How to get through December on a student budget!

By Karin Slaattelid 19. May 2024

Christmas time and December can be hard for anyone's economy, so if you are a student and living on a tight budget, you might want to read our tips on how to make your money last!

We have asked SSN's economy department to make a list of good tips on how to save money in December.

 – Helping "our students" with economy advice now in December is a brilliant idea, says Karin Slaattelid enthusiasticly.

Karin is a controller in SSN's economy department, and she makes one thing clear:

 – Remember that everyone has complete sympathy for students and their tight budgets, so buy Christmas gifts based on ability, not on your conscience.

Here is Karin's six best advice on how to make your student economy last during Christmas:

1. Re-use or give a favour for Christmas?

You can save a lot on Christmas presents. Choose re-use! You can find great things on sites such as or at Tise, or visit your local thrift store. You may even join different swap-groups (on Facebook) and swap a great Christmas present with someone!

To give time can make people more happy than an expensive gift from the store. Give a favour for Christmas: a home made gift certificate on babysitting your niece or nephew, a home made gift card for massage to your boyfriend/girlfriend (together with a nice massage oil), painting the fence, the wall at the cabin or the garage door for your parents, or washing grandma's windows (including giving her an opportunity to teach you her best tips on washing windows while washing...).

2. Planning

The key to making good choices is to plan ahead:

  • Set up a budget, then plan who you will buy presents for, and what to get them.

  • Decide on how much to spend, and what the different recipients will get from this pool.

  • Then decide on what you can make yourself/buy used/swap.

  • Pay attention to different stores and their Christmas offers, and strike if some of the things you have decided on buying is on sale!

  • Avoid impulse shopping, as you may easily be tempted to buy more stuff than you really need, and that needs you weren't aware of suddenly arises.

  • Stick to your plan!

The app "You need a budget" is a great tool to help you set up your budget. It costs NOK 32, which might be a good investment if you think it's hard to keep track of your spending.

Get free financial advice

Do you need help setting up a budget, are you wondering about saving or do you need advice on how to make everyday life a little easier financially?

Book an appointment for financial advice at SSN.

3. Gather your friends

Agree to skip buying presents to friends. Instead you can decide to gather to do something nice and budget friendly together. A cozy pre-Christmas activity can also be to gather the gang for joint gingerbread baking or a Christmas workshop.

Check out this cute Christmas DIY:

Gingerbread and cocoa with marshmellows
Christmas workshop

Remember to have some fun with the Christmas preparations too!

4. Download apps to help you save money

Christmas time is much about eating and making good food and sweets. If you download food sale apps, you can save a great deal when buying food.

The app Mattilbud compares prices from all grocery stores in Norway (in Norwegian only).

5. Borrow from each other

Maybe you can borrow a Christmas outfit from your friend, and he/she from you? Then the both of you will have something "new" to wear - all for free!

6. Don't forget your regular expenses

Remember to pay or set money aside for your regular expenses before you start buying Christmas presents and grocery shop for ginger bread decorating.

... and finally, don't forget to take som well deserved time off and enjoy the holidays with your favourite people! Merry Christmas!

Sources: Consumer economist Silje Sandmæl/DnB, business economist Hallgeir Kvadsheim.

Do you want some help with your finances? Try SSN's superb and FREE offer of Financial Advice!


Karin Slaattelid


Karin has worked for students at SSN for over ten years, has an above average interest in private finance and is passionate about teaching how students can make the best financial choices at an early stage.

She has an education in finance, and is responsible for SSN’s free offer of financial advice to students in Southeastern Norway.