They say it's the most wonderful time of the year, but it can be really stressful to manage your finances, catch up with friends and family, keep up with studies and keep student house ticking over while you are away.
Here are our tips to help you have a merry Christmas. - The Advice team, Goldsmiths Students' Union
When going out shopping for gifts and food, a bit of forward-planning goes a long way. Be realistic, stick to your budget and be creative.
This will take the stress off you and others around you. If you say up front that you plan on small gifts with no frills, then friends and loved ones will also feel under less pressure to reciprocate.
Take your time and shop around – online and in the real world. There are many deals and offers around so taking a bit of time will help secure you a good deal.
IF IT IS NOT ON THE LIST...
Make a list to avoid the urge to impulse buy. The shops are so tempting when they are brightly lit and the Christmas songs are blasting out of the speakers. But rein yourself in and stick to the list, it will be worth it in January when you have money at the start of term.
IT’S A WRAP!
Wrapping gifts can add an enormous extra cost which lasts no time at all. Be creative and use old magazines, maps, leaflets or anything at all to make personal customised wrapping paper for the ones you love – for free!
CAN’T BUY ME LOVE
Why not go the whole way and make a ‘no unnecessary present pact’. This is both good for your pocket and the planet. Why bother buying tat and trinkets for one another, when you could spend time and money doing something fun together instead? There is a great 'No Unnecessary present pact' email template you can use here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/nupp/
ORGANISE A SECRET SANTA
The point of “Secret Santa” is to make Christmas shopping easier and to spread around the spirit of giving to those who you might not normally have on your Christmas list. It involves a group of people exchanging names for a secret gift exchange. Consider playing ‘secret Santa’ at your next holiday get together, see this fab 'Secret Santa' generator you can use: https://www.elfster.com/
HOUSE OF CARDS
Did you know the tradition of sending Christmas cards was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He was a civil servant who was interested in the new ‘Public Post Office’ and wondered how it could be used more by ordinary people to raise funds for the postal service. Do you really need to send paper Christmas cards? This is another tradition that is hard on your pocket and the environment. How about e-cards, video greetings or making your own cards using old photos?
LIFE GOES ON
Day to day bills don’t miraculously disappear over Christmas so do keep up with your normal utility bills, phone bills, council tax payments etc. You may have gone home to see your family and friends, but you need to keep your house running as it won't look after itself! Direct debit might be the way to go.
You might be away from your house for up to a month so try to keep it as safe as you can. Leave the heating on at a very low temperature or the pipes might freeze! It is very tempting to switch the heating off entirely, but would you rather pay a low gas bill or deal with the cost and inconvenient of coming back to a flooded house (we are speaking from bitter experience!). Check your house carefully before you leave to see all doors and windows are locked and ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property, collect post and pick up the free newspapers and junk mail left in the letterbox. Unplug all appliances to protect them from power surges and save energy from standby functions, as well.
We hope these tips have been useful and if you need further support you can contact The Advice team here.