In the words of Noddy Holder, ‘It’s Christmas!!!’
The Coca Cola advert has been gracing our television screens for a while now, meaning that it’s nearly time to don those Santa hats around the Christmas tree. However, besides all of the festive excitement, the one word that will be on the lips of students is MONEY.
It is that time of year again: the unrelenting weather, the last minute rush to meet deadlines, endless fancy dress parties to go to (instead of working on those deadlines), not to mention that your bank balance is probably near to non-existent, with a lonely can of own brand beans making up your dinner for the last days of term. But how can students afford to buy presents and join in with Christmas revelries with only the dregs of the loan to work with?
According to a survey by student money site savethestudent.org, University students are planning on spending an average total of £161 on Christmas this year, less than a third than the national average.
Save the Student editor Jake Butler observed:
‘it’s not much of a surprise that students find money hard to come by at this time of year and more so than the general population. Student loans are running dry at a time when students feel the pressure to buy presents and attend countless Christmas parties’.
A battle of the sexes also emerged in the survey, as females tend to buy more presents for friends, spending 25% more than all the male students out there. But it seems that not all students share the same anxiety about Christmas spending, as one female respondent to the survey said that she is planning to splash out £400 on Christmas presents, £160 of that being on other students.
If, like me, you don’t possess a never-ending flow of cash with which to spend on your friends and family, don’t despair! Laura, a history student at the University, has given her tips on how to treat your loved ones whilst sticking to a strict student budget:
‘I am always close to zero at this time of the year, but I always want to give my friends and family a little present, so I get creative! I do some baking and give out some hand decorated Christmas cakes and biscuits- something a lot more personal than an extravagant present that you can buy anywhere’.
Instead of risking lavishing gifts on your friends that have drained your remaining funds (to receive a Christmas sweet reindeer pooping toy in return), make a decision to share the load. One great way to save money is Secret Santa, setting up a limit of how much each person should spend. Not only will this cut your spending significantly, it is also a great excuse to get together and spread the Christmas spirit.
Other than the presents, there is also the issue of the Christmas meal. If you are anything like me, the two words ‘Roast Dinner’ will bring joy to your ears, with the promise of a proper meal overriding any worries about your lack of money. Although there are a lot of Christmas menus available in pubs and restaurants around Southampton, they are often pricey. If you don’t want to splash out, then a joint Christmas dinner will do the trick. Get together with your friends and split the cost of the feast between you- it may surprise you, but a full roast with all the trimmings- not to forget the pudding- won’t break the bank (no more than a couple of jesticles would anyway!).
It is safe to say that you will be spending more at this time of the year than normal, but don’t feel guilty. Although there are ways to save the pennies, don’t deny yourself a bit of indulgence over the Christmas period. Say yes to at least one Christmas event whether that is a party, meal or gig. Remember to spend sensibly but don’t be a student Scrooge!