Shopping on a budget

Diane Gallagher
Features Writer

Another year has flown by and the holiday season is upon us yet again. Christmas music is on everywhere you go, special holiday deals are posted in all the stores, and Salvation Army volunteers are ringing bells outside of local establishments.
With only a few weeks left before for the holidays, it is officially holiday shopping crunch time. Jessica McGowan said, “I’m all about making my gifts now, because I have no money. Whether it’s printing a t-shirt I made in my iTech class or something I found on Pinterest. I may have to buy a few items but most of the time it is less than $10 and people never know what I spent. They’re simple, cheap and one of a kind.”
Not only are Millersville University students putting the finishing touches on all their end-of-semester assignments and studying for final exams, they are also trying to figure out how to holiday shop on a college student’s budget.
“I save up all year long for Christmas. I work part-time and put aside anywhere from $10-$25 per paycheck so that I have money to buy Christmas gifts. Then when I figure out what I want to get people I Google like crazy to find the item on sale or see if they will be on sale during Black Friday. I never spend full price on anything, can’t really afford to do that. I also look for coupons at retailmenot.com,” said Sulynn Lopez.
Whether you are looking for gifts for college friends, presents for your friends backhome, or family members you are tasked with finding the perfect gift, while staying within your budget. Here are eight tips for holiday shopping on a budget, originally reported by ABC news:
• Use debit instead of credit cards. A debit card automatically forces you to spend only what you have, and allows you to avoid paying interest. Let’s say that you go ahead and charge the $817 to a credit card (that is the amount which the average American is planning on spending this holiday), and pay the minimum payment of $10 a month with an average annual percentage rate of 18 percent. It would take you 133 months to be rid of your debt. In that time, you will pay $840.83 in interest.
• Know your budget, and make it non-negotiable: $10 means $10, not $12. Be sure to keep a running log of what you spend.
• Don’t get department store credit cards: When you open up a new credit card, many retailers offer you a 10 or 15 percent savings on your first purchase. That savings will quickly vanish if you don’t pay off your credit card balance in full.
• Make a detailed list of who you want to buy for, how much you want to spend, and which gifts you expect to buy. This will help keep you focused.
• Do some research before you hit the stores. Call around and go online to find better deals. You should also try to consolidate to a few stores to cut down on transportation costs.
• Instead of browsing the racks, try going online to shop. Many retailers offer discounts that are only available online, and they sweeten deal by offering free shipping and no-hassle returns.
• If the store you are shopping in has a free gift wrapping service, take advantage of it. You can save so much money by not buying fancy gift-wrap that you can put your savings toward other gifts.
• Many stores offer gift receipts, which do not have a price on them, as a way for the gift recipient to bring the gift back, supposedly without knowing how much you spent. Don’t go for it. Be bold and ask for an actual receipt with the real cost of the item on it, to make sure if someone’s returning your gift, they get the full value, not just store credit or the price the day of return, which might be reduced.
Many students said they are giving homemade gifts this year; “Being an art kid, I make presents. Everyone is getting ceramic bowls or cups for Christmas,” said Katie-Marie Mclean. This is a great way to get creative and stay within your budget.
This holiday season try not to stress yourself out, and remember it is not the price of the gift that counts, but the thought put into it that does.