Have a Fun and Budget-Friendly Winter Break, by Dacia Daly

January 1, 2014

The great part of winter break is that you have tons of free time. You should use this time to enjoy the holidays and visit friends and family, but you can also take advantage of this break to make your time back at school less stressful. By mixing equal parts work and fun, you can make the most of winter break without feeling like you missed out..and without breaking the bank.



Here are five tips to have an exciting and budget-friendly winter break.



Work Part Time Jobs – There has always been debate about whether students should work during college but this does not apply to breaks. Winter and summer breaks are a great time to save money for the school, especially if you don’t work. During breaks I was always babysitting, working odd jobs, or even working part-time at my old summer job. These are easy ways to make extra cash that won’t eat up all of your free time and leave wishing you were back studying instead.


Travel During the Week – Winter Break is a great time to travel. You have a month of free-time and if you’re not tied down to a 9-5 job you can score some pretty amazing travel deals. I’ve found that hotels are generally cheaper to stay at Monday through Thursday versus Friday through Sunday. This is because many people want to travel weekends so they can take off less time to work. Since you don’t have this problem, you can take advantage of weekday deals. I know what it’s like to try to travel on a college budget so this list of 10 Budget Savvy Travel Destinations from Bankrate.com is a great place to start.


Don’t Work for Free, Find Paid Internships - Some of the best internships are actually paid. When I worked at paid internships I was given much more responsibility than when I was an unpaid intern. Paid internships are always highly sought after so they are also harder to get. when I worked for free my requirement was that it had to be a valuable work experience that would add to my portfolio. The website Glassdoor.com is great for finding internships and even jobs. They offer reviews of the companies (if someone really hated an internship there is always a review) so you can decide whether it is right for you. Winter break is a great time to start looking for and applying to internships.


Use Deal Websites - When you come home from winter break you want to see old friends. This usually involves going out to dinner or for drink, which can get expensive. My friends always make fun of me because I always have some kind of coupon or deal to use when I go out to dinner. While they may think it’s funny I’ve saved hundred of dollars this way. Websites such as Groupon and Restaurant.com often have deals for half off meals. I just scored a $20 for $40 worth of food Groupon for my favorite restaurant last week! It’s definitely worth a five minute search to score 50 percent off!


Don’t Shop, Switch - This is something my friends and I have done for a long-time and it might seem a little odd but it works great for us. Instead of buying new clothes, we swap them!  We each bring over some clothing items that we’ve become really sick of but are still in great condition. It works like this: I swap the sweater I’ve gotten tired of, for a pair of red jeans my friend wore once. Each of us get something we wanted without having to spend money. This works great for finding a New Year’s Eve dress too!


As a recent college grad (without a full-time job) I really try to budget my income by spending no more than $300 a month on clothes, restaurants, or other social activities. These are some of the ways that I manage to maintain that budget. During winter break this budget can get very tight even for me. What are some tips you have for saving money?