Christmas Costs Average Student £140
*This is the average for 2011, to see the stats for 2012 check here.
They don't call it the ‘most wonderful time of year’ for nothing but for students the festive period is also the most expensive time of year.
Trying to juggle the costs of the final weeks of the semester with the mammoth costs of Christmas is no mean feat. Last year I made the rookie first year mistake of leaving myself almost penniless by the Christmas holidays and my last minute Christmas shopping was all the more frustrating as a result.
So as we approach the final two weeks in the run up to the big day, have you done your shopping yet? Are the presents sitting wrapped under the tree in anticipation or have you yet to brave the shopping frenzy?
Save The Student has carried out research by asking over 800 student how much they will be spending this Christmas and it appears as if £140 is the magic average for having a great Christmas without leaving yourself out of pocket.
This year I’ve planned ahead and I am almost done (within budget) but for those who have yet to start here’s my guide on how to ensure you get those gifts on time and more importantly in budget –
Budget, Budget, Budget
Starting your shopping with a budget in mind is a must. Have a set price in mind for each person you have to buy for, and stick to it! It's always tempting to buy that one thing extra but resist if you want to keep your Christmas cost-friendly.
I set myself a budget of around £20 for each person this year and it is actually surprising what you can get for your money. Overall my budget for gifts is £70 and I am buying for Mum, Dad, Sister and a £10 gift for the Secret Santa with my house mates. If you have a lot more to buy for then consider a lower budget, £10 can still go along way if you know where to look.
Secret Santa is one of the best ways to save you money on presents with both your friends at university and also at home. A lot of students will tend to agree with friends not to get any presents for each other to save money but a secret Santa could be as little as £5 and it's a great way to get in the Christmas spirit.
Also, it may seem harsh to leave out all of your family members such as Grandma, Grandpa, Uncles, Cousins etc. but as a student you are usually around the age where your mum or dad can cover this with a gift from the whole family.
Shop Around…and Online
I admit there is something satisfying about going into town and buying your gifts in person but on a budget this is not always the most cost effective option. Online shopping is where the majority of the good deals are hiding. This year I have done just this and I've bought everything online cheaper than they would be in the shops.
Amazon has saved me a substantial amount of money and looking on high street retailers websites such as HMV can save you money on what you would spend in-store (See my price comparison below to see this). Supermarkets also have great deals at Christmas time and can be competitive when compared against high street names.
For example, my Mum has asked for the Downton Abbey Series 1-2 DVD box set, here is an interesting price comparison:
HMV has a difference of £6.02 on the same product online and in-store and Sainsbury's comes in cheapest. All online options have the option of free UK delivery.
A worry with online shopping especially at this time of year is items not arriving time. However Royal Mail has increased its workforce by 10% in the run up to Christmas to ensure there is no late deliveries. Don't be tempted to choose express delivery options (unless you have left it very, very late!) as I have received items Amazon's Free Super Saver delivery in 2-3 days.
EXTRA TIP: Pricecheckah is a brilliant app that allows you to scan products to get a price comparison for different shops, including online retailers. See our best money saving apps article for more apps that can save your budget.
Other Festive Spending
It's also good to include other Christmas activities into your budget. Many students like to celebrate with a Christmas dinner before everyone goes home for the festive break so take this into account. Budget around £10 each depending how many are in your flat/house. Consider pound shops for extras such as Crackers or festive table clothes too.
Also see our Student Christmas Dinner recipe.
Everybody loves to put up Christmas decorations even if you won't be around for the day itself – consider making your own and splitting the cost of a Christmas tree between all of you. Smaller trees, both real and artificial are cheaper than you might think. Budgeting £5 per person will most likely get you a small tree and a few decorations too.
The best solution with cards is to make your own. This way you can send cards to as many people as possible. It shows that you care and a homemade card shows that you have put in some effort for that person. For more tips take a look at the homemade Christmas presents article.
So in total I will have done Christmas on a budget of just £85 (the magic number), Christmas may cost the average family ‘at least £182' but it doesn't have to even cost you half!