Ten holiday saving tips

Because Christmas red shouldn’t remind you of your bank balance

Oftentimes, Christmas leaves us feeling fat, broke, and resentful: the opposite of how we’re supposed to feel. Yet every year, we rinse and repeat the gift giving tradition hoping that this season our bank accounts will remain tumbleweed-free. This is seldom the case.

So here are 10 (student-friendly) ways to save over the holiday season:

GO ON A BREAK — FROM SUBSCRIPTIONS & SERVICES

Heading out of town for the break? Pause or cancel your subscriptions. Telus, for example, allows you to pause your internet, phone, and cable subscriptions for a minumum of one month (maximum of six months) for a fee of $10 per service. And that cheeky Grammarly subscription isn’t much use once classes end. Most gym memberships can be suspended for a period of time — but start enquiring now because some, like the YMCA, require 10 days’ advance notice.

SUBLET

Again, this tip benefits those who are heading home for the holidays. Visit the gov.bc website for details on how to set up an official sublet agreement (here you can also download a form that stipulates all of the agreed terms). Alternatively, consider subletting through a handshake deal to a trusted friend. Whatever you do, always check with your landlord first.

BUY ALL YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENTS AT ONE STORE

This year, I’m going to be the Oprah of ugly Christmas sweaters: “YOU GET A SWEATER, EVERYBODY GETS A SWEATER!!!” Value Village has a whole section dedicated to them! Join their Super Savers Club, spend over $100, and receive 30% off your next purchase before Dec. 31. The Salvation Army, meanwhile, offers coupons via their website. In previous years, I’ve bought a case of schmancy wine and made an individual tag for each giftee. Bottom line — buy bulk and save.

GET THOSE SKELETONS OUT

That’s right: clean out your closet. Identify what you have, what you need, and what you can part with. Salvation Army offers a $10 off coupon with each donation that is redeemable with your next purchase over $25 — just ask at the counter when you bring in your unwanted stuff. Also, while you’re neck deep in your closet, perhaps reevaluate your spending choices over the past year. If you’re paying for Starbucks in dimes, maybe Pumpkin Spice Lattes just aren’t for you.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BANKS FOR CHANGE

Open a new bank account with better bonuses. Banks are especially blood- thirsty during the holiday season, operating on the principle of giving you cash to squander so you’ll crawl back to borrow more. With my new chequing account, TD Canada Trust deposited $300 in my bank after I set up two monthly direct deposits (but get in quick as this offer ends Dec. 4). It’s worth shopping around.

Klara Woldenga (Graphic)

GIVE PEOPLE TIME

My mum doesn’t want a Strawberry Huller. She wants pictures of my new apartment and copies of the Martlet (hi, Mum!). She also wants my time on the phone. Spend some time over the holiday season reconnecting with someone you’ve neglected. Pick up the phone, call your mother or grandmother (just check your phone plan first)! Calling overseas? Most phone companies will offer you a deal, say, $5 per month, for reduced international call rates.

SNUB SANTA

Don’t participate. There’s only one thing that annoys me more than middle-class yuppies queuing for brunch: Secret Santa. Designed to alleviate the financial burden of buying obligatory gifts for everyone, this tradition creates nothing but social anxiety — the kind that makes you shake in line at Capital Iron because you can’t remember if Karen from Accounts is a Leafs fan or if she already has a damned travel mug. Free yourself! Tell your Secret Santa cohort that you’ll be saving your $15 this year for your own shitty gift, thank you very much.

RE-GIFT THINGS

Throw a re-gifting party. There are many rules in the B.C. retail industry, and at times, return and exchanges policies suck. Some stores don’t honour their own return policies, and you wind up stuck with unwanted gifts a lot of the time. Get together a group of friends and swap unwanted gifts! When giving a gift, consider passing on the receipt too, writing ‘This is a gift’ on it. It probably won’t stand up in a court of law, but it might increase the chances of a successful exchange.

KEEP A LEVEL HEAD

Don’t be afraid to be practical. I keep a list on my iPhone of things I need and I have zero shame in sharing it when asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” The best present I’ve been given was a power board outlet because a family friend was concerned about all of the cords lying around my apartment. Which brings me to my next point…

LEND A HELPING HAND

Hit up family friends. Ah, the untapped market of the bougie family friend—the kind that throws garden parties or ‘soirées’. Don’t be afraid to ask if they need help around the house. You might want to let them know that one B.C. landscaping company is quoting $680 for a hedge trim, or $72 an hour, while your rates are far more reasonable. What I’m basically staying is — you’re desperate, cheap, and no one is above raking leaves. Happy holidays everyone!

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