How to save money on shopping this season


Photo by Roxanne Ready

Holiday gift-giving can be stressful for shoppers like bookstore employee and third-year culinary student Myra Umberger.

Sarah Sutherland, Campus Life Editor

As the holiday season approaches, college students may find themselves struggling financially and wondering how they will pay for the presents they want to give their family and friends.

AACC students around campus have offered these tips and tricks for shopping on a budget and saving money during the holidays.

1. Bake. 

Power up YouTube and learn how to bake something, suggested Rome Clark, a first-year entrepreneurial studies major. Making some cookies or cupcakes is simple and inexpensive.  A festive tin and ribbon for packaging will complete the gift.

2. Get together. 

“[A] great gift is signing up the family to have time together,” Clark said. Do something to create a memory: See a Christmas light display, organize a game night or cook dinner together. Those are gifts you can’t buy.

3. Volunteer. 

Gather the family and volunteer to feed the homeless, visit a nursing home or deliver goodies to elderly neighbors, and you’ll get back as much as you give. Rummage through your closets for long-forgotten coats and donate them to charity.

4. Shop online.  

LivingSocial and Groupon have “great things like … discount tickets on something that’s fun in the city, especially around the holiday season,” Clark said. These websites and others like Yipit and LocalFlavor let you find personalized deals on activities, travel, services and products at discounted prices.

5. Make a coupon book.

It’s a clever gift that you can make for free, Claudia Asihene, a first-year entrepreneurial studies major, said.  Vouchers for chores such as cleaning, running errands and cooking dinner are gifts you can give to family members that last all year.

6. Reuse what you already have. 

“Get a cool piece of newspaper or brown paper bag and make your own wrapping paper,” Asihene said. Stencil designs onto paper bags and plain boxes. Clean out old jars and present gifts in them instead of spending money on new wrapping paper and gift boxes.

7. Compare prices. 

Shop around, especially for expensive gifts. Prices can vary from store to store—and between stores and online retailers. Elisabeth Dickman, a second-year transfer studies major, said many items are cheaper online, and stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and Target sometimes offer to match Amazon prices.

8.  Become a rewards member. 

Frequent buyer cards can earn you perks like automatic discounts and coupons, Madilyn Barnett, a third-year transfer studies major, said. And some stores hand out coupons to holiday shoppers for use after the new year. Hang onto them.

9. Set a budget. 

“Set a limit for yourself,” Barnett said. Limit spending to $20 per person, or whatever is reasonable for you.

That way, you can make sure you are spending wisely on gifts.