Gift options available within college student budget

While the holiday season can be expensive for college students, this does not mean finding gifts for friends and family is impossible.

With UNA’s 2017-18 tuition charges amounting to $277 or more per credit hour, even with the assistance of financial aid, some students find it hard to have much extra money.

Sophomore Lauren Hall said the holiday season can be “awful” for shopping on a college student’s budget.

“There’s (almost) no money left, because you spend it all on tuition and (other expenses),” she said.

She said she tries to accomplish her holiday shopping on a $50 to $100 budget.

“Someone who’s out in the real world is making more money than a person that’s in college, (who) is making it to survive almost,” said senior Joshua Meza.

Meza said some students encounter shopping issues because of their inexperience with budgeting.

“A lot of college students are getting thrown out for the first time on their own, so maybe they mess up that first year and don’t know how to budget well, so they spend their money on things they don’t need to spend it on.”

Hill said Wal-Mart is a good place for buying gifts that are reasonably priced and available after Black Friday.

“Definitely save in advance,” Hill said. “Save up a little bit every day, try and keep an eye on what you want and see if it goes down in price. If it does and you think it’s a good deal, go ahead and buy it.”

Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields said browsing Amazon Prime and looking through catalogues are good for coming up with gift ideas.

He said if funds are low, creating personal gifts is also another option. Every year, Shields and his wife bake 150 to 170 pounds of fudge to give to people.

Meza said he sometimes does handmade gifts, with one type being a framed puzzle he put together.

Shields said if students are unable to afford expensive gifts, they should not feel bad.

“There’s a bit of a forgiveness for being a college student,” he said. “You’re in college now, so I don’t expect you to have tons of money to spend on tons and tons of gifts. You’re investing in your future with your money.”

Shields said every Christmas, he tells his family that the only gift he wants from them is to have a nice Christmas family gathering.

“I think, sometimes, the best gift you can give somebody is time, or do something with them that makes it a meaningful moment,” he said. “(Time spent with family), to me, is more meaningful than buying me a pair of socks or something I really don’t need or want. It’s about doing the special things, and I think people appreciate that as much as anything.”