This guest post was written by Christian Locklayer at thesuccessproject.org.
You’ve made it all the way to winter break – now what? Hello Netflix, goodbye bio-psych final! Woo-hoo, you can finally rejoice in your newfound freedom.
What are you going to do with all this free time? Visit friends, catch up on your favorite shows, go on a couple of shopping sprees? Sure. But then what?
Everybody’s got their way to release stress, but while it may be useful (even necessary) to take one week or two off, winter break is the time to get serious.
Winter break is a time when many college students and young professionals are gaining valuable work experience; they take advantage of the time off to earn a few bucks and add to their resume.
If you’re not sure who’s hiring, chances are your local eatery or shopping mall could use a few extra hands this holiday season. Also, many of the bigger companies (Amazon, Home Depot, Target) are looking for call center agents and store associates to answer and assist customer queries.
Getting a job is one thing – building relationships is even better. Having a job you can come back to every holiday season is not great just for your wallet, it’s also great for your work history; knowing you have a job when you go home for break is not only relieving, it’s great if you’re looking to move up the ladder at that company.
Give Gifts the Smart Way
Now that you have a job, there should be no more excuses about buying gifts. This is where you can get a little creative. Most people think of gifts as things that must be purchased, but you can also give the gift of doing favors for people.
Do your grandparents need their lawn mowed? Is there a free activity that you and your loved ones can do nearby? Perhaps there are some household chores that need to be done.
Keep in mind that those closest to you just want to spend time with you and see you be successful. Simply coming home for the holidays is more than enough for some people.
In case you’d like to purchase gifts, keep your list small (maximum of 5 people) that you want to buy gifts for. Think of practical gifts that each person could use. Maybe your younger siblings could use a backpack or a journal for school, or your parents could use a new cell phone case or a winter accessory (i.e., scarf, gloves, hat).
By keeping your list small, you aren’t inundated with buying gifts for your whole family; you also aren’t breaking the budget trying to please everyone. Keeping your list short and your items thoughtful yet practical makes you feel confident that you’re ending things with a bang this holiday season.
Start an Emergency Fund
This time of year can make resources seem thin for many people, but if you’re doing things right, that doesn’t have to be you. Winter break is as good of a time as any to fire up that emergency account you’ve always talked about.
Big banks (Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo) are great for convenience and added security. Unfortunately, they aren’t always great when it comes to monthly fees or high-interest rates. By creating a list of minimum deposits, fees, and interest rates, you can delineate which savings account(s) works best for you.
Make it a personal goal to save ten to twenty percent of each check. That way, you have something to lean on when things get rough or when the unexpected happens. Getting in the habit of saving part of each paycheck is a great budgeting practice that will help you in the future.
Wrapping Up a Great Winter Break
While winter break may seem short, make sure to set yourself up for success by creating a budget and setting money aside. That way, you’re way ahead of the crowd when the next semester rolls around. Don’t feel compelled to please everyone with a lavish gift, and don’t worry if your job is not something you see yourself doing in the next five years.
What matters is that you put yourself out there and you made a little extra cash to support yourself. This is just one part of becoming an adult, and the more you do now, the more you’ll become accustomed to it in the future.
So, get off your lazy bum and maximize your winter break to its fullest potential! You never know what you can accomplish in just one break.
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Josh Ramos
Josh has paid off $130k in student loan debt in 4 years. By founding Home at 30, he wants to help end the student debt crisis by helping students and young professionals make decisions that will reward them for a lifetime.