Pinching pennies

Christmas is coming up and so is Ferris State University’s next tuition bill for students.

Spending money on Christmas has always been difficult for me. Allocating money toward Christmas gifts for friends and relatives is not an easy task when there are bills to pay, groceries to by buy, and basic living necessities to afford on top of it all. It also does not help that 67 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges and universities have student loan debt to worry about.

If you are a student with a job it may be a little easier to save money for Christmas shopping, though I have found it is still difficult to discipline yourself for the benefit of others. If you do not have a job, scraping up money can be difficult. It will require strict discipline, some favors from relatives, and a change in your spending habits to help scrounge up money for Christmas presents.

In order to make the best of your limited spending supply, I suggest bargain buying. On Black Friday, if a consumer spent $50 to $100 or more at a store, they also received a gift card with $10 to $50 to spend, depending on the amount they purchased. These gift cards can be either used to buy gifts or can be given as a present.

If you were not able to take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, deals are still offered on several items as Christmas Eve approaches. Many retailers will be offering deals to consumers before Christmas instead of the traditional after-Christmas sales.

Meaningful but relatively inexpensive gifts would be best to consider if you are struggling to find money for gifts. Items that hold personal meaning or significant importance to the receiver will go a long way in comparison to non-sentimental materials.

One year my cousin gave everyone in the family a picture frame and a picture of her with that family member. It was a relatively inexpensive idea, yet everyone still enjoyed the gift and the thought that went into it.

Times are tough. Tuition rates are rising, the United States is still trying to rebound from a recession and the unemployment rate is still relatively high.

It is understandable if you don’t have disposable income for the holidays. Most students do not have the luxury of parents and relatives or full-ride scholarships to get them through school. So if money is tight, let people know. There is a good chance money is also tight for them and they will understand. n