You’re almost there…just a few more weeks of school, report writing, exams, and then you’re on holiday! For some it will be time to travel home to family, for others a chance to stay on campus, but either way it will be filled with friends, late nights, gift exchanges, and, if you’re not careful, a negative balance in your bank account. With these simple tips you can avoid a spending hangover, as long as you put them into action before school breaks.
Here’s how to stay in control of your spending habits between semesters:
Use a spreadsheet or app
Meet your new money-saving partner in crime: the spreadsheet. Start by creating a budget for gift-buying and other costs like travel and going out, factoring in that you still need money for essentials like groceries, rent, and textbooks for the spring semester.
If you catch yourself going over budget, make adjustments until the numbers balance out. Some helpful ideas: Follow your campus’ RideShare Facebook page to split gas costs with other students, or plan to fly/bus/train overnight if that means a discounted rate. Pool your cash with friends or make homemade gifts, or coordinate potlucks with everyone taking home leftovers. See if you can score some sweet deals or sites like Groupon, smartcanucks.ca or livingsocial.com.
Staying on-campus for the winter break? Check if your campus has free meals and activities for those who will be hanging around school. You’ve worked hard all semester, so make plans to go to out and have dinners with friends and fellow students – just be sure to keep your spending in check. Give yourself a budget for doing fun stuff during your school break (say, $20 for every night of fun) so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.
Stay in the black It sounds obvious, but still needs to be said: spend only money you have, and you won’t go into debt in the first place. Keep your credit cards firmly wedged in your wallet. If you constantly charge every purchase, you’ll be struggling with big bills come New Year’s. If you need more cash, take some extra shifts at work before the break, offer to run errands or shovel snow for the neighbours, babysit-while at home or cut back on a few luxuries, like restaurant meals or movie tickets. But whether you have to freeze it in a block of ice or bury it in the backyard, whatever you do, don’t pull out that credit card to make ends meet.
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