Dec 122004
Authors: Jennifer Johnson

Winter Break is almost here and many students' wallets may be in a state of despair.

Erin Schmidt, a junior health and exercise science major said she definitely feels stressed out because of finances during the holiday season. Although finances are tight for Schmidt, she still does her best to buy Christmas gifts.

"I just spend what I can on my family and boyfriend and just hope I have enough," she said.

Trying to buy holiday gifts can be stressful and time-consuming in general, and for some students worrying about holiday finances can have a negative impact when preparing for finals week.

"If you don't have the money then you are constantly worrying about it and getting more stressed out then you normally would which can definitely have an effect on your finals," Schmidt said.

Judy McKenna, Cooperative Extension family economics specialist at CSU, suggested students stop thinking about gifts during finals and concentrate on their studies.

"Get your job done, which is to do as well as you possibly can by reinforcing what you've learned during the semester," she said. "We have high expectations for what we give others and think that we must buy expensive gifts to show how much we love someone."

McKenna thinks family and friends realize how students can be severely limited in the money they have and cannot afford expensive gifts.

"People who love you appreciate thoughtfulness rather than gifts that cost a lot. Simple, special gifts include time to talk, time to walk or doing someone else's chores," she said. "In other words, prepare financially by sticking to your budget and being creative about how to express how much you care about others."

If a student is struggling with finances during the holidays, Schmidt said he or she should try to find a seasonal job and buy gifts that are not expensive but mean a lot.

Jackie Nguyen, a senior staff counselor at the University Counseling Center, said many students seek counseling at the UCC because of financial concerns.

"The holiday season can be especially stressful for many students who don't have any money to shop for gifts for loved ones" she said. "This is true for many students who are on financial aid and do not have any money left from their student loan they receive at the beginning of the school year."

Nguyen believes students tend to have the most difficulty coping with financial stress at the beginning and the end of each semester.

"It can definitely be hard at the end of the semester because the loan money has run out," she said.

Caitlin Holt, a junior food science and human nutrition major, said her job in the Resources for Disabled Students office on campus helps her save money during the school year.

"My job definitely helps make up for the money I spend on Christmas gifts and the time I take off for the break," she said. "Saving for the holidays is extremely important because I have a big family to buy for and gifts can add up."

Holt recommends students try to keep a job during the school year in order to plan and budget ahead in time for the holidays.

Holt also said that if students are on a tight budget, making things for family and friends may mean more than spending money on a gift.

"It's the thought that matters," she said. "I think that making gifts are more personable and heart felt."

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