Lifestyle

Enjoy the holiday season and still have money leftover

theweal-lifestylesThere are ways to ensure that the holiday season is full of joy without dipping into next semester’s tuition fund.

November and December are busy months for most students.

The added financial stress of holiday shopping and party planning on a student budget can sometimes be the straw that breaks the student’s bank.

Help with financial planning is available to SAIT students and they don’t even have to leave campus to find it.

On Dec. 8, ATB Financial will be launching a budgeting app called ‘ATB Trackit’, and on-campus branch manager, Lauren Slen, said it can help students see exactly where their money is going.

“Budgeting can be boring. This [app] makes it more interactive,” she said.

The Trackit app links every North American account that a user has, including credit cards and gift cards, and tracks and displays the users’ spending habits.

For those who prefer a personal approach, ATB also has money advisors who can offer students tips and tools on how to build credit, improve their finances, and better manage their money.

The branch is located in the E.H. Crandell building, and no appointment is necessary.

Slen said that there are a number of tools a student can use to plan for financial success this holiday.

When paying with credit cards, have target goals of how much is going to be spent, or better yet, use a ‘cash only’ system so that the amount spent can be seen immediately.

Many people can get carried away with the various items they want to buy this season, so Slen’s number one tip for students is to be realistic about what they can and cannot afford.

She and her family have cut back on Christmas gifts to save money during the holidays.

“The money we would have spent on gifts is spent doing things together, like skiing,” said Slen.

Mary Hunt, a personal finance expert, suggests that people should look at their finances, and set an absolute number for what they can spend this holiday season without going over that limit.

In an article from Forbes.com, Hunt said that people are turned off by the word ‘budget’ because they envision spreadsheets, but she argues that budgeting can be simple.

Hunt suggested prioritizing gift-giving by trimming down the number of people on the gift list and getting creative with low-cost gifts.

Dana Dratch, a writer for the personal finance website Bankrate.com, also suggested some unique gift ideas in an article on the website.

“Offer to baby-sit, walk the dog, or take an elderly relative for an outing.

“The cost is next to nothing, but the gift is priceless,” she said.

She also recommended sending e-cards as a free way to catch up with faraway friends and relatives.

There are a variety of ideas online for creative yet inexpensive ways to save money during the holidays.

For instance, the website BetterBudgeting.com listed 39 frugal tips for saving money at Christmas.

Some examples are using magazine pages or the comic section from a newspaper to wrap small gifts and watching DVD’s or Netflix at home instead of spending money at the movie theatre.

On Pinterest.com, the crafty idea hub, a post titled “25 handmade gifts under $5,” offered detailed directions on how to make meaningful cost-effective gifts.

ACAD graduate and SAIT Program Administrator FarLee Mowat said that she often makes gifts for friends and sees creative gift ideas in the many diverse shops in neighbourhoods like Inglewood and Kensington.

“There’s amazing things you can create with no money,” she said.

Mowat makes a habit of buying clothes that never go out of style in order to cut down on the stress of holiday outfit planning, and also to save money.

“Christmas is a time to be social and with friends and family; it’s not about stressing over what to wear,” said Mowat.

She also occasionally shops second-hand at Calgary consignment stores like the Peacock Boutique and Better on You, and will sometimes make alterations to her clothing to improve the look.

A search of ‘best thrift stores’ on yelp.ca reveals that Calgary has a variety of second-hand stores for men and women to find reasonably priced holiday garb.

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