If you struggle with your finances in college, you aren’t alone. I struggle with financial wellness, and a lot of my friends do too, which is why I think this is an important topic to talk about. Financial wellness is essential as the holiday season approaches. 

First things first, if you struggle in this area–it’s not shameful. There are a lot of reasons you could find yourself suddenly struggling. For most college students, this is the first time you are away from home and living independently. It can be hard to predict how much you’ll need to pay for necessities. Buying your own groceries, paying your own rent and utilities, and saving enough for fun is challenging.  

So how do you save? Here are some tips I’ve found to be beneficial. 


Start Saving

Budget Planning

I know it doesn’t sound like fun, but budget planning is honestly such a life-saver. It’s helpful to have a plan in writing to give you a general idea of how much to spend and save on certain expenses. It can be hard to stick to at first, but with practice, it can help you be a financially well warrior.  

Budgets can be set for a weekly, monthly, or yearly time frame and range from general to specific. For example, I know I have a bit of a coffee problem, so I set a budget of 5 dollars a week to spend on it that I do not go above. 

Save While You Shop

Shop Generic

When purchasing food and personal care items, many stores will have generic brand options that are just as good as the original and cost less. The difference may only be a few cents, but it can add up quickly.  


Shop Secondhand

Buy clothing secondhand from thrift or online clothing stores. This is more sustainable than the fast fashion industry and can lead to some fun and interesting finds to help you develop your own unique style. You can also sometimes find high-quality brands for cheap. The other day I scored a pair of jeans that retails for $75–for only $10 at our local Goodwill. 

How to Earn More

Start a Side Hustle

A lot of us have cute clothes we just don’t wear anymore. You can sell them on apps like Depop, or Poshmark. You could also bring them to Plato’s Closet or sell them on Facebook marketplace. 

Another fun suggestion If you’re crafty is selling some homemade art. acrylic paint is cheap and easy to acquire, and you could easily make some paintings themed after the holidays. If you’re skilled at photoshop offer your services for a few dollars to friends and family. 

Get a Seasonal Job

Find a job to keep you busy during the holidays. Not only can it help you escape from your parents’ house from time to time, but it can also help keep you in a routine over break. Most stores are looking to hire a few extra people around Black Friday and the other winter holidays for a few weeks.  

If you already have a job, consider taking some extra shifts. Take advantage of the time you have away from school. But don’t forget that breaks from school are a time to relax and recover from a busy semester. Make sure you leave yourself room to visit with friends and family over the holiday season.  

Get Vaccinated

If you haven’t gotten your COVID vaccine yet, you can get a $50 visa gift card by receiving your first dose at a Winona County vaccine clinic. This is perfect to have a little extra cash to use on gas to travel home, buying holiday gifts, or even getting dinner with friends over break. 

Check out Winona County’s Facebook page for more information about the $50 incentive program and more details about when and where they are offering COVID vaccines. 

Spending & the Holidays

Don’t break the bank this holiday season. Friends and family understand you are a college student and have more expenses now than you did before. They will understand that you won’t be to spend as much on a big gift. Instead, consider making them a gift or offering your skills instead of purchasing something. 

Lastly, take advantage of big sales opportunities. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up. If you want something now that can be put off till black Friday it would be a good idea to do so. There’s a good chance that what you want will be available for much less.  

The holidays are a great time to ask for practical gifts that help you save money later. It’s hard sometimes to ask your family and friends for cash, instead, ask for something that you could use throughout the year. Common necessities such as toilet paper, cleaning products, and even medicine can be pricey. Consider asking for a first-aid or a cold and flu kit, or a year’s supply of dish soap or tide pods.