Guest Post by Andrea Woroch, Money & Savings Expert
The holiday season is something of a blessing and a curse for most college students. While you can count on having nearly an entire month of freedom, you still have to figure out how to get gifts for everyone on your list within the limitations of your yearly budget.
Despite Bankrate reporting that 38 percent of shoppers expect to spend less on gifts this year, it’s not an opportunity to unload your uneaten ramen and old textbooks on unsuspecting loved ones. To get great presents without spending a fortune, try a few of these last-minute holiday shopping tips.
The Last Shopping Holiday
Didn’t feel like risking a stab wound over a parking spot on Black Friday? No problem, there’s still one major shopping holiday left. Wednesday, Dec. 18 is Free Shipping Day, a one-day event when retailers offer free shipping and discounts with delivery by Christmas Eve. This year the organizers have upped the ante, requiring participants to provide free shipping on all orders with no minimum purchase amount.
What Goes Around Comes Around
By and large, regifting has become an acceptable practice these days. It’s no excuse to pawn off junk you don’t want, but with a little tact and planning you can come up with a thoughtful gift. I’ve found regifting is most effective with younger siblings or nieces and nephews. As little ones who look up to you, anything you thought was cool, they’ll usually be excited to call their own.
Cash in Coins
One of the benefits of heading home for the holidays is access to free laundry. That means all of those coins you’ve been collecting can be cashed in for presents. Since rolling pennies is a pastime of yesteryear, head to Coinstar where you can exchange coins for gift cards without any extra fees. With cards available for stores like GameStop, Home Depot and Starbucks, you can find something to satisfy anyone on your list.
If you’re having trouble finding sales for the gifts you need, you can always turn to coupons. With online shopping getting dicey after Free Shipping Day, in-store coupons are the way to go. Coupon Sherpa features one of the most comprehensive selections of printable coupons, and also has an accompanying app for Android and iPhone if your printer ink has run dry or you prefer to save the paper.
Shop Off Hours
Even if you’re not punching the clock, your free time is still worth something. Shopping during peak times can kill hours in the day and cause endless aggravation from rude shoppers, bad traffic and long lines. To avoid the crowds, take advantage of stores offering extended hours throughout the final shopping days. Kohl’s will be open 24-hours-a-day from Dec. 20 until 6 p.m. on Dec. 24, while Toys R Us will remain open from 6 a.m. on Dec. 21 through 9 p.m. on Dec. 24.
The holidays are the perfect time to activate your free trial of Amazon Student. Namely because it offers six months of free two-day shipping. This provides a little extra shopping cushion late in the season, and can help you save on orders of textbooks and other supplies for next semester. Amazon Student also offers a $5 credit for referrals, giving you a last-minute way to boost your gift budget.