it can be pretty hard in the moment. It seems like common sense that the best, cheap holiday gifts will be in the clearance section, but stores are (obviously) trying to get you to spend as much money as possible. No matter how tempting the full-price stuff might look, put those blinders on and sprint to the clearance section, no questions asked. You’ll be so glad you got your gifts for a bargain, and none of your loved ones will ever know.

8. Opt For A Gift Card

One of the worst feelings in the world is seeing one of your gifts go unappreciated. You may have put tons of thought into that sweater you bought for your friend or the watch you bought for your dad — only to never see it again. Instead of pouring money towards a gift that your loved one never uses, save money (and your feelings) by opting for a gift card. It may feel impersonal, but let’s be real — we all love getting gift cards. It’s pretty much like getting cold, hard cash for the holidays. Plus, that way your pals can either get a bunch of cheap, holiday gifts that they truly want, or one, nice thing for themselves.

7. Don’t Blindly Spend

This one may seem obvious, but it’s easier than you think to get super overwhelmed and just spend, spend, spend on a bunch of unnecessary, cheap holiday gifts. Basically, pay super-close attention to every penny you spend. Make a plan and a detailed budget before entering a store and do not stray. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t just grab something on a whim — try another store or think of a new plan. It can be time-consuming, but in the end you’ll be thrilled that you stuck to your budget.

6. Take Your Time Researching Sales

It’s time to start investigating. If you haven’t already, start going deep into the dark depths of the internet to find which places are having the best sales and when. Stock up on your cheap holiday gifts as fast as possible, and don’t be afraid to check out as many websites as it takes to find the absolute best deals. The internet’s a pretty huge place, and with enough research, you’re guaranteed to find exactly what you’re looking for at exactly the right price.

5. Make It Heartfelt, Not Expensive

Most of the time, your friends will have no idea how much money you spent on your presents. That’s why taking the time to find something heartfelt and meaningful is way more worthwhile than getting a somewhat meaningless gift that you spent a whole bunch of money on. Think of an inside joke or a favorite shared memory between you and your loved one and use that to guide your gift-buying. Cheap holiday gifts with a lot of meaning are worth way more than an expensive sweater that your friend might shrink in the wash.

4. Get Started Asap To Avoid Expensive, Rush Shipping

If you haven’t started scoping out cheap holiday gifts, it’s time to get started ASAP. Don’t stress yourself out, but the best deals are quickly fading as it gets closer to the holiday season. Stores can be sneaky, and they know that people will get desperate as the holidays approach, meaning those sales aren’t going to last forever. Plus, if you’re shopping online, the price of expedited shipping could add a crazy amount of money to your order. Start with online shopping to give yourself a better idea of which stores are worth checking out, and get moving, champ.

3. Have A Cute, Gift-Free Holiday Party With Your Friends

Let’s be real, you and your friends are most likely in the same boat when it comes to your financial situations. Be honest with each other! Instead of having a secret santa party that no one really wants to partake in, split a couple bottles of wine, buy some delicious snacks and have a festive holiday party. Instead of putting that money towards a few cheap holiday gifts, make some new memories and spend an evening with the people you love the most!

2. Cut Out One Of Your Expenses For The Next Few Weeks

It’s time to buckle down, people. The holiday season means it’s time to start putting money towards your loved ones. This may mean tightening your budget when it comes to your daily expenses. If you’re buying a $4 latte every day, consider taking a few weeks off and making your coffee at home. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll build up your bank account. If things are really tight, look for other places where you can slow your spending. Take a few weeks off from eating out, stop getting your nails done, or cut down on going out every weekend.

1. Do. Not. Stray. From Your Budget

This is another one that might seem like a no-brainer, but don’t take your budget as a suggestion, make it a rule. Hopefully we’ve made it clear that staying on-budget and finding cheap holiday gifts isn’t impossible. Make a realistic but fiscally smart budget that you live your life by for the next few weeks. At the end of the day, being around your loved ones and appreciating your time with them is way more important than buying them a bunch of stuff. Call us cheesy, but it’s super true.

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