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Holiday Planning Financial Success!


Holidays are fast approaching!  Planning ahead can save your budget, so indulge while staying financially healthy.

Can you relate?  What causes Financial Stress for Consumers During the Holidays?  This is a survey conducted by Experian.

  • 43% – No Extra Money to buy Gifts
  • 40% – Difficult to Stay on Budget
  • 39% – Adding Additional Debt
  • 11% – Limited Credit for Buying Gifts

While many of you will be heading home for the holidays beginning next week with Thanksgiving for a short break before coming back and then taking a much longer and needed break over the December holidays, some of you will be looking to take a much needed break to a new or favorite locale.  Be sure to look for the best deals and use some strategic planning!

  • When booking flights and hotels online, enable private browsing. For example, when using Google Chrome go to Control-Shift-N (or the three vertical dots at the far right) and activate an incognito page. Travel sites often use cookies to track your searches and raise your prices.
  • Avoid checked baggage fees by rolling all of your clothing, not folding to save tons of space in your carry-on.
  • Buy tickets on new budget airlines such as Southwest, WOW and Spirit. Just be sure to read all of the fine print in the add-on fees for amenities that you are accustomed to.   I would recommend using these airlines only if you were carryon luggage.
  • Take advantage of the sharing economy and think outside of the box–staying in an AirBnB is often cheaper than a hotel. If you do need a last-minute hotel, check out the Hotel Tonight app.
  • For the cheapest travel options, use Wanderu, a service that combines bus and train travel to get you to your destination.

Think before you buy!  It is easy to get caught up in the giving nature of the season, but you must remember that as a student, your spending habits must be a little tweaked!  Just remember that you are a student generally living on borrowed money.  People will understand if you don’t buy a gift.  Often times, just being home for the holidays is a gift in itself.  It is alright to say, “I am a student living on a tight budget.” when asked “where is my present.”  Here are some ways to be frugal, but still buy smart.

  • Check out a thrift store for interesting items and fun decorations.
  • Visit a dollar store for wrapping, creative ideas, and stocking stuffers.
  • DIY everything–make spice mixes, homemade potpourri, knit a scarf (which is also heard to be a great stress reliever)–anything you think will enjoy doing while having your loved ones in mind. The Pinterest ideas are endless!
  • If online shopping, use Chrome plug-ins like eBates and Honey to find digital coupons and get cash back!

How long do holiday shoppers carry a credit card balance?  Research conducted by NextAdvisor, an in-depth, independent Research firm, shows that a good number of people hold on to the balance 13-18 months.  Using credit cards strategically can get you good deals and rewards, but don’t let holiday gifts be those that just keep on giving (and by that, we mean taking!).

Keep these yummy, easy-to-make and easy-on-the-budget treats to yourself, or give as gifts!

Easy Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bites


  • 24 pretzels
  • 12 caramel squares, unwrapped, cut in half
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate, melted with 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Festive sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  • Layer all pretzels on the sheet.
  • Place half of caramel squares on each pretzel.
  • Bake in the oven for 6 to 7 minutes. The caramel will be melty but not completely filing the holes of pretzels. It will spread as it cools. Cool pretzels completely before dipping in chocolate.
  • When cool, dip pretzels in chocolate (cover whole pretzels or dip halves). Tap against the bowl with chocolate to help excess drip off back to the bowl.
  • Place back on the sheet. Sprinkle. Let cool completely.
  • Store in air tight container.


The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Jose Espada

Jose Rivera Espada is the director of financial aid at IU School of Medicine, a nine-campus allopathic medical school in Indiana. Jose’s experience includes working as an assistant director of financial aid at Butler University and a financial aid coun...