It’s that time of year! The holiday season has officially begun! Christmas shopping can be hard for anyone. There’s crowded malls, no parking spaces, and you never really know if you’re getting a good deal. According to ABC, the average person plans to spend about $900 this holiday season. However, with a much lower budget, holiday shopping can be even harder for college students.
With only a few weeks before fall semester ends, it’s crunch time for holiday shopping. We need gifts for college friends who we won’t see until next semester, gifts for our friends back home for when we see them during the break, and of course our family members. Buying all those gifts for everyone while also trying to stay on a budget is quite the ordeal. We have papers to write, exams to take, projects to finish and events to attend. You name it, and it’s on our list. It can be difficult to even find a time to go shopping for gifts in the first place.
When students can finally make time in their schedule to shop, it’s even harder to stay on budget. Holiday shopping is stressful for everyone. Adding a very small budget — and, in a lot of cases, a very limited time frame — can turn it into a nightmare. As if it wasn’t hard enough to stay focused and on budget, retailers also do their best to ensure you buy much more than you were intending.
Stores have all sorts of sneaky tricks to scam you into spending more money. One that isn’t commonly thought of but has a big impact on sales is the music playing in the store. Research from the Association of Psychological Science found that stores play relaxing music to entice you into spending more time there. “Retailers pump Christmas songs through their stores to invoke emotions of nostalgia and generosity, all leading to a greater basket size,” said their study. If you’re already in a buying mood, chances are you’ll end up buying a few extra items simply because you’re staying in the store browsing for longer.
Many students choose to go to their local school’s bookstore to pick up some gifts for friends and family members. However, the prices make these items very difficult for some students to afford. It’s no secret that textbooks are incredibly expensive. According to the National Association of College stores, the average student spends $655 on textbooks each year. But the outrageous prices don’t end there. School apparel also has a track record for insane costs. Many families will understandably want clothing representing their child’s school. But the prices make it almost impossible for students to afford. A simple t-shirt can easily cost $25 or more while it’s not uncommon for sweatshirts to cost $50 or more. This can easily break the bank.
While the holidays will always be a busy and stressful time, there are a few things students can do to make it a little easier. If it’s possible in their budget, students can try fitting all of their shopping into one day. Make a list beforehand so you don’t end up wandering around the store with no idea what to buy anyone. Try choosing an empty Saturday night and heading to a mall that you know will have everything you need.
One of the best things students can do is make a budget and stick to it. Try not to let your emotions get the best of you and end up overspending. Figure out how much you have to spend on gifts in total and divide it by the number of people. With the right approach, you will be able to make everyone smile this holiday season with a thoughtful gift that won’t break the bank.
Lindsey Gibbons can be contacted